Jessica Chastain Says She Ate Banana Peels in Her School Lunch Rooms 'So Kids Would Notice Me'

The Oscar winner opens up about her difficult childhood in a new interview with The Guardian

Jessica Chastain attends The Museum of Modern Art's 15th Annual Film Benefit honoring Guillermo Del Toro
Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Jessica Chastain is discussing her tough path to stardom.

"I had always thought that I wasn't an intelligent person because I did badly at school," the George & Tammy star, who dropped out of high school, recently told The Guardian. (Chastain would later get her adult diploma, she previously shared with Entertainment Weekly.)

Chastain continued, "I was an obnoxious kid because I wasn't getting appropriate attention. I would do things like eat banana peels in the lunch rooms so kids would notice me."

"I wasn't good with homework because I'd watch TV – soap operas – all day when I got home," the Oscar winner, 45, added.

Jessica Chastain attends Showtime's "George & Tammy" premiere event
Jessica Chastain. Robin L Marshall/WireImage

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Instead of the regular "smoking or sleeping in" path taken by high school dropouts, Chastain would read the works of William Shakespeare in her car.

"I was in high school, and there was a trip to the Oregon Shakespeare festival and I saw Marco Barricelli play Richard III. And … something opened up inside me. It was the strangest thing, that I could be so moved. I had the hugest crush on that actor," she told The Guardian.

She was 15 at the time, she recalled to the outlet.

"I became obsessed with Shakespeare. My grandma had just bought these ornamental books – she liked design, and these books weren't meant to be read. They just sat on the shelf to look good. And one was the complete works of Shakespeare. I still have it. To me it's very sentimental," she said.

The actress admitted poetry was the draw: "It was something about the rhythm and how it fed into the emotion."

After later joining a theater group, Chastain told The Guardian she played the role of Romeo & Juliet's Juliet twice, a role she considers her "favorite part."

"It felt like someone understood me in a different way," she said of discovering her passion for acting. "I can get emotional talking about it. It's like you're not being seen. Then all of a sudden, someone who was alive years ago sees you."

As it turns out, it was the boy who played Romeo to her Juliet that convinced her to apply to Julliard, the prestigious acting school, she revealed to The Guardian. She was later accepted on a scholarship funded by the late Robin Williams.

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