Jessica Chastain has affinity towards animals: Niki Caro

Los Angeles, April 4 (IANS) "The Zookeeper's Wife" director Niki Caro says he was pleasantly surprised after seeing actress Jessica Chastain's affection towards animals on the film's set.

Written by Angela Workman, the film features Chastain along with Johan Heldenbergh, Michael McElhatton and Daniel Bruhl. It features Chastain as historic figure Antonina Zabinska, a Polish woman who smuggled Jews out of the country when it was occupied during World War II.

"The combination of real creatures and an actress who has an otherworldly connection to them made for extraordinary moments. Jessica was critical to my vision for the movie, and when I met her the first thing she said was that she loved animals. But I had no idea of the depth of her affinity with them," Caro said in a statement provided to IANS by the film's publicist. 

He added: "In that regard, Jessica and Antonina share a very, very rare gift. Many times during shooting, Jessica would calm the animals, make them feel safe. This was a joy to watch and certainly a joy to shoot."

Inspired by a true story, the film is set directly after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. Antonina runs the Warsaw Zoo along with her husband Jan Zabinski (Heldenbergh).

When they are forced to report to the Third Reich's appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Bruhl), Antonina and Jan work together with the resistance try to smuggle Jews out of the nearby Warsaw ghetto.

The movie, being brought to India by PVR Pictures, will release in the country on Friday.