More than six years after the Best Picture nominee The Help took the careers of Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer to new heights, the actresses are reuniting for an untitled Christmas comedy. The project was at the center of a huge bidding war that Universal eventually won, over 20th Century Fox and Paramount, with the pitch coming from Jessica Chastain herself and her Freckle Films production president Kelly Carmichael, who both wrote the treatment, with Peter Chiarelli (Crazy Rich Asians) attached to write the script. Both Chastain and Carmichael are set to produce through their Freckle Films banner, alongside Maven Pictures' Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler.
Both Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer will portray two women who are trying to brave the elements and get back home for Christmas, although no further story details were given for this Jessica Chastain Holiday Comedy. Executive VP of production Erik Baiers and creative executive Mika Pryce are overseeing the project for Universal Pictures. No director is attached yet, which likely won't happen until the script from Peter Chiarelli comes in, but given the two A-list stars on board for this project, it likely won't take long to put a production team together. No release date has been given, but if this moves forward quickly enough, it could be possible to have this movie in theaters this holiday season.
This news comes as both actresses find themselves in the midst of the awards season race once again, with both receiving Golden Globe nominations for two very different films. Jessica Chastain was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama for her role as Molly Bloom in Molly's Game, although she lost out to Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Octavia Spencer was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, for her turn as Zelda Fuller in The Shape of Water, although she lost to Allison Janney for I, Tonya. It certainly seems likely that both actresses will be honored with Oscar nominations for those respective roles when the Oscar nominations are announced next week.
Jessica Chastain was quite the rising star when she became an awards season darling for The Help in 2012. After a number of guest-starring TV roles, the actress made her feature film debut as the title character in 2008's Jolene, before a breakout role in 2010's The Debt, where she played a younger version of Helen Mirren's character Rachel Singer. The same year she starred in The Help, 2011, she also starred in Take Shelter, Corolianus, The Tree of Life and Texas Killing Fields. She will next be seen in the highly-anticipated X-Men: Dark Phoenix, in theaters November 2 and George and Tammy which is in pre-production, where she'll play Tammy Wynette.
Octavia Spencer had a much longer road to stardom, making her feature film debut in 1996's A Time to Kill, where she played Roark's Nurse. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s she had a number of bit parts in movies like Being John Malkovich, Big Momma's House and Spider-Man, and guest-starring spots on TV shows like City of Angels, The X-Files, NYPD Blue, LAX and Ugly Betty, to name just a few. She started getting slightly bigger roles in films like Seven Pounds, Next of Kin, Drag Me to Hell, Halloween II, Dinner for Schmucks and Flypaper before landing the role of Minny Jackson in The Help, which won her both an Oscar and a Golden Globe. She will next be seen in A Kid Like Jake with Claire Danes and Jim Parsons, and Luce with Naomi Watts and Tim Roth. Variety broke the news of this holiday comedy earlier today.