Jessica Chastain on Learning to Love Her Red Hair and Being Open to Plastic Surgery

The actress spoke to Net-a-Porter's The Edit about gaining confidence in herself

Jessica Chasten The Edit Chris Colls
Photo: Chris Colls/The Edit

Jessica Chastain has been quietly cultivating one of the best resume of any A-list actress for a few years now, racking up one Oscar-worthy film after the next and garnering plenty of awards in the process. And with a long (and apparently, annual) awards season tour comes a slew of opportunities to dazzle on the red carpet, and she has certainly stepped up to the plate. But in a new interview with Net-a-Porter’s magazine The Edit, the actress admitted that while it’s been easy for her to aim for challenging, feminist roles to portray, it’s taken her a little longer to learn to embrace her unique brand of beauty.

In her interview with the magazine, Chastain says of the difficult characters she gravitates towards, “If I can help create empathy and balance in society, I’m going to do whatever I can to tell stories that subconsciously create that. When I get a script that has the opportunity to create discussion and inspire young girls, I don’t want to say no to that … I just want to contribute.”

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Which explains why the movie star set up her own production company, Freckle Films, which focuses on getting women more involved in the world of cinema, whether they’re in front of the camera or behind it. She says, “There are incredible movies with female protagonists, but I’m cautious to say everything’s better now because I see studios patting themselves on the back: ‘Look, I’ve got this film with diversity. I’ve got women in this.’ I think when you congratulate yourselves for diversity, that means nothing’s really changed.”

Jessica Chasten The Edit Chris Colls
Chris Colls/The Edit

She takes her role in the film industry seriously, even starting her own production company, Freckle Films, with the goal of getting more women involved in moviemaking. But with her job also comes a more “frivolous” side: the chance to grace the covers of international magazines and swan down the red carpets at the biggest award shows in the world. It all is new to her, though; she admits that as a teenager, she didn’t appreciate the red hair that’s now become her signature.“I didn’t like looking different,” she says, “Being a redhead, you can’t fit into the group. I wanted to be blonde so bad. I had really bad self-esteem and I asked my mom if I could dye my hair but she wouldn’t let me.”

But clearly, at a certain point in her live she had a change of heart, embracing her hair and freckles and even naming her production company after the trait that once caused her so much embarrassment. “I called my company Freckle Films because it was something I used to hate about myself. But I want to make movies about our differences as a society so that’s why I called it that,” she explains. “Now, I celebrate it. I look at myself now and I look at myself when I left college [The Juilliard School in N.Y.C., where she was on a scholarship program funded by the late Robin Williams]. I still feel awkward at times, but then I’m sure I probably auditioned terribly because I had such fear and doubt about myself. Not anymore.”

Jessica Chasten The Edit Chris Colls

Part of what she credits for that boost in self-confidence is switching to an animal product-free diet. When asked about her porcelain complexion, she says, “So much comes down to the food you eat and I eat a very clean diet. Being vegan has made a huge difference in my life.” But just because she’s grown to love the way she looks doesn’t mean she isn’t open to possible intervention down the road. When asked if she’d ever consider a little surgical alteration, she told the magazine,Who knows? When I’m 50 or 60, I might. Some people think I’ve had a nose job. I’ve never had anything like that done, but I have no judgement of anyone that does.”

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