WASHINGTON – Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain said she would be “very happy” if Chelsea Clinton ran for public office and that she does not know Ivanka Trump’s “qualifications” for her role in the White House.
Chastain visited Washington on Wednesday for the premiere of her new film, The Zookeeper’s Wife, which opens in theaters on March 31.
Variety and the Lifetime network are honoring Chastain and Chelsea Clinton for their contributions to media and entertainment at a “Power of Women” luncheon next month in New York City.
Some have speculated that Clinton might run for a House or Senate seat in the future, given her public criticism of Republicans on social media.
Chastain was asked if she would like to see Clinton run for office.
“I think she should do whatever she wants to do. I think she’s a very intelligent and capable young woman and if we she wants to run for office I’m very happy. I think the more women that run for office, the better society will be. I encourage all women watching this, listening, to please run for office because we need you,” Chastain said before the screening.
It was recently reported that first daughter Ivanka Trump would be getting an office in the West Wing of the White House and a security clearance that would give her access to some classified information. Chastain was asked if she agrees with that decision.
“You know, I don’t know her qualifications so I’m not a good one to ask about that,” she replied.
Chastain told Extra that President Trump’s budget proposal is making her “so sad” because it cuts domestic programs that she supports. Chastain commented specifically on the proposed elimination of funding for the National Endowment of the Arts.
“What is a society without art? What is a society without music and poetry? I mean, I can’t quote exactly what Winston Churchill said but he said, like, without it what are we living for? So, of course, to me the arts are very important,” she said.
Chastain told PJM that The Zookeeper’s Wife, in which she portrays Polish World War II heroine Antonina Żabińska, relates to the immigration debate happening in the United States as well as public funding of the arts.
“The film actually kind of relates to two of the questions you asked me because it also relates to arts. Antonina, not only did she save the lives of hundreds of people in World War II, she created a sanctuary and she bolstered spirits and fostered hope and she created a space of music and art and love. And those that were in deep suffering found healing through that so that addresses the first question about how important arts are. And then the second one, Antonina herself was a refugee,” Chastain said.
“She fled violence in Russia, she was born in Saint Petersburg, found herself in Warsaw as a young woman and that’s where she found her place of love and her own sanctuary. And perhaps because she has an understanding of what it was like to run, to be afraid and to be alone, it was important for her to protect others who were scared and fleeing violence,” she added.
Chastain compared the debate around immigration issues such as the entry of refugees into the U.S. to the story of Anne Frank.
“So, you know, we’ve learned now that Anne Frank’s family were denied visas twice to come into the United States. We all learn. We all read the book, Diary of Anne Frank – it’s required reading. I read it when I was 12 years old,” she said. “It was so important to my education, but I feel a little bit of betrayal that my teacher didn’t tell us in that lesson that the United States didn’t let her in. And I think by ignoring that part of history we are washing our hands of it, and we can’t claim a book as education without saying how we’re partly responsible for her death.”