Jessica Chastain shares how Chris Hemsworth got her thinking about parenting

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Jessica Chastain shares how former co-star Chris Hemsworth got her thinking about parenting. (Photo: Marilla Sicilia/Archivio Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Jessica Chastain shares how former co-star Chris Hemsworth got her thinking about parenting. (Photo: Marilla Sicilia/Archivio Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Jessica Chastain wants the fathers of the world to get more respect.

In a new interview with Sunday Times Style, the actress, who has two daughters with husband Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo, an Italian count and fashion executive, explained that she doesn't think dads get enough credit.

“Right now, as a society, I don’t believe we value fathers as much as we should. I think we have to understand that — and this is tough as a woman to say this — the father relationship is just as important as the mother relationship," explained Chastain, 44. "And men need to acknowledge that women are just as important in the workforce. And so, once we get more balance in both the workforce and in terms of raising children, I think that’s how we create healthier and happier human beings.”

One father that gave Chastain some parenting inspiration was her co-star in The Huntsman, Chris Hemsworth. She noticed the Australian actor was "devastated" that he wouldn't make it home from the set in time to put his three children to bed.

"He was so sad if we were going over because his kids were always asleep when he got home. And this was way before I got married and all of that. I remember seeing that and thinking, ‘When we’re on set for 16 hours a day, why isn’t there a set-up so people can be with their children?’ And I think it should go beyond women, it should also go for men — and that’s what broke my heart, how sweet Chris was, talking about how much he missed his kids. We should get to the place where men are able to admit that and society sees it as a strength," she said.

Chastain took Hemsworth's sentiments to heart, and had a trailer put on the set of her new film, The 355, to function as a nursery for the stars' children. But it's not just upon becoming a mother that Chastain began to think about these issues. She says her desire to make change mostly stems from a challenging childhood, in which she was one of five children with a single mother.

"I grew up with a lot of resentment, because we didn’t have things, like even food. I don’t talk about it much, but it was really, um, it was not what you would expect. When people see me, I think they expect a different background than I have," Chastain recalled. "So because I come from that place, I know what it’s like. And it makes me angry. And I don’t [want] anyone else to be denied anything. In terms of a voice, being seen, being acknowledged and valued.”

As a kid, the Oscar-nominated star loved acting, but couldn't afford to attend a local performing arts school, so she worked there in return for classes. Eventually, she made her way to Juilliard, the prestigious New York performing arts conservatory. It's a privilege she says made her who she is today.

“There were people that saw I was struggling as a kid and they helped me," said Chastain. "And that’s why I ended up where I am now."

Chastain also said she's "the first person in my family to not be pregnant when I was 17,” and is grateful for getting birth control pills from Planned Parenthood as a young person, because it gave her the freedom to achieve her goals. “It had a great impact on my life because it gave me choice.”

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