Thousands of kilometres from Hollywood, Australia got a taste of the Time's Up movement on Tuesday night.
In Sydney to promote her latest release Molly's Game (out now), star Jessica Chastain attended a screening of the film, partaking in a Q&A afterwards.
Asked about her work with Time's Up and political and social activitism both on and off screen and whether it presented her with challenges in Hollywood, she first joked "I don't know, you guys tell me!", being met with applause before emphasising the importance of speaking up.
"It sometimes feels...it's always a scary thing to separate from the status quo and speak up about something that may not be healthy in the industry or in any way of being," she said.
"I think my nature really is I'm quite shy sometimes, and I think the idea of putting attention on me makes me a bit nervous."
"But I've always realised that in any kind of broken system, everyone suffers."
"If someone is suffering then in some way I'm suffering as well. So that makes it a lot easier to speak up".
"I don't feel like I'm doing so to create any negativity, I try to lead with love and hope and compassion and empathy".
"But I think when you speak from that place and listen to others, it makes it much easier to have that conversation."
Chastain, who received Oscar nominations for The Help and Zero Dark Thirty and is also known for films such as The Martian and Interstellar, is a vocal supporter of a number of issues in both Hollywood and beyond, including advocating for diversity in the media and gender equality, also attending the Women's March in Washington D.C. last year.
She helped launch the Time's Up movement with a number of Hollywood celebrities in The New York Times on January 1 in response to the reports of sexual harassment and abuse in the film industry and the subsequent #MeToo movement.
Time's Up is a legal defence fund to assist individuals in any industry when speaking up about harassment, also advocating for legislation to punish companies who tolerate misconduct and a move towards gender parity in the entertainment industry and a show of solidarity by wearing black to the Golden Globe Awards on January 8.
Recently, she also made headlines for helping co-star Octavia Spencer make five times her usual fee on their upcoming Christmas-themed comedy movie.
Spencer praised Chastain as "walking the walk and she's actually talking the talk".
She also owns production company Freckle Films, which aims to create opportunities for women and people of colour in Hollywood.
In the past, she has spoken on her desire to star in films that start a conversation and foster empathy and understanding, including Molly's Game and 2016 release Miss Sloane.
"I really feel this...I'm in this industry because I'm so interested in people who are different from me, who look different from me, sound different from me who have different experiences and backgrounds and lives" she said at the Sydney Q&A.
"Through acting I get to know and get to bridge that gap."
Asked how the film industry has changed since she entered it, Chastain said "it's a very interesting time right now."
"A lot of people are coming forward and working to change the industry in a healthy way."
"There is so much love and kindness and inspiration in groups that support each other."
"I'm really seeing that. We're lifting each other up."
Chastain also spoke of her experience of working with writer/director Aaron Sorkin on Molly's Game, as well as her advice for aspiring actors, and her research for the film, where she plays former poker titan Molly Bloom.
Bloom, once an Olympic-level skier, left the sport after injury and ran high-stakes poker games attended by businessmen, sports players, and Hollywood stars including Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck in New York and Los Angeles for nearly a decade before being arrested.
"I'm drawn to characters who defy any kind of expectation society has for them," she said.
"Molly's the kind of character who, no matter how many times she falls down, she gets back up. And that's what's so inspiring to me."
"I find that if we let that fear of failure, that fear of falling down, control our actions, then...we don't grow."
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