You know I love Jessica Chastain. She’s so pretty, she’s so genuinely nice, and I think she can really act too. But it’s kind of slow today and we’re searching for something to report on. Hence this story that Jessica Chastain might not really be “30″ as her Wikipedia entry and IMDB states. I do remember reading somewhere that she was 31 or 32, and I remember squinting and thinking that she looked older than that. Radiant and lovely, but older than that. Well Kaiser pointed me to this article in HuffPo from last year in which they state that Jessica won’t disclose her age. They write “Chastain, who is about 30 but will not disclose her exact age, grew up in northern California and dreamed of becoming an actress from about the age of 5.” That’s arguably more honest than shaving a few years off and trying to claim that you’re younger, a la Agyness Dyen. (or Beyonce, or Catherine Zeta-Jones)
Reader Drew pointed out on that Agyness Dyen story that Mandisa from American Idol, who is 36, recently tweeted that she went to high school with Jessica. That would make Jessica 33 at least, if she was a freshman when Mandisa was a senior. (I tweeted Mandisa asking if she was in the same grade as Jessica, and have not yet heard back.) I guess I don’t blame Jessica for wanting to keep her age a secret, but it seems unlikely in this age of the Internet and IMDB.
After I wrote that intro, I googled a little and found this article from 1998 on Jessica Chastain’s turn in “Romeo and Juliet” in a San Francisco production. They say she’s 21, and since that was 1998 that would make her 35 now, or at least turning 35 in less than a month, if her day of birth, March 29, is correct.
But more than anything, it’s the appealing, intense performances of Travis Engle and Jessica Chastain as Romeo and Juliet that lend such a sense of universality to this production. Engle and Chastain, themselves 17 and 21, portray the famous couple as what they really were–love-struck teenagers.
[From Metroactive.com, article from the April 30-May 6, 1998 issue]
Speaking of IMDB, I recently heard a very good editorial on KCRW’s The Business about how IMDB promotes ageism. IMDB is currently being sued by a low-level actress for culling her age when she signed up for an IMDB pro account and using it on her public profile without her permission. KCRW had on a Hollywood agent who said that it’s illegal to ask for someone’s age on a job application, and that she represents many supporting staff in films, like technical and engineering experts, who get discriminated against because they’re older and that information is easily found on IMDB. There’s a ton of competition in Hollywood to be in movie crews, and the agent claims that IMDB makes it very difficult for older people to get work in the field. That’s not even counting the very blatant ageism in casting the acting parts, particularly for women.
So is Jessica Chastain just trying to protect her skyrocketing movie career by not disclosing her age? Probably, and at least she’s being somewhat honest about it. Or is she? If you google “How Old is Jessica Chastain?” the answer you get is “30″.
Update: I found these quotes from Chastain last year in which she said that she doesn’t like revealing her age and can play any part:
“I don’t like revealing how old I am. I played a teenager in a movie recently and Brad Pitt’s wife in another so I like to think I can be any age I need to be.”
Good for her.
Second Update: Thanks to Jane for pointing out that Snakkle has Chastain’s senior yearbook picture from 1995. That’s consistent with the news that she’s turning 35 in a month.