Jessica Chastain Wound Down With Animal Co-Stars on Set of ‘Zookeeper’s Wife’


Jessica Chastain found working with baby animals on the set of her new movie The Zookeeper’s Wife strangely therapeutic because they cheered her up after intense scenes.

In the movie, the actress plays real-life Warsaw Zoo owner Antonina Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion of Poland in World War Two. Antonina hid Jews from the Nazis in the cages and tunnels used by animals at the zoo.

The creatures were more than just co-stars for Jessica – they helped put a smile back on her face after harrowing scenes.

“I prefer working with animals to people because an animal teaches you to just be in the moment,” the actress tells WENN. “You have to feel their energy and almost breathe at the same time as the animal is breathing.

“You don’t go into their space before they invite you, until you can meet each other as equals. And then you just see what happens… For me animals are so healing, so in between scenes, when I would do an upsetting scene, I would hold the bunny. It very quickly pulls you out of the scene.”

Niki Caro

And The Help star has nothing but praise for director Niki Caro, insisting the filmmaker’s handling of the movie’s pivotal rape storyline was extraordinary.

“Everyone in the audience knows what’s happening to Urszula (Shira Haas’ character), but in a way we’re put in the mind of Jan (Jonah Heldenbergh), where he knows what’s happening to her but he’s not witnessing it,” she explains.

“I appreciate a film that doesn’t rely on a rape scene to get an audience to feel an emotion. Sometimes I find that it’s meant to titillate… I have a lot of difficulty with rape scenes in the American film industry because I don’t think they are filmed responsibly, so I’m happy in the way it was portrayed in our film.”

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