Jessica Chastain has two Oscar-buzzy movies coming out—Interstellar this weekend and A Most Violent Year at the end of December. She’s already got good odds on a Supporting Actress nomination with Interstellar, but some Oscar prognosticators think she’s better and more worthy in Violent Year. Also, Interstellar is a major release backed by a big-four studio with a massive publicity campaign, while Violent Year is a little indie that is going to need all the help it can get, especially from its most famous star. And therein lies the problem, because apparently Warner Brothers and Christopher Nolan are blocking Chastain from promoting Violent Year until December.
It’s not unusual for those actors who find themselves getting Oscar traction for multiple projects to have to decide which one they’re going to put the bulk of their effort behind—hell, it’s happened to Chastain before. But the report in the New York Times about Chastain’s current situation is extra. Usually, it’s the actor (and their representatives) who decide how to allocate their time and effort. The NYT is alleging that it’s Nolan and WB dictating Chastain’s time, and it’s happening against a movie that is distinctly disadvantaged compared to Interstellar’s resources.
I don’t doubt there’s a Chastain tug-of-war happening on some level—like I said, this situation is not unique—and I’m not surprised a studio would push around an independent distributor at this of time year. Award season is cutthroat and everyone leverages anything they can. But I’m side-eyeing the report a little bit. Nolan gets singled out several times, but then Chastain is on record pointing out that he helped her get out of an Interstellar appearance so she can go to the Violent Year premiere. It kind of feels like targeting Nolan and using Chastain to do it.
This is the week for stories about things Christopher Nolan may or may not have said to get retracted, so I expect this NYT to, at the very least, get softened by a correction, if not an outright retraction. Something may well be going on with Jessica Chastain’s schedule, but what I really want to know is who Nolan pissed off that suddenly everyone seems to be going for his throat.