A Minute With: Jessica Chastain on "Zero Dark Thirty"

Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:23am EST
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jessica Chastain carries the weight of starring in one of the year's most anticipated films, "Zero Dark Thirty," about the decade-long hunt and eventual killing of Osama bin Laden.

Critics say Chastain pulls it off seamlessly as "Maya," based on a real-life CIA agent who played a major role in tracking down bin Laden at his hideout in Pakistan.

As the film opens in limited U.S. release on Wednesday, Chastain, who is tipped as a likely best actress Oscar nominee for the role, talked to Reuters about playing a character she could not meet and why the film is an important look at America's role in a dark war.

Q. What did you think when you saw this film finished?

A. "It is a tough one for me to watch, because there is so much responsibility with playing this woman. I find her to be incredible. And I didn't want to change her story or make her a Hollywood version, with a lot of makeup. I didn't want to trivialize what she did ... I want her to like it, but I don't know if she will ever see it."

Q. How did you play someone you had never met?

A. "There was three months of working with (screenplay writer) Mark Boal, doing research, reading lists and talking to people. And then anything I could not solve through research, like what is her favorite candy - 'cause when we are all overseas we have something we do when we are homesick - I had to answer that question myself."

Q. Boal hasn't gone into too much detail about her?   Continued...

Cast members Jessica Chastain and Edgar Ramirez greet each other at the premiere of "Zero Dark Thirty"at the Dolby theatre in Hollywood, California December 10, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni