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Jessica Chastain Praises Bravery of Sexual Assault Victims at ‘Molly’s Game’ Premiere, AFI Fest Tribute to Aaron Sorkin

Just days after it was announced Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” was being pulled as the closer for AFI Fest following sexual misconduct allegations against actor Kevin Spacey, AFI chose Aaron Sorkin’s “Molly’s Game,” starring Jessica Chastain, as its replacement. The swap seemed fitting, as much of the conversation during Thursday’s Los Angeles premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre revolved around female empowerment, a core theme in the film.

“I’m very hopeful because I feel like victims are now feeling like they can come forward without feeling further victimized, and I think that’s the first step,” Chastain told Variety.

Chastain, an outspoken champion of equal rights, expressed a sense of promise in the wake of Hollywood’s succession of sexual assault scandals, praising the victims who have continuously come forward.

 “I’m very happy to work in an industry that holds all abusers accountable, and it’s a great passion of mine to amplify the voices of those who come forward, and to do whatever I can to end the victimization, and sexual harassment, and sexual violence against women and men in our industry.”

“Molly’s Game” presents the true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who went on to run the most exclusive high-stakes poker game in the world before being arrested by the FBI. Throughout the film, Chastain’s Bloom gradually challenges and overcomes the powerful men who constantly try to break her down.

“[Molly] changes everything about herself the way she looks she molds herself to this idea that she thinks she has to be in order to be accepted by these men, and it isn’t until the end of the movie where she says she isn’t going to do that anymore,” Chastain said. “I really wanted to show that.”

The evening also served as a tribute, led by Variety’s Peter Debruge, to honor revered screenwriter Sorkin. “Molly’s Game” served as Sorkin’s directorial debut.

Sorkin commended Chastain as both an actress and a friend, saying the “single smartest thing” he did on the film was casting her. “I don’t know what I did in a past life to be so lucky in this one to have worked with Jessica Chastain in this movie,” he shared before the screening. He went on to credit the cast and crew for the film’s success, calling the film “a triumph of collaboration.”

“Molly’s Game” hits theaters on Christmas Day.

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