Why We Know So Little About Jessica Chastain's Personal Life

Many a star has cited a request for privacy, but few have been as skilled as Jessica Chastain who managed to have a daughter and leave the whole world in the dark.

By Sarah Grossbart Mar 24, 2020 1:00 PMTags
Watch: Jessica Chastain Reveals Big 40th Birthday Plans

Generally speaking, celebrity parents tend to fall into two camps. 

There are those happy to share each milestone their little one accomplishes and fill your feed with cuteness because they simply can't help but show them off. (Hat tip to you, Gabrielle UnionDwyane WadeChrissy Teigen and Hilary Duff.) And then you've got your Blake Livelys, your Bradley Coopers, the stars who, understandably, would prefer to conceal their offsprings' likeness to ensure they're able to move about the world with relative anonymity because, unlike their parents, they didn't sign up for life in the public eye. 

Asked to assign Jessica Chastain a bunk, we'd have to go with the latter, but she'd likely much prefer no one even knew she was a mother at all.  

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Because for a good long stretch, we didn't. It was a little more than a year ago that the general public caught on to the fact that Chastain had become a mom, welcoming a baby husband Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo via surrogate on April 4, 2018. 

And in the nearly two years since Giulietta Chastain Passi's arrival, we've learned, well, pretty much nothing about their little girl. The two-time Oscar nominee, celebrating her 43rd birthday today, did confirm that they had become parents—a fact more or less assumed when she was spotted carrying a car seat and pushing a stroller, both shrouded under a blanket. Closing out 2018, she thanked her Instagram followers "for respecting my privacy while I was blessed with the gift of becoming a mother." 

Weeks later, she gave a shout out to all the fathers out there, writing, "You are present with your children. You listen and allow them to tell you who they are. The love and tenderness you show the world is the medicine we need. I love you all." So safe to say Passi de Preposulo is living up to his end of the bargain. 

Beyond that, the most it seems we're likely to get is a glimpse of a tiny hand grasping for one of Mom's jewels. Even a much-needed Sunday feel-good video of a baby snuggling with a puppy proved to be a fake-out, which even Chastain's one-time costar Natalie Portman didn't initially realize. 

Much like her little one, Chastain also has fantastic taste, in jewels, film roles and life partners. The 37-year-old fashion exec is "a gentleman," she told W Magazine in 2015. "And that's very important to me. He's from an old-school Italian family. No one in his family has ever been divorced!"

He features occasionally on her Instagram feed, a birthday post here, or a New Year's tribute, enough to acknowledge the importance he holds in her life without letting outsiders in on what they share. 

"I don't have a lifestyle website. I'm not interested in the fame of being a personality," she explained to InStyle back in 2014 of her resistance to living a very public life. "Some people are, and they love it, and that's great for them," But after she transformed seemingly overnight from struggling actress to big deal celebrity thanks to back-to-back appearances in The Tree of Life, The Help and Zero Dark Thirty, she felt nearly as troubled as she did thrilled. "The whole anxiety I had in 2011 was about not wanting to be in a room and have everyone stop and look," she shared. 

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One of her larger fears was reaching Angelina Jolie levels of fame, she continued, "Because you would have 30 people who are not paying attention to their breakfast companions and are instead staring at her, and that definitely is an extreme. That, for me, would be terrible."

She was likely less than thrilled when news and images from her June 2017 wedding began leaking out. The sheer volume of talent descending on Villa Tiepolo Passi, her groom's family estate in Italy was hard to conceal, the likes of Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt tending to draw a crowd. So she rolled with it, even giving fans a glimpse into life with Passi de Preposulo, a real life Italian count she met at a Parisian fashion show, the same day she learned she'd earned an Oscar nod for her role in The Help. "That's what I call a good day," she joked to ES Magazine.

Before that fateful day back in 2012, "I never wanted to get married," she admitted to WSJ Magazine last year. "When I first met my husband, he knew that marriage wasn't something I was interested in, and then, as we got to know each other, the idea of marriage shifted for me. There are some things worth celebrating—and he's worth celebrating."

Jessica Chastain's Best Roles

She has no regrets over making their union legal. "I actually love being married," she continued. "I never thought I would, but this is a spectacular human being, and I am celebrating that I get to share my life with him."

But she drew the line at detailing just what that looked like. The interview taking place months before Giulietta would make her a mom, she needn't even dodge questions about her parenting plans. Though she has been clear from the jump that raising kids was always in the cards.

Cracking the door to her personal life ever so slightly ajar in early 2015, she told People marriage wasn't an inevitability, but she spoke as if kids were. Sharing a conversation she'd had with one of her brothers, she relayed to the mag, "I said, "Someday you're going to have children, someday I'm going to have children, and I want our children to know each other. If we can spend a week together every year wherever we are, how beautiful would that be?'" 


It's an image markedly different than how she and her four siblings grew up in Sacramento, raised by her mother Jerri Chastain, just 16 when she had Jessica in 1977. "I'm the first woman to go to college in my family and I'm the first one to not have a baby when I was a teen," she has said. She credits Planned Parenthood for the second bit and Robin Williams with the first—a scholarship funded by the late comedian helping the 22-year-old high school dropout to attend and thrive at Julliard—and she thanks the strong women she grew up surrounded by for helping with the rest.

"There were so many sacrifices both my grandmother and my mom to help me get where I am today," she shared in a 2018 Mother's Day campaign celebrating female leaders. 

Her grandmother Marilyn "was my inspiration," she detailed to W Magazine in 2015. "She was the person who took me to the theater and encouraged me to act, and she's the one who always believed in me." And her mom, a vegan chef, was the one who made it all possible, even shoplifting food to ensure there would be some on the table each night. 

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Before her step-father, firefighter Michael Hastey, entered the picture (the "first time I had felt security," she told Vogue in 2013) there were years that were painfully tough. "We moved quite a bit, we were evicted, and there were times when we were living with my mom's friends. I saw how much she struggled," she detailed to WSJ Magazine. "Whenever a man would come into the household, it would usually lead to some sense of financial upheaval." 

No surprise then, that she grew up "rooting for the underdog," as she put it to ES Magazine. "The person that no one believed in, who came from nothing and maybe had boundaries because of their gender or race. I'll go into battle for them more than myself."

Far from simple lip service, Chastain has come through time and time again for those in need, whether that meant ensuring Oscar-winning costar Octavia Spencer would receive the exact same compensation she was offered for a forthcoming comedy or donating $2000 to a stranger hoping to have kids with the help of fertility treatments. 

Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for J Vineyards & Winery

That it drove home her belief that everyone should be able to choose how and when they create their families and that women deserve the same right afforded men was just a bonus. 

Because no doubt Chastain will bring up her little girl with a mix of everything she's learned along the way: Her grandmother's passion and insistence on reaching for seemingly impossible goals, her mom's endless hustle and her own compassion for humanity and drive to give females the same footing as their male counterparts. 

"All women are strong and all women are incredibly powerful," she told E! News last year while speaking on the need for more tenacious, spirited, fully-formed female characters. 

But as she's going about the business of raising hers, she'd appreciate if you could afford her just a bit of privacy, thanks.

(Originally published Nov. 19, 2019 at 12 p.m. PT)