Jessica Chastain: Getting 'The 355' made was so difficult

·Contributor
·3-min read

Watch: Jessica Chastain talks to Yahoo about The 355

New espionage thriller The 355 — in cinemas this week — started as an idea that came to actor/producer Jessica Chastain when she was on the Cannes jury in 2017, and it turned out to be one of the most challenging projects of her career.

Talking to Yahoo, Chastain says once she’d decided on the story, she realised she could take a more independent approach to getting the film made.

"I had the idea for the film [in 2017]," Chastain told us. "I realised, if I got together a group of international actresses, we could raise the finances on our own and then be in creative control of the project.”

Read more: Jessica Chastain's skin 'permanently damaged' by new role

However, with great power came great responsibility, as the filmmaker explained.

“Getting it made was so difficult. I was doing things like getting finance and doing bond contracts — all kinds of stuff I never imagined doing — and then we posted the film during a pandemic. I’ve never even seen it with an audience!”

Jessica Chastain as Mason “Mace” in The 355, co-written and directed by Simon Kinberg.
Jessica Chastain as Mason in The 355, co-written and directed by Simon Kinberg. (Universal Pictures)

The movie sees the Zero Dark Thirty star return to the world of espionage, this time as a wildcard CIA agent who joins forces with a trio of rival agents to track down a top-secret weapon, which has fallen into mercenary hands.

It’s an action packed, international mission with the added complication of staying out of the way of a mysterious woman who’s tracking their every move.

Watch a clip from The 355

Getting the right cast was also 'very important' for Chastain.

“When I first talked to Simon Kinberg [the director] about it, I told him which actresses I wanted to work with,” she explained. Her impressive shopping list included Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger and Penelope Cruz, who play the other agents.

“I’d met all of them previously, adored them — really respected them as artists and as people — so that helped in terms of chemistry.”

(from left) Graciela (Penélope Cruz), Mason “Mace” Brown (Jessica Chastain), Marie (Diane Kruger) and Khadijah (Lupita Nyong'o) in The 355, co-written and directed by Simon Kinberg.
Graciela (Penelope Cruz), Mason Brown (Jessica Chastain), Marie (Diane Kruger) and Khadijah (Lupita Nyong'o) in The 355 (Universal Pictures)

She was especially keen to work with the 'rad' Nyong’o.

“I’d always loved her work, been such an admirer of hers and I’d been wondering for a long time about how to get a project together for the two of us.”

One of Hollywood’s most in-demand actors, Chastain will be back on UK screens next month in The Eyes Of Tammy Faye, which sees her producing as well as playing the title role. It’s a performance which had made her a leading contender for the coming awards season.

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 28: Jessica Chastain attends the Closing Ceremony of the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 28, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Laurent KOFFEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Jessica Chastain attends the Closing Ceremony of the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival, 2017 (Laurent KOFFEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Later in the year, she’ll be on the small screen as country singer Tammy Wynette in George And Tammy, alongside Michael Shannon, her co-star in 2011’s Take Shelter. The mini series also re-unites her with John Hillcoat, who directed her ten years ago in Lawless.

The 355 is in cinemas 7 January. Watch a trailer below.

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