Interstellar’s Jessica Chastain barely talked to co-star Matthew McConaughey

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4 Dec 2018

Jessica Chastain stars in the film Interstellar. Jessica Chastain stars in the film Interstellar.
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Jessica Chastain stars in the film Interstellar.

Jessica Chastain stars in the film Interstellar.

World of their own … Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway barely interacted with co-star Jessica Chastain.

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You know you are part of an exclusive Hollywood club when you are starring in a film with two Oscar winners, Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, and directed by Oscar-nominated and cult filmmaker Christopher Nolan.

But in the science-fiction drama Interstellar, Jessica Chastain rarely crosses paths with her famous co-stars. That’s because her character, Murphy, is Earth-bound, an astrophysicist trying to bring home McConaughey and Hathaway’s characters, who are lost in space.

“Because they are in different worlds in the film, I felt slightly that way on set, because we never even had a cast dinner or anything that brought us together,” the 37-year-old says at the Los Angeles press day for the film. “My character was very isolated, emotionally and literally, in the film, so it’s interesting that I’m only getting to know them all better now we are doing press.”

Interstellar is set in a near future in which an agricultural crisis has brought the world to its knees and dust covers the planet. Former fighter pilot Cooper (McConaughey) is recruited to take a team, including scientist Amelia (Hathaway), into space on a desperate mission to save humankind from extinction. Forced to leave behind his two children, Cooper is gone longer than anyone anticipated, and while he remains the same age in space, his daughter Murphy (Chastain) grows from a petulant child (Mackenzie Foy) into an astrophysicist looking for her own solution to the crisis.

“We’ve all at some point felt left or abandoned and it was kind of heartbreaking for me to play this woman who isolated herself because of the lies that just kept coming,” Chastain says.

A two-time Oscar nominee,for The Help (2011) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Chastain admits she cried “nerd tears” when Nolan asked her to be in his epic science-fiction blockbuster. “It’s a thrilling space adventure movie and I knew it was going to have these sections that were so mindboggling in space,” she says. “But for me, the core of the film is about the bonds of love between a father and daughter.”

The elegant redhead is surprisingly shy when it comes to talking about herself but her co-star Hathaway is eager to do it for her. “I think this is Jessica’s best performance yet in an already considerable career,” says Hathaway. “I had met her because we went through award season together the year I was in Les Miserables and she was in Zero Dark Thirty but we only had short, fun interactions on the red carpet. And then the first day we were doing camera tests for this film, Jessica had just come from a two-week gourmet cooking class and I remember being so charmed because she was describing how you poach the perfect egg and I realised she was a great actor because she was that passionate and intense about everything.”

While Nolan grappled with a variety of technical challenges in bringing the story to the screen, Chastain had her own struggles on Earth: she was covered in a dust created from biodegradable grated cardboard.

“It was very Earth-friendly dust but it’s not the most comfortable thing to have chucked at your face with winds everywhere,” she says with a grimace. “At the same time I knew Anne was in an astronaut suit trying to run in ice-cold water and Matthew was on a glacier in Iceland and couldn’t look down because of his space helmet. So I wasn’t going to be the one complaining about buckets of dust!”

Interstellar is out tomorrow

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