Hollywood actress Jessica Chastain speaks about the Hollywood strikes that went on four months, bringing the industry to a halt
Hollywood actress Jessica Chastain speaks about the Hollywood strikes that went on four months, bringing the industry to a halt Image Credit: AFP

Marrakech: Oscar-winning actress Jessica Chastain, who has unequivocally expressed her solidarity with the four-month Hollywood strikes, said she is happy with the tentative agreement reached by SAG-AFTRA with the studios and called it “fair and just.”

Chastain, who serves as the jury president of this year’s MIFF and will screen her film ‘Memory’ to the discerning cinephiles at the festival, was speaking to reporters on the red carpet laid out on the second day of the 20th Marrakech International Film Festival on Saturday.

“I’m glad that our SAG leadership has gotten to a deal they think is fair and just and historic in its own right,” said Chastain on the red carpet.

Earlier this month, the longest strike ever for film and television actors in Hollywood was called off after a deal was reached between them and the studios. Labeled as one of the most turbulent episodes in Hollywood history, where actors were asked not to promote their films or continue with the shoots, the reaching of an agreement between studio giants and picketing talents is one of the most significant developments.

“We’re still waiting to find out what the voters are going to choose – if they’re going to ratify the contract. I’ve looked through it. I do think personally it’s a good deal, but of course, I only have one vote. It’s important to me what everyone else thinks as well. The beautiful thing about taking a vote is that everyone gets to have a say,” she told a reporter with Deadline.

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Jessica Chastain. Image Credit: AP

Interestingly, Chastain was one of the few actors who was allowed to promote her film at the festival circuits, including the Venice International Film Festival during the strikes. At every point, she made sure to express her solidarity with the strikes.

Asked if she had planned to be the poster girl for Hollywood strikes, she said that she was put in that position by accident, and the move wasn’t orchestrated.

“I became public by default … I didn’t choose to be so public about it. It just so happened because my film had an interim agreement, and because so many actors were nervous, I think, to speak out, I just ended up being one of the first, and I think when you end up being one of the first in that case, you really have a big spotlight on yourself,” she said.

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She also added that she is in constant touch with the leaders behind SAG-AFTRA.

“I did my homework. I spoke to the leadership at SAG. I asked them, ‘How can I best support this acting community?’ because SAG is the most important community that I’ve ever been a part of. I would never want to do anything against them, and I only wanted to support them. It was kind of like I became public by default, but I was very happy to support in every way I could.”

But strikes weren’t the only conversation on the red carpet. Chastain also spoke about her film ‘Memory’ with director Michel Franco and starring Peter Sarsgaard and Merrit Wever. The film was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 80th Venice International Film Festival, where it premiered on 8 September 2023.

“The way Michel works is transfixing. He shoots in a way where you feel as a voyeur rather than an audience falling into a scene … He doesn’t cut within a scene. Actors are given the freedom of doing whatever we feel like. While we stick to the script, everything is done in one take … It is like doing theatre where you get freedom, creativity, and inspiration,” said Chastain.

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Jessica Chastain poses with the award for Outstanding performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series for "George & Tammy" during the 29th Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 26, 2023. REUTERS/Aude Guerrucci Image Credit: REUTERS

She also spoke about the onus of being the president of the MIFF jury.

“You feel a responsibility because I want to protect everyone on the jury, and I want to protect all the filmmakers in the competition. I want to make sure that everyone gets the same shot and is unbiased, fair, and as just as possible. That’s what I long for in my life. It’s important that every member of the jury feels valued and that every filmmaker in competition feels that they got the opportunity to show their film,” said Chastain. And being in an enchanting place like Morocco was the typical gravy to this dish.

“I love Morocco. I have been to this festival twice, and I have shot in Morocco. I love their food, tagine, the people here … It’s a special place,” she added.