The Hollywood Reporter has once again gathered a group of contemporaries to discuss their careers, projects, fame and everything in between for the latest edition of the mag’s roundtable series.
For the Drama Actress Roundtable cover story, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Hudson, Tessa Thompson, Kirsten Dunst, Kristen Stewart and Emilia Jones reflect on what the film industry looks like coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I love going back to the movie theatres — I feel safe doing it — but a lot of people are nervous to,” Chastain says after being told “No Time To Die” hasn’t lived up to box office expectations. “So I wouldn’t say, “James Bond is underperforming; I’m like, ‘Thank goodness there’s product that these theatre owners can show, and then everyone can make their choice if they feel safe or not.’ I don’t even think we understand how traumatic the past two years have been.”
Now, the women agree that the metrics of success, both personally and professionally are changing.
“I mean, when is your experience and how people consumed it completely congruent? Like, it’s pretty rare,” “Spencer” star Stewart says. “It’s thrilling when it is. It’s really nice when you do a movie and you’re like, “I think that’s a good movie, and I had a good time making it and people seem to like it.” But, like, that is a miracle.”
While “The Power Of The Dog” star Dunst says, “I definitely don’t judge movies by Rotten Tomatoes,” Thompson can’t help but check out the “score” for her projects.
“It’s definitely a measure of success for me, which is probably not a good thing,” the “Passing” star says.
“You have to live and work for the experience of working. It’s got to be something that fulfills you and offers you something and helps you grow as a human being. If you’re like, ‘I need to check this box and this box and this box,’ all you’re going to be is unhappy,” “The Eyes Of Tammy Faye” star Chastain adds.
“To me, success is about creating your own value and your own goal. Box office? I don’t care. I did my job. I got to do what I wanted to do. I got to do what I love. That’s winning,” Hudson, who played Aretha Franklin in the biopic “Respect” says.
While most of the actresses at the roundtable are industry veterans at this stage of their careers, “CODA” star Jones is a relative newcomer to the group but like the others, she reveals the most useful advice she’s been given in her career is “never give up.”
“You hear ‘no’ so much more than you hear ‘yes’ — I mean, maybe it’s me, but I hear ‘no’ a lot,” she shares with the THR Roundtable. “And also, challenge yourself. If you read a script and it scares you, do it; it’s the most rewarding thing when you conquer it.”
For Dunst, the best advice she has is to “stay true to yourself.” She continues: “The choices you make lead to other choices. Also, to say ‘no’ is more powerful than ‘yes’ a lot of the time.”
Adds Hudson, “Don’t worry about the success, the accolades, the attention. We’re all here because we simply love what we do. There is no set formula for success — it’s your own idea of what that is.”
“I definitely lean toward what feels scary and uncomfortable,” Stewart explains. “When I was younger, I figured that was the only way — but it also sometimes feels good to actually, with ease, approach something in a more thoughtful way. My advice when I was younger would have been, ‘Lean into that fear! Use it!’ Like, I would have said what you said, Emilia. But now I’m actually better when I’m more comfortable.”