‘Zero Dark Thirty’: Kathryn Bigelow, Jessica Chastain Defend Torture Scenes

Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow and actress Jessica Chastain are defending the waterboarding torture scenes in the film.

Critics are saying the scenes are going too far, and some have even called the film “pro-torture.” Bigelow adamantly opposes this view of her film.

“They were difficult to shoot, those sequences,” Bigelow said. “I wish it was not part of our history, but it was.”

Screenwriter Mark Boal said:

“I understand that those scenes are graphic and unsparing and unsentimental, but I think what the film does over the course of more than two hours is show the complexity of the debate and the number of different ways that information came into the CIA, including in that particular scene it shows that the torture didn’t stop the attack that the characters were worried about.”

The film is told through Maya, Chastain’s character, who is inspired by the real CIA operative who helped find and kill Osama bin Laden. Chastain has a few torture scenes and admitted they weren’t easy to act out. They did, however, help her connect with her character.

“In regards to the difficult scenes that these people found themselves in, I just, in playing the character, grew so much compassion for this woman who really sacrificed so much for this mission,” Chastain said.

She continued:

“[Boal] took the dry facts of this manhunt — the greatest manhunt in history — and what he was able to do with the dry facts and create this amazing arc and really put the light on the people who worked so hard that never get the acknowledgment for that, so I have an enormous amount of compassion for everything they dealt with.”

Jason Clarke, whose character also has a waterboarding scene, said, “Those things were really difficult to shoot, but what I loved about the character [Dan] … is that the journey of that man is there for all to see.”

Mark Boal said he hopes people will watch the film without any preconceived notions.

“The film was political before I even wrote a word and I think that will unfortunately continue and people will bring what they want to see,” he said. “Our intention was to show the complexity of this debate, which is fairly complicated, and hopefully have people that judge for themselves.”