Jessica Chastain has shared how making her new movie prompted the cast and crew to get involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.
The actress is the star of film Woman Walks Ahead, in which she plays Catherine Weldon, a portrait painter in 1890s Brooklyn who travels to the Dakotas to paint a portrait of iconic Native American leader Sitting Bull and becomes embroiled in the Lakota peoples’ struggle over the rights to their land.
The film, which stars Sam Rockwell and Canadian actor Michael Greyeyes as the Native American chief, premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Sunday (10Sep17), where Jessica made a stunning appearance in a red gown ahead of the screening.
Ironically, the Dakota Access Pipeline protests were taking place nearby, and the actress and co-star Michael revealed the film crew were inspired to get involved in the protestors’ efforts to halt construction of the 1,172-mile oil conduit across the Missouri River, in a turn of events which mirrored the similar themes of the movie.
“People there are very close to nature and there is this groundedness and centredness I found when we were filming,” Jessica explained in an interview alongside Michael and director Susanna White at People, Entertainment Weekly and InStyle‘s studio.
“When we were making it the protests were happening at Standing Rock for DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) and our crew Jessica and the cast Susanna we would tweet and add those hashtags because the struggles that Sitting Bull and the Lakota people had fought a 100 years prior were being relived in our time,” Michael shared.
While director Susanna noted there was something “spiritual” about the themes to the movie, which had an effect on everyone involved, compelling them to act to stop the pipeline.
“There were a lot of Native Americans in the crew. There was something transformative about it,” explained Susanna. “The struggles that Sitting Bull and the Lakota people had fought 100 years prior were being relived in our time.”
Jessica and Michael joined celebrity protestors such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo and Shailene Woodley who also lent their support to their bitter protest, but the pipeline became operational in June.
A release date for Woman Walks Ahead has yet to be announced.