Jessica Chastain’s ‘Memory’ Director Was Warned She’d Be a ‘Nightmare and a Diva’ After Oscar Win: ‘She Is Going to Leave Your Film’

Jessica Chastain earned stellar reviews out of the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals for her performance in Michel Franco’s “Memory,” but the role might have never materialized for the actor had Franco listened to some wrongful advice. Speaking to IndieWire, Chastain and Franco revealed that he was warned she’d be “a nightmare and a diva” to work with after winning the Oscar for best actress. Chastain went to film “Memory” shortly after winning the Academy Award for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”

“Because I have been doing bigger things sometimes and have gotten a lot of attention as of late, [there’s been the idea] that I would not be interested in being on a set without a trailer,” Chastain said. “We had the Oscars and I won for ‘Tammy Faye.’ Right after that, I showed up on set to do ‘Memory.’ Michel said that a lot of people told him, ‘Oh Jessica is going to leave your film because she just won an Oscar.’”

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“Or that she is going to show up and be a nightmare and be a diva,” added Franco. “I told them, you don’t know half of it. She’s the opposite. She’s going to show up satisfied, happy and be productive. People are so afraid of actors. I don’t know why. The worst way to approach an actor or any person is with fear, and if you are pointing in the wrong direction then, yes, all your nightmares will come true.”

Franco said those who warned him remained skeptical about Chastain. “They were all puzzled,” he said. “Like what are we going to do with this Oscar-winning actress?”

“I’m not doing a movie to be pampered,” Chastain added to IndieWire. “If I want to be pampered, I’ll go to a spa. I’m doing a film to work and to be creative. I don’t need to sit by myself in a trailer.”

Chastain did not have a trailer on “Memory” and she also did her own hair and picked out her character’s clothes. She stars in the film as Sylvia, a social worker and recovering alcoholic who becomes a caretaker for an old high school classmate suffering from dementia (played by Peter Sarsgaard, who won best actor at Venice for his performance).

In an interview with Variety, Chastain said she accepted the role because “couldn’t find one cliché” in the script. “I thought I knew the direction it was going — super edgy and dark, like this revenge situation — and it didn’t feel like it was salacious or it was using the #MeToo movement or this idea of violence against women to its benefit,” she added. “It felt really healing and unlike anything I had seen.”

“Memory” is seeking U.S. distribution.

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