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Jessica Chastain: Its about dividing women and Im not going to be a part of that



The Hollywood star recalls how, amid revelations of widespread sexual harassment and assault in the industry, she became a spokesperson for women in film

Earlier this year, at the Cannes film festival, it seemed as if there might be a new consciousness emerging on the surface, at least. Sofia Coppola won best director for The Beguiled and the star of that film, Nicole Kidman, used a press conference to call out the lack of female directors working in film and television, pledging to work with a female director at least once every 18 months. The main prize jury included Toni Erdmann director Maren Ade, the actor Fan Bingbing, the actor/director Agns Jaoui, and Jessica Chastain, who ultimately became a flashpoint for a discussion around gender and film, months before reports about sexual harassment in Hollywood and Harvey Weinstein exploded into the public arena.

At the end-of-festival press conference, in answer to a question about whether the industry was becoming more accommodating for female talent, Chastain gave an articulate and frank response about the films she had seen over the last 10 days.

The one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women, from the female characters that I saw represented, she said, a little shaky with nerves. It was quite disturbing to me, to be honest. I do hope that when we include female storytellers we will have more of the women that I recognise in my day-to-day life. Ones that are proactive, have their own agency, dont just react to men around them. They have their own point of view.

Chastain with Idris Elba in Mollys Game. Photograph: Michael Gibson/AP

Months later, in a suite at Claridges hotel in London, Chastain is cross-legged on the sofa, a blanket over her lap, sipping Earl Grey tea. Was she as nervous as she appeared to be when she said those things at Cannes? Oh, yeah, she admits, wide-eyed. I did not expect to say it. I was very nervous as I was talking, because I was formulating my words, and it was actually coming from a very true place. And then after I spoke, every other woman on the jury spoke to the same thing. The one big regret, from whatever came out of Cannes, was that their statements did not also go around. But yes, I was not alone in what I felt being on that jury.

In theory, we are here to talk about Mollys Game, the high-energy directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin, which tells the true story of Molly Bloom, played by Chastain. Bloom is a former professional skier who ran high-stakes underground poker games for the ultra-rich and famous, until the FBI brought it all crashing down. While the trailer makes it look like an action romp, it has more depth than that, posing interesting questions about masculinity, wealth and power, how women can exist within that world, and the concessions they have to make to do so. Its a Hollywood fable by any other name, and it couldnt be more timely.

I know, Chastain says, wearily. [Sorkin] said that when he was writing this film, he knew it was important. And he couldnt articulate why. The answer, it turns out, is that in those poker games, we see a microcosm of patriarchal society. Maybe a month ago, a friend of mine had seen the film, and she sent me the definition of patriarchy. She laughs. And I was like, oh my gosh, thats exactly what the film is.

Chastain likes to say: Oh my gosh. She is giggly, at times. There is an apple-pie wholesomeness to her that adds to the impression some have formed of a movie star from another era. She is poised and immaculate, and has the kind of charismatic sunbeam dazzle of the very famous and assured. Her diction is sometimes curious, as if English is not quite her first language, though she was raised in California and now lives in New York (she has attributed it to her Italian husband). Her old-fashionedness shines through in her roles, from her star-making turns in The Help and The Tree of Life, even through to the opaque CIA agent Maya in Zero Dark Thirty, for which she earned a second Oscar nomination. For Mollys Game, she is expected to receive a third.

Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty. Photograph: Universal Pictures/Sportsphoto Ltd.Allstar

Yet for all of her anachronistic qualities, Chastain is an ultra-contemporary movie star who has stepped up to the demands of what that means in 2017.

In the months that followed Cannes, she became a kind of spokesperson for women in film, a role that became more pronounced following the revelations of widespread sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood. I cant imagine anyone releasing a movie right now and not having everyone talk about it, she concedes. But this is really important for me, that this does not get swept under the rug of this is a Hollywood issue. Because this is a societal issue. Of course its happening in the industry, but its happening in the White House, its happening in Wall Street, its happening with farmworkers. By diminishing it, by saying this pertains only to this part of society, its dismissing all the other women who are going through harassment. She offers to send me a letter signed by 700,000 female farmworkers across America, telling of their own experiences of harassment, standing in solidarity with the actors who have spoken out. Its really powerful and its important that the voices of women in society that are usually ignored, arent ignored.

She understands that, given its notoriety, Hollywood will be a lightning rod for discussions around harassment, but she would like the focus to be wider. I really wish that focus would also be on men. I think theres a lot of focus on women, and Im so happy that Time magazines Person of the Year was the #MeToo movement. But when youre talking about statistics, and they say, this percentage of women are sexually harassed or raped, they dont actually put those percentages for men this percentage of men sexually harass. I think we need to take that focus of victimisation off of the victims and actually look at the problem. Where does it stem from?

In October, she put that into action, when, at Elles Women in Hollywood event, just days after the Weinstein stories had broken, she gave an extraordinary speech in which she spoke of male co-stars who had turned up on-set intoxicated, and who had held up filming because they wouldnt stop playing video games. Its unchecked power, she says. Its society that allows it to continue. Its society that doesnt say, hold up, this is not appropriate behaviour. The sad thing is, the majority of my career has been with the most incredible men. Ive never had a sense of being less than because of my gender, on their film sets. And yet, the small percentage of people who use their power to victimise and abuse have such a wide reach that … I feel bad to say, but its kind of put this stain on men. Has it not also put a stain on Hollywood, on the whole industry? I love consequences, she smiles, diplomatically. I mean, thats how you grow, right?

It took some time for Chastain to gain enough confidence to actually speak out about the issues that matter to her. When I first started in the industry in 2011, I was afraid to speak at all. I was afraid to say anything. But when Zero Dark Thirty came out, and she was up for a number of best actress awards, she was pitted against Jennifer Lawrence in a media-fabricated feud. She came up to me at one event and said, I hear were in a feud. And I had this moment where I was like, Oh, I get it. This is what the media does with women. You try to divide and conquer women so you can intimidate and victimise them. This is why they dont make movies where a lot of women get to be on set together. Its about dividing. And at that moment I was like, well, Im not going to be a part of that. So I immediately wrote on social media, Thats a lie. Ever since then, Ive just spoken up.

She seems to have a strong sense of justice and fairness, of whats right and wrong. Mmm, she says. Why is that? I was raised by a single mom and I just saw a lot of the difficulties she faced in her life, and in what she did to try to help us have a better life than she had. Perhaps that had to have influenced me in some way. I ask her if she has experienced any consequences of being outspoken, and being who she is. One of the many shocking revelations around the Weinstein scandal was how punitive and ruthless the industry appeared to be for those who did not stick to its murky rules. Listen, says Chastain, beaming her enormous smile once again. You can be quiet and make everyone happy and thats fine, and hopefully everyone will come see your films and youre not going to offend anyone. But then, are you moving the needle in any direction? Whats the point of being alive, in some sense? Youre just kind of sleepwalking through your life. She would rather be an active participant, she says. Im sure I have [seen consequences], but my career is doing OK.

Mollys Game is released in the UK on 1 January 2018

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Pamela Anderson Thought She Had A ‘Special Power To Kill People’ As A Child After Her Death Wish Came True

Charmaine Blake



Pamela Anderson exudes magic every time she runs down the beach in slo-mo — but did you know she has real “special powers”?

At least she thought she did after an allegedly predatory babysitter was killed in a car accident one day after wishing her dead.

Related: Pamela Anderson Refuses To Apologize For Weinstein Comments

The Baywatch star made the admission on Piers Morgan‘s Life Stories that aired Saturday night on ITV. She remembered:

“I had a babysitter, and she molested me for I think a year. I was between the ages of 4 and 8, somewhere in there. I remember wishing her dead, and she ended up dying the next day in her graduation in a car accident.”

Holy karma!

Naturally, young Pam thought she was behind the freak fatality and, if she wasn’t careful, might cause another. She continued:

“I thought, ‘Okay, now I’ve killed her. I’m magic. I can’t tell my parents about this and I’ve killed her,’ so I started believing that I had this special power to kill people.”

The future actress was so terrified to oust herself as a magical being, she didn’t tell her parents about the scary coincidence until “years later.”

Of course, by that time, she realized she had magical abilities every time she squeezed into a red swimsuit.

[Image via Media Punch.]

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Will Smith geeks out over the success of ‘Black Panther’ and its cast

Charmaine Blake



Image: Jerod Harris/Getty Images

Excited for Black Panther? So are we. Which is why we’re rolling out obsessive coverage with Black Panther Week. 

Will Smith just showed the world that he’s one of the biggest Black Panther fans around.

After the tremendous success of Black Panther‘s opening weekend, Will Smith took to Instagram to share an inspiring message he himself heard from Nelson Mandela along with a video of himself geeking out about Black Panther and praising everyone who worked on Marvel’s latest film.

“What you have done is spectacular,” Smith said in the video. “I watched the film a couple of days ago, and damn near got brought to tears. You guys have challenged and potentially even shattered a lot of long-time, long-held false Hollywood beliefs and paradigms. I just want to say congratulations to you, I’m proud and I’m excited, damn-near giddy. Congrats y’all, go get it.”

He then crossed his arms over his chest — the Wakandan salute.

Along with the video, Smith quoted Mandela in his Instagram post, sharing a message everyone who worked on the film that spoke to what people can do with their fame and how they can reach out and inspire others.

“Go into the streets… Touch them… Let them know that you are real!” Smith wrote.

Black Panther has been heralded not only for its unmistakable quality but also its achievements in representation, not only with its predominantly black cast but also its range of diversity behind the scenes. 

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Amy Schumer Marries Boyfriend Chris Fischer After A Few Months Of Dating

Charmaine Blake



Amy Schumer married chef Chris Fischer in a secret ceremony on Tuesday after just a few months of dating, People and Us Weekly reported.

The two were married at a house in Malibu, California, in front of 80 friends, including stars Larry David, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lawrence, David Spade and Jake Gyllenhaal, according to the reports.

Schumer, 36, and her chef boyfriend made their relationship public (as in Instagram-official) this week after attending Ellen DeGeneres’ star-studded birthday party. The two reportedly started dating around November after they were spotted having an intimate dinner in New York City.

They later attended a taping of “Saturday Night Live” together, though Schumer’s rep wouldn’t comment on the relationship.

Fisher once worked at Mario Batali’s New York City restaurant, Babbo, after being introduced by his friend, Jake Gyllenhaal.

The chef later returned to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where he grew up, to work at the Beach Plum Inn (a favorite of the Obamas) and The Covington Restaurant.

Fisher  who penned the James Beard Award-winning cookbook, Beetlebung Farm Cookbook  recently opened Beetlebung Farm Market on Martha’s Vineyard, and plans to turn part of it into a restaurant.

“After years of working for other people, my intuition is, ‘I’m doing this on my own terms,’” Fisher told Boston magazine in July. “You can create a destination restaurant anywhere.”

Prior to meeting Fischer, Schumer dated furniture designer Ben Hanisch. The two met on a dating app in 2015 and were together for a little over a year.

Michael Kovac via Getty Images
Schumer and Hanisch at the Critics’ Choice Awards on Jan. 17, 2016. 

“I feel like Ben is the first guy who’s really been my boyfriend,” the “I Feel Pretty” actress and author told Marie Claire in July 2016. “There are guys who, if they heard me say that, would want to punch me in the face, but yeah, it’s the truth.”

A rep for Schumer confirmed that she and Hanisch split in 2017, but said the two remained friends. It certainly seems like things are amicable, as the comedian thanked her ex for some furniture he’d built for her in September.

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