TORONTO – It was the last day of rehearsal before cameras rolled on the film “Miss Julie” and Jessica Chastain couldn’t go on.
Getting into the mindset of the melancholic title character was taking its toll on the two-time Oscar nominee. Director Liv Ullmann decided not to make her go through rehearsal for a particularly agonizing scene involving a pet bird.
“I came into rehearsal and I was feeling really depressed and down,” Chastain recalled in a telephone interview. “Liv saw that, and the incredible thing about working with a director as sensitive as she is, is then she goes: ‘You know what? Let’s stop.’
“That, I was very grateful for.”
Ullmann, known as one of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s actress muses, adapted the story from the 1888 August Strindberg play.
Chastain, 37, plays the daughter of an Anglo-Irish aristocrat who instigates an emotionally draining battle of power and intimacy with a valet named John (Colin Farrell) at their estate while her father is away. Complicating matters is his relationship with a servant (Samantha Morton).
The Sacramento, Calif., native said “Miss Julie” is one of her favourite plays and she studied it at the Juilliard School in New York City.
She liked Ullmann’s decision to put “almost a feminist take” on the story.
“So many times I had seen the play where John manipulates the situation and orders this woman. He kind of controls her, abuses her and then at the end orders her to … do this terrible thing,” said Chastain.
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