‘Mama’ Star and Oscar Nominee Jessica Chastain Says She Prefers Versatility to Maternity

Jessica Chastain let a little casting news cat slip out of the bag at the Mama press conference last week. When asked what she’s doing next, the newly minted Golden Globe winner said, “It hasn’t been announced but it might be a Strindberg thing.” When pressed if it was Miss Julie, a  project that Michelle Williams is reportedly attached to, she put her finger to her nose.

Meanwhile in Mama, a seriously spooky supernatural thriller, Chastain is barely recognizable as Annabel, a punk rocker who is faced with the challenge of helping to raise her boyfriend Lucas’ (Nikolaj Coster-Waldou) young nieces — who were left alone in a forest for five years.

“The script was sent to me right after Tree of Life,” she said, referring to her breakthrough role opposite Brad Pittin which she played a beatific mother. “I kept getting sent scripts where I would be playing devoted wives and mothers and I realized there is typing in Hollywood.”

Chastain certainly picked a role that is the polar opposite of a dutiful mother. As she explains Annabel is, “kind of a bitch, a bit unlikeable. In films we’re not used to seeing heroes do unlikeable things, like that Annabel is irritated that her boyfriend putting his nieces before her, which I found a very human reaction — and also really immature.

“She is definitely a reluctant mother…But she grows,” she said. “I was really moved by her journey becoming a hero, becoming a selfless person.”

The Zero Dark Thirty star prepared for the role by listening to a lot of Lou Reed and The Misfits, and even took bass lessons for about a month. (She admitted she was slightly miffed when director Andres Muschietti barely filmed her playing!)

Initially the 35-year-old actress tried to be slightly removed from her young charges, Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Neliss, wanting to replicate their onscreen relationship, but that didn’t last long. Instead there were “a lot of dance parties in my trailer.”

This is the second year in a row that the ginger beauty will be making the rounds on the awards circuit — last year was for The Help – and she seems remarkably comfortable with its often grueling schedule.

“It’s so much fun,” she said gleefully. “I’ll take my grandmother as my date like I did last year. She’s such a reminder to enjoy it and not take it seriously.”

Chastain clearly does not like typecasting, “I want to do all kinds of films,” she declared. “I want to do Westerns, musicals. As long as I play a woman that has an arc, something other than a male counterpoint, even if it’s a small part.

“I don’t want to make movies that says our purpose is to be a mother. I do hope to be a mother one day. But if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”

What do you think of Chastain changing her look to be more punk-rock friendly? Watch the trailer for the film, and then let us know how eager — or reluctant, because it’s scary- looking — you are to see her latest.

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