[WARNING: This interview contains SPOILERS for Crimson Peak.]
In just a few years’ time, Jessica Chastain has gone from being a relative unknown to an an A-list actress thanks to films like The Tree of Life, The Help, and Zero Dark Thirty. In the past year alone she’s starred in Interstellar, The Martian, and as of this weekend, Crimson Peak, Guillermo del Toro’s cinematic love letter to gothic horror and romantic melodrama.
In Peak, Chastain plays Lucille Sharpe, sister to Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and an all-around wonderful pianist. She’s a deeply mysterious character with something seemingly off-kilter about her from the get-go.
We had the opportunity to interview Jessica Chastain a couple weeks back and we talked Crimson Peak as well as her role in the upcoming Snow White and The Huntsman follow-up The Huntsman and whether or not she’d be interested in playing Captain Marvel if Marvel came calling.
[SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!]
Screen Rant: You aren’t particularly known for playing villains, but in Crimson Peak you have a pretty juicy villainous role. What did you do to get into the mind of this murderous, incest-crazed psychopath?
Jessica Chastain: [Laughter] No spoilers, man! No spoilers!
SR: We’ll put it in the title!
JC: [Laughter] You know, there was a lot to do to find the character. Guillermo wrote us all a backstory and biography. Mine was ten pages long and it had all the history, from the moment she was born until the movie begins, and that helped me. Then I…read graveyard poetry, I read psychology books about women similar to Lucille, without giving away any spoilers. And then there were three movies I looked at when playing the role. I looked at ‘Misery,’ ‘Rebecca,’ and ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.’
SR: This is your second horror movie, I think –
SR: And your second horror movie working with Guillermo. What was it that drew you to this film? Was it del Toro himself, was it the gothic horror?
JC: It’s Guillermo. We did ‘Mama’ together, the film that he produced, and I really like him as a filmmaker and I really like him as a person. I think his imagination is incredible and I also love the compassion that he has for his monsters in his fairy tales, and how much he loves his monsters. So when I got this script and I saw that – the first good thing is there’s two incredible female roles, which, that usually doesn’t happen. And another good thing, if I’m going to play Lucille, Guillermo’s the one to do that with because he’s going to make sure that it’s not just this flat archetype of a character. He’s going to make a really layered and – you can kind of understand where she’s coming from to make her what she is.
SR: You’re in the sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman next year, which has an incredible female cast. There’s you, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt. Can you tell us what your role is and more generally what we can expect from the sequel?
JC: Yeah, I play Sara, I’m a warrior. A Scottish warrior. And I kick a lot of butt in this movie. [Pause] I can’t really tell you much about it, but…it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done, I got to work a lot with Chris Hemsworth and Nick Frost and Rob Brydon and Sheridan Smith and Alexis Broach [and] Emily [Blunt] and I got to work a little bit with Charlize, which – that was fantastic. Because I love her Ravenna.
SR: Last year, you were quoted as saying you’d had discussions with Marvel, and at the time you said they were not about Captain Marvel.
SR: However, would you be interested in that role if Marvel offered it to you?
JC: I mean, I would be interested in any role if the script was good.
SR: Right. Great. I just wanted to say, every time they said “Lucille” in the movie, I couldn’t help but think of Arrested Development. I don’t know if you –
JC: No, tell me.
SR: You’ve never seen Arrested Development?
JC: I’ve seen ‘Arrested Development,’ but…
SR: Lucille? You know, the matriarch of the family?
JC: Oh, really? [Laughter] I forgot her name.
SR: Yeah, every time [someone said “Lucille”], I was like, “Oh my God, it’s Jessica Walter.”
SR: Anyways, thank you very much.
JC: Thank you!
Crimson Peak is in theaters now.