Jessica Chastain

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

When multiple accusations of sexual assault by producer Harvey Weinstein were first reported two months ago, resulting, in part, in the groundswell of additional allegations of sexual misconduct against men in positions of authority in Hollywood and beyond, the actress Jessica Chastain was immediately and unequivocally outspoken about Weinstein’s reputation. (Weinstein has continued to deny accusations of assault.) She took to Twitter in support of peers like Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, and Asia Argento, who had spoken out about Weinstein, and to give voice to her own experiences: “I was warned from the beginning,” she wrote in one Tweet. “I’m sick of the media demanding only women speak up,” she added in another. “What about the men? Perhaps many are afraid to look at their own behavior.”

Amid her tweets, she explained during a recent appearance on the Graham Norton Show, Chastain received an email from a high-profile (male) actor telling her, in essence, to pipe down. “I was tweeting a lot at that time and actually got an email from a well-known actor that said, ‘Calm down,’” she recalled on the show. “I found that heartbreaking and can only think he didn’t understand the movement that was happening.” (Every element of this story rings familiar for women: a man, offering his unsolicited opinion, over email, telling a woman her emotions are too much.)

But Chastain, who currently stars in the Aaron Sorkin film Molly’s Game, has made it clear she will not be bullied into silence. “I’m going to speak my mind about any injustice that I see,” she told the Daily Beast last month, when asked whether she was concerned about speaking out about the director Bryan Singer, who has also been plagued by accusations of sexual assault. (Chastain appears in the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix; the comic book franchise that Singer has long been involved with.)

“I made a decision very early on to not work with people that I felt abused their positions and didn’t create a healthy environment for those around them,” she added. “Because of the timing of when I came into the industry, I decided for me—my career could go away tomorrow, and I’ll do something else, and I’ll be OK. Because I was OK before I came into this career. For me, there’s a lot that I have that isn’t acting.”

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