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Jessica Chastain Shares Her Thoughts on The Martian, Ridley Scott, and Women in Sci-Fi

The line between Interstellar and The Martian just became a whole lot blurrier.

Interstellar-Jessica-Chastain

There’s something special about the way Jessica Chastain brings her roles to life. In The Help, she made Celia Foote more than just a two-dimensional “white trash” character. In Zero Dark Thirty, she delivered the nuanced intensity of a CIA agent on a search for bin Laden. And in Interstellar, she made us feel serious feelings–remember that video Murph sent to her dad? Yeah. Heartbreaking.

Collider reports that on the set of The Martian, Chastain fielded questions from a group of visiting reporters. She talked about The Martian and strong, heroic women in Ridley Scott films.

The future portrayed in The Martian (watch the awesome trailer here) is futuristic enough to be just distant enough, yet somehow still close and grounded in the now. So when Chastain was asked about the future that’s shown in the movie, she immediately jumped on something that’s been on the minds of lots of people today: gender parity. She said, “I like this view of the future because right now a little less than 10% of astronaut are women and on our crew there’s six of us and two are women, so already the odds are better for women in the future in this film and in this book.”

Sure, one third isn’t exactly parity, but it’s nice to think that when someone asks about the future these days, they talk about moving issues like these forward.  Chastain also got some time to train with people actually working in the field as research for her role in the film:

I learned all about the unmanned mission, the Curiosity Rover, I got to see the twin, which is a virtual reality thing where it felt like I was actually walking on Mars from pictures of the Curiosity Rover and I got to shadow people, just to understand what those journeys were, how long it takes to get to Mars, how the hours are different in the day, the sols I guess I should say instead of days. So I did all of that first and then I went to Houston and worked with this astronaut named Tracey and went through everything, I got to go on a mockup of a space shuttle which was so cool! And asking her everything I could ask, so I asked her things about food, what do you do when you’re going away, they give you special things, everyone gets their food but if your favorite are M&Ms every once in a while you’ll get your pack and it’ll have M&Ms in it, things that try to like make you feel connected to the world.

On the topic of gender and moving forward, she was also asked about her thoughts on Blade Runner and Ridley Scott’s role in shaping the modern female action hero.

Chastain’s answer touched on how sexiness is always the focal point for women, especially in superhero movies. She said, “There are some female characters I do not like, and sometimes in some superhero movies of the past now–I love superhero movies–where a female character that’s supposed to be a badass, her main attribute is her sexiness, usually that fails like Catwoman or whatever, it’s a disaster.

“But when a female superhero–to me she is a superhero–her sexiness is not the most important thing about her, it’s her mind, her spirit, and when I look at that character, that to me is an example of characters that I like to play and I think it does a great thing for women.”

Be still my heart. You go, Chastain.

(via Collider)

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.