Fair skinned with strawberry tresses and a big, seductive smile, Jessica Chastain has that rare charm of a movie star from a bygone era. She has a great career, fame and money, not to mention a gorgeous husband — she recently married her long-time love, Italian fashion executive Gian Luca de Preposulo. Everyone thinks she’s had it easy.
Well, it wasn’t really the case. Chastain had humble beginnings and bitter struggles at the start of her career. Up to her late 20s, nothing really came together for her. She was mostly doing theatre and getting so-so reviews, until an agent called Al Pacino’s attention. The actor later cast her as Salome in a stage production that he filmed and showed at the Venice Film Festival. The then 30-year-old Chastain knocked them dead with her performance, and Salome catapulted her to Hollywood.
From contemporary roles such as Zero Dark Thirty and Miss Sloane, to period movies like The Help and The Zookeeper’s Wife, Chastain is one of the few versatile actresses who can jump from one role to another effortlessly.
What do you love about jewellery?
I am a woman who loves old-time glamour. I love the history of Piaget, whose timepieces and jewels were worn by Jackie Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, and Brigitte Bardot. We’re all naturally drawn towards diamonds because they reflect light. On the other hand, I’m someone who’s very much into colour. I believe there’s something spiritual about colours and stones, and they change my mood. So if I’m wearing yellow diamonds, I feel very cheerful and happy. But then there’s something very sensual about a ruby or an amethyst. I love a great big diamond. I love pink diamonds. There’s no stone I would say goodbye to [laughs].
You always make a statement on the red carpet. How do you pick your gowns?
For many years I had to beg and borrow from fashion houses because I was just not famous enough. Now, I have the luxury of having designers come to me and offer to make me a special gown. I’m a very happy person and I love bright colours — they just make me feel good. Usually for me, fashion is an emotional choice. When I was doing my very first Cannes Film Festival I asked my stylist if we could find a dress that looked like sunshine, because that’s how I felt. I don’t necessarily think in terms of whose design I wore last time so I can’t wear them again. I just go with how I feel. With my clothes, I turn to my friend Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy for his classic elegance and modern lines.
You’ve been Piaget’s grand ambassador for a while now. How do you feel about it?
I love Piaget. It’s all about Old Hollywood with an added sparkle.
Can you recall a favourite jewellery moment that you’ve had on the red carpet?
There was one time where I had seen a picture of a pair of beautiful green emerald earrings from Piaget on Instagram. I took a screenshot and sent it to my stylist, and I said, ‘I really want to wear these earrings for something big. Let’s find a dress.’ Usually, you have the dress and you find the jewellery to accessorise it with. But this time, the earrings were so gorgeous so it was the other way around. We found a beautiful black Elie Saab gown, and I wore the ensemble to The Martian London premiere.
If we had a chance to peek into your jewellery box, what would be your most prized possession we can find there?
It’s probably the gift my grandmother gave me years ago. It’s not a typical piece of jewellery. It’s an antique, crystal-encrusted lipstick and perfume holder. You pull the lipstick out and a little mirror pops up. It’s covered in crystals, and because my grandmother gave it to me, it makes it even more special.
Are you as keen about jewellery on-screen as you are off-screen?
When I’m working I focus on everything, make-up, hair, and especially jewellery. In Zero Dark 30, my character, Maya, always wears the same necklace. I knew what it was and who gave it to her, and why she wore it every day. That level of detail may add layers of meaning for the audience, but more importantly if I can connect myself to a piece of jewellery and create the history of that piece and the character, then I can give a deeper interpretation to the role.
You came to this year’s Golden Globe with a gorgeous Chopard necklace but without even a little purse. Didn’t you need one?
No, I did not [laughs]. All I needed was my phone, and my then fiancé, Gian Luca, carried that for me.