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Jessica Chastain explains why she dropped out of high school

Jessica Chastain explains why she dropped out of high school

Jessica Chastain explained that her family did not even notice that she had never graduated from high school

Jessica Chastain didn't have an easy life growing up, but she says that without this turbulent family life, she would never have discovered her deep love for acting.

While discussing her new role as Tammy Wynette in the upcoming six-part biopic, George & Tammy with The Guardian, the actress opened up about her own struggles as a young woman, dropping out of school, and how she found an outlet in theatre. Jessica Chastain said that while most dropouts would just hang out "smoking or sleeping in", she would sit in her car and read Shakespeare. She explains, "I was in high school, and there was a trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and I saw Marco Barricelli perform Richard III. And… something opened up in me. It was the strangest thing, that I could be so moved. I had a huge crush on this actor".

The Oscar-winning actress continued: "I became obsessed with Shakespeare. My grandmother had just bought these decorative books – she loved design, and these books were not meant to be read. They were just put on the shelf to look pretty. And one of them was the complete works of Shakespeare. I still have it." Jessica Chastain added that "it was something about the rhythm and the way it fuelled the emotion" that drew her to these plays. She also liked the characters and "got to play Juliet twice; it's my favourite role," she noted. "Romeo is a bit weak, but Juliet says to the Friar, 'You married us, it's your fault, and if you don't fix it, I'll kill myself and it'll be your fault too. Do something!" And Romeo is just a wet noodle. Something opened up in me; I wanted to do this."

"I felt like someone understood me in a different way".

When asked by the reporter what she thought was so important about finding Shakespeare at that moment, Jessica Chastain broke down in tears and replied, "I felt like someone understood me in a different way. I can get emotional talking about it. It's like a… It's like not being seen." Being seen at that age had a particular impact on the actress, as she said her family was not interested in her. She says that when she dropped out of high school to pursue acting, "no one in [her] family stopped [her]": "No one said to me, 'You can't be an actress'. But I'm sure they would have preferred me to fall in love with being a dentist".

She adds that part of the reason no one stopped her was because her younger sister, Juliette, "was having a lot of trouble, and everyone was under a lot of stress": "So the focus was on that. When I didn't graduate, nobody noticed. There wasn't even a conversation like, "Uh, are we going to go to your graduation?" Nothing." In a 2014 interview with InStyle magazine, Jessica Chastain had previously shared that her sister had struggled with drug addiction and depression for years before finally committing suicide in 2003. She said, "It completely changed the person I am. A movie, the Oscars, a dress, if someone thinks I'm stupid… I realised that nothing is that important."

Written by Michael Zippo

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