Jessica Chastain almost starred in American Hustle, playing the part that earned Jennifer Lawrence an Oscar nomination but had to turn the part down due to her packed schedule. At the time, Chastain was set to work with the legendary Swedish star Liv Ullmann on Miss Julie, so she couldn't make it work. Chastain and Lawrence have worked together though, as both starred in the X-Men movie Dark Phoenix.
During an interview for Josh Horowitz's Happy Sad Confused podcast, Chastain noted how there are many roles that actors are linked to, but they don't end up playing. "There's so many parts where like, 'Oh, so-and-so is going to do this.' And then they fell out," Chastain said. "Or I was going to do this and I fell out, so then this person jumps in. It happens all the time and we never talk about it because you don't want the articles out there like, 'Imagine this person doing it.'"
Once upon a time @jes_chastain passed on AMERICAN HUSTLE (the Jennifer Lawrence role) to work with Liv Ullmann. Guess what? It all worked out in the end. And we’ve got SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE. pic.twitter.com/eMQddbNSGM— Josh Horowitz (@joshuahorowitz) September 17, 2021
Chastain then offered an example. She was offered a role in American Hustle. She was excited about working with director David O. Russell, but she had to turn it down. "It conflicted with Liv Ullmann and Miss Julie. I had been attached to that for a long time and I worship Liv Ullmann," Chastain recalled. "So I had to say like, 'Sorry, there's conflict.' And it didn't work out."
Lawrence wound up playing the part, Rosalyn Rosenfeld, the wife of Christian Bale's Irving Rosenfeld. She was nominated for the 2013 Best Supporting Actress Oscar but lost to 12 Years a Slave star Lupita Nyong'o. Lawrence previously won the 2012 Best Actress Oscar for Russell's Silver Linings Playbook. (Coincidentally, Lawrence beat Chastain, who was nominated for Zero Dark Thirty.)
Chastain joked that it was "good" that Miss Julie didn't do too well, but at least she got to work with Ullman. "That's why I share that story because honestly, she's like a goddess to me and I worship her," Chastain told Horowitz. "Everything happens for a reason because Jennifer was also way better than I ever would've been in that part."
Chastain can now be seen in theaters in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which required her to wear extensive makeup to play the infamous televangelist Tammy Faye, opposite Andrew Garfield as Faye's husband Jim Bakker. She also stars in HBO's five-episode remake of Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage, co-starring Oscar Isaac. The original 1970 series starred Ulmann. The new version premiered on Sept. 12 and airs Sundays through Oct. 10. It is also available to stream on HBO Max.