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Jessica Chastain exudes mystery

JESSICA Chastain exudes mystery, both in her Oscar-nominated role as the CIA agent who hunts down Osama bin Laden in the movie Zero Dark Thirty – and in how she appears to have popped up out of nowhere to become queen of the red carpet.

She's suddenly everywhere, at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Oscars, and the svelte redhead is a dream for designers looking for the perfect clothes horse. Yet only a couple of years ago, the 35-year-old actress was virtually unknown.

However, any ideas about her being an overnight success were scotched when in her Golden Globes acceptance speech Chastain spoke movingly about her tough road to fame.

She said: "I've wanted to be an actress since I was a little girl and I've worked for a really long time. I've auditioned, and struggled, and fought, and been on the sideline for years and to be here now, in this moment, it's a beautiful feeling to receive this encouragement and support, thank you so much."

The mystery surrounding the actress deepened with reports that when Chastain walked the Oscars red carpet in her strapless golden Armani Prive dress, she had only hours previously missed the funeral of her biological father. A source close to Chastain said that Michael Monasterio (55) was "not on Jessica's birth certificate. There are no photos of Jessica and Michael together. Given all of the facts, there are no plans to attend".

Monasterio was a musician and barely out of his teens when he fathered Jessica and younger sister Juliet in the late 1970s. Juliet committed suicide in 2003 when she was 24.

After years of struggling for recognition, Chastain suddenly popped up in numerous films in 2011, including Coriolanus, Take Shelter, The Tree of Life and The Help.

While she lost out on this year's Best Actress Oscar to Jennifer Lawrence, there's a definite sense that Chastain's moment as an actress has arrived.

In love, too, she appears to have recently struck gold. The thirty-something actress recently began dating Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo, an executive with the French fashion brand Moncler.

Not that she was in any way gawky growing up, yet photos of Chastain down through the years suggest that for a woman to truly bloom, success lies in grooming.