Jessica Chastain


  1. Olga Kurylenko, Oblivion, 2012.    Chastain was the #1 target for almost every Hollywood feature. That was the problem. Too many schedules not gelling. She quit and Olga, who had  tested before her, took over.  Also losing Julia were: Kate Mara, Brit Marling, Noomi Rapace. Olivia Wilde, Mary Elizabeth Winstead.Chastain won a biannual scholarship (funded by Robin Williams) to Julliard, graduating in 2003. Al Pacino is her mentor (after their stage and screen Salome. “I call him my acting godfather.”
  2. Rebecca Hall, Iron Man 3, 2012.    Considered for Maya Hansen were Gemma Arterton, Isla Fisher and Diane Kruger when Jessica passed on her first big pay-day to make the small-budget Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby and prepare her Broadway debut as The Heiress.  She would also refuse Marvel’s Ant-Man, 2014 – and finally went Marvel as the shape-shfting Vuk (rejected by Angelina Jolie) in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, 2017, the final X-Men production at Fox. She  was immediately nominated Worst Supporting Actress by the Razzies,  the Golden Rasberry Awards. The film itself, had the lowest box-office of the franchise. Well, no Wolverine…
  3. Ruth Wilson, The Lone Ranger, 2012.   Abbie Cornish, Sarah Gadon, Andrea Riseborough were also run up the totem pole to be Rebecca Reid opposite the lone Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp’s Tonto. Not to mention the horse.  Hi Ho Silver!
  4. Nicole Kidman, Grace of Monaco, 2012.    Also in the mix to play Grace Kelly were: Amy Adams, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Blunt, Kate Hudson, January Jones, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rosamund Pike, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon. But not Christina Applegate, the young Grace on TV in 1983 when Cheryl Ladd was the older. None of them resembled Her Serene Highness, but then nor did Tim Roth look like Prince Rainier.
  5. Maria Bello, Prisoners, 2012.   For the mother of an abducted daughter – but then it’s the guys’ film:  Hugh Jackman going viral as the father, opposite Jake Gyllenhaal’s New England cop. Not to mention the French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve saying… honestly… “I see this story as not just being about children who are kidnapped… It’s about how in some ways we all feel imprisoned.”   Ah !
  6. Noami Watts, Diana,  2013.   Well, if you can’t be Grace, how about Princess Di?  Scheduling prevented Chastain  enacting the last two years of Diana’s life: anti-landmines and pro-Dr Hasnat Khan. (Around the same time, Keira Knightley and Charlize Theron were up for other Di projects).
  7. Kate Hudson, Good People,  2013.   A busy diary got in  the way  of Chastain being James Franco’s wife and finding  a load of cash belonging to their tenant. He’s dead and they’re broke.
  8. Rachel McAdams, A Most Wanted Man, 2013.     Dutch director Anton Corbijn aimed high for his Annabel Richter  from John le Carre’s 21st novel – Chastain, Amy Adams, Carey Mulligan – and finished sadly, badly with a below par McAdams.  Thr  producers includedthe author’s son, Stephen Cornwell.
  9. Margot Robbie, The Legend of Tarzan, 2014.   Production delays meant Chastain had to quit being Jane on the vine with Swedish hunk Alexander Skarsgård’s ape-man. And Emma Stone refused. Harry Potter director David Yates quickly signed Robbie. By the time the film finally opened in the 2016 summer, she was everywhere!
  10. Rebecca Ferguson, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, 2014.  Turning down Tom Cruise again – none too keen on spending “six months” in the gym. More like the six weeks spent by the Swedish Ferguson on Pilates, fight choreography – and, not easy with her vertigo,  stunt practice.   

  11. Rachel McAdams, True Detective, 2014.     The second season could never match the impact and huge viewership – averaging 11.9m – of the first HBO season. They were both written by exec producer Nic Pizzolatti and even if the second show was better, no one would say so as the first had long since entered the pantheon alongside The Sopranos, Oz, The Wire, Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Last time, two cop guys; this time, guy and gal. They were considered a flop. The locale changed from Southern to West Coast noir, still owing everything to Elmore Leonard.Chastain, Malin Akerman, Jaime Alexander, Jessica Biel, Cate Blanchett, Oona Chaplin, Rosario Dawson, Brit Marling, Elisabeth Moss, Kelly Reilly, Abigail Spencer were all up for the role of Detective Ani Bezzerides…. opposite Colin Farrell. 

  12. Evangeline Lilly, Ant-Man, 2014.
    For the second time (after Iron Man 3), Chastain quit a Marvel movie due to her jam-packed  agenda…  The micro-superhero had been rolling around Hollywood ever since NewWorld’s 1988 plan was tossed because Disney was into Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Well, nowDisney was Marvel and had  Lilly set for Hope van Dyne, daughter of the first Ant-Man (Michael Douglas, no less), and eventually due (as per the post-credits teaser) to be Wasp Woman. Having been picked by  (the first director Edgar Wright, Lilly considered quitting when he was fired (for being Edgar Wright!). “I was in the fortunate position where I’d not signed my contract yet,” she told Adam B Vary at BuzzFeed. “So I had the choice to walk away and I almost did. Because I thought: Well, if it’s because Marvel are big bullies, and they just want a puppet and not someone with a vision, I’m not interested in being in this movie. Which is what I was afraid of.” Until meeting his successor Peyton Reed and examining the  new scenario. “Marvel had just pulled the script into their world…  and what Edgar was creating was much more in the Edgar Wright camp. Very different. If [Marvel] had created Edgar’s incredible vision – which would have been, like, classic comic book – it would have been such a riot to film [and] so much fun to watch. [But] it wouldn’t have fit in the Marvel Universe.”

  13. Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs, 2015.   Like almost every other lead female role, Joanna Hoffman was first offered to lady with the bulging agenda.  Hoffman was Jobs’ most trusted friend and consort, part of both the Macintosh and NeXT teams.  New auteur Araon Sorkin praised her for their Molly’s Game: “Jessica straps the  movie to her back in the first scene, runs a full sprint and doesn’t legt it off back until the end credits roll.”
  14. Nicole Kidman, The Upside, 2017.   Bizarre to find such A-Listers as Kidman, Chastain and Michelle Wiilliams in contention for such a   third wheel role and in, alas, a typically  hollow-wood re-hash of a gigantic French hit, Untouchables, 2011.    Kidman had previously  beaten Chastain to  the Grace Kelly biopic, Grace of Monaco, in 2013. 
  15. Ana de Armas, Blonde, 2020.    Who can play Marilyn?  Many have  tried. Many have failed. Producer Brad Pitt voted for  Chastain, his Tree of Life.  OK, she said. Until delays got in the way. Instead, Chastain took another biopic route, twice over, as C&W singer Tammy Wynette and tele-evangelist Tammy Faye Baker. Next? Naomi Watts ran into similar problems. And suddenly Cuba’s Anya exploded in Knives Out  – and co-star Daniel Craig chose her for Paloma, 007’s contact in Santiago, in his Bond finale, No Time To Die, 2019.  Anya spent nine months learning to talk like the never named  Marilyn in the second version of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel  The first had  been a TV two-parter with Australian  Poppy Montgomery in 2000.




“I did a little reading of it, in L.A., and I was casting the part of Salomé. She was unknown at the time, and came in to read for us…and she took me over. I remember looking over at the producer Robert Fox –  “Are you seeing this? Or am I dreaming?” I knew at that moment: ‘All right, I’m gonna film this thing.’  I remember hearing over the years about her performance in Salomé and how she basically booked a lot of her early parts out of that. Yes. That’s true. Director friends of mine, people I’ve known, heard about it and wanted to see it, so I sent them footage of what we were doing. It was so clear that she was a real actress and that she had this charisma and this classical feeling – and yet she could also do anything, pretty much. And they hired her! Right on the spot. It was great. While we were filming, I said to her: ‘I only hope that this film can live up or come close to what you’re doing as Salomé.’ That became my goal.” – Al Pacino, Villiage Voice, March 14, 2018. 


 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  15