“Hiding Like Animals” HOME VIDEO (English Subtitles)



Survivor Stefania Sitbon travels back to Poland to show her daughters, where her family was hidden during the war: The Warsaw Zoo. She met Teresa, the Zabinskis’ daughter, and toured the basement she once called home. There, hung on a wall, she found a copy of the picture of her parents from 1947. After the war, the Zabinskis had asked for the photo and put it in the room where her mother stayed to remember Stefania’s parents.
The story of how Jan and Antonina Zabinski provided refuge to hundreds of Jews during World War II, was first told in Diane Ackerman’s book “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and recently through a film with the same title starring Jessica Chastain.
For Stefania, “The Zookeeper’s Wife” is not a film or a book; it’s a memory. Stefania, a 4-year-old Jew in Nazi-occupied Poland spent some time in hiding, living in the basement and cages of the Warsaw Zoo but, when the zoo staff was gone, she and her brother would run around and play. When the German soldiers arrived, Antonina, the zookeeper’s wife, would play the piano as a warning and Stefania and her family would hide in empty animal cages.

“Hiding Like Animals” EDUCATIONAL VIDEO (English Subtitles)



Survivor Stefania Sitbon travels back to Poland to show her daughters, where her family was hidden during the war: The Warsaw Zoo. She met Teresa, the Zabinskis’ daughter, and toured the basement she once called home. There, hung on a wall, she found a copy of the picture of her parents from 1947. After the war, the Zabinskis had asked for the photo and put it in the room where her mother stayed to remember Stefania’s parents.
The story of how Jan and Antonina Zabinski provided refuge to hundreds of Jews during World War II, was first told in Diane Ackerman’s book “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and recently through a film with the same title starring Jessica Chastain.
For Stefania, “The Zookeeper’s Wife” is not a film or a book; it’s a memory. Stefania, a 4-year-old Jew in Nazi-occupied Poland spent some time in hiding, living in the basement and cages of the Warsaw Zoo but, when the zoo staff was gone, she and her brother would run around and play. When the German soldiers arrived, Antonina, the zookeeper’s wife, would play the piano as a warning and Stefania and her family would hide in empty animal cages.

Jessica Chastain urges fans to track down killer fugitive

HOLLYWOOD actor Jessica Chastain has issued an extraordinary plea to fans to help track down a suspected double killer wanted over the torture and murder of a close family friend.

Chastain, a two-time Best Actress Oscar nominee known for her work in the The Help and Zero Dark Thirty, asked her followers to use social media to locate fugitive Kurt Andrew Collins, 61, in a Facebook post this morning.

Collins, a gold prospector and survivalist, is the prime suspect in the horrific murder of Michael Mahoney, who was a longtime friend of her father Michael Hastey, in July 2016.

Authorities have also linked Collins to the attempted murder of search and rescue volunteer Steve Wolf in August 2016 and the 2003 disappearance and suspected murder of Joseph Charles Murphy, who was known as Black Dog Joe.

All three crimes took place in or near the town of Washington in Nevada County.

Jessica Chastain

“I got an email from my Dad and it really broke my heart,” Chastain’s post said.

“I’m sharing this information in the hope that someone might know the whereabouts of Kurt Andrew Collins. He is wanted for murder.

“A friend’s father had a cabin in a remote area of Nevada county. His wife and sister went to the cabin to check on him and found him dead. The cause of death turned out to be murder. It also turns out that he was tortured prior to his death.

“The Nevada county sheriff’s office now has a person of interest that they are looking for. This is the reason my Dad has asked if you guys would help use social media to track down Kurt Andrew Collins.”

Authorities have described Collins as approximately 180cm tall, 82kg with grey hair and blue eyes.

He has lived in the wilderness of the Yuba River near the town of Washington for about 20 years as a gold prospector and was regarded by locals as a “hermit,” and had very little contact with the public, according to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.

Michael Mahoney, 67, was found dead outside his summer cabin on July 18 last year.

Just weeks later, on August 9, search and rescue volunteer Steve Wolf was shot in the hip near a campsite while looking for a missing hiker along the Yuba River Trail Head. Police found physical evidence near the site which led them to Collins as a suspect.

The shooting of Mr Wolf, who survived the attack, took place “very close” to Mr Mahoney’s cabin, police said.

In addition to naming Collins a “strong suspect” in the murder of Mr Mahoney and the attempted murder of Mr Wolf, investigators now believe the same man is responsible for the disappearance of Joseph Charles Murphy almost 14 years ago.

Mr Murphy, a fellow gold prospector known as Black Dog Joe, vanished on October 3, 2003, while on a gold-hunting trip with Collins, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Police have a warrant issued for his arrest on charges of attempted murder and inflicting great bodily injury during the commission of a felony.

Police have appealed for public help to locate Collins, who they believe may have left town to look for gold in a different location. He has not been seen in public since Mr Wolf’s shooting.

Mr Mahoney’s family has offered US$10,000 ($12,400) reward for information leading to the identification and capture of his killer.

Jessica Chastain Wants ‘Woman Walks Ahead’ to Create Hope Amid Our Current ‘Political System’ (Exclusive Video)

“Woman Walks Ahead” tells the courageous story of a woman setting out to accomplish a dream, decades before women had the right to vote. And that’s why Jessica Chastain hopes her new film will create hope, especially given our current “political system.”

“I wanted to do the film because I was shocked about the story of Catherine Weldon,” Chastain said about the film at TheWrap’s interview studio at the Toronto International Film Festival. “This is 30 years before women had the right to vote and she went to North Dakota because she decided she wanted to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull and meet him.”

Chastain continued, “It was so dangerous and so courageous and shocking at that time — and for her to not be recognized as the heroic woman she was … I really responded to this very unconventional love story about two people that are oppressed in society and through this love, they find hope. Right in the time when our country is being formed. It’s a beautiful story and I’m hoping it will create hope in our political system and different groups today.”

“Woman Walks Ahead” follows Catherine Weldon, a portrait painter from 1890s Brooklyn who sets out to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull and quickly becomes embroiled in the Lakota peoples’ struggle over their land. The film stars Michael Greyeyes as Sitting Bull, probably one of the most famous chiefs in Native American history.

Director Susanna White added, “One of the things I love about this movie is it’s not dealing in archetypes, it’s dealing in real people — Catherine is not like a woman you normally see in a Western, where men are men and women are on the periphery. She’s a thinking, feeling person who did an extraordinarily brave thing… in these times we need to understand each other as human beings and look what we have in common rather than what divides us and I think this film is all about connection.”

Watch the video above.

Jessica Chastain and director John Madden open up about the world of lobbyists in new Miss Sloane making-of clip

TALKING POLITICS

Jessica’s performance in Miss Sloane gained praise across the board from critics and audiences.

MISS Sloane gave viewers a chance to enter the relatively unknown world of lobbyists when it was released earlier this year.

And in a new making-of clip about the film, director John Madden reveals why he chose to bring the story to light while his leading lady Jessica Chastain reveals the role they play in high-stake world of politics.

Jessica Chastain

EntertainmentOne

Jessica Chastain stars in political drama, Miss Sloane

Jessica Chastain

EntertainmentOne

Miss Sloane gave viewers a chance to enter the relatively unknown world of lobbyists when it was released earlier this year

John talks about the importance of conveying lobbyism accurately within Miss Sloane as he explains: “If I’m going to write a movie about the lobby industry then I need to have an issue at the heart of it.”

He continued: “Very methodically I made a list of issues in contemporary American politics and the one that really leap out was the issue of gun safety.

“Mainly because it’s tragically never far from the headlines and also least likely to change.”

The film focuses on Elizabeth Sloane, the most sough after and formidable lobbyist in Washington D.C. who operates in the high-stakes world of political power-brokers.

When asked to help oppose a bill that imposes regulations on firearms, she instead joins a scrappy boutique firm that represents the backers of the law.

Her defiant stance and determination to win now makes her the target of powerful new enemies who threaten her career and the people she cares about.

sloane

EntertainmentOne

Director John Madden reveals the importance of conveying lobbyism accurately within Miss Sloane

Jessica Chastain

EntertainmentOne

He said: “If I’m going to write a movie about the lobby industry then I need to have an issue at the heart of it… the one that really leap out was the issue of gun safety.”

Jessica Chastain

EntertainmentOne

The film focuses on Elizabeth Sloane, the most sough after and formidable lobbyist in Washington D.C.

Jessica explains: “A lobbyist is someone advocating for a cause and they get you to vote for or against someone.”

The official definition reads: “Lobbying, persuasion, or interest representation is the act of attempting to influence the actions, policies, or decisions of officials in their daily life, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies.”


Jessica’s performance in Miss Sloane gained praise across the board from critics and audiences.

The Sun’s film critic Jamie East stated: “Although weighty support form the likes of Mark Strong and John Lithgow is welcome, this is most definitely Chastain’s film and wouldn’t be anywhere near as good (or probably even exist) without her.”

Jessica Chastain

EntertainmentOne

When asked to help oppose a bill that imposes regulations on firearms, she instead joins a scrappy boutique firm that represents the backers of the law

Jessica Chastain

EntertainmentOne

Jessica explains: “A lobbyist is someone advocating for a cause and they get you to vote for or against someone.”

East describes the film as a satisfying courtroom thriller delivered in way you both expect and appreciate.

Miss Sloane is available now on Digital Download, Blu-ray and DVD.


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Rumorville: ‘It’ Director Andy Muschietti Eyeing Jessica Chastain for Chapter Two

Rumorville: ‘It’ Director Andy Muschietti Eyeing Jessica Chastain for Chapter Two

Photo Source: Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros.

Welcome to Rumorville! Here you can learn about casting news that’s about to break in Hollywood. These speculations might be only rumors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t follow the trail all the way to the audition room.

The new adaptation of Stephen King’s “It” opened to $123 million at the box office earlier this month, but even before that success, the film’s director, Andy Muschietti, was already planning on making a second installment. The film concluded with a title card that read “chapter one,” leaving the second half of the novel for a follow up film. Although part one is still in theaters, Muschietti is already talking plans for the sequel.

The second part will take place 27 years later in present day, but will feature flashbacks to 1988 and 1989, (and the breakout kids who starred in part one) when this year’s story took place. A new time period and storyline also mean casting new adult actors to portray the grown up versions of the kids in this year’s film.

The sequel is as of now still unofficial, as Warner Bros. and New Line have not greenlit the project, but Muschietti’s producing partner and sister Barbara said writing and development is underway nonetheless. Without a go from the studio, no actors are attached to the upcoming second film, but that doesn’t mean the Muschiettis don’t have any in mind.

Andy Muschietti has recognized “It” star Sophia Lillis’s resemblance to Jessica Chastain, and she just happens to be a friend. “Jessi is an amazing actress and very good friend and I would love her to play Beverly (Lillis’s character),” he said in an interview with Variety. Not to mention she’s a fan of part one. “She loves the movie and it feels like the planets are aligned in that sense, but we still have to make that happen,” Muschietti said. As for the other members of the Losers Club, “There are a lot of ideas for the rest of the cast that I’m playing with, but it’s a bit too premature to say those names right now.”

However, ideas are just that. Entertainment Weekly received insight that the team is going out for unknowns, given the tricky task of finding lookalikes for the Losers.

Given the speedy success of “It,” an announcement should be coming any day from the studio. Once that happens, one thing is for sure—pre-production and planning will happen quickly, and that includes casting. Andy Muschietti isn’t done storytelling in the late 1980s, and as the flashbacks will return to the kids as they’ve already been seen, film number two needs to happen before the kids age out. Rich Delia handled casting the first time around, so it’s a good bet he might return. In the meantime, keep an eye out for that green light.

Check out Backstage’s film audition listings! 

 

Woman Walks Ahead Review: Jessica Chastain in a Paint-By-Numbers Drama

Jessica Chastain aces another strong female role, but the rest of this strange historical Western can’t get its story straight.

Is a film still considered a “white savior” story if its white protagonist never actually saves anything? In the case of Susanna White’s “Woman Walks Ahead,” it’s certainly not for lack of trying. A listless but lustrously shot biopic about the 19th century New York widow who traveled to North Dakota, painted the Sioux chief Sitting Bull, and then served as an advocate for his tribe as they fought the United States government’s attempts to expropriate their land, the movie almost credits Caroline Weldon as being solely responsible for the Native American resistance to the Dawes Act. Moreover, it also forgives her role in the massacre that followed. On their own, those issues are more frustrating than fatal. As a self-contained story, however, the film suffers enormously from its slippery grasp of history, all of its narrative thrust slipping through the cracks between fact and fiction.

It all begins in 1890, when the Swiss-born Weldon (Jessica Chastain, sporting an unplaceable accent that she owns through sheer force of will) suddenly decides that she wants to escape Manhattan and head west. In truth, she had already joined the National Indian Defense Association, and boarded that train with every intention of helping the Sioux people protect their land. In the movies, Caroline leaves town on a whim, determined to paint the great Sitting Bull because he epitomizes the freedom that she’s always wanted for herself.

Read More: The 2017 IndieWire TIFF Bible: Every Review, Interview, and News Item Posted During the Festival

Whether screenwriter Steven Knight (“Locke”) invented this detail or not, Chastain convincingly sells an origin story about how Caroline’s father broke her like a horse because she wouldn’t behave like a lady. No contemporary American screen actress has more consistently — or more forcefully — used her platform to champion feminist ideals, and Chastain’s performance is a worthy addition to the cause. As portrayed here, Caroline is headstrong and full of heart; she’s a smart woman who’s been liberated from her late husband and refuses to “know her place.”

Fittingly, “Woman Walks Ahead” is at its best when it allows Caroline to stand by herself along the horizon, her long dress billowing against the powder blue skies that stretch above the Great Plains. Throw in a parasol for good measure and it gets even better. “It’s a free country,” someone helpfully points out, and Caroline illustrates that better than any of the Native American characters in the film.

Chastain plays the part as a woman who’s just discovering the pleasures of her own personal agency. She defaults to a sweetly awed smile, and seldom allows herself to pout. She just lose a step when someone spits in her face for being sympathetic towards the Sioux, or when someone else steals her luggage, or even when she’s beaten within an inch of her life. Not even the faintly ominous Col. Silas Groves (Sam Rockwell) can break Caroline’s stride.

Read More:‘All the Money in the World’ First Trailer: Kevin Spacey Will Shock You as J. Paul Getty

Eventually, after stepping into the murky tensions that are developing around the Dawes Act, Caroline is introduced to the great Hunkpapa Lakota chief. Played by Michael Greyeyes, a Canadian Plains Cree actor who’s familiar from films like “Smoke Signals” and “The New World,” Sitting Bull is a fascinating character. We meet him as he’s digging potatoes, hiding from the end of his world. He’s a dejected leader who looks at his people’s sacred land and sees buffalo bones collecting on the hilltops like snowcaps. Wise but rarely hokey, noble but generally dispirited, he agrees to pose for Caroline if she pays him a cool $1,000. It’s unclear what he plans to do with the money, or if he even needs it, but white people have taken so much from him that he might as well get a little something in return.

The scenes between Chastain and Greyeyes are all pleasant enough, as both actors have the charisma required to power through the many dull stretches of Knight’s patchy script, which always feels a bit too much like a first draft. Would this have been a better film if it didn’t pretend that Sitting Bull didn’t have a wife, erasing her in favor of some unresolved sexual tension? It’s hard to say, but it certainly would have been a more interesting one. As it stands, the two characters form a tenuous bond that the movie doesn’t have the courage to test; we just take it for granted that Sitting Bull should care more for this wayward white lady than he does any of his own people.

He listens to her above anyone else, as well — even more than she listens to him. Before long, “Woman Walks Ahead” completely loses track of Caroline’s evolution from hobbyist portrait artist to Native American activist (in large part because Knight is blazing this revisionist trail for the very first time). The film’s pivot from intimate character study to sweeping political drama is as awkward as watching Caroline paint, and as dull as watching her pain dry.

White’s film doesn’t work when it fudges history, but it completely stalls when it tries to condense it. Winsome actors like Ciarán Hinds and Bill Camp are sprinkled in to help ease the transition, but their roles do more to confuse than they do to add context. The stretch of time in which Caroline effectively serves as Sitting Bull’s political advisor finds the story at its least believable and its most inert; by the time we finally get to see the finished portrait she made of him, its power as a totem of interracial harmony has been diluted by the withering bond between these unexpected allies.

White society values people for how much they have, and Sioux society values people for how much they give away, but “Woman Walks Away” — paint-by-numbers for a Western with such an unusual premise — values only what it can steal from history in order to serve its ostensibly progressive goals. It’s not a movie about how the Sioux were all but erased from their own land by the United States government, it’s a movie about how a white woman came to North Dakota and convinced Sitting Bull to stand up for himself. Caroline may have ventured out West to paint the essence of freedom, but the scattershot movie that White has fashioned about her merely paints over it.

Grade: C-

“Woman Walks Ahead” premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. It is currently seeking U.S. distribution.

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Jessica Chastain Looks Cool in New Molly’s Game Poster

A new poster for Molly’s Game showcases star Jessica Chastain, who’s looking very determined behind her designer sunglasses. The much anticipated film debuted this week at the Toronto International Film Festival to strong reviews.

Molly’s Game is the story of Molly Bloom, a former Olympic hopeful who eventually finds herself running an underground poker empire that involves high profile Hollywood celebrities, athletes, powerful businessmen, and even the Russian mob. When the FBI closes in on her, she puts her own fate on the line to protect the identities of the players.

Related: Molly’s Game Trailer

Coming hot off the heels of its well received screening at TIFF, a new poster has been released featuring Chastain as the titular Molly Bloom. Take a look below.

Mollys Game Poster Jessica Chastain Looks Cool in New Mollys Game Poster

Molly’s Game figures to make some noise during awards season, as buzz is beginning to grow for Chastain’s dynamic performance, as well as Idris Elba’s work as her baffled defense attorney. Molly’s Game is also the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin. A Hollywood veteran, Sorkin has been a prolific writer for decades, penning such films as A Few Good Men, The American President, and Steve Jobs. He won an Academy Award for his screenplay for the David Fincher-directed Mark Zuckerberg biopic The Social Network. Despite being an Oscar winner, Sorkin is probably still most well known for his television output, which included creating shows such as Sports Night, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The Newsroom, and, most memorably, the idealistic White House drama The West Wing. It’s hard to believe Sorkin has never taken a swing at the director’s chair before now, but so far the reviews indicate he’s handling the job just fine.

Jessica Chastain seems poised to have quite a year. In addition to Molly’s Game, she’ll be making her first foray into the world of superhero films with X-Men: Dark Phoenix. That film will be the second cinematic adaptation of the classic X-Men story that chronicles the tragic demise of founding team member Jean Grey. It was first adapted in the decidedly underwhelming, Brett Ratner-helmed X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006. Fans are hoping for a better effort from director Simon Kinberg, who has promised a more faithful adaptation of the classic story. Chastain’s role is, at the moment, yet to be officially announced, though rumors have swirled that she’ll be playing Lilandra, the Empress of the Shi’ar Empire who is generally an intergalactic love interest for Charles Xavier. Whoever she’s portraying, she’ll be a welcome addition to the realm of comic book movies, as Chastain is an actor who elevates any project she’s involved with.

Jessica Chastain’s Painkiller Jane Finds Its Writer

Jessica Chastain’s superhero project Painkiller Jane has taken a step nearer to the theaters, as the writer of the adaptation has been announced as writer/producer Christine Boylan. Painkiller Jane is based on the cult comic heroine and is a movie that the busy actress has been keen to produce and star in for some time. So the news that Boylan is now attached to the movie is a clear indication that the production is moving forward.

Painkiller Jane is also known as Police Officer Jane Vasko, and the star of a comic book miniseries created by Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada for Event Comics in 1995. After the character took off, she became popular enough to crossover with the comic incarnations of The Punisher and Hellboy. The illustrated version of Jane isn’t necessarily super-powered – apart from extensive knowledge of martial arts and firearms – but she is practically indestructible, having Wolverine-levels of regenerative powers. She still feels pain though, hence the nickname. The character has been brought to life before in a Syfy channel movie and short-lived series, being played by Emmanuelle Vaugier and Kristanna Loken in 2005 and 2007 respectively.

Related: Jessica Chastain to Star in Painkiller Jane

Chastain announced her intention to produce and star as the central character last year, but there doesn’t seem to have been much movement on the project since then. Deadline now reports that Lotus Entertainment has signed Boylan to adapt the material for the big screen. Boylan has worked as a writer/producer on the TV shows Once Upon a Time, Constantine, and the crime drama Castle, and would seem to be a good choice to bring the character to life again.

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty3 Jessica Chastains Painkiller Jane Finds Its Writer

The actress certainly bears a good resemblance to the character and it will be interesting to see just how closely it will compare with the comic book version. Her origin has changed slightly over the years, but she gets her powers when working undercover infiltrating a mob meeting, not realizing that a bomb has been planted on her. She recovers after the blast when one of her targets apparently bestows the superpowers onto her, causing her to become the titular vigilante. It’s not known if the film will incorporate this version of her origin or go for a different approach.

Chastain is currently getting some serious plaudits for her performance in the upcoming Molly’s Game, but she’s already displayed her eagerness to become part of superhero lore, with her as-yet-unidentified character due to play a major part of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. It’s still early days yet with Painkiller Jane, but hopefully we’ll get further news eventually regarding a release date, and details about the rest of the cast and plot. We’ll keep you updated on this promising project.

Source: Deadline

Aaron Sorkin & Jessica Chastain On ‘Molly’s Game’

They called Molly Bloom the “poker princess” of Los Angeles. By the time of her arrest by the FBI, Bloom had overseen an underground poker empire that redefined high stakes and attracted some of Hollywood’s biggest names, and had documented her ascendance in a tell-all book, Molly’s Game, that exposed the chicanery that occurs when hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash are changing hands in basement poker rooms.

Enter Aaron Sorkin, who made his feature directorial debut at TIFF this week with Molly’s Game, starring Jessica Chastain as the eponymous grand dame of poker. His film, which also stars Idris Elba, takes Bloom’s story past the one related in her book, to try and make sense of the trajectory of a woman who started out as an Olympic hopeful skier and became one of the most notorious names in modern Hollywood.

“She was not the woman the tabloids made her out to be,” Sorkin told me when he and Chastain stopped by Deadline’s Toronto studio this week. “There was much, much more to her than that.”

Chastain leads two films at TIFF this year, and though Molly Bloom is far removed from Catherine Weldon, the subject of Woman Walks Ahead, both roles seem tailor-made for the actress. Meeting with Sorkin for Molly’s Game, she said, she went in with Bloom’s trademarked determination. “Basically, it was like, ‘Why are we meeting? Why aren’t I just playing this role?’ I was like, ‘You should just cast me, what is going on here?’”

“If I had any doubts at all,” said Sorkin, “and I didn’t, it was that meeting that pushed me over, where she came to it with this great sense of humor.”

But Chastain saw the distance she’d have to travel. “[Molly] has this sensuality about her [whereas] I just feel awkward always. Even the clothes I was wearing in the film, it was definitely a choice, but it was something so far away from anything that I would ever imagine myself to play. I had pictures of, like, Kardashians in my trailer. I really wanted to show this story of this woman in society—in this man-cave—and how women get power in this society.”

Watch more from Chastain and Sorkin in the video above.

Deadline Studio at TIFF 2017 is presented by Calii Love, Watford Group, Philosophy Canada, and Equinox. Special thanks to Dan Gunam at Calii Love for location and production assistance; and Ontario Camera for equipment assistance. Video producer: Meaghan Gable; lighting and camera: Neil Hansen; design: Dialla Kawar; sound recording: Ida Jokinen.

Aaron Sorkin and Jessica Chastain Interview on Molly’s Game

Whether they’re collaborating onscreen or off, Aaron Sorkin and Jessica Chastain are a whole lot of fun together. Onscreen, they’re offering the Toronto Film Festival hit Molly’s Game, which represents Sorkin’s directorial debut after a career writing acclaimed projects like The Social Network, A Few Good Men, and The West Wing. In the fact-based film, Chastain stars as Molly Bloom, who ran exclusive, high-stakes poker games with some of the wealthiest and most famous men in America. She’s savvy, competitive, and a hell of a talker: When Molly butts heads with the straight-arrow lawyer (Idris Elba) hired to represent her, it’s a mano-a-monologue clash of the titans, and Sorkin and Chastain are clearly thrilled to bring this real-life character to the screen.

When Vulture caught up with the two of them this week at the Toronto Film Festival, their interplay was just as delightful as a scene Sorkin might have scripted. They admire and tease each other, often in the same sentence, and Sorkin and Chastain had a whole lot to say about how the film came together, why this is a female character worth touting, and portrayals of women onscreen. First, though, there was a little small talk, and a clarification Sorkin was keen to solicit: What’s so funny about him going to one of Hollywood’s most notorious nightclubs?

Jessica, I know that you like to go see other movies when you come to film festivals. Did you have the chance to see anything yesterday?
Jessica Chastain: No, I was doing a little X-Men.
Aaron Sorkin: So it’s true?
JC: What’s true? X-Men?
AS: You’re saying you were at the X-Men?
JC: I’m in X-Men, the movie.
AS: That’s what I’m saying. You’re in the X-Men … thing.
JC: I was shooting yesterday.
AS: And you’re a villain?
JC: Well …

Villainy is in the eye of the beholder.
JC: Exactly. Villainy is … actually, I could go there super easily, but let’s not talk politics.
AS: [to Vulture] I have to ask you something quickly before we get started, because I’m so curious. You guys ran a piece a few weeks ago, after I had done a phone interview with someone else …

The post about you going to 1Oak for the first time?
AS: Yes.
JC: [Laughs.]
AS: And I couldn’t figure out why. I understood that this is obviously snarky and that there’s something funny about my having gone to 1Oak, but I could not understand what it was.
JC: I think for me, I would like to imagine what Aaron Sorkin even wears to 1Oak. [She gestures to his tan suit.] Did you wear this?
AS: I don’t even remember what I wore yesterday.
JC: Did you wear black jeans?
AS: I don’t think I own 1Oak clothes.
JC: Do you own a pair of black jeans?
AS: No. I own a pair of blue jeans. A couple pairs.
JC: I think that’s what’s funny about it, Aaron.

It’s a fish-out-of-water story.
JC: It’s amazing. It would be like if I went to the boxing fight, since I’m not really into men beating each other up. It’s that kind of thing, you know?
AS: Hmmm, okay. Well, I’ll tell you what I did discover from that trip, which made it into the movie: There are girls in pink wigs that you buy shots for. They’re employees of the place, but you buy them shots, which obviously uses up all the liquor. I thought it was so funny. I couldn’t get over it, and neither could Molly.
JC: And so you used it in the movie.

Aaron, you’ve always seemed to enjoy plunging yourself into some unfamiliar milieu for your work and learning everything there is to know, from slang to power structures. When I see Molly googling poker terms as she hears people say them at her games, I thought, “I could see Aaron Sorkin doing that, too.”
AS: That’s true. In fact, in this particular case, so many of the questions that Idris Elba’s character Charlie asks her are questions that I asked Molly. He’s so curious about her and obviously there are pieces that are missing, so he keeps asking her these questions that, at first, she doesn’t want to talk about. As a favor to a lawyer, a friend I know socially, I read Molly’s book and agreed to meet with her, and in that first meeting, which was an hour long, and I knew by the end that there was something there that was really wonderful and I wanted to write it. It began with her not being anything like who I thought she was going to be, and Charlie has that surprise, too. This woman is not who the tabloids made her out to be, and that was my discovery.

The movie was a bit of a discovery for me, too. I liked it so much, and I had gone in sort of wary, wondering if Molly’s story could really sustain a film for two hours and 20 minutes.
JC: It’s two hours and 20 minutes?
AS: It’s two hours and 12 minutes.
JC: I didn’t know that! It’s probably a good thing that I couldn’t tell. I’ve been in movies where you could tell that when you watched it.

I know you’ll blanch at this comparison, but it reminded me of Goodfellas in that if I were to come upon this on TV sometime, I’d be powerless not to watch and get swept up in it. It’s fun, and it just moves.
JC: He had me watch Goodfellas!
AS: First of all, I should tell you that no one is going to mind being compared to Goodfellas. But I had her watch Goodfellas just because there’s so much voice-over in it, like there is in Molly’s Game. And to my knowledge, Jessica had not done a film with voice-over at all.
JC: Yes, I have.

She’s done the mother of all voice-over: Terrence Malick voice-over.
AS: Oh, yeah, Tree of Life. Tree of Life.
JC: I had done a couple. And I had seen Goodfellas already, but it was really great for me to see it again because the voice-over in that is very different from any voice-over I had done in the past.
AS: It’s also different than the voice-over in Molly’s Game, and here’s how: Yes, there’s a ton of voice-over in Goodfellas, but it’s largely expository, whereas the voice-over in Molly’s Game … sure, there’s some that’s expository, but a lot of her character and personality is in that voice-over. We’re seeing another Molly in those moments, a Molly who knows how this story ends.
JC: Like a TED talk.
AS: I would put it to Jessica: Pretend you’re doing Molly Bloom’s TED talk, and she’s been asked to tell her story.
JC: My favorite thing is that when we finally finished the voice-over — and actually, I really liked doing them and I’m glad we spent so much time on it — is that I said to Aaron, “Now, as a gift to me, I want you to take the most dramatic scene in the movie and voice Molly for me.” And he did.
AS: Somewhere around here is the footage of me saying, “It’s. My. Name!”
JC: I have the video clip. I took it on my phone.
AS: I’d also like to say something else, which is that before we started shooting, there was a lot of conversation about Jessica’s hair color in the film.

Why?
AS: Why, indeed. A) I don’t really care that much, and b) I am incredibly uncomfortable telling anyone, much less a woman, what I want them to look like. “Here’s what would please me, if you looked like this.” I’m very uncomfortable with that, but hair color had a slight importance because I wanted Molly to look different in present day than she does in flashback, and I wanted there to be a couple of different flashback looks as Molly gets further and further from who she was as she’s reinventing herself. I really liked Jessica’s red hair …
JC: … but I wanted to look more like [brunette] Molly, and he wanted to make her look like me.
AS: But who cares if you look like Molly? It doesn’t matter.
JC: This conversation went on for a long time — “red hair, brown hair, red hair, brown hair” — and then, finally, we’re on set and I do look like Molly. And I will say, many people have told me that I looked better in this movie than I ever have before, which is interesting. But anyway, we’re on set, and someone holds up a poker chip and Aaron goes, “Is that poker chip red?”
AS: I said, “You’ve got to understand, I’m color-bl …” I froze. I stopped in the middle of the sentence. And Jessica went, “Were you about to say, I’m color-blind?”
JC: We’ve been talking about my hair color for ages!
AS: Well, it was a good discussion, because it looks great.

Jessica, you were on the jury at Cannes this year and you bemoaned the lack of interesting female protagonists.
JC: Actually, I’ve seen some of the stuff you’ve written about that and I really want to talk to you off the record about it. Come find me later in the festival.

Well, I think those comments struck a chord with people who want to see female characters who aren’t just passive love interests. So now that you’ve got everyone’s attention, how would you sell Molly’s Game to them as being in line with those comments?
JC: It’s the story of a woman who uses her intellect and her competitive nature to become powerful in an industry traditionally dominated by men. For me, that is a very interesting story to tell. It’s also a woman who has her own agency. She’s not there serving the male characters in the story, she has her own wants and desires. She has an arc in the film. A character can be small and have an arc, but this film rests on Molly’s shoulders and we spend a lot of time with her. As you know, I love movies and see everything I can, and I will say that what’s really been heartbreaking to me is that there are these brilliant filmmakers I’ve always wanted to work with, but when I look back over their careers and say, “Have they ever made a movie about a woman?” in many cases, with these great filmmakers, the answer is no. Aaron Sorkin is already a filmmaker in his own right and so successful; he didn’t have to write a movie about a woman’s journey, and he did. That, to me, is so touching and inspiring and I hope other artists in the industry will take note of it. I hope they’ll know that you can tell a story about a woman and it doesn’t have to be this traditional, stereotypical role of what a woman was in the past.

Aaron, you’ve written female co-leads before, but is this your first no-bones-about-it female protagonist?
AS: It is, but I certainly didn’t say to myself, “What I’d like to do now is write about a woman.” Listen, the fact that Molly is a woman is not irrelevant to the story, by any means, but I will say that it’s irrelevant to how I wrote it. I wasn’t thinking in a different way.
JC: You have a daughter. Your daughter is very much important to you.
AS: Here’s what I’m nervous about: I don’t want how I write a character to be interpreted as how that character speaks. One of the things about this that I was really attracted to was Molly’s wit, her brains, her communication skills. Most of the characters I write are smarter than I am, and that appeals to me. Most of the characters that any writer writes are more something than the writer is, right? They’re more daring than the writer is if you’re watching Mission: Impossible, they’re sexier than the writer is if you’re writing a romantic comedy, they’re more villainous than the writer is if you’re writing that sort of thing. So Molly definitely fell into the category of characters who are smarter than I am, but I don’t think there’s a specific way a woman is supposed to speak, and I’m not going to make that statement about three and a half billion people. I was just writing Molly. I wasn’t writing a woman.

Has your daughter influenced your writing at all?
AS: As far as Roxy goes … she’s a teenager now. That happened fast, she used to be very little. Fatherhood is something I’ve started writing about more. Back in Steve Jobs, I was doing it, and it became a very important part of the story [of Molly’s Game] to me. But even more than that, Molly was a person and a character that I ended up wanting my daughter to take a look at and admire. Her integrity, how important capital-C character is to her … I thought that was so important today when it is tougher and tougher to raise a woman. Particularly where I live, which is Los Angeles, but I think it’s everywhere. Young women are being asked to value themselves in terrible ways, so this was yet another reason why this all appealed to me.

Jessica Chastain Takes on the Real-Life Backroom Dealing of Hollywood’s Legendary Poker Ring

In 2011 Hollywood was rocked by the news that the FBI had opened an investigation into what would soon become the most infamous poker ring in history. It all started when a hedge fund manager lost $25 million playing alongside acting’s biggest stars—Ben AffleckMatt Damon and Tobey Maguire among them.

The criminal investigation and effect on the industry’s A-listers became the biggest story of the summer, revealing delightfully sordid details like dark backroom clubs, secretive games in high-priced hotel suites and Ponzi schemes. Rumors and news of the poker ring trickled out for years afterwards, thanks to courtroom proceedings and paperwork that was slowly released to the media. It had all the markings of an expensive, testosterone-filled blockbuster movie. Even Leonardo DiCapriowas involved. 

The only problem that Hollywood’s inner circle tightened even harder around the details of the ring, and nobody would talk. It’s hard to make a movie based solely on conjecture. Until Molly Bloom, the woman who ran most of these high-priced poker tournaments for a decade before being arrested by the FBI, decided to write a book. That’s where Jessica Chastain comes in. 

The Oscar-nominated actress is the star of the upcoming Molly’s Game, due to hit theaters on November 22, which tells the story from the point of the view of Bloom herself. Anyone who enjoyed the fast-paced, take-no-prisoners woman of steel that Chastain produced in the recent Miss Sloane will find another unlikely heroine here. 

The actual story of how Bloom came to power in the poker ring is something that truly cannot be made up. She began as a cocktail waitress and had been hired by a wealthy real estate investor to play hostess at a gambling tournament he was throwing at Hollywood’s infamous club The Viper Room. That night’s game was attended by all of the movie industry’s biggest players, and Bloom called them all out by name in her memoir: Todd, Bruce, Tobey, Leo. Molly came away with several thousand dollars in tip money that evening, and suddenly she had a new career. 

Cocktail waitressing at a a game run by her boss quickly turned into running her own high-stakes games and run-ins with groups like the Russian mob (hence the arrest), and she became notorious among the elite class of gamblers that included directors, actors and producers. 

So how do you go about making a movie that simultaneously skewers many of the movie industry’s biggest players, most of whom still don’t like talking about the incident to this day? First you have to cast the lead role. For Aaron Sorkin, who makes his directorial debut with Molly’s Game, playing Molly was not for beginners.

“What you needed was one of the finest actresses in the world,” he explained at the movie’s Toronto International Film Festival press conference. “There was a nuance to this role, a strength, a very interesting sense of humor. Jessica fit the bill like no other, and it was a matter of wooing her to get her to put her considerable reputation into the hands of a person who had never directed a movie before.”

Yet Chastain describes taking on this role as an easy decision; the magnitude of tackling the salacious subject matter didn’t even dawn on the actress, because she was so drawn to the character of Molly Bloom. She has made it no secret as of late that she’s looking to change the landscape for women in Hollywood, and she believes it all starts with her movie selection process.

“I’m now really aware of what I’m putting out into the world,” Chastain said at the press conference. “What am I doing to contribute to the industry in a positive way? To me that means playing women who are complicated, who aren’t angelic or a sexy object of desire. I’m interested in playing authentic women who make a lot of mistakes and who can get quite messy sometimes.”

To prepare for playing a woman who was all of those things (and, on top of them, someone who has plead guilty for a federal crime), she needed to learn everything she could about the poker industry and Molly’s role in the Hollywood poker ring. She admits that when she first Googled the story, she found it impossible not to judge her. This was a woman who helped Tinseltown’s biggest players win millions of dollars, after all.

But then Chastain met Molly, and went to watch poker matches that were similar to what went down in the movie, and began to form an understanding of what she went through.

“The more time I spent with her, the more I started to understand the position she had been forced into,” she said. “She was in an industry that was male-dominated and where they made all the rules. Her livelihood was dependent on whether they [the poker players] felt like she was giving them enough attention. I had a lot of empathy for her for that.”

While Chastain learned plenty during the making of Molly’s Game, including the in’s and out’s of the competitive poker industry and, one would imagine, more than her fair share of gambling lingo, she left the set with a few takeaways for her own life, as well. Most importantly, she wants women to take a stand whenever they can.

“Molly makes a lot of mistakes in the film, and for me the first was when her boss tells her she has an ugly dress and shoes,” explained Chastain. “She changed who she was to fit into what she thought she needed to be, to find power and success. Just wear the ugly dress and the ugly shoes and make people respect you for more than just what you present physically”

 

Jessica Chastain’s Sitting Bull film pays heed to indigenous voices (VIDEO) | Showbiz

Actor Jessica Chastain arrives at the premiere of the film ‘Woman Walks Ahead’ at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto Canada, September 11, 2017. — Reuters picActor Jessica Chastain arrives at the premiere of the film ‘Woman Walks Ahead’ at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto Canada, September 11, 2017. — Reuters picTORONTO, Sept 12 — While her name will receive top billing when Woman Walks Ahead hits cinemas, Oscar-nominated actress Jessica Chastain was eager to avoid playing a white saviour in the tale of two disenfranchised people finding hope and resistance together.

The film, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday night, tells the true story of Caroline Weldon, who was also known as Catherine. Weldon travelled alone from New York to the Dakota Territory, ostensibly to paint a portrait of Lakota Sioux tribal chief Sitting Bull.

“In the 1880s a woman couldn’t save anyone,” Chastain said yesterday, adding, “Sitting Bull is the one rallying the people and speaking to the people.”

Michael Greyeyes, the Canadian Plains Cree actor who played Sitting Bull, said Chastain even altered a scene in which she was to sit next to Sitting Bull while he addresses his people, moving herself to the background.

“That speaks to her generosity, that speaks to her political consciousness about white narratives within indigenous stories,” he said.

The film portrays Sitting Bull in the days leading up to his 1890 murder and the subsequent massacre at Wounded Knee, working with the painter to convince his people to reject a land treaty amid a U.S. military campaign to subdue the native population.

“I see it as an alternative Western,” director Susanna White said. “It’s offering people a voice who were a part of that story whose stories were never told.”

The film was shot while protesters camped in the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota fighting the planned Dakota Access pipeline, reminding cast and crew of the ongoing battle to protect indigenous land.

“The concerns of the dominant culture remain that we must consume, we must take, and we will clear the lands that we desire through starvation and violence,” Greyeyes said.

Chastain, whose production company aims to amplify marginalised voices and who works on at least one film a year with a female director, said she was drawn to the tale of a woman consigned to historical footnote.

“I want to put out stories in the world that hopefully will be little seeds of inspiration,” she said. “For young girls to know that, ‘Yes, there are women before you and they did incredible things, and you can too’,” she said.

“You have to put your money where your mouth is. You can’t just talk about it, you have to do whatever you can to create change.” — Reuters