“It’s a Kardashian story,” Jessica Chastain said at Deadline’s The Contenders event Saturday in Los Angeles. Chastain made the surprising comparison during a panel discussion for STX’s Molly’s Game, in which she plays Molly Bloom, a real-life Olympic-class skier-turned-high-stakes poker game host who became an FBI and Russian mob target.
When Chastain first Googled Bloom, she judged her based on her appearance. “I was judging her for her clothes, for her makeup,” she said. “But in many cases, women have to present themselves in that way, to find success in an industry where men are making the rules.”
Chastain said she placed photographs of the Kardashians in her trailer to further immerse herself in “this idea that to find success, to have it be given to you, you have to present this image of who you are.” But in meeting and getting to know Bloom, Chastain said, “I learned she was the opposite of that stereotype.”
Aaron Sorkin adapted the screenplay from Bloom’s book and makes his directorial debut with the film. He also admitted to judging Bloom before getting to know her. “I went to the meeting with Molly without very high expectations,” he said. But he soon realized he had been mistaken. “This was a remarkably impressive woman, and there was a huge difference between the story she was telling in the book and the real story.”
As Chastain put it, the story expertly addresses a very current conversation: the inequality and patriarchy in our society. “What I love so much about this story is the relationship with the father (played by Kevin Costner),” she said, “because it really does set up this pattern of patriarchy in Molly’s life, in the family, in industry and in the government. In all situations, she is trying to follow the rules laid out by men who change their mind depending on what their whims are. I think only an incredible writer is able to touch that pulse while we’re all still blind to it.”
Idris Elba added that playing Bloom’s lawyer Charlie Jaffey was both a challenge and a reward. “I was thrilled to bits, first of all because it’s Aaron,” he said. “The added bonus was to watch Aaron and to share that moment with him.” He also described working with Chastain as “a dream come true,” despite an intense schedule. “We had 12 days to shoot what Aaron described as ‘the spine of the film’ — no pressure,” Elba joked. “It was theater on speed-dial; it was fantastic.”
For Sorkin, directing proved enjoyable enough that while he won’t be doing it exclusively going forward, he promises to revisit the experience. “I love working with great directors, and I’m not done wanting to do that,” he said. “I had such a fantastic experience on this. Every day was wonderful, and I’m very proud of how the movie came out, so I think I will do it again.”