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The natural redhead grew up in Northern California and took her mother's maiden name as her stage name. She is one of five children. As a child, Jessica Chastain acted in theatre productions around the San Francisco Bay area.
Jessica Chastain went to El Camino High School, as well as Sacramento City College before she attended the Julliard School in New York to study drama. She was offered a place, but her family was concerned about the cost. It was a scholarship funded by Robin Williams that helped immensely.
While at Julliard, producer John Wells saw her in a showcase and signed her to a 12-month holding contract. Jessica said, "When I first moved to Los Angeles, I don't think anyone knew what to do with me. I'm not incredibly tall with blond hair. There's something about me that's.different, not modern. Which is maybe why I've ended up doing all of these period movies" (telegraph.co.uk).
Jessica's first role was in the TV movie "Dark Shadows." Other TV roles followed, including "ER," "Veronica Mars," "Close to Home," and "Law & Order: Trial by Jury."
Jessica Chastain also appeared on stage, with parts in "The Cherry Orchard," "Wilde Salome," and "Othello."
Film roles include "Texas Killing Fields," "The Three of Life," and "The Debt," but it was the "The Help," based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett that earned her a wider audience.
For her role in "The Debt," Jessica took classes in krav maga to prepare for the fight scenes. "It was a really good part for a woman, and those are hard to come by in Hollywood.I took German classes, and I read all those books about Mengele and about the history of the Mossad. I totally immersed myself in this character" (telegraph.co.uk).
Jessica Chastain said of making films, "When I first started, I'd think, 'Oh, we're all best friends now, and we love each other.' And I'd be heartbroken a month later when no one had called me back!'"
Jessica Chastain told askmen.com, "I was the girl who never thought I'd be anything but an actor, so what I've really had to struggle with is having patience."
In 2012, Jessica Chastain became the new ambassadress for the Yes Saint Laurent fragrance, Manifesto. She has also appeared in print in Vanity Fair and W.
Jessica Chastain is a vegetarian. She recently purchased a two-bedroom unit in New York for $1.2 million.