NEW YORK – Following a breakout year on screen, Jessica Chastain will make her Broadway debut in a major revival of Ruth Goetz and Augustus Goetz’s play The Heiress, based on the 1880 novel Washington Square by Henry James.
Scheduled for fall 2012 at a theater to be announced, the production will be staged by Moisés Kaufman, whose recent Broadway credits include directing Robin Williams in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo and Jane Fonda in 33 Variations.
In addition to Chastain, the play also marks a first venture into Broadway for producer Paula Wagner, who is expanding her film and television development slate to include theater projects. Wagner’s fellow lead producers on the play are Roy Furman and Stephanie P. McClelland.
This will be the fifth Broadway production of The Heiress, which premiered in 1947. The most recent of them, in 1995, won Tony Awards for revival of a play, lead actress Cherry Jones, featured actress Frances Sternhagen and director Gerald Gutierrez. William Wyler’s 1949 screen version won an Oscar for Olivia de Havilland.
Chastain will play Catherine Sloper, one of the great, psychologically complex female stage roles. The shy, unattractive young woman’s chance at love and happiness is destroyed by the cold behavior of her wealthy father, schooling her in emotional cruelty.
"I was immediately struck by Jessica's talent and skill when I saw her on stage opposite Al Pacino in Salome,” said Wagner. “She is an actress with that rare ability to transition effortlessly between the stage and screen."
Chastain is nominated for a Golden Globe for supporting actress in The Help and an Independent Spirit Award in the same category for Take Shelter. A graduate of the Juilliard School of Drama, her prolific screen work over the past year also includes roles in The Tree of Life, Coriolanus and The Debt.