Miss Sloane
Credit: Kerry Hayes

For many on both sides of the argument, there is no bigger political issue than gun control.

But Jessica Chastain, who plays a lobbyist pushing a background-check bill through the U.S. Senate in Miss Sloane (out Dec. 9), flinches a bit at that term. “Gun control is divisive because some people are immediately afraid that it’s a kind of confiscation,” she says. “And people who hear that in regards to this film will think it’s a plant to move them in one direction.” She pauses. “It’s not.”

Instead, Miss Sloane, written by first-timer Jonathan Perera and directed by John Madden (who Chastain previously worked with on The Debt), uses the Second Amendment debate to cleverly explore — with enough plot twists to fit in a whole season of House of Cards — how the American political system works.

Madden compares the film’s intentions to last year’s muckraking Oscar winner. “Spotlight is a reference,” he says. “Our film is about the pursuit of a goal and the pressures that are brought to bear, and it’s properly thrilling in ways you don’t expect. And it pays very close attention to the people who work in this world.”

In preparation for her role as one of those people, Chastain (pictured above in this exclusive image, along with Noah Robbins, Grace Lynn Kung, Douglas Smith, and Al Mukadam) met with 11 female lobbyists of all ideological stripes in Washington, and found a constant thread among them. “They all had to work harder than their [male] counterparts,” she says. For an actress who’s appeared in an average of four movies per year since 2011, that sounds like a natural fit.

But burnout, Chastain explains, occurs faster when you lack passion. “I think people reach burnout sooner when they’re working on things that don’t mean anything to them,” she says. Certainly in the case of Miss Sloane, that’s not a charge you’d want to lobby against her.

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Miss Sloane
  • Movie
  • 132 minutes