Earlier this year, Jessica Chastain won an Oscar for her portrayal of the real-life TV preacher Tammy Faye – and soon she’ll be seen playing the singer Tammy Wynette in the series George & Tammy.
Chastain‘s current film The Good Nurse also sees her playing another real person – and though this one wasn’t famous, the movie will certainly show why she deserved a place in the history books.
The film tells the story of nurse Amy Loughren, a single mother with heart problems who works nights at a hospital. Following a series of suspicious deaths, she helps investigators build a case when their number one suspect turns out to be her good friend.
Chastain says it is important to her to shine a light on brilliant women, something she says she hasn’t seen enough of in her own life.
“I love women’s stories so much and so I get really inspired by the strength of women,” she told Sky News.
“I grew up when the history books never really talked about how incredibly dynamic and exciting and brave and heroic women are, and so it’s very exciting for me to be in a position where I can use my career to amplify those stories.
“Whenever I meet someone who has a very exciting story to tell, I want to be a part of that.”
Chastain says being able to speak to the real Amy helped her realise how courageous she was.
“All the things that she was juggling at the time – you know, being a single mother to two girls, not having health insurance, working on a night shift so you’re not really getting proper sleep, and also at the same time she needed a heart transplant.
“That’s what we walk in with at the beginning of this film and then realise, I mean, without giving any spoilers away, what she then stumbles into is quite shocking.”
It’s common for films based on real stories to ramp up the rough circumstances of the lead character to add to the drama.
But Loughren says when it came to her, things were actually even tougher than they look on screen.
“The thing that they don’t show in the film was that I was actually much more sick and I was terrified, truly terrified of leaving my two girls behind,” she told Sky News.
“And I was also directing a play at that time – I was directing my daughter’s sixth-grade play. I was exhausted and I still showed up.
“Watching Jessica play me, I allowed myself to feel proud of myself for showing up.”
But seeing her story unfold on screen wasn’t all cathartic.
Loughren admits that Eddie Redmayne‘s performance as her old friend Charlie was hard to watch.
“It was triggering watching Charlie because Eddie truly embodies who my friend Charlie was and the way that he moves, the way that he speaks, the interactions that we have are so real,” she said.
“That part of it was extremely triggering and allowing myself to understand that I missed him for a while and my guilt about actually missing my friendship because he’s a monster.
“But I didn’t know the murderer, I only met the murderer a couple of times. He played this part of my friend and I missed that friendship.”
The film is one of Chastain’s first big dramatic roles since winning the Oscar for best actress in March.
She admits while she enjoyed seeing herself branded as “Oscar winner Jessica Chastain” in the trailer for The Good Nurse, it’s all still sinking in.
“I’m still really kind of in a state of shock, but I’m really happy at the same time,” she said. “Especially on a project that I worked so long and so hard on, to be acknowledged in that way it’s very meaningful.”
The Good Nurse is in UK cinemas and on Netflix now