Jessica Chastain announced on Entertainment Weekly’s “The Awardist” podcast (recorded prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike) that she is interested in reprising the role of Celia Foote in a sequel to the 2011 Oscar-winning drama “The Help.” Celia was an ostracized housewife grief stricken over several miscarriages, who forms a friendship with her maid, Minerva “Minny” Jackson (played by Octavia Spencer in an Oscar-winning role).
“You know who I think about all the time, and I just wish I could play her [again]? Celia Foote,” Chastain said. “I just want to do something, Celia and Minny, and see what happened. You know they ended up living together and raising the baby together, they were best friends. How amazing would that film be? I loved her, and I got to be a bit silly.”
“A lot of my characters I feel like I got to experience a lot,” Chastain added. “Celia, it was such a deep dive for me. I really threw on that character, and I didn’t really get to mine that much material because I was a supporting part of that story. That’s a character I wish I could revisit.”
Chastain was Oscar nominated alongside Spencer for best supporting actress, with Spencer winning the Academy Award. “The Help,” based on Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel of the same name, earned four Oscar nominations overall, including best picture. The film was a box office hit with $216 million worldwide. As part of the film’s ensemble, Chastain won the Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture alongside Spencer, Viola Davis, Emma Stone and more.
While “The Help” was an Oscar-winning box office hit, it also stirred controversy. Viola Davis, who was Oscar nominated for best actress, told Vanity Fair in 2020 that it was “created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism.”
“Not a lot of narratives are also invested in our humanity,” Davis said. “They’re invested in the idea of what it means to be Black, but… it’s catering to the white audience. The white audience at the most can sit and get an academic lesson into how we are. Then they leave the movie theater and they talk about what it meant. They’re not moved by who we were.”
“There’s no one who’s not entertained by ‘The Help,’” Davis added. “But there’s a part of me that feels like I betrayed myself, and my people, because I was in a movie that wasn’t ready to [tell the whole truth].”
Davis first shared criticisms of “The Help” in a 2018 interview with The New York Times, saying, “I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard. I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They’re my grandma. They’re my mom. And I know that if you do a movie where the whole premise is, I want to know what it feels like to work for white people and to bring up children in 1963, I want to hear how you really feel about it. I never heard that in the course of the movie.”
If “The Help” did get a sequel with Chastain, it seems unlikely that Davis would want to return.
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