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Jessica Chastain: There's beauty in a heroine's imperfections.

Byline: Rito P. Asilo

I NEVER responded to fairy tales when I was younger, because the idea of damsels in distress was really not for me, Jessica Chastain told us in Singapore last week when we joined other Asian journalists for the promo tour of Cedric Nicolas-Troyan's The Huntsman: Winter's War.

But, I like the film's modern take on Snow White's (expanded) fairy tale-and I love this particular story, because it's so 'equal.' So, for this (deconstructed) story to inspire viewers to be in a relationship like that-that would truly make me happy, she added.

In the film, the versatile actress plays warrior Sara, the Huntsman's future wife-and Jessica's in great company: Winter's War, the sequel to 2012's Snow White and The Huntsman, also stars Chris Hemsworth (as Eric, the Huntsman), Charlize Theron (as evil Queen Ravenna, Snow White's rabble-rousing stepmom) and Emily Blunt (as Ice Queen Freya, Ravenna's broken-hearted younger sister).

We would have loved to see Emily Blunt, who couldn't make the trip because of her pregnancy. But, which movie buff doesn't want to meet the alter egos of Thor and Imperator Furiosa-and the next villainess of Fast and Furious' eighth installment?

And, if you've seen Zero Dark Thirty, The Martian, The Help, Tree of Life, Interstellar, Crimson Peak and Mama on the big screen, as well as The Heiress on Broadway, you'd be foolish to pass up the chance to meet her generation's Meryl Streep-the luminous Ms Chastain.

With that astounding body of work, why choose the Snow White saga? I try to do all kinds of films-and different genres. I've been wanting to do movies like this, but I didn't really want to play the wife or the daughter in films where the men always get to do the fun stuff. So, I was happy when 'Winter's War's' script finally came along.

Maternal love

She's gotten to know the Ice Queen and the Evil Queen after six months of shooting the film. Whom would she rally behind? I'd choose the Ice Queen, Jessica answered. Freya has maternal love, even if it's in an unhealthy 'Mommie Dearest' sort of way. Ravenna is just a bad chick (laughs)!

For Jessica, there's beauty in a heroine's flaws. She said she enjoyed creating Sara-a fierce but lovestruck warrior who's forbidden to fall in love with Eric-because of Troyan's collaborative directorial style.

She explained, Notice the scar on my character's face. In most films, women are expected to be perfect. But, Sara's scar is one of the things that make her beautiful! I thought, 'If Sara's a fighter and a warrior, she'd have a scar-so, I begged Cedric to give her one! And I was shocked that Universal allowed this love interest to have a facial imperfection-I love it.

In terms of character and film choices, Jessica loves breaking boundaries, especially in male-dominated Hollywood.

But, while she thinks it's important for women to get cast in more gender-blind roles, she says that it's more important to have a level playing field, where a performer's gender ceases to be an issue: Listen, any film that has balance, and where men and women are equally represented, is always going to be a better film! I think that's true for any industry.

Does she watch her own movies at cineplexes? She replied, I buy a ticket, sit in the back and see what the audience's reaction is. Take 'Zero Dark Thirty' (where she earned her second Oscar nomination, after 'The Help')-it was such a 'secret' project. I just showed up in the film's last 40 minutes to watch people watch it-and it was a lot of fun!

In her experience, what was the craziest fan reaction, so far? The red-carpet premiere in Singapore was pretty intense-the fans were very enthusiastic! There were screaming and crying. There was one women who I thought was going to faint. It made me feel like a Beatle (laughs)!
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Apr 16, 2016
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