Jessica Chastain reveals ‘Macarena’ prank she pulled on James McAvoy on ‘Dark Phoenix’ set

Jessica Chastain reveals ‘Macarena’ prank she pulled on James McAvoy on ‘Dark Phoenix’ set

“There’s no topping it. It was the best.”

Beware, fellow actors: The odds of Jessica Chastain pranking you mid-take are low, but never zero. 

The actress, who starred as Vuk in 2019’s Dark Phoenix, revealed the hilarious way she got the film’s cast and crew to help her pull a toe-tapping prank on her X-Men costar James McAvoy. Better yet? It involved Los del Río’s ’90s dance craze the Macarena.

“I’ve worked with James McAvoy. I’ve done three films with him, and he’s good fun,” she said, prefacing her story on The Kelly Clarkson Show. “You gotta really plan who to prank.” (McAvoy and Chastain have worked together on Dark Phoenix, It: Chapter 2, and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.)

After receiving approval from director Simon Kinberg, Chastain put her plan in motion during a scene in which McAvoy’s Professor X is lifted out of his wheelchair and forced, by Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), to walk up a flight of stairs. The performance required McAvoy to be “on wires” and “lifted up” from the ground by the stunt team. 

“He does the scene and it’s good,” Chastain recounted to host Kelly Clarkson. “The director said, ‘Okay, fine. Roll take, let’s do it again.’ So they lift him up and he’s acting, you know, like he’s being lifted by this magic… and, all of a sudden, the ‘Macarena’ starts playing. And the guys who were holding the wires were having him dance the Macarena.”

She added, “There’s no topping it. It was the best.”

Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy attending the IT Chapter Two European Premiere held at The Vaults in Waterloo, London.

Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy

| Credit: Ian West/PA Images

But, as Chastain soon learned, it takes two to tango, and McAvoy was more than ready to revel in the ridiculous prank. 

“He leaned in,” she said. “In fact, at one point, because he was at the top of the stairs, he kinda, like, grabbed me and lifted me off the ground, and that’s when I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, no, no. We gotta stop because I could now get hurt.’ He was good fun.”

Chastain previously discussed the prank while sitting down with Turner for a Collider interview in 2019. “[McAvoy] was in a bit of a grump one day and so we decided — Jess and I decided — that he needed cheering up,” Turner recalled at the time. “The stunt guys kind of puppeteer him [into] doing the Macarena as a surprise.”

“And I’ll say this,” Chastain added. “He was never grumpy again. He learned his lesson.”

Watch Chastain tell the full story — and share the CPR tips she learned while shooting her new film The Good Nurse — in the clip above.

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