The title of Netflix’s upcoming movie The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo might be about a reclusive Hollywood starlet named Evelyn Hugo, but the real star, and the ones fans are most excited to see, is Celia St. James.
In the novel from which the movie is adapted, written by New York Times bestselling author Taylor Jenkins Reid, Celia St. James is one of Hollywood’s most famous actresses from the Golden Age. Through flashbacks told from the perspective of an elderly Evelyn Hugo, we not only learn about how (and why) Evelyn acquired seven husbands, but also about Celia St. James, known to the world as the girl next door, the winner of multiple Oscars, and “America’s Sweetheart.” We also learn she and Evelyn shared more than just a love of movies in common. Wink-wink.
Ever since The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was picked up by Netflix in March — thanks in large part to the novel’s astronomical popularity on TikTok’s subcommunity BookTok — fans have been clinging to the hope that the character of Celia St. James would wind up in the hands of a talented, capable, and worthy actress. Enter Jessica Chastain.
The ‘big announcement’ that convinced fans Jessica Chastain would play Celia St. James
Chastain has been at the top of fans’ wish lists to play Celia for her charisma, humbleness, acting chops, and striking similarities to the novel version of the character, red hair and all. On Nov. 15, 2022, Chastain whetted appetites with news that she had a “very exciting” announcement regarding her next project, which she would deliver the following day.
If you take a peek at the comments section of Chastain’s post, you’ll find a tsunami of excited Evelyn Hugo fans all but convinced the big announcement is her taking on the role of Celia St. James. However, hopes were squashed two days later when Chastain revealed the big announcement was her return to Broadway in the production of A Doll’s House, not Evelyn Hugo.
Still, Chastain remained — and remains — the top pick to play Celia St. James. Doing nothing to staunch the rumors, Chastain expressed interest in playing the character when she appeared on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen in January. “Sure, send me the script,” she said when asked if she would do it.
So, the question remains: Will Chastain put her fiery red hair and Academy Award-winning acting chops to good use as Celia St. James in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? Or is it all just wishful thinking?
So, is Celia St. James in the cards for Jessica Chastain after all?
Even though Jessica Chastain’s “big announcement” was not about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, the desire for her to play Celia St. James fervently increased after she expressed interest in reading the script. Up until that point, the actress had not acknowledged the increasing fan chatter. Unfortunately, on April 20, a TikTok video of Chastain declining to sign one fan’s book went viral after she told a fan, “I can’t sign that. Just because I’m not doing it.”
Chastain, aware of the online chatter, took to Twitter to explain her reasoning. “I’ve been asked multiple times by fans, to sign books that I’m not attached to contractually,” she said in her post. “Because it feels wrong, and like I’m taking credit for someone else’s work, I’ll say I can’t sign because I’m not doing it. That doesn’t mean I’ve read a bad script.”
She added, “I know how excited many [of] you are about adaptations. Please don’t read too much into a video. There is no news about anything. Except that I’m onstage until June 10th. Hope to see you.”
There you have it. Straight from Chastain’s mouth. On the surface, it very much reads like she has confirmed she is not playing Celia St. James. Worth noting, however, is the vague, contradicting language she uses in between, which can be interpreted one of two ways.
She says, “Because I’m not doing it,” implying exactly what the sentiment conveys, but then says, “There is no news about anything,” which reads a lot like the possibility is still in the cards. At a minimum, no one has been cast yet, which leaves the door still open.
All that aside, fans will have to hold out a little while longer for news about Chastain as St. James, as well as the entirety of the Evelyn Hugo cast. When it is announced, rest assured we will cover it, so stay tuned for updates. In the meantime, check out our list of actresses who would be more than capable candidates to fill Celia St. James’ shoes should the role, indeed, not go to Chastain.
Additionally, fans of Evelyn Hugo can hold themselves over with yet another Taylor Jenkins Reid adaptation — Daisy Jones & The Six. The limited series is now on Amazon Prime Video, and if you ask us, it’s pretty good.