Jessica Michelle Chastain (born March 24, 1977) is an American actress and film producer. Born in a small town near Sonoma, California, and raised in Sacramento, Chastain developed an interest in acting from a young age. In 1998, she made her professional stage debut as Shakespeare's Juliet. After studying acting at the Juilliard School, she was signed to a talent holding deal with the television producer John Wells. She was a recurring guest star in several television shows, including Law & Order: Trial by Jury. She also took on roles in the stage productions of Anton Chekhov's play The Cherry Orchard in 2004 and Oscar Wilde's tragedy Salome in 2006. Chastain made her film debut in the drama Jolene (2008), and gained wide recognition in 2011 for starring roles in half a dozen films, including the dramas Take Shelter and The Tree of Life. Her performance as an aspiring socialite in The Help earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. In 2012, she won a Golden Globe Award for playing a CIA agent in the thriller Zero Dark Thirty. Chastain made her Broadway debut in a revival of The Heiress in the same year. Her highest-grossing releases came with the science fiction films Interstellar (2014) and The Martian (2015), as she continued to draw praise for her performances in the dramas The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (2013) and A Most Violent Year (2014).
Chastain's accolades include two Academy Award nominations and nominations for two British Academy Film Awards. She is known to prepare extensively for her roles. Chastain is the founder of the production company Freckle Films. She is vocal about social issues such as gender equality and mental health. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012.