Jessica Chastain's big request on behalf of her female co-stars on The 355

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·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·3-min read
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  • Bingeworthy
    Bingeworthy
  • Jessica Chastain
    Jessica Chastain
    American actress and producer
  • Diane Kruger
    Diane Kruger
    German-American actress and former model

Jessica Chastain kicks some serious butt as headstrong CIA operative Mason 'Mace' Brown in The 355, an action-packed spy thriller featuring an all-female lead cast.

From drawing on her past ballet skills during combat training to performing many of her own stunts, the two-time Oscar nominee went to great lengths to bring Mace to life.

Jessica Chastain as Mason 'Mace' Brown in The 355. Photo: Robert Viglasky/Universal Pictures (supplied).
Jessica Chastain hits the ground running as CIA agent Mason 'Mace' Brown in The 355. Photo: Robert Viglasky/Universal Pictures (supplied).

It was her role off-camera, as the film's producer, however, that allowed Jessica, 44, to flex the most muscle.

She tells Yahoo Lifestyle in an exclusive chat that she was able to have a say in 'everything' from the casting and filming locations to the storylines and even the environment on set.

"I wanted to really create a healthy environment that saw women as mothers, but also as badass fighters, and that's exciting to me," she says simply.

That meant making sure there was a trailer on set where the stars' children, including her own, could come and visit between scenes.

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Penelope Cruz as Graciela Rivera, Jessica Chastain as Mason 'Mace' Brown, Lupita Nyong'o as Khadijah and Diane Kruger as Marie in The 355. Photo: Robert Viglasky/Universal Pictures (supplied).
The badass women of The 355: Penelope Cruz, Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong'o and Diane Kruger. Photo: Robert Viglasky/Universal Pictures (supplied).

"We're away from home for so long during the day and you know, Diane [Kruger] had just had a baby... I wanted to create an environment that if we had an hour off because they're doing a different lighting setup, we can go and hang out with our kids and they can all play together."

When it was time to get back to work, Jessica and her handpicked cast — Diane, Lupita Nyong'o, Penélope Cruz and Bingbing Fan — would pick up where they left off playing their 'badass' characters.

The inspiration for the film itself is pretty badass as well. The '355' was the code name for a real-life female spy who played a pivotal role in the American Revolutionary War in the late 18th century.

Jessica Chastain as Mason 'Mace' Brown and Lupita Nyong'o as Khadijah in The 355. Photo: Robert Viglasky/Universal Pictures (supplied).
Jessica and Lupita put their fight training to good use. Photo: Robert Viglasky/Universal Pictures (supplied).
Jessica Chastain as Mason 'Mace' Brown in The 355. Photo: Robert Viglasky/Universal Pictures (supplied).
Jessica performed many of her own stunts. Photo: Robert Viglasky/Universal Pictures (supplied).

The 355 is Jessica's nod to the original '355' whose identity was so well-protected that, hundreds of years on, it remains a mystery.

Seeing the project finally hit cinemas has been a long time coming for Jessica, who came up with the idea after encountering a plethora of posters for male-led action films at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017.

"It feels like I made this movie another life ago," she laughs. "I had the idea for it in 2017 when I was in Cannes, we raised the money in 2018 and we were filming in 2019. And then, you know, a pandemic hit.

"So we've been paused for a while, but I'm just excited to get the film out there."

As for whether Mace might reassemble her all-female crew to save the world yet again in a sequel, Jessica is coy.

"That depends on if the audience likes the film. Who knows what the next phase of The 355 is but that is for the audience to decide."

The 355 is in cinemas on Thursday, January 13.

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