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“TAKE SHELTER” | writer-director, Jeff Nichols

[PREMIERE SCREENING: Monday, Jan. 24, 3:00 pm — Eccles Theatre]

The biggest surprise associated with the making of Take Shelter was, without question, Jessica Chastain. When traveling the festival circuit with my first film, Shotgun Stories, I was fairly outspoken about the fact that Michael Shannon is one of the greatest actors working today. When casting Take Shelter, a film that is anchored by the relationship of a married couple, the biggest question I had was: “What actress could go toe-to-toe with Michael Shannon?” Then the universe delivered me Jessica Chastain.

When thinking about this role my executive producer, Sarah Green, was nice enough to arrange a meeting for me with Terrence Malick, a personal idol of mine, in order to discuss an actress I knew nothing about. Mr. Malick told me Jessica Chastain was one of the best actors he had ever worked with. Needless to say, I didn’t take this referral lightly. So much so that I never actually considered any other actors for her role. If it works for Malick, who am I to question?

So I go into production with an actress I had only met once. We had spoken on the phone a few times, but for the most part I felt I was in uncharted territory. Then I got to watch her performance. After that, I got to edit her performance. At the end, I realized it wasn’t just the fact that Jessica could go toe-to-toe with Michael Shannon, but that she filled the role so honestly and completely. For an actress I had never seen act before, this was a wonderful surprise.

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