Jessica Chastain, who plays Maya, the dogged undercover CIA operative who spends a decade tracking down Osama bin Laden in “Zero Dark Thirty,” says she has never met the woman whom the role is based on.
“If I were to have met her, I would’ve put her in danger of going to prison,” says Chastain. “It’s a very difficult time, and she’s an undercover agent who is really good at her job. I feel safer knowing that she’s out there taking care of us.”
Chastain speaks seriously, only occasionally breaking into a moment of levity, as when she talks about being on an airplane when she found out she had been nominated for an Oscar.
“Kathryn [Bigelow] came over and said, ‘Congratulations, you got nominated for an Oscar,” recalls the actress. “And I was so excited, but I was afraid I was going to get duct-taped into my seat by an air marshal.”Her tone changes upon reflecting about Bigelow's lack of an Oscar nomination for best director.
"And I said, ‘What about you?' And she said, ‘No, we’re celebrating you,’” says Chastain. “But I couldn’t have done it without her.”
But the sting of Bigelow’s snub is tempered by the film’s other big nomination.
“By recognizing the film with a best picture nomination, we’re recognizing Kathryn Bigelow, because she’s our quarterback,” Chastain says.