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Jessica Chastain has portrayed fictional Scottish Princess Merida from 2012’s animated movie Brave for O, The Oprah Magazine photo shoot.

Jessica Chastain posed for award-winning photographer Annie Leibovitz in Cold Spring, New York.

The image will appear in O, The Oprah Magazine‘s February issue.

Jessica Chastain has portrayed Princess Merida from animated movie Brave for O, The Oprah Magazine photo shoot

Jessica Chastain has portrayed Princess Merida from animated movie Brave for O, The Oprah Magazine photo shoot

Made by Disney-Pixar, Brave is a fairytale featuring a fictional Scottish royal family, bears and a witch.

Merida, a young, flame haired Scottish princess, refuses to conform with traditional rules on marriage and princess-like behavior.

Disney-Pixar has described it as a story about mothers and daughters and families.

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Scarlett Johansson is rumored to portray Hillary Clinton in the upcoming biopic, Rodham.

Scarlett Johansson, 28, has not secured the role just yet: she is apparently up against Jessica Chastain, Amanda Seyfried and Reese Witherspoon.

Rodham will focus on the early stages of Hilary Clinton’s career, when she was a lawyer in Washington.

The writer, Young il-Kim, was forced to deny reports earlier this year that the film was full of raunchy s** scenes when the script was leaked by The Daily Beast.

“<<Rodham>> is a journey of a woman who was torn between her personal desires and her professional ambition – both literally pulled her thousands of miles apart, because Bill did not want to leave Arkansas, and she did not want to leave Washington, D.C.,” Young il-Kim told Politico earlier this year.

Director James Ponstoldt, who was attached to the movie last month and casting for the prestigious role has only just begun.

James Ponstoldt describes Scarlett Johansson and the other candidates as “all wonderful actresses”, according to The Independent.

Scarlett Johansson is rumored to portray Hillary Clinton in the upcoming biopic, Rodham

Scarlett Johansson is rumored to portray Hillary Clinton in the upcoming biopic, Rodham

He adds that they are “very fortunate that a lot of really great actors are interested in playing these roles. We’re in an enviable position”.

Scarlett Johansson was most recently seen on the big screen portraying Janet Leigh in the biographical comedy-drama, Hitchcock.

She has previously taken on a wide variety of roles, from the provocative Nola in Match Point to the demure Meg Windermere in A Good Woman.

Her competition is fierce, however, with Jessica Chastain having just received rave reviews for her performance in Zero Dark Thirty.

Amanda Seyfried was also applauded for her performance alongside Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables.

Reese Witherspoon, who has also played a diverse range of strong female roles, has recently appeared in the critically acclaimed Mud.

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Zero Dark Thirty was the top draw in the US and Canada this weekend, taking an estimated $24 million in its first three days on wide release.

Kathryn Bigelow’s film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, which had a limited cinema run last month, was last week nominated for five Academy Awards.

Its leading lady, Jessica Chastain, was crowned best actress in a drama at the Golden Globes on Sunday.

Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to her Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker has been the subject of much controversy in the US, with critics attacking its depiction of aggressive interrogation methods.

Yet that did not impede its performance at the North American box office, which was considerably stronger than that of two other new releases.

Zero Dark Thirty was the top draw in the US and Canada this weekend, taking an estimated $24 million in its first three days on wide release

Zero Dark Thirty was the top draw in the US and Canada this weekend, taking an estimated $24 million in its first three days on wide release

A Haunted House, a horror parody starring Marlon Wayans, opened in second place with a three-day tally of $18.8 million, according to studio estimates.

Crime caper Gangster Squad, meanwhile, could only manage a third-place finish with a less-than-expected $16.7 million haul.

The rest of this week’s Top 10 is dominated by such awards hopefuls as Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook.

Overall business this weekend came in at $142 million, up more than 7% on the same period last year.

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The world’s most dangerous terror group foiled by a killer blonde in Calvin Klein who wars with her superiors? Only in Hollywood’s dreams, surely.

But, astonishingly, it has now emerged that truth may indeed be as strange as fiction. According to Zero Dark Thirty, a forthcoming film about the hunt for Bin Laden – whose makers were given top-level access to those involved – he might never have been found if it hadn’t been for an attractive young female CIA agent every bit as troublesome as Homeland’s Carrie Mathison.

CIA insiders have confirmed claims by the film’s director Kathryn Bigelow that she is entirely justified in focusing on the role played by a junior female CIA analyst, named Maya in the film and played by Jessica Chastain. And just as in Homeland, the real agent has been snubbed by superiors and fallen out with colleagues since the Bin Laden raid in May 2011.

But who is this CIA super sleuth? Although the woman is still undercover and has never been identified, Zero Dark Thirty’s emphasis on Maya’s importance tallies with the account of a U.S. Navy SEAL involved in the raid who later wrote about it in a book.

Matt Bissonnette writes in No Easy Day of flying out to Afghanistan before the raid with a CIA analyst he called “Jen” who was “wicked smart, kind of feisty” and liked to wear expensive high heels.

She had devoted the best part of a decade to finding Bin Laden and had become the SEALs’ go-to expert on intelligence matters about their target, he said.

And while her colleagues were only 60% sure their quarry was in the compound in Abbottabad, she told the SEAL she was 100% certain.

“I can’t give her enough credit, I mean, she, in my opinion, she kind of teed up this whole thing,” Matt Bissonnette said later.

The commando saw a very different side of her days later when they brought Bin Laden’s body back to their Afghan hangar. Having previously told Matt Bissonnette she didn’t want to see the body, “Jen” stayed at the back of the crowd as they unzipped the terrorist’s body bag.

She “looked pale and stressed and started crying.

“A couple of the SEALs put their arms around her and walked her over to the edge of the group to look at the body,” wrote Matt Bissonnette.

“She didn’t say anything . . . with tears rolling down her cheeks, I could tell it was taking a while for Jen to process.

“She’d spent half a decade tracking this man. And now there he was at her feet.”

Jen’s role in the operation passed largely unremarked when Matt Bissonnette’s book came out but now the new film has confirmed his estimation of her importance.

Although she remains active as a CIA analyst, it is believed Mark Boal, Bigelow’s screenwriter, was allowed to interview her at length. It has emerged that she is in her 30s and joined the CIA after leaving college and before the 9/11 attacks turned American security upside down.

According to the Washington Post, she worked in the CIA’s station in Islamabad, Pakistan, as a “targeter”, a role which involves finding people to recruit as spies or to obliterate in drone attacks.

But CIA insiders say she worked almost solely on finding Bin Laden for a decade. She was still in Pakistan when the hunt heated up after Barack Obama became President in 2008 and ordered a renewed effort to find him.

According to colleagues, the female agent was one of the first to advance the theory – apparently against the views of other CIA staff – that the key to finding Bin Laden lay in Al Qaeda’s courier network.

The agency was convinced Osama Bin Laden, who never used the phone, managed to communicate with his disparate organization without revealing his whereabouts by passing hand-delivered messages to trusted couriers.

The agent spent years pursuing the courier angle, and it was a hunch that proved spectacularly correct when the U.S. uncovered a courier known as Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti and tracked him back to a compound in the sleepy Pakistan town of Abbottabad.
It was a stunning success for the dedicated agent, though she hardly endeared herself to her colleagues in the process.

CIA agent Maya, played by Jessica Chastain in the film Zero Dark Thirty, spent the best part of a decade to finding Bin Laden and became the SEALs' go-to expert on intelligence matters about their target

CIA agent Maya, played by Jessica Chastain in the film Zero Dark Thirty, spent the best part of a decade to finding Bin Laden and became the SEALs’ go-to expert on intelligence matters about their target

As one might expect of a woman working in the largely male world of intelligence, colleagues stress she is no shrinking violet but a prickly workaholic with a reputation for clashing with anyone – even senior intelligence chiefs – who disagreed with her.

“She’s not Miss Congeniality, but that’s not going to find Osama Bin Laden,” a former colleague told the Washington Post.

Another added: “Do you know how many CIA officers are jerks? If that was a disqualifier, the whole National Clandestine Service would be gone.”

In the film, Maya is portrayed as a loner who has a “her-against-the-world” attitude and pummels superiors into submission by sheer force of will. CIA colleagues say the film’s depiction of her is spot-on.

If this is the case, then she shows little of the feminine tenderness that serves Carrie Mathison so well in Homeland and which Hollywood usually uses to soften female protagonists like Maya.

Instead, the film shows her happily colluding in the torture by water boarding of an Al Qaeda suspect.

And Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette reported how she had told him she wasn’t in favor of storming the Bin Laden compound but preferred to “just push the easy button and bomb it”. Given that the bombing option would almost certainly have killed the women and children the CIA knew were inside, her comment suggests a cold indifference to “civilian” casualties.

But then the real female agent is hardly your archetypal film heroine. She has reportedly been passed over for promotion since the Bin Laden raid, perhaps adding to her sense of grievance.

Although she was among a handful of CIA staff rewarded over the operation with the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the agency’s highest honor, dozens of other colleagues were given lesser gongs.

Fellow staff say this prompted her anger to boil over: she hit “reply all” to an email announcing the awards and added her own message which – according to one – effectively said: “You guys tried to obstruct me. You fought me. Only I deserve the award.”

Although colleagues say the intense attention she received from the film-makers has made many of them jealous, they are shocked she was passed over for promotion and merely given a cash bonus for her Bin Laden triumph.

She has also been moved within the CIA, reassigned to a new counter-terrorism role.

Kathryn Bigelow, who won an Oscar as director of the Iraq war drama The Hurt Locker, has said it was like being dealt a Royal Flush at poker when she discovered a woman at the heart of the story.

“The juicy thing about Maya was the surprise of it,” she said.

One thing is certain: The emotional cost of her achievement took its toll on her.

Matt Bissonnette recalls seeing her again as he and his comrades got on to a plane back to their main base at Bagram in Afghanistan.

She was sitting on the floor of the plane sobbing, “hugging her legs to her chest in the fetal position”.

Her eyes were “puffy and she seemed to be staring into the distance”. When he tried to reassure her that the mission had been a “100 per cent” success, she simply nodded and started crying again.

He put it down to a mixture of exhaustion and relief for a woman who had, with almost messianic zeal, dedicated her life to hunting down the architect of 9/11.

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The Vanity Fair International Best Dressed List in full:

1. Duchess of Cambridge, wife of Prince William, British style icon

2. Jessica Chastain, U.S. actress, star of The Help and Coriolanus

3. Bill Cunningham, 83, New York Times street style photographer

4. Léa Seydoux, French actress and model, appeared in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris

5. Jay-Z, aka Shawn Corey Carter, rapper, songwriter, record producer and husband of Beyoncé

6. Colin and Livia Firth, British actor and his Italian producer wife

7. Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback, husband of Gisele Bundchen

8. Alicia Keys, U.S. singer-songwriter and actress

9. Fan Bingbing, Chinese actress,singer and producer

10. Morley Safer, Canadian reporter and correspondent for CBS News

Colin and Livia Firth appeared as a single entry at number six on the Vanity Fair International Best Dressed List

Colin and Livia Firth appeared as a single entry at number six on the Vanity Fair International Best Dressed List

11. Michelle Harper, Colombian-born, New York-based brand consultant

12. Richard E Grant, actor, screenwriter, and director

13. HRH Princess Alexandra of Greece, child-life specialist

14. Carlos Souza, worldwide brand ambassador for Valentino

15. Farida Khelfa, French actress and director, new muse of house of Schiaparelli

16. Eddie Redmayne, British actor, star of My Week With Marilyn

17. Stacey Bendet, founder and designer of fashion label Alice & Olivia

18. Iké Udé, Nigerian-born artist

19. Diane Kruger, German actress and former model

20. Matteo Marzotto, president of fashion label Vionnet

21. Lauren and Andres Santo Domingo, Vogue contributing editor and her beer heir husband

22. Robert Rabensteiner, fashion editor at L’Uomo Vogue

23. Erika Bearman, senior vice president of global communications at Oscar de la Renta

24. Victor Cruz, wide receiver for the New York Giants

25. Ulyana Sergeenko, fashion designer

26. Matt Lauer, Today show co-anchor

27. Stella McCartney, fashion designer, daughter of Sir Paul McCartney

28. Prince Harry, British royal, Apache helicopter pilot

29. Lizzie Tisch, consultant, wife of Jonathan Tisch

30. Ozwald Boateng, British menswear designer

31. Poppy Delevigne, British model and socialite

32. Jean Pigozzi, entrepreneur, photographer, and art collector

33. Princess Mary of Denmark, wife of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, mother of four

34. Elettra Wiedemann, model, daughter of Isabella Rossellini

35. Vito Schnabel, son of Julian Schnabel, art dealer

36. Charlotte Casiraghi, Monaco royal, face of Gucci

37. Arki Busson, financier, partner of actress Uma Thurman

38. HH Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser of Qatar, wife of the Emir of Qatar

39. Ginevra Elkann and Giovanni Gaetani dell’Aquila d’Aragona, Italian power couple; she is a producer, he is an entrepreneur

40. HSH Prince Heinrich von und zu Furstenberg, entrepreneur


The full list appears in the Vanity Fair September issue, on sale from Friday, and online at Vanityfair.com