James McAvoy & Jessica Chastain on keeping secrets during ‘Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby’

Jessica Chastain prepared for her role in “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” by keeping secrets from director Ned Benson. “I have to create [my character’s story] as real as possible in my head … maybe even write it out as a journal,” she tells us in the video chat below. “Most of the time, actually, a lot of it is secret; I create a lot of secrets for my character that even the director doesn’t know, things she wouldn’t tell anyone, but I think that’s how you make something feel real.”

Which of three new Jessica Chastain films will bring her a third Oscar nomination?

“Disappearance” is actually three films in one. It tells the story of a New York couple (Chastain and James McAvoy) whose happy marriage comes apart after a tragedy. Versions titled “Him” and “Her” approach the story from each character’s point of view; those two films premiered at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival, while a combined version called “Them” debuted in 2014 at Cannes and opened in U.S. theaters on September 12. “Her/Him” unspooled as a double feature on October 10.

McAvoy was keeping his own secrets from Chastain and Benson. “I didn’t know there were two movies to begin with,” he confesses to us. “I turned up for the first days of rehearsals and they gave me … a really thick version of the script, and I just suddenly thought, ‘This is really weird!’ and then realized on the go in the rehearsal room on the day that we were going to be making two movies … It took me a couple of weeks to admit that to the director as well.”

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The multiple-movie approach was no secret to Chastain, who also produced the films, and she’s still adjusting to life after finally completing them. “I’ve been involved with this project for probably a little over seven years,: she says, “so it’s going to be a strange thing when we don’t get together all the time to talk about it or to film … because it’s been such a part of my life.”

Chastain currently ranks sixth in our Oscar odds for Best Actress (click here for our complete stats). She was previously nominated in that category for “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012) and before that earned a supporting bid for “The Help” (2011). Do you think she’ll win? Watch our complete interview with Chastain and McAvoy below, then use our drag-and-drop menu to make your predictions. Click here!

2 thoughts on “James McAvoy & Jessica Chastain on keeping secrets during ‘Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby’

  1. If she’s going to win, it will be absolutely deserving. This is by far the greatest performance in Jessica Chastain’s career. “The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Him” and “The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Her” make for one of the most unique, bold, original, deeply felt and hauntingly beautiful movie experiences that I have had in a movie theater this year. I mean, I truly believe that mere words cannot do justice to the brilliance of Ned Benson’s vision. The whole project is simply terrific. It’s just the “Them” version that feels utterly pointless, if you’ve seen “Him” and “Her”, like I have. “Them” is far from a bad film, like some review could imply, it just feels a little too bland, especially when compared to the great films “Him” and “Her” are. Anyone who will decide to spend time and money for the full version will be rewarded, trust me. A combined version of the two brilliant films Ned Benson has written and directed with Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy as his leads brings nothing new to the project, it’s just a commercial movement from The Weinstein Company, which releases all of the films. It’s quite ironic that “Them”, where the distribution company’s interest is focused more than any other version of this film project, is such a disappointment when compared to the terrific “Him” and “Her” films. Both films are spectacular. And Jessica Chastain’s performance in both of them is beyond superb. Really, really wow. I don’t know if it sounds dumb to say “wow” but I can’t help it: Wow! It’s a gigantic performance to say the least, more than worthy of an Oscar win (especially in “Her” version). She immerses herself into her role in a way I think it’s almost impossible for an actor to do so. There’s obviously not a limit to the depth she can bring into a role. Her chemistry with the brilliant James McAvoy is incredible as well. Jessica gives a performance of towering power, jaw-dropping screen magnetism and uncompromising excellence in “The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Her”. It really is by far the greatest achievement in her whole career. And the way she portrays the perception of Eleanor through the eyes of Conor in “The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Her” is such a challenge and such a monumental achievement. I mean, Jesus Christ, she really is flawless in the whole project and her performance as it turns out even in “Them” is no exception. It’s astonishing. From the bottom of my heart, I really hope she’ll win, if the great Marion Cotillard isn’t going to win for her virtuoso performance in “Two Days, One Night” (or her equally mesmerizing work in “The Immigrant”). But Chastain would really be a more than worthy choice as well. Oh my God, Chastain, Cotillard, Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, Hilary Swank, Rosamund Pike… Oh, how I wish picks from these aforementioned acting powerhouses end up creating the Top-5 for the Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role category at the 87th Academy Awards ceremony and actresses as LIMITED as Reese Witherspoon are totally left out. How I wish an actress nowhere as talented like Witherspoon ends up being the Oprah Winfrey for “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” this year. Rave reviews, early frontrunner, numerous nominations and awards, even in big movie events like Golden Globes and Sag Awards (though this feels disgusting in a year of so many great female performances from extraordinary actresses, not just good like Witherspoon)and not even a nomination at the Oscars. As I’ve said before, I have really nothing against Witherspoon, she’s talented and likable and all that but she has so many obvious limitations in acting that it’s more than evident even in her best work and her work in “Wild” (though apparently really good) is clearly no exception. If she didn’t have the star status she has, she could easily end up even nomination-less for her (very good) performance in “Walk the line”. But there’s a HUGE, like really HUGE difference between good/very good work and OUTSTANDING WORK, WORTHY OF AN OSCAR NOMINATION/WIN. That was definitely not the case with any Witherspoon performance thus far and I say that having seen almost her whole filmography. It’s really hard to imagine how in the world she’s among the frontrunners (God, she’s at second place in your Oscar odds for Best Actress) and the astonishing Marion Cotillard still struggles to score a second nomination. The mesmerizing Jessica Chastain of “The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby” seems unlikely. That’s really disheartening. If Cotillard and Chastain are left out this year and Witherspoon ends up taking a place at Top-5, I really have no interest at watching the Oscars at all.

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