CANNES: Jessica Chastain, Director Ned Benson on ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby’ (EXCLUSIVE)

CANNES: Jessica Chastain, Director Ned Benson

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” which now has a running time of two hours, saw 68 minutes vanish after it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, when the Weinstein Co. purchased U.S. distribution for $3 million.

But star Jessica Chastain said she fought hard to make sure the original “Rigby” — a pair of films, subtitled “Him” and “Her,” from the perspectives of two brokenhearted lovers — would be seen by audiences.

“I’m very passionate about the director’s vision and integrity,” Chastain said in an interview with Variety. “I can be a tough cookie. I’ll stand up to what I think is right.”

As a result of her lobbying, all three versions of the film will be distributed by the Weinstein Co., although the shorter cut, “Them,” will receive a wider release in the U.S. The film co-stars James McAvoy as the male lead.

First-time director Ned Benson said he only started to work on the new edit in February after conversations with Weinstein.

“I sat with my editor in the room and killed myself basically for a month to see if I could come up with something,” said Benson, adding that he wasn’t sure if it would work. “You have created two different separate visual rhythms, as Jess created a character for one movie and a different character for another movie. To meld those two things is a difficult thing.”

Both star and director were relieved that he pulled it off, with “Them” landing in Un Certain Regard. Originally, Benson started working on the project 10 years ago, and he wanted to make a single film. When he showed the script to Chastain, she urged him to expand the female point of view, which became “Her.”

“Most things [in film] are from the male perspective,” Chastain said. “It was wonderful to actually talk with Ned and have a filmmaker listen to a woman’s perspective.”

Chastain noted that in some regions — such as Netherlands and Belgium — only “Him” and “Her” will be distributed. “Spain is going to release all three,” she said.

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