Jessica Chastain Signs On For The Help

By Katey Rich 2010-06-25 10:30:50discussion comments
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Tate Taylor clearly has a thing for redheads. The actor-turned-director is next adapting The Help, the novel by his childhood friend Kathryn Stockett, and he's already cast Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard in key roles in the film, about rich white women and the black women who serve them in 1960s Mississippi. With shooting set to begin this summer Taylor is rounding out his cast with yet another redhead-- THR reports that Jessica Chastain has been cast as Celia Foote.

I've been following the casting process of The Help with some interest, both because I liked the book and, as a Southerner, I get very protective when Yankee actors try to step in and do Southern accents. I'm still skeptical about Stone and Howard in their lead roles, though the casting of the black characters has been spot-on so far, with Viola Davis and Taylor's friend Octavia Spencer signing on in the main roles. Chastain is definitely a wild card-- her main acting credit so far is Terrence Malick's highly anticipated Tree of Life, in which she co-stars with Brad Pitt. Since no one has seen that film yet, we basically just have to trust that Malick plucked her out of relative obscurity for a good reason.

Though the Celia Foote role is less prominent than the others, it's pretty meaty-- she's a poor white trash girl who gets completely over her head when she marries a rich local businessman, and stays at home every day with only the maid Minny (Spencer) to help her pull herself together. The character is both comic and tragic, and would be a great opportunity for Chastain to put herself out there as Malick dithers over Tree of Life at his usual slow pace. As for the fact that the three lead white actresses all have red hair? It's bizarre, but for now we can just assume Taylor has something planned.
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