December 1, 2023

Tricia Oak

Business & Finance Excellency

Jessica Chastain Criticizes ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Marketing Campaign

Despite the film being a female-fronted war drama, Chastain said it “wasn’t marketed that way at all.”

Jessica Chastain is looking back at “Zero Dark Thirty” 10 years later.

The CIA film, helmed by Kathryn Bigelow, was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, with Chastain recognized in the Best Actress category. The Megan Ellison and Annapurna Pictures-produced film was not marketed as a female-fronted war drama, according to Chastain.

“I wasn’t even on the poster,” Chastain said in a C magazine cover story. “It wasn’t marketed that way at all.”

Instead, the discourse surrounding it went to the glorification of American torture methods. “I know about the criticism, and I disagree with it,” the “Eyes of Tammy Faye” Oscar winner added.

“Zero Dark Thirty” was seemingly underplayed during that year’s awards season due to mega-producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged involvement in a smear campaign after director Bigelow turned him down as a producer for the film, per The Hollywood Reporter.

“Listen, he-who-shall-not-be-named really changed awards season,” Chastain said in February 2022 in reference to Weinstein, who is now serving multiple decades-long sentences for rape and assault. “I don’t see it nowadays like I saw it when I first came onto the scene. If a film had a lot of attention, there’d be all these negative articles about it, all of a sudden. I believe he-who-shall-not-be-named is the instigator of that kind of campaigning.”

Chastain continued, “Thank goodness our industry is moving to a more healthy environment, and we’re now more celebratory of everyone. We’re not trying to knock someone down because they’re competition. We have now moved to a much happier place.”

Chastain went on to found production company Freckle Films, which debuted its first feature “The 355” in 2021. “I had the idea [for the film] right around the time of the MeToo movement and Time’s Up,” Chastain told C. “When this industry had been, for years, discarding women at a certain age and determining whether or not they were sexually desirable, and they were more ornaments than artists. And I was like, ‘Well, what happens if they’re actually the bosses? What happens if they are the ones in charge of the films?’”

Chastain continued, “And by creating the structure of selling the film and making the film, I took the power out of some guy sitting in an office building somewhere and put it in the artist’s hands. And it actually was an easy thing to do. I mean, it was a lot of work, but more movies can be made like that. And more actors and actresses in particular should be making movies like that—where they have ownership in their work.”