Jessica Chastain has hailed Tom Cruise as "very gracious" after she dropped out of his movie Oblivion to star in Zero Dark Thirty.

The actress had signed up to appear opposite Cruise in the upcoming sci-fi film, but she was also offered the chance to take the lead in Kathryn Bigelow's new drama, which chronicles the real-life search for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Chastain was unable to juggle both movies' schedules and eventually accepted the part in Zero Dark Thirty over Oblivion - and she is glad Cruise reacted well about her choice.

She tells Britain's GQ magazine, "When Kathryn cold-called me, asking whether I would be interested in this role, I was already working on another movie. I'd already signed up for it.

"Tom was actually very gracious about it. I wanted to do both but in the end I couldn't work it out."

Writer Mark Boal is delighted Chastain opted for Zero Dark Thirty, adding, "It's hugely flattering for Kathryn and myself. But from a business point of view, to make that shift happen was pretty challenging. When an actor you want in your film is already signed up with another studio - and with Tom Cruise? Those were really interesting (calls) to make, let me tell you. But Jessica was a no-brainer for us. We are very lucky to have got her."