Jessica Chastain is one of, if not the best working actress in the business. It’s not because she’s extremely talented or downright gorgeous, because she is, but it comes down to how hard she works. Since the day she showed up in films like The Help, Zero Dark Thirty and Lawless, she has showed that she has some of the widest range on the planet. Her ability to capture a role in the past, present and future in a dozen different genres has been on display time after time, and it’s about to be again.
We’ve seen Chastain do a spy thriller type film before in Zero Dark Thirty, but unlike that film, this new possible project will have her in heart of the action. Deadline has reported that Chastain will lead an absolutely phenomenal international cast in a spy thriller titled 355. That international cast I was talking about includes Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Fan Bingbing and Lupita Nyong’o. Right?
Not only is a cast in place, but a director in Simon Kinberg is. How? Well the project was a small spark in Chastain’s head back when she was filming Zero Dark Thirty, and came to fruition this last year as she shot X-Men: Dark Phoenix with Kinberg. Here’s what Chastain had to say:
“When I was preparing for Zero Dark Thirty, I had incredible resources working in the CIA I got to learn from,” Chastain said. “We have a consultant in our film that has a lot of knowledge in espionage. This title came from one of the conversations I had with him. Agent 355 was the code name of a female spy during the American Revolution. She was one of the very first spies for the United States, and her identity is still unknown. For a lot of women who work in the CIA and other organizations like that, Code 355 is a universal slang term for female spy. It’s the invisible woman who was never named.”
It’s said that the film would not only follow Agent 355, presumably played by Chastain, but a group of female international agents who take charge in a very grounded, real and edgy spy thriller in the vein of franchises like Bourne, Mission: Impossible and Bond, of course. (YES PLEASE). Here’s what Deadline caught from Chastain about the project:
I had so much fun working on The Help that I always wanted to do another female ensemble film. I love the Bourne movies, the Mission: Impossible films, and wondered why, except for Charlie’s Angels, there hadn’t been a true female ensemble action-thriller spy film. That got my wheels going, along with the idea of casting actresses from all over the world to truly make it an international project. I realized the incredible creative freedom we would have with that. I brought the idea to Simon, told him about the actresses I was thinking of, and he was so sweet. He said, ‘I want to do it with you.’ Then I called all the women, told them what I was envisioning and that I wanted it to be a collaborative process, and how we would all create this together. The one thing that felt important is that we all show up at Cannes, because that would be the beginning of our journey together. Every single actress I called said yes, on the phone call. They committed to Cannes and to everything. So far it has been a very wonderfully easy process.
We’ve seen films like this before, with Mission: Impossible coming to mind right away. The only difference between those films and this one is that Chastain wouldn’t be the Ethan Hunt character, each of the women would be. Kinberg, who is making his directorial debut with Dark Phoenix, revealed that the goal of the film is to have a true ensemble piece:
“It won’t be as hyperbolic as some franchises, and unlike the other films that revolve around one main character, the goal here is the true ensemble, all these characters who have their own distinct traits, histories — fully formed and complex characters with equal weight in the film. That’s unique, as is having all female spies. We are digging into the reality of spy craft today. There are all kinds of things that seem out of a James Bond or even a sci-fi movie, but the technology is so advanced that it’s real. Having someone who knows that reality informing the script has been really helpful.”
This project sound exciting as hell. Each one of those actresses brings something amazing and unique to the table. I’m a Jessica Chastain fanboy, I will watch anything she’s in. And to think about the possibilities of her playing opposite of names like these? Take my money now.
I will say, I have one hesitancy and that is Simon Kinberg. Kinberg has been around many incredible projects, but it’s a whole new ballgame when it comes to directing. Taking on and entity like Dark Phoenix as his first project is a huge choice, and the fact that the film got a huge set back isn’t the best of signs, but I’m hoping (to my core) that it’s good enough or has bright moments where I can really be looking forward to this film. 355 currently has no release date.