Jessica Chastain has played numerous strong characters over the course of her career, and she is making it clear that she prefers seeing actresses tackling interesting, complex roles.
“Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 was incredible,” Chastain told Britain’s Radio Times. “I remember the opening shot of her in that tank top doing those pull-ups, and I remember being a little girl watching her and thinking, ‘This is amazing. I want to be her.’”
Still, Chastain — who has taken on action parts in films like Zero Dark Thirty and A Most Violent Year — sees an issue with Hollywood’s portrayal of female superheroes.
“If you look at films like Elektra and Aeon Flux, the problem that studios have is that they try to make kickass women very sexualized. They have to be in some catsuit,” she told the weekly. “But if you look at the most incredible female roles, like Ripley in Alien, she is a very sexy woman but she’s not wearing a lot of make-up. She’s in a T-shirt and jeans. What’s sexy about her is how capable she is.”
The 38-year-old actress believes the problem comes from studios’ assumptions that moviegoers won’t take a liking to dynamic female superheroes. “Studios have misjudged it in the past, and thought audiences weren’t interested in seeing a woman in an action role who’s a capable, intelligent woman and isn’t only leaning on her sex,” Chastain said.
In her latest film, Ridley Scott’s The Martian, Chastain portrays Melissa Lewis, commander of the Ares 3 mission that leaves Mark Whatney (Matt Damon) stranded on Mars. “If the female character isn’t as interesting as the male character, I’m not interested,” she told Radio Times.
The Martian hits theaters Oct. 2. For more from Chastain, head to Radio Times.