By Jodi Guglielmi
January 17, 2018 10:57 AM
Credit: Annemarieke Van Drimmelen for WSJ. Magazine

Jessica Chastain isn’t afraid to fight back.

The actress opened up about her difficult childhood growing up with a single mother in a “financially unstable” home.

“My mom was a single mom; I don’t know who my biological father is, and I grew up in a household that was really financially unstable,” she told WSJ. Magazine in their February Talents & Legends issue.

The Zero Dark Thirty actressrevealed that she once suffered abuse at the hands of one of her mom’s boyfriends.

“There was a turning point in my life where we were living with someone I didn’t like very much, a boyfriend of my mom’s,” she recalled. “And he did something — my room was messy or whatever and he had taken my clothes, and I was telling him to give me back my stuff — and he slapped me. And I just kicked him in the genitals, and he fell to the ground immediately. It was me, my sister and my brother — and I remember looking at my sister’s face, and we were both like, ‘Oh, my God, what did I just do?’ And then I ran out of the house.”

Chastain, 40, said the incident taught her to stand up for herself.

“I always look back on that moment as knowing that, okay, if anything happens to me, I’m capable of fighting back,” she said. “If you allow a bully to intimidate or victimize you, they’ll continue to do it. Bullies are actually weak; they don’t go after strong people.”


The actress has become an advocate for social change and women’s rights. She has also long been an advocate for equality of women in the workplace, even banding together with Hollywood hotshots Queen Latifah, Freida Pinto, Juliette Binoche, Ziyi Zhang and Twilight director Catherine Hardwick to form a non-profit production company dedicated to women empowerment called We Do It Together.

WSJ. Magazine‘s premiere Talents and Legends February Issue features dual cover stars Jessica Chastain and Michael B. Jordan.

Of the decision to feature these storytellers on Talents and Legends, Editor-in-Chief Kristina O’Neill said, “At a time when the entertainment industry is undergoing some much-needed soul searching, I can’t think of two actors who more brilliantly represent the future of Hollywood than Michael B. Jordan and Jessica Chastain—two talents who are well on their way to becoming legends.”

WSJ. Magazine’s February issue is available on newsstands Jan. 27.