Jessica Chastain to work with Liv Ullman, Collin Farrell in “Miss Julie”

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

It's a very good time to be Jessica Chastain. After years of fine work in little seen films, Chastain broke though with a showy role in "The Help," which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and she went on to impress critics in "The Tree Of Life" and "The Debt." Now she's starring in not one but two box office blockbusters, "Zero Dark Thirty" (which has put her in the running for an Academy Award as Best Actress) and "Mama," and she's appearing on Broadway in "The Heiress."

For her next film role, the redheaded actress is attached to the sort of project most thespians with an eye towards the art houses would give their right arm to book.

Chastain has been signed to play the title role in "Miss Julie," a new screen version of the classic drama by celebrated Swedish playwright August Strindberg, and she'll be co-starring with Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton. Another actor of note will be on the set but working behind the camera: in the 1960s and 70s, Liv Ullman starred in a handful of films for Ingmar Bergman, widely regarded as Sweden's greatest filmmaker and one of the most influential directors of his generation, whose works include "Persona," "Cries and Whispers," and "Scenes From A Marriage." In 1992, Ullman followed her mentor Bergman into directing with her first feature, "Sofie." "Miss Julie" will be Ullman's fifth full-length directorial credit, and first since 2000's "Faithless." More recently, Ullman directed Cate Blanchett in a stage production of "A Streetcar Named Desire."

In "Miss Julie," Chastain will play the daughter of a wealthy and powerful man who feels hemmed in by social conventions. The high-spirited Miss Julie rebels by falling into an affair with Jean, one of her father's servants. The role of Miss Julie has previously been played on screen and on the stage by Janet McTeer, Sienna Miller, and Saffron Burrows, among many others, and with Ullman in the director's chair, "Miss Julie" promises to be the sort of project that could put Chastain back on the red carpet during award season.