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Jessica Chastain shares what went through her mind when she won her 1st Oscar

At the 2022 Oscars, Chastain took home the award for best actress for her role as televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker in "The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
/ Source: TODAY

Unlike her fans, Jessica Chastain doesn't expect she'll actually win when she's nominated for a major award.

“Everyone always makes fun of me because when I win something, I never think it’s going to happen,” she said on Sunday Sitdown May 14. “So I’m always, like, shocked. I always make these weird, not attractive faces because it’s just not something I’m expecting.”

In conversation with TODAY's Willie Geist, Chastain opened up about her acting career and how surprised she was when she won best actress at the 2022 Oscars for "The Eyes of Tammy Faye."

When Geist asked what went through her mind after winning the award, Chastain said her reflections on the "scope of her life" and what led her to that point started before, when she received the nomination.

"I mean, my grandmother moved me to New York when I first went to Juilliard. She stayed with me in my dorm room a few times. I mean, it was crazy," she said.

"I had my shower caddie. You know, for the shared bathroom, like, the whole thing," she added.

So when she won her first Oscar, she said she didn't want to think about herself while she walked onstage to receive the award.

"In that moment, when I got on stage, I just felt like, I didn’t want it to be about me," she told Geist. "I don’t want to get emotional talking about it, but the people that have put so much of their time into helping me."

As a graduate of New York's prestigious Juilliard school, Chastain has made a name for herself in Hollywood. She's known for acting in "The Help" and "Zero Dark Thirty," both of which resulted in Oscars nominations.

But now she's back to doing what she "first wanted to do" — theater. As a kid, she said she enjoyed being around people who, like her, had a passion for the arts.

“I would, like, skip school to read Shakespeare in my car. I mean, that’s not something that someone should be doing in high school,” she said, with a laugh. 

“I was so excited by, and the opportunity, of the idea that I could live in New York City and do theater and be with people that I felt like were always searching for a more exciting and more fulfilling life, and surrounding myself with a group of people like that,” she added. “That was really a goal of mine.”

For her role as Nora Helmer in “A Doll’s House,” Chastain has received a best actress nomination at the 2023 Tony Awards.

"A Doll's House" was first performed in Denmark in 1879.

"The play is about this woman, a mother, a wife, a friend, who has found herself living a life of deceit in trying to help others. And she comes to the point where she realized she really doesn’t know who she is anymore," Chastain explained. "I find it to be so incredibly relevant, not just for women, but for anyone who feels like they are not allowing themselves to be their authentic selves because of a fear of not being granted certain privileges or rights."

While talking about the play, Chastain noted that it can be very "exhausting, but also invigorating" being on stage. The mix between the two makes it hard for her to "take a nap" after a performance.

"I have too much adrenaline," she said.