December 08, 2017 at 09:30 AM EST

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“I don’t know what I can describe about this character without giving everything away.” Jessica Chastain is aware that she can’t really talk about her very mysterious Dark Phoenix character.

But what we can tell you is the Molly’s Game star plays an otherworldly shapeshifter who influences Jean Grey/Phoenix for her own agenda. Says Simon Kinberg, “Her character is way way smarter than we are. What she realizes is she can use [Jean Grey] to manipulate this world, to turn it against itself.”

Doane Gregory/Fox

The actress became friends with Kinberg on The Martian, which he produced. “I was really excited for him to have his directorial debut and also it was the script. I’ve always wanted to do a big comic book franchise-y film but I had some issues with the female characters in the films I was being offered. I was really pleased with this script because I think it’s a departure from the norm.”

And while Chastain is a non-human villain in a huge superhero movie, the way she plays her is the biggest twist. Instead of big booming speeches (see: Apocalypse), Chastain is quietly threatening. Explains the actress, “Simon and I first sat down in Montreal and we were talking about the character and I said ‘I don’t know if this is right but I keep thinking of the vet who tells you you need to put your dog down. There’s something very clinical about it.’ He loved it and we kind of expanded the character from there.”

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