Jessica Chastain Talks About Sister’s Suicide, Her Teen Years, And Nurturing Odd Balls

Actress Jessica Chastain is very private, so you may not know that 13 years ago, her sister, Juliet, died at age 24.

Back in 2003, Jessica was three days from graduation at Julliard School when she got the call no one expects: her sister had killed herself.

Chastain told the painful story in an interview with Modern Luxury Manhattan when she also revealed that her sister “had struggled a long time with drug abuse.”

“And she had a lot of attempted suicides, but you never really think this is going to happen, even though, in your mind, you know it can happen. And when you get the call, it’s… shocking.”

According to People, Juliet was Jessica’s only biological sister. She has a half-brother, Will Chastain, from her mother and two half-sisters on her late father’s side, Nicole Monasterio and Laci Smoot, with whom she’s estranged.

All this time later, Juliet still inspires Jessica, who’s recently starred in The Huntsman: Winter’s War. In an interview in 2015, Chastain said her sister’s suicide “completely changed the person I am.”

“A movie, Oscars, a dress, if someone thinks I’m stupid … I realized nothing is that important.”

Her death, and the deaths of two of Jessica’s friends and actors, inspired her involvement with a charity called nonprofit To Write Love on Her Arms. The organization provides support, treatment, and recovery services to people who are considering suicide and struggle with addiction, depression, and self-injury, The New York Daily News reported.

Chastain, who described herself as an “emotional person,” was close to Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams. Hoffman, who died in 2014 and suffered from substance abuse, was Jessica’s co-star in Otello; and Williams, who committed suicide that same year, provided her Julliard scholarship.

“If someone gets my heart, then they kind of get me forever.”

Jessica, who is described as “intensely private,” revealed other stories in the candid interview. She lives in New York City with her longtime boyfriend, Italian fashion executive Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo, where they live a “low-key” life. Chastain also hinted at some health struggled nine years ago that led her to become a vegan.

“I was sick and couldn’t figure out how to get well,” she says. “Someone told me to try vegan for two weeks, and it completely changed my life.”

She also talked about her awkward teen years, something that has stuck with the actress despite her current success, talent, and beauty. Chastain revealed that she was bullied and “didn’t do well in school.”

“I was kind of awkward and strange, didn’t have a lot of friends. I had a terrible perm. I fried my hair and had a red ‘fro. I wore cowboy boots in school. I was not a cool kid at all.”

But Jessica’s life changed during a trip to the theater with her grandmother, when she saw a “little girl onstage, narrating the show, and I thought: Oh, my god; that’s her job? I want that to be my job. That’s who I am.”

Chastain said she found friends in a drama club and was its president by high school. She was the first person in her family to enroll at Julliard when she received a scholarship — courtesy of Robin Williams.

These days, Chastain said she’s drawn to children who don’t quite fit in and spends a lot of time with her friends’ kids.

“If there is one kid who sticks out and doesn’t really get along in the group, I’m always drawn to that kid. And I’m always like, ‘Keep what is special about you; keep it close; don’t try to get rid of it; don’t try to fit in.’ I love the ones that keep their uniqueness,” she says. “If I wasn’t an actor, I would want to be a teacher for elementary school because I love the idea that, just by spending a little bit of time, nurturing a kid can change their whole life.”

[Photo By Jaguar PS/Shutterstock]