Jessica Chastain in "Interstellar"

At first, Jessica Chastain didn't naturally share director Christopher Nolan's wonder for space exploration, which probably had a lot to do with the "Interstellar" star's first memories of the space program. "I remember when I was a kid, my first confrontation with space travel was when the Challenger exploded," she says of the disaster in January 1986, when Chastain was just 8 years old. "I remember how traumatic it was because I remember watching it on the news and all of her children and her class were watching and I was very young."

That early exposure to the darker consequences of exploration created quite a bit to get over, to put it mildly. "I had never, ever imagined that it was something that I wanted to do," she admits. "As human beings, I think we need to conquer our fears and reach beyond our grasp. I think it's very important that you don't become complacent and stagnant."

And while Chastain doesn't see herself signing up for any spacewalks at the International Space Station anytime soon, she has managed to reignite her own pioneer spirit. "The wonderful thing about being an actress is that I get to act — not in this film — those explorations beyond what I myself am capable of," Chastain says.

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter: @nedrick

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