Jessica Chastain at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on February 8. Photo: Godlis

Few actors can say they starred in six major films in one year. Even fewer actors can say one of their first films was with Al Pacino. Jessica Chastain can say both. As brilliant as she is sincere, Chastain “draws the viewer's attention like a magnet,” declared Robert Koehler, who moderated a conversation with the Oscar-nominated actress at the Film Society of Lincoln Center last week. 

The free event quickly became standing room only as crowds braved the arrival of Winter Storm Nemo, standing in line for over an hour to catch a glimpse of the talented redhead. Not only did Chastain talk freely with Koehler and the audience, but she gave tips of the trade to Juilliard students in the audience (her alma mater), delving into what she described as the spirituality of acting. “I studied bringing Raphael's painting, The Madonna, to life for Tree of Life,” said Chastain, “and Julliard has given me the training to go from Zero Dark Thirty to Mama … we'll see if I succeeded at it.” (Spoiler: She did).

Although a portion of the conversation touches on these recent works, Koehler dug deep into what makes Chastain tick as an actress, including the emotional toll it takes to play to the unspoken subtext of her characters. When referring to a shouting match scene between her and Kyle Chandler in Zero Dark Thirty, Chastain said it “felt like I was going to turn into the Hulk.” The comment roused a laugh from the audience, but came from a place of sincerity about the anger she had to muster for the scene.

The layers of Chastain’s humor, sophistication and ingenuity, as an actress and person, begin to peel back as you revisit the dense yet entertaining conversation. But don't take our word for it; (re)watch full video of the event below! An Academy Award nominee two years running (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty), don't count out Jessica Chastain as The Season comes to a close.