If you want to see Interstellar’s Jessica Chastain talk about her role in the buzzed about film A Most Violent Year, you might have just missed an opportunity. The actress hit the red carpet on Thursday to promote J.C. Chandor’s film, which sees Chastain take on the role of a mob princess. According to the New York Times, it might be one of the rare times that she steps out to promote the film.
Word is that Chastain is forbidden from promoting the smaller scale film co-starring Oscar Isaac in favor for Christopher Nolan’s juggernaut Interstellar.
— Anne Hathaway Exposé (@AnneHathabae) October 27, 2014
The New York Times article, which exposes Nolan and takes him to town, peels the curtain back and explains how one very powerful man, with the support of a money making studio (Paramount), could possibly ruin what some are saying was Jessica Chastain’s sure shot at an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting.
People aware of this matter only spoke with the publication under conditions that they would remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of this situation for both companies (A24 and Paramount, respectively), and Mr. Nolan.
“Mr. Nolan and others, for the most part, are enforcing an agreement that says she cannot campaign for any film but Mr. Nolan’s from early October through early December, with the exception of her appearance at the premiere on Thursday.”
As expected, while on the red carpet, Chastain refrained from speaking out about her contract.
“I never comment about my contracts or my salary.”
That said, she did mention Nolan was able to get her out of a prior engagement to appear on David Letterman, so she could attend the premiere for A Most Violent Year — a positive spin by someone put in a very difficult situation.
She continued, “We all put our heads together and do what we can.”
— HYDROGEN MAGAZINE (@hydrogenmag) November 7, 2014
— IMDb (@IMDb) November 7, 2014
The fact that Jessica Chastain is in multiple films during an awards season shouldn’t be unusual. She’s done this before, but the difference here is that she hasn’t received pushback like this, and hasn’t been contractually banned from limited promotion. During 2011, the New York Times notes that she had The Help and The Tree of Life to promote within a similar time frame.
So why is this a big deal? Well, because the practice of campaigning during the awards season has been around for decades. For independent films like A Most Violent Year, it’s huge, if not the only opportunity for an audience to view a film past a small window of release. These smaller films live on this extended lifeline that’s provided by the buzz of Oscar season. If the film can’t receive proper promotion from their actors, it does hurt its chances of getting that exposure.
For Chastain, A Most Violent Year was her best bet at scoring an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting. While in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, Chastain is not the focus of the story, and is really second fiddle to the dynamics of the space exploration and Matthew McConaughey’s performance.
As the New York Times notes, “Participant Media and the independent distributor A24 — believed that Ms. Chastain, while blocked from media appearances, would be allowed to attend the screenings and get-togethers that are de rigueur for those seeking Golden Globes and other prizes that pave the way to the Oscars.”
The powers that be even ensured that A Most Violent Year’s December 31 limited release wouldn’t conflict with Nolan’s Interstellar, which comes out in theaters today, but apparently that wasn’t enough.
“Mr. Nolan and his backers have insisted that Ms. Chastain’s contract forbids even those semiprivate encounters and have not given in to pleas from Mr. Chandor, A24 and others for a waiver.”
We can’t help to ask if this was a male star promoting two films, if this would happen? In fact, we’re confident in saying that it probably wouldn’t. One of many examples is Al Pacino — even though he’s doesn’t like to play the campaign game, he was still able to speak about Scent of a Woman and Glengarry Glen Ross, both which he was nominated for in 1992. Another example is Jamie Foxx who won for Ray, but was still able to promote Collateral, which he was also nominated for.
The only bright light in this whole saga is this behavior being exposed, even though it will probably be the elephant in the room all the way up until January ballots.
[Image via A24]