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Sometimes, you feel like a sexual object on set: Jessica Chastain

Zero Dark Thirty star Jessica Chastain, addressing gender inequality in Hollywood, says being the only girl on a film set, one can feel like a “sexual object”.

hollywood Updated: Apr 01, 2016 13:01 IST
Jessica Chastain in a still from her upcoming film The Huntsman: Winter’s War.
Jessica Chastain in a still from her upcoming film The Huntsman: Winter’s War.

Zero Dark Thirty star Jessica Chastain, addressing gender inequality in Hollywood, says being the only girl on a film set, one can feel like a “sexual object”.

The 39-year-old actor says gender equality is important so that chances of someone feeling bullied or humiliated are less, reported People magazine.

“When you have both genders represented, then you have a healthier point of view. You don’t feel a hierarchy; you don’t have anyone feeling like they are being left out or bullied or humiliated. Sometimes, being the only girl on a set, you can feel like a sexual object,” she said.

Jessica Chastain also penned an essay about gender equality in Hollywood from the sets of her new movie The Zookeeper’s Wife, which boasts the largest female crew Chastain has ever worked with. The essay, which appeared in The Hollywood Reporter stirred conversation on a much debated issue.

Watch the Huntsman: Winter’s War trailer here

Read: Jessica Chastain’s essay on gender equality is stirringly powerful

Read an excerpt from Chastain’s essay here

I’m in Prague filming a movie called The Zookeeper’s Wife with director Niki Caro. I can’t tell you — it’s amazing. I’ve never been on a set with so many women. We’re not even 50 percent of the crew — we’re probably something like 20 percent women and 80 percent men — but it’s way more than I’ve ever worked with on a film before.

Some people might say a woman can’t direct this because of that, or a man can’t direct that because of this. I don’t like to do that. Look at Kathryn Bigelow: She can do incredible action films. Or Anthony Minghella, who directed the most beautiful, sensitive romances. For me, sex really isn’t the qualifier in the way someone directs — but I just know that when you have a set with predominantly one gender, whether it be all men or all women, it’s not going to be a healthy place. I imagine it’s the same thing in the workforce or other environments: When you have both genders represented, then you have a healthier point of view. The energy is great, you all are working together as a community, and everyone is participating in the exchange of ideas. You don’t feel a hierarchy; you don’t have anyone feeling like they are being left out or bullied or humiliated. Sometimes being the only girl on a set, you can feel like a sexual object.

I want to make sure I’m contributing to cre­ating diversity in the industry. I want to work with anyone who is talented, but I know that some people have to work harder to succeed in this business than others.

I do think things are changing. The reason I think they are changing is because whenever I talk about these issues with men I know in the industry — they are very talented, really intelligent and very successful men — there’s this embarrassment. They say, “I don’t understand how it got to be like this.” And I think that is what will help things change because it takes the group that is the majority in the industry to say, “Wait a minute: Maybe it’s more interesting to have more female voices in the executive suite and not just a token woman.”

It’s not a valid excuse to say women don’t call asking to direct superhero movies. Every female director I’ve asked if she’d be interested in directing a big movie like that says, “Hell, yeah.” And if that’s true, it shows how deep-seated the problem is. I don’t think the problem is women; it’s the representation. It goes to the agents. It has to change. This is 2015.

Read: Jessica Chastain is shocked by all the hate for her diversity speech

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