Jessica Chastain Takes Us Shopping, Talks Lawless' Sex Appeal

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There is a moment in Jessica Chastain's new movie Lawless, where she stars alongside industry heavy hitters Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman (plus young guns Shia LaBeouf and Mia Wasikowska), where she arrives at the roadside diner/speakeasy run by Hardy and, complete with perfectly lacquered nails, proceeds to steal the scene right out from everyone. Smoking a cigarette, hair in pin curls, her womanly charm outshines the blood, guts, and masculinity of the (many) leading men.

If Lawless was more clichéd (it isn't), someone might describe her as a "five-alarm fire," but Chastain's portrayal of down-and-out dancer Maggie is much more subtle — and sexy. So, suddenly, like Tom Hardy's backwoods gangster character, we fell in love with Jessica Chastain, a star with those screen-siren looks, a complexion to die for, and the acting chops that already make her an Academy Award contender (and on her first big movie, too!).

During the Shops at Target Fall Installment last night, we got to sidle up to Jessica and proclaim to her our girl crush (which she reciprocated to R29!), and she advised us to purchase an owl at the PATCH NYC pop-up, which we did. And now, it is by our bedsides — true story.

So, after the Oscars, when you go out and about, are you recognized? You have such a distinctive look!
"No! It’s crazy! I never get recognized. I think because, in my most successful film, I look very different. But, you know, if someone does happen to recognize me, they’re usually sweet, and it’s never a negative experience."

So, no horror stories?
"My favorite thing is if I’m going out to buy something embarrassing, I always think, 'Oh God, I hope no one sees me buy this!' However, for the most part, it’s been fine."

Confession: We just saw Lawless. It was awesome. Your chemistry with Tom Hardy is really amazing. What was it like to be a femme fatale?

"Well, I found it very interesting because he was a character that was very comfortable with violence...very comfortable with, like, boy stuff. But very uncomfortable with women. And so when Maggie walks into the house, she becomes the alpha in the scenario because everything she does makes him uncomfortable. And I think she likes toying with him that way. So, she was never afraid of Forrest. The character was with a lot of men that have done very bad things. But the great thing about playing Maggie to Tom’s Forrest is that he’s basically saying, 'Here, come stay in this house. I will protect you, and you don’t owe me anything in return.' It’s actually a beautiful kind of love.

"It felt very nurturing, too.
"Yeah. It was."

You have such fair, beautiful skin. Do you have any secrets for pale girls that you want to share?
"Sunscreeeen! Also, you know, I don’t know if this actually works...but I read somewhere that if you put vitamin C on before you put on sunscreen on, it's extra rejuvenating and makes sunscreen more effective."

You've had to deal a lot with accents. Tell me about what it's like to do backwoods-gritty like Lawless versus something like The Help.
"Oh, it was great! When I first started working on the Chicago accent for Lawless, I went really thick. And I thought, 'Okay...I’m the femme fatale of the movie, so I can’t like show and have a really thick, nasal Chicago accent. So, I figured this is a woman who has been with gangsters and is a dancer, and she would have tried to speak more eloquently. So, I still used the Chicago accent, but I tried to make it more sensual."

Are you doing any shopping tonight?
"I might! (Pointing to PATCH NYC's throws.) These are so cute, aren't they?"

Yeah, I am thinking of getting the owl candle, actually!
"Do it! Everyone loves owls!"

Photo: Will Ragozzino/BFAnyc.com