Jessica Chastain Is Surprised By Her Golden Globes Nomination After Refusing to be Silent About Sexual Assault

Jessica Chastain

“Musings on a Muse: Jessica Chastain.” Photography by Rineke Dijkstra, W magazine January 2013.

On Monday, Jessica Chastain learned she'd been nominated for Best Actress for her role in Aaron Sorkin's Molly's Game, marking her fifth Golden Globes nomination to date. This one, however, was unexpected: "To be honest, I’m mainly surprised about my nomination," Chastain told the Times about the blowback she's experienced to speaking out repeatedly since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke—including having a famous male actor at one point tell her to "calm down."

"As an actor, I have a lot of fear, thinking that if I speak my mind, or something that feels like it deviates from the norm as a woman, am I going to be made to disappear in my industry?" Chastain, an Academy Award winner, continued to the Times. "When the article came out about Weinstein, I immediately started tweeting. I’ve got a good group of girlfriends on WhatsApp, and I said, 'I’m really terrified I’m destroying my career right now. I wonder if people will still see me as an actress, and want to work with knowing I have these opinions.'"

Thankfully, "in the way that only good girlfriends can do," Chastain's crew got her over her fears and to realize, again, that "the only way to change something that’s wrong is to change it, not ignore it."

But Chastain's fear is all too understandable: Weinstein employed a virtual army of spies to keep track of his victims—which included many women whom he initially offered screen roles in exchange for submitting to his abuse—and the threat of other abusers is all too real, too: Selma Blair, for one, feared for her life when the director James Toback, whom more than 300 women have accused of sexual harassment, told her after he harassed her that if a woman decided to tell anyone about his actions, he "had people who will pull up in a car, kidnap her, and throw her in the Hudson River with cement blocks on her feet."

The fact that it's taken this long—in many cases, decades—for these stories to break is proof in and of itself that those subjected to Hollywood's predators and abusers have also been overcome with fear at the prospect of speaking out. (Including their employees, who also worried that doing so would threaten their careers.)

Now, however, "it really is a new world," Chastain said, citing a Margaret Mead quote: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world."

"And that’s what we’re doing," Chastain continued. It's clear, though, that the new world is only just starting to take shape. We still live in one where Chastain is genuinely surprised at not being banished from the industry for speaking up—even when the role for which she was nominated has already positioned her as an Oscar frontrunner.

Related: The 2018 Golden Globes List of Director Nominees Includes Zero Women

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