Protecting Jessica Chastain?
Another great example of the “Business of Hollywood” and all the manipulation and strong-arming that characterises the industry.
Deadline’s Nikki Finke posted a delicious item yesterday about how Vanity Fair curiously pulled down an article about Jessica Chastain during the Academy’s Oscar voting period. Written by Bruce Handy, the profile was perceived to be unfavourable, and just one day after it was released online, the magazine had it deleted from its archives. Chastain’s people and Sony Pictures deny that they pressured Vanity Fair to remove the piece. Vanity Fair ended up insisting that the decision was theirs: “We took it down because it ran counter to what a number of people at the magazine believed”. As Finke notes though, Bruce Handy is VF’s Deputy Editor; he’s not some junior blogger who went rogue. He’s a veteran, and would probably have a good idea of what “the magazine believed”. Vanity Fair, however, with the exception of Tom Cruise, must maintain solid relationships with celebrities. It’s not impossible then to believe that Handy’s article was pulled down for fear of retribution and withholding. This is why I always laugh when people think the media has the power in Hollywood. The media, in fact, is often powerless against celebrity threats. To the point that fair speech is often muzzled.
So, the article, was it a slam piece?
It certainly wasn’t gushy. And I certainly don’t agree with many of his arguments. Handy posits that Chastain’s features are not memorable enough to make an impact in film. On the contrary, it’s precisely that indistinguishable quality about her face that, to me, makes her so effective. She can be anyone. Still, Handy compares her to a number of other actors and finds her wanting, including Julia Roberts, Cate Blanchett, and...wait for it...
At the height of award season, as the Best Actress race was seen as a contest between the two, some speculated that Chastain and Lawrence were feuding. Chastain then wrote on her Facebook page that the alleged feud was bullsh-t:
"I find it very sad that the media makes up bogus stories about women fighting in this industry. Filming The Help was the most amazing experience and yet, that is the film I'm most asked about in regards to 'fighting on set'. Why do we support the myth that women are competitive and cannot get along? I think all of the actresses recognised this year have given incredible performances. But more important, they've all shown themselves to be filled with generosity and kindness. I've done two photoshoots with Jennifer Lawrence over the years and have found her to be utterly charming and a great talent. I've told her how beautiful her film work is. Please don't allow the media to perpetuate the myth that women aren't supportive of each other. Every time an actress is celebrated for her great work, I cheer. For the more brilliant their performance, the more the audience demands stories about women. With support and encouragement, we help to inspire this industry to create opportunities for women. And as we all know: a great year for women in film, is just a great year for film."
It was a gracious, classy gesture. And it worked. Reports of their rivalry were quelled...even though I’m still hearing rumours from backstage at award shows that Chastain’s people, on at least two occasions, were adamant that she and Jennifer Lawrence were not to be in the same area at the same time. I’ve tried to find photos of the two together and haven’t been able to. I have however found photos of Lawrence with Naomi Watts, Quvenzhane Wallis, and others.
As Duana pointed out though, sometimes the people who represent celebrities aren’t representing what the celebrities really want. If it’s true that Jessica Chastain’s handlers were issuing those edicts, she may not have known about it, although you could argue that it’s every celebrity’s responsibility to make sure his/her team is on message. In light of this Vanity Fair story, and whatever may or may not have been going down behind the scenes between her people and Jennifer Lawrence, perhaps they’ve been overzealous about protecting her. But...from what? And why couldn’t they have protected her from these pants -- as seen this weekend at Paris Fashion Week?
Click here for Nikki Finke’s full analysis on the situation and Bruce Handy’s article on Chastain -- required reading for the Faculty of Celebrity Studies!