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From Cannes: Jessica Chastain, back without Brad Pitt

One year after her breakthrough performance in ‘Tree of Life’, American actress Jessica Chastain is back in Cannes with ‘Lawless.’

Jessica Chastain will always remember her first trip to the Cannes Film Festival. Up until last year, the relatively unknown actress was the female lead in Terrence Malick’s "Tree of Life," the winner of the Palme d'Or. She could also be seen in Jeff Nichols’ critically acclaimed "Take Shelter."

“I was unlucky for a long time. Projects that I chose to work on struggled when it came to finding a distributor. Some of them were never completed,” she confesses.

One year on, Miss Chastain has become an international star. Recently, we’ve seen her in "The Debt," "Killing Fields" and "The Help," based on Kathryn Stockett’s best selling novel. Attending the Festival this year is a very confident Chastain. Metro remembers how the actress burst into tears during an interview this time last year.

“I was so shy and nervous back then,” she admits. “Thankfully Brad Pitt was there to hold my hand on the red carpet. I’m a lot more relaxed this time around.”

Chastain is once again supporting a film in the official selection "Lawless," a bloody tale set during the American prohibition, directed by the Australian John Hillcoat, and a screenplay by English rock star Nick Cave.

She plays Maggie, an ex-dancer from Chicago with whom Forrester (Tom Hardy) – the youngest of the famous bootlegging Bondurant brothers - falls in love.

“Maggie is a woman who grew up in a world of violence,” says Chastain. She’s used to being surrounded by men that desire her. But when Forrester proves to be resistant to her charms, she finds herself in an unexpected situation.”

Tight dresses, old school hair and a touch of femme fatale: Chastain had no trouble getting under the skin of her character. Well, almost.

“I have a very strong Californian accent so I had to work with a coach in order to sound like I was from Chicago. Director John Hillcoat made me watch lots of 1930s classics such as ‘Angels with Dirty Faces, by Michael Curtiz, or ‘Little Caesar’, by Mervyn LeRoy.”

Expect to see lots of blood and tears, charm and humor.

“A lot of people have commented on the violence in the film but at the end of the day, I think it’s more about the romance than anything else. However brutal their love may be,” observes Chastain. We’re not going to try and contradict her.