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TIFF: "Eleanor Rigby" Was Written For Jessica Chastain

Jessica outside the Elgin in TorontoOne of my fondest memories of TIFF 13 will be the simple fact that I sat in the same theater with Jessica Chastain for what appeared to be one of the most personal moments of her career. The theater, the Visa Elgin in Toronto, is a giant spacious ornate beast that holds well over a 1000 people but still... I was there! And so was Jessica! Proximity glory even from the balcony, people. 

The event was the premiere of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her and the movie, a two part romantic grief drama that runs 3 hours when combined (and which probably shouldn't be separated), will undoubtedly have a difficult path to audiences. So its first screening was in the biggest theater it will ever see to the most appreciative crowd it might ever get. That audience included a few members of the film's principal cast most of whom hadn't yet seen it.

Jessica Chastain was in tears afterwards detailing her friendship with the writer/director Ned Benson. They first met ten years ago when she approached him at a film festival where his short was playing asking to show him her reel because she loved his movie! (Take that Nicki & Naomi). This film, his feature debut, appears to be a giant loving personal gift to her or maybe its her gift to him since she stars and also produced it. Consider that Jessica's self proclaimed "favorite actress in the world" Isabelle Huppert plays her mom, that her beloved co-star from The Help Viola Davis plays her confidante and professor and that her very best friend "practically my sister" Jess Weixler (The Good WifeTeeth a few years ago) plays her best friend & actual sister in the film and you know how personal this all runs.

Jessica, her friend Ned Benson (the writer/director) and her co-star James McAvoy

The bow on this Jessica gift? The film, or films if you will, is/are wonderful. But more on them later.

Despite a premiere/movie that is all about loving and struggling with losing her (she's Elle Rigby), she deflected the light, getting most tearful when she expressed her feelings about her friend and debuting director's long journey to this premiere. 

I'm just so happy for him."

Jessica's First (of Many to Come) Oscar Ceremony in Feb 2012

When we (i.e. all of us) first met Jessica Chastain as an actress a couple of years ago now, her performances were so varied and and wave-like in their multitudes that who she was as a star offscreen was a tantalizing mystery. By the end of her first year in the limelight her offscreen persona was visible to all at the Oscars. Turns out she's just a big softie, a gushy sentimental girlie girl, a walking warm fuzzy. She probably loved unicorns as a child and probably still dots her "i"s with hearts! Which is all completely endearing... especially since her screen performances have told such a different story and cinema's iciest and least sentimental actress, Isabelle Huppert, happens to be her personal favorite.

Don't you love the rich disparity? 



Podcast a group discussion of TIFF 13: Oscar buzz, our favorite films, and more
Ambition & Self Sabotage on Gravity and Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her
Mano-a-Mano Hallucinations Norway's Pioneer & Jake Gyllenhaal² in Enemy
Quickies Honeymoon, Young & Beautiful, Belle
Labor Day in a freeze-frame nutshell
August Osage County reactions Plus Best Picture Nonsense
Rush Ron Howard's crowd pleaser
The Past from Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi & Cannes Best Actress Berenice Bejo
Queer Double FeatureTom at the Farm and Stranger by the Lake
Boogie Nights Live Read with Jason Reitman and Friends
First 3 Screenings: Child's Pose, Unbeatable and Isabelle Huppert in Abuse of Weakness 
TIFF Arrival: Touchdown in Toronto. Two unsightly Oscars

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Reader Comments (23)

I'm with you. I'm not one for following celebs on Facebook, but I follow her. I also dig that she's a fan of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, as evidenced by the time she geeked out over getting a picture taken with Kurt Russell.

September 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul C.

She is, and I never use this phrase lightly, super duper.

September 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJa

If I could Tron myself and buy real estate anywhere on the Internet, I would definitely save up for a nice condo on her Facebook page. Such a warm climate! And there's a cute dog around always.

September 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwill h

I'm fanatical about Chastain and part of me wishes she weren't American simply because I know what's coming in the next few years with Hollywood and their treatment of female talent not named Streep or one of the foreign broads, Brits, Aussies.

September 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I truly madly deeply believe she's the best actress in her age bracket.

September 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

I saw the film today and I'm curious how it will ever be released. They showed Her before Him today, while I understand yesterday they showed it in the other order. I imagine it is a different experience depending on which movie you see first.

September 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDoug

Can I just be really superficial for a minute and say, my god, this woman is getting more beautiful by the minute!

September 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergoran

Who doesn't love Chastain. Also it's nice to know she loves Huppert for the Piano Teacher which is a performance she talks about a lot. I wish I could have seen this but I'm sure we will hopefully this year because a year without a Chastain performance is a year that does feel empty (I Know Mama came out but that was in January which I consider part of the previous year's films)

September 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEoin Daly

Nathan, I am so jealous. She is a national treasure ( stay away, Nic Cage). Why didn't she win that goddamn Oscar.

September 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Doug, I too saw it today in that order. It worked beautifully for me.

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

I saw it the other way first HIM then HER. I felt HER was the strongest of the two.

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

So happy for her!

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

I literally can't imagine it with HIM last. HER needs to be last! the ending of Him can't possibly be the ending of both movies combined can it?

DOUG -- no spoilers. can you email me at filmexperience @ gmail . com and tell me how HIM ended... i wonder if they tack on the final beat of HER or something instead?

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

I saw this lovely film - HER 1st; then HIM. I was ok with the HIM ending ending the film as you knew what happened at the end of HER. I guess it would make more sense to have HER 2nd.
I also got Jessica's pic and autograph!! She's SO lovely.

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

hey guys, how did you like the movies?

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermasatom

Loved it - Masatom. It's really beautiful and was also picked up by Weinstein Company for 2014.

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Thanks Joseph. Are you sure the release is set for 2014?

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermasatom

If you're heading out for tiff this week, bring your camera and capture your tiff experience for a chance to have your pics featured in Toronto's Etobicoke Guardian newspaper and win a pair of Cineplex tickets. It's simple, just follow @metrolandto on Instagram, @metrolandTO on Twitter or Metroland Toronto on Facebook, post your photos and tag #metroventure. Lights, camera, capture!

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMetroland

Not to mention she has a three legged terrier named Chaplin. I mean could she be more endearing??!?

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

Your article perfectly sums up how Jessica's fans feel about her. She is a very special talent and a very special person. A fine example for the rest of Hollywood.

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Nathaniel, HIM ends the same way, regardless of it being first or second.

I liked the movie a lot - I preferred HER but I preferred his character. Both hit some terrific beats throughout and I think the work is more than the sum of its parts.

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

I wished I could've saw it at TIFF but I had a day package and it conflicted with Gravity. But, now knowing Harvey has his hands on it, I fear the movie is going to be severely cut apart rather than continue to play with its unique structure.

Chastain's Facebook is great. She just seems so grateful for what has happened to her even if she had to wait so long to break through. Plus, yeah, her love for Big Trouble in Little China endeared to me a lot. Also she gives an interview regarding The Help about studying Marilyn Monroe movies and really being so taken by these roles and turns only hardcore Marilyn fans would know. She seems like such an approachable cinephile. I wouldn't be surprised if she gets on some major film festival juries.

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Anyone thinks Nomination #3 is likely for her in 2013?

September 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkailor

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