Jessica Chastain Video Interview On ‘The Debt,’ Helen Mirren
Jessica Chastain‘s the star of the spy thriller The Debt with Helen Mirren who’s got more starring roles this year than any other actress in Hollywood.
Four months before we started shooting, I kind of put myself though course in a way. I took beginner’s German at Berlitz. I had a German coach. I took Krav Maga three times a week for four months to learn the hand-to-hand combat. I read a lot about the Holocaust and the medical experiments, the specifics of that. I read about Mengele, Nazi doctor. And I also read about the Mossad, how it came to be in different missions that they had gone on. It was a very intense training.
I wish we had scenes together. But we… the great thing about playing the same role as someone is that we got to rehearse together. So we met twice and talked about the character of Rachel. We worked on the accent, the Israeli accent, together with a wonderful coach, Joan Washington, who I’ve worked with three times before. We talked about Rachel’s backstory, what happened to her family. And different mannerisms we would share. But mostly it was… the great thing for me… you know I was so nervous to meet her. I’m such a fan of her work. I’m also a fan of who she is. I just think she’s rad. She’s the perfect combination of being a dame and a broad. She’s like the coolest. And when meeting her I realized she comes from the theater she started at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and she’s able to go back and forth, and we had a very similar vocabulary, which was great.
I’m not a fighter by nature. And I knew for this film that it was very important that Rachel be competent, more than that, but very good with fighting. So for those four months before, I worked with this great coach named Roy, who’s a wonderful Krav Maga teacher in Los Angeles, and he’s from Israel and he used to train the Israeli Defense Army in Krav Maga. And he helped me a lot with using my weight, my body weight to take someone down, different ways I could twist someone’s arm so they’d follow me if I’m leading them somewhere. It was very important in this film that even though I’m smaller in statue, I need to convincingly lead men and pin them.