For somebody branded as one of the most vocal critics of Hollywood’s gaping gender gap, Jessica Chastain is politely reserved. In Sydney to promote her new film Molly’s Game, the 40-year-old actress took questions on what Hollywood looks like in a post-Weinstein era, how she negotiated a “favoured nations” contract with co-star Octavia Spencer that saw them both earn five times more on their upcoming film and on how putting on a bandage dress to play Molly Bloom can transform on-set energy.

“It’s a very interesting thing, I’d come onto these sets dressed as Molly after about two-and-a-half hours of hair and makeup – in my bandage dresses, long black hair, eyelash extensions, spray tan and my high, high heels – and immediately I could feel an energy shift on the set,” Chastain explains to GRAZIA, her voice soft. “You felt like, ‘Oh all of sudden there’s this power of people looking at me.’ And at the same time, it was complex because I actually felt smaller because I wasn’t free to move around like a normal human being, you know, in my very, very high heels or my bandage dress. I had to sit a certain way and hold myself a certain way. So yes, I would feel this rush of power but I would also a loss of power sometimes.”

Molly’s Game tells the real-life story of Molly Bloom, a promising Olympic skier who after a debilitating accident moves to Los Angeles and work as an assistant on a high stakes poker table. Putting her law degree on hold, Molly learns the rules of the trade and while she’s good at gambling, she’s better at reading the gamblers. Soon, she heads up the most exclusive underground poker club in the United States. Movie stars, business titans and sports stars line up for a spot-on Molly’s table. But when she inadvertently engages members of the Russian mafia, the FBI are after her and it’s up to Idris Elba, her defence lawyer, to get her off the hook. It’s tantalising, fast-paced cinema and a must-see.

Molly’s Game is in Australian cinemas now.