Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac might be putting a freeze frame on their friendship after “Scenes from a Marriage.”
There’s no question that Chastain and Isaac, who’ve been friends since their early Juilliard Drama School days, went to tough places in the 2021 HBO miniseries created by Hagai Levi. Based on Ingmar Bergman’s own 1973 miniseries, “Scenes from a Marriage” starred the pair as Jonathan and Mira, a married couple falling spectacularly apart in the wake of Mira’s infidelity and Jonathan’s deep-seated repressions stemming from his old-world Jewish faith.
The series, which spanned five episodes and earned Isaac a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actor but not one for Chastain, plays out as a collection of extended dialogues between the two characters, often identifying each other’s weaknesses and amounting to long scenes of yelling, tears, and breakdowns. Isaac, at one point, sang to Chastain to ease her nerves over the show’s difficult sex scenes, which turn degrading at times.
In a new interview with Vanity Fair, Chastain revealed that their longstanding friendship was unsurprisingly impacted by the demands of the series, which shot in fall 2020 during the height of the pandemic.
“‘Scenes from a Marriage’ was very tough. And I love Oscar (Isaac), but the reality is, our friendship has never quite been the same,” Chastain said. “We’re going to be OK, but after that, I was like, I need a little bit of a breather. There was so much I love you, I hate you in that series.”
In the past, Chastain said their friendship in part deepened their performances, with the “Eyes of Tammy Faye” Oscar winner and “George & Tammy” Emmy nominee telling the “TODAY” show in 2021, “We’ve been friends for more than half our lives and we know so much about each other. So we know how to make each other laugh without even saying anything. We can almost read each other’s minds but, it also means we could hurt each other really strongly. In the scenes, we would know how to get to the other one.”
And Chastain recently spoke to IndieWire about the impact playing Tammy Wynette for her Emmy-nominated Showtime series had on her relationship with her co-star, Michael Shannon. “It’s probably my favorite partnership. I love Oscar, but this comes from the material. I felt so loving from day one toward this material and production. It’s by far my favorite love story I have ever worked on,” she said.