Jennifer earned major recognition and popularity after her outstanding performance as "Alicia Nash" in the 2001 movie "A Beautiful Mind." Jennifer was born on December 12, 1970, in Catskill Mountains, New York, to parents Gerard, a clothing manufacturer, and Eileen, an antique dealer. Although she claims she was tiny and mousy as a child, she was certainly pretty enough to appear in magazines such as Seventeen at the age of 10, after a friend of her father's recommended that she model. Signed with Ford models, Jennifer did her share of print and television before appearing in front of cameras as an actress. While a student at St. Ann's School, she landed a role as a young Elisabeth McGovern for a flashback sequence in the mobster film, Once Upon a Time in America, starring Robert De Niro. With only an appearance on the television show, Tales of the Unexpected on her acting resume, she was soon on her way, but her next outings, Creepers (aka Phenomena and Seven Minutes in Heaven) weren't the answers to her breaking through.
What did help her find her way out of obscurity was the lead role opposite David Bowie in Jim Henson and George Lucas' 1986 film, Labyrinth. Her role placed her into the spotlight, so much so that she is even recognized by children today. By the time she had graduated high school, Jennifer had appeared in a video for Roy Orbison's "I Drove All Night" with Jason Priestly; appeared in television commercials in Japan; and even released a single in Japan entitled, "Monologue of Love," in which she sings in Japanese (her agent claimed that she was semi-fluent in the language). But Jennifer's career choice left her in a maze of disappointment after disappointment, with roles in 1990's The Hot Spot and Career Opportunities. The latter did not live up to its name, as it was not much more than another film credit. Balancing work and school, Jennifer attended Yale and then transferred to Stanford, but decided to make acting her number one priority when she was cast in the lead of Disney's The Rocketeer. The movie not only skyrocketed Jennifer to new heights, but it also led to a long-term romance with her co-star, Billy Campbell. In 1995, Jennifer was cast as a lesbian in Higher Learning, co-starring Tyra Banks, and the following year she appeared in Mulholland Falls and starred in Far Harbor.
The green-eyed beauty then had a streak, with 1997's Inventing the Abbotts, as Liv Tyler's sister, and less commercial films like Dark City, Waking the Dead, the critically-acclaimed Requiem for a Dream, in a convincing turn as a heroine addict, and Pollock. Jennifer tried her hand at television, with a starring role in the poorly rated The $treet, and although it was canceled, Jennifer became a star with her supporting role in A Beautiful Mind, opposite Russell Crowe. She is also busy raising her son, Kai (the fruit of her relationship with photographer Dave Dougan), as a single mother. Her acting talents were finally recognized as she was nominated for a Best Supporting Female Independent Spirit Award for her role in Requiem for a Dream. Jennifer finally received her much-deserved recognition with Best Supporting Actress trophies at the 2002 Golden Globe and Oscar award shows. Jennifer will next appear in the Ang Lee directed film adaptation, The Hulk.
Jennifer lives in New York. She's five feet seven, speaks fluent Italian and French. Was a member of Gold's Gym in Venice for a year or two, but is no longer active. Enjoys physical activities such as swimming, gymnastics, bike riding. Is an outdoors person -- camping, hiking and walking. Is interested in Quantum Physics and philosophy. Is fairly level headed and grounded as a person, and is not overly seduced by the Hollywood fantasy. Likes Horses. Likes Pearl Jam, SoundGarden, Jesus Jones. Occasionally wears a small picture of the Dali Lama on a necklace. Favorite colors: cobalt blue, forest green, and "very pale green/gray - sort of like the color of the sea". Likes to draw. Her spouse is actor Paul Bettany (1 January 2003 - present). 1st child with husband Paul Bettany, a son named Stellan, born 5 August 2003. Jennifer also has son, Kai Dugan, born July 1997.
Jennifer Connelly speaks about her roles and films
Judging strictly from the roles she's chosen in the recent past, one might assume Jennifer Connelly has a need to explore her darker side, fashioning herself as the pouting, disheveled brunette with a wounded psyche. In 2000's daring "Requiem for a Dream," her harrowing depiction of Marion Silver details the awful perils of heroin addiction; it's terrifying yet seems entirely real. In her Oscar-winning role in 2001's "A Beautiful Mind," Connelly plays Alicia Larde Nash, the long-suffering wife to Russell Crowe's tortured genius who must observe her husband's struggle with mental illness (many said her role as scientist Betty Ross in last year's comic book blockbuster "Hulk" touched on many of the same notes).
Now comes "House of Sand and Fog," a deeply affecting, emotional study of the events that unfold after a clerical error causes Connelly's character Kathy Nicolo to be wrongfully evicted from her home; her remarkable performance already has some insiders predicting that she will receive a second Oscar nomination.
At the beginning of the film, Kathy is suffering from a deep depression brought on when her husband left her. Stranded on the West Coast without any kind of support network of which to speak, she continues to work as a housekeeper, lying to her family (and herself) about the dissolution of her marriage and doing nothing to better her life. Ironically, it's her passivity that serves as the story's catalyst; her lack of action leads to the seizure of her house, which is purchased at auction by Iranian immigrant Col. Massoud Amir Behrani (Ben Kingsley) as an investment property for his family.
An adaptation of the novel of the same name by Andre Dubus III -- the same author who penned the short story on which 1999's Oscar-nominated "In the Bedroom" was based -- the script affords Connelly the opportunity to portray a well drawn yet imperfect character, who sometimes can seem downright unlikeable, and that was precisely one of the things that attracted her to the film.
"I thought it was really interesting that the characters were all so flawed, that their actions weren't necessarily justified all the time," Connelly offers. " Sometimes you liked them and sometimes you thought that they were petulant or violent. I liked the fact also that it focused on characters who were on the fringes of society, who were marginalized, and looked at what sort of intolerance they encountered from one another and how they were sort of intolerant of themselves."
As "House of Sand and Fog" moves toward its tragic conclusion, Connelly is put through the paces as Kathy becomes increasingly despondent and ultimately suicidal. Although shooting those tense sequences would seem difficult and draining, Connelly says she welcomed the challenge. Her strategy was to place her trust in director Vadim Perelman, who makes his feature film debut on the project and adapted the book for the screen, and to just relax and let go. The same could be said for her overarching approach toward the character.
"I was just really excited to do it," she says. "I got a lot of colds because I was tired and I was under a lot of stress, but I just thought it was a really beautiful story. I love the fact that she's this kind of character that you think, 'Oh god, she's annoying, she's a mess up. She doesn't answer her mail.' Yet in the end when she comes to meet Nadi, Behrani's wife, she's like this little girl who has no place and doesn't know where she's supposed to be and hasn't met any real kindness. It's like she had this arrested development because she never got the things she needed as a little kid. I thought that was really kind of poignant."
Connelly is already preparing for what she laughingly refers to as her "next comedy," a film called "Dark Water," in which she stars as a single mother who moves with her daughter into a dilapidated apartment building haunted by a previous resident. Though it's yet another tormented role, the actress says she isn't only interested in the dark side; it's just a matter of finding the right project to lighten things up.
"I don't think I'm high on everyone's list in terms of casting for comedies," she says. "I don't think I'm at that point in my career where people would say, 'We've got this great, great funny script, let's get Jennifer Connelly,' but I'd love to do one. Even in ("House of Sand and Fog"), I asked Vadim if I could put in a musical number but he was resisting me."
Interview with "House of Sand and Fog" Star, Jennifer Connelly
She goes head-to-head with Sir Ben Kingsley in the dramatic thriller, "House of Sand and Fog." Connelly portrays Kathy, a lonely, desperate woman whose home is ripped away due to a bureaucratic mistake. Kingsley co-stars as Massoud Amir Behrani, a former Colonel in the Iranian Air Force who seeks refuge in America and by purchasing Kathy's repossessed home, sets in motion a tragic chain of events.
Soon after accepting the role of Kathy, Jennifer Connelly was nominated for an Academy Award for "A Beautiful Mind." Says producer Michael London, "Jennifer committed to it right before she won the Academy Award for 'A Beautiful Mind,' and she was immediately deluged. But she remained extraordinarily loyal to our project. I think she understood Kathy, and knew in her bones that she could take this character and give her the kind of dimension that she has. I don't think there is another actress who could have played Kathy with such power and grace."
JENNIFER CONNELLY ('Kathy'):
It seems you're not afraid to do anything. Is that true?
Yes, I'm not afraid of anything in life. No, I'm joking. In terms of this job, I was really excited to do it. I thought it was a really interesting story. I thought it was interesting to be able to play a woman who's in this time of crisis, who is deeply flawed. I thought that was really interesting that the characters are all really flawed. You don't see many movies that leave it unclear as to who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. And I liked that about this movie.
How was co-starring with Ben Kingsley?
He's fantastic as an actor, I think, and was really lovely to work with. He was attached to the movie already, and I'm a huge fan of his and was very excited to work with him. I thought he was perfectly cast for the part.
Was this movie as intense as making “Requiem for a Dream?”
She was a character who was so far out of control at times that it was hard to deal with her. You didn't know if you always liked her in the way she was behaving. And that was interesting for me. I think "God, I'm just not liking myself now as a human, this girl that I'm being." That was a kind of uncomfortable feeling at times. I thought it was appropriate in the story, and kind of at the heart of the story was that both these characters… He is abusive with his wife and that's sort of part of the fun of the movie is that they're all sort of - at times you understand their points of view and at times you find them reprehensible. In terms of doing it, it was a really safe environment with a great group of people and talented actors who I was working with, so it was a very supportive environment.
Was it all acting or was it more personal?
It's a weird thing. I don't really know how it works. I can't quite put my finger on where it comes from but at the end of the day, I didn't really have the option of bringing it home and carrying it around with me too much - just because of my circumstances.
Because you were pregnant?
I was pregnant at the end of it and I had a then five, almost six-year-old who was there with me and who wanted to play at the end of the day. [He] was often in the trailer hanging out. And a husband who would make fun of me for taking myself too seriously.
Did you have a goal of starting with small roles, doing good work, getting the Oscar and then being offered everything?
I'm very happy with the way things are going. I read the script before the Academy Awards that year and signed on to do it before any of that happened. I thought that was just a beautifully written script, a really compelling story that was really about something. There aren't that many that you read every year that are that moving and powerful, so I was really excited to do it.
As an audience member, you go back and forth between sympathizing with each character.
I really liked that about the movie. I think that neither of them is a typical American cinema hero. None of the central characters. For Ben's character, his was life and I'm having an affair with a married man.
I think that in the novel, it's written in the first person, sort of an alternate first person, so there's a chapter written in Lester's point of view and one written from Behrani's point of view and one from Kathy's point of view, and it goes back and forth. You're sympathies shift. They're all pitted against one another in a way in this conflict, but because of the way it's structured, you understand everyone's point of view. You find yourself siding with one and then the other, and feeling sort of torn. I think the movie captured that. I think there are times when Kathy's very sympathetic. You understand what she's going through and she's sort of this broken little girl who's desperately clinging on to this - the house is sort of like a lifeboat for her. You see her isolation, you see her with Nadi's character and I think you understand that all she wants is a family, and that she's really never had it. But then she's out of control and she's acting the way people do when they're desperate, which is acting out and spilling over everywhere. I really liked that about the movie.
I liked that it was a movie that had flawed central characters. I liked that they were all contradictions. It felt a bit scary to do it because I thought to myself, “Oh, God, I'm not liking her behavior right now.” But I don't always like my own behavior. I haven't known anyone who's perfect all the time, and I thought it was interesting to put characters like that up there.
You seem to be in a constant state of emotional turmoil throughout the movie. How do you summon up that much emotion? Is it exhausting?
I try not to. I just do a lot of research beforehand so I know where I want to go on the day of the scene. I do as much preparation as I can and then I try not to get too stressed about it because I find that's the worst thing. I try just to, once I know what the different options of what it could be, I try to just let it be when I get onto the set. In my experiences, if you get too attached to how you want it to come out the other side, I just wind up freezing up. II just think about what everything means to her and what the situation is and sort of throw myself into it and trust that it will work out in the end. And hopefully it will.
Did you read the book before the script?
Absolutely. In this case, as I said since it was written in first person, it was sort of like having your character's journal.
You brought a vulnerability to Kathy that didn't seem evident in the book. Was that a conscious decision?
When thinking about it, I just thought about what it was she really wanted. What she really wanted was her family and a place in life. I think she found herself in this situation as being sort of what we think of as bad girls, you know, taking drugs and having this sort of rock 'n' roll husband. But I don't think that's what she wanted. I think what she wanted was to be married and have children and quite a simple life. You know, sort of a house and kids and that sort of American dream. In her fantasies I don't think she saw herself as a trashy girl out at parties and being wild, which is why I thought when she goes out on a date, she's in this really dorky, flowered dress as opposed to a really trashy number. That's the way she seems from the outside, but I don't think that's how she perceives herself. I think you see that with Nadi, when she encounters Nadi, who seems like a kind of an iconic mother figure. And how quickly she responds to her and sort of melts, and you sort of start to feel that this is a place where if had she spent time with a woman like this, things would have been really different.
If you were in this character's situation, what would you have done?
It's so hard to say because I don't have the same psychology. You know what I mean?
Would you change lawyers?
That's impossible to say. I probably wouldn't be in the same situation. I don't know that I can put myself there. Sometimes, in theory, I mean I find even with myself, in theory, you know how you want to behave in a stressful situation, when you're in crisis. But often you don't [act that way] in the moment because ultimately, you wish you'd respond in a certain way, but that person is really pushing your buttons. You're really stressed out and you're really depressed about something, and how you respond emotionally is really different from how you think you might theoretically sometimes.
Did apply your own feelings of stress to this character?
She's quite fiery too at times, you know, when she's combative with Behrani, and when she goes to the legal aid office and she's not getting what she wants.
She can be quite petulant as well. So I wasn't thinking of trying to manifest her stress in the way that I do. But I certainly experienced it myself in my own way. I thought she got very desperate in it because she didn't have anyone to anchor her. She didn't have anyone or anything to anchor her. She's experiencing that desperation and because it's not being tethered, it starts spinning around and it's kind of a vortex that just drags her down. I've experienced that a couple of times and I've learned to sort of find some way… That's a bad situation for me, but I think that she didn't really have any place to put it or anyone to pull her back in. Her stress manifested in a very watery kind of way, like she was just spilling over all the time.
If you get nominated again, would you approach the Oscars any differently than last time?
I don't know. I think that I might be able to be a bit more on the ground about the whole thing. It was a really sort of a ‘deer in the headlights’ kind of experience for me. It's so overwhelming and I found myself going in so many directions in my head. When I get stressed, I tend to get very quiet. I think people misinterpreted my device for dealing with stress, which is I get very inward, as sort of apathy which it wasn't. I get really shy. I might be a bit more relaxed about it. I don't really know. But it's a bit early to talk about that.
How is life with two children and a career?
I took off, clearly, after this because I was pregnant at the end of it and continuity issues [laughs]. I'm going to go back to work after January on “Dark Water,” which Walter Salles is directing. And then I'm doing a comedy [laughing]. If they'll ever cast me, I'm doing a comedy. I don't know what it is yet, but I'm thinking I'm going to do it.
Will you and Paul Bettany work together again?
I hope so. I would love to. I would love to work again, and just think of all the free rehearsal time they'd get. But, yeah, I don't know that we'll have too many opportunities to because we've gotten resistance, I think. We'd be so excited to work together, but I think people want that sort of fantasy, “Are they going to hook up or are they not going to hook up? Is it going to be...?” So I don't know that we'll get too many shots. We're going to try and choose wisely. We'll wait for something really great that we can do together because I think we'd work well together.
Will you do a “Hulk” sequel?
I don't know if one is being done.
Interview with Jennifer Connelly from "A Beautiful Mind"
JENNIFER CONNELLY (Alicia Nash)
You seem to be often drawn to the “independent” world of movies and plays. This is one of your biggest studio films in a long time. What was the attraction to this film?
It was, when I read it, I thought, such a beautiful script. I loved the story. I thought it was well handled. I thought it was even more moving because it was a true story and that made it even more poignant. Ron was involved, Russ was already involved - whom I think is a great actor. And the woman, no matter what kind of movie it is - studio or independent - was a kind of ferocious, spirited, intelligent, beautiful character, very strong woman, and I was drawn to her.
Could you relate to her in any way?
I could in that - I really was very happy that this was important to Ron in that he wanted to preserve her humanity, which is to say he didn't want her to become any sort of implausible martyr, implausible heroine who is just really the long-suffering wife. She kind of falls apart in self-pity and rage and doubt, and really struggles and breaks down, herself. I felt that made her really human, in that sense that she feels those emotions are all very human emotions. I don't know anyone who hasn't felt those emotions at times.
Did you meet the real woman you play in this film?
I did, I met Alicia. I wanted to meet her before we started working. I went out to New York/New Jersey where she works and sat down and had lunch with her. Even though this movie is inspired by them, and their story, and the events of their lives, in that same way, our Alicia is a fictionalized version of the real Alicia Nash. I still kind of - for my own piece of mind - wanted to go there and say, “I'm playing you, more or less, with some license. Is there anything that you would really like me to convey about you or is there anything that is important to you that I don't convey?” And I would respect that. But in reality, it became just a nice lunch. She wanted to know about Russell Crowe and how movies are made.
Did she mention anything she wanted you to do?
No, not really.
Did she impart information to you that you took away from that?
Not really, to tell you the truth. Like I said, it became just sort of a friendly chat even though I was hoping for that kind of gem that I would take away with me. There was so much background, biographical information; anything I needed was in the biography.
Did you see this ferocious quality in her when you met her?
She's very commanding. She's very exuberant, even now. She's very sharp. You know when you get in a room with someone who is kind of irreverent? Not to say disrespectful, but uninhibited and kind of not particularly self-conscious. She has that spirit to her. So you'd believe her as the young woman who would go to his office and sort of talk her way past the military. She has that spirit even now.
Russell Crowe has a reputation for being very intense on the set. How did you find working with him?
I appreciate that. I like that. He doesn't like to take anything for granted. If it says in the scene that he walks over there and says this, there will be a conversation. He'll ask, "Is that really the best thing for me to do, and what happens if I do this instead?" He makes interesting choices. He likes to explore on the set. He's kind of spontaneous and available as an actor, which I think is great. You just have to be able to be there with him and enjoy that kind of work. I really do.
How does it work - in relation to the director - when Russell wants to experiment? Is it all done through Ron Howard?
Yes, it was very collaborative - the three of us, in the scenes that I worked on with him. Ron was that way, too. He is someone who really knew where he wanted to go with this film and had very strong ideas, but really respects his actors. He really enjoyed trying different things. I remember we had one scene that I got to the set and he had blocked one way, and I felt really strongly that I didn't want to be over there. I said, "I don't really want to be over here, Ron. What happens if I'm sitting here at this table?" Something even technical like that and he said, "Let's try it; let's do it." We do it and he was like, "You know what? You're right. We'll change the lighting, we'll change everything because it just worked better that way." He's someone who is flexible. I never felt that - I was happy to do anything that he asked of me in this movie. Any interpretation that he really wanted to try, I trusted him enough that I would try it, even if I had a different idea about it. And I felt likewise, that I never came away from the scene saying, "I really wanted to do this and I was never given the opportunity to explore this." He worked that way with me and with Russell.
Are you conscious of downplaying the media in your career or is it sort of the nature of some of the characters you play, that they don't always get "spotlight" attention?
I don't know. I'm not aware - I can't comment on any outside perception. I'm happy to come out and talk about movies that I've worked on in a setting like this. Otherwise, I have my own life that I live which is very different and private. So maybe it's that, and also I live in New York, and I'm a mom. I hang out with my son and go to playgrounds.
Has the way you select projects changed since you've become a mother?
Everything changes as a mother. Yes, work has changed. I feel, honestly, in a couple of ways. The projects that I choose are even more important to me now. The world he's growing up in and the kind of stimulus that is out there; they are so precious and I'd do anything to protect him. So, I don't want to put things out there that are going to confuse, hurt, and cause more pain, pointlessly. If something scares someone along the way, okay, something is sad along the way, in the process of trying to talk about something, then okay. Which isn't to say that I'm never going to make a kind of fun comedy, or something that isn't a heavy movie with a mission. But, I do think about those things. I do finish reading a script and say, “Why are they making it and what are they talking about?” I like to try and be responsible in my choices in that way. And beyond that, and more profoundly, it's a huge catalyst for growth and change. I think about this e.e. cummings poem. There's a line that says, “Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.” And I think of my son in that way. He's kind of reached inside me and I don't think anyone could have ever gotten inside of me the way that he has and helped open me up. In that way, that's really changed my life as well.
Has your son seen your films yet?
No. He's seen the trailer for “A Beautiful Mind.” I think his dad showed him “Labyrinth” maybe, once. I wasn't there so I don't know what the reaction was. He saw the trailer and his response was, “You were really mean when you threw that glass at the mirror. Why did you do that?” Some of the movies that I've done recently have not been appropriate for him to see. And then a lot of the old movies, I would really rather not watch again, myself.
Are you saying you don't want to watch “Labyrinth” anymore?
No, I haven't seen that movie in a long time. I loved working on that movie. I loved everyone involved. It's funny looking at yourself. You know how it is when you look back at old pictures? It's just funny looking back at yourself walking and talking at age 14.
In “Waking the Dead,” do you think Sarah was alive or a ghost?
(laughing)Keith Gordon, the director, felt really strongly about not making that clear, even for us. I asked him, and he would never give me the answer. I had to make my own conclusion. I felt I had to play it that she was alive, and then anyone could make their own interpretations from there.
Is it true you're playing Betty Ross in “The Hulk?”
How are you going to approach that character?
I don't know yet because I just signed to do it and we're in very preliminary stages. We don't even have the script.
Who is playing Dr. Banner?
Eric Bana. I watched him in “Chopper” and was very impressed.
What is your familiarity with the comic and the old TV series?
I used to watch the old TV series when I was a kid. This is going to be very different from that. We're going to have one actor play both parts. And, it's Ang Lee. I would be shocked if it's like any comic book movie that I've ever seen. He has very ambitious ideas for this movie and that's what really got me on board, is him and the way that he wants to approach it, which is very creative.
What attracted you to “The Hulk?”
It's a comic book but I asked him (Lee) why he wanted to make “The Hulk.” He said, “It's really a Greek Tragedy.” It's actually a psychodrama. It talks about the rage inside all of us. It talks about fathers and sons, and Lee's talking about using a kind of heightened format to get at something really profound that is otherwise more difficult to access. It's really interesting and ambitious. He's not talking about “I want to see a guy running around in green tights and I want to make a really glossy, fun-filled movie for kids.” He's talking along these lines of tragedy and psychodrama. I find it really interesting. The green monster of rage and greed and jealousy and fear in all of us.
Do you see a similarity between that and “A Beautiful Mind?”
I can't even say yet because I'm not really sure. I was trying to follow his ideas of what he wants to do and honestly, I don't even know what to anticipate with him. The similarities are, I think, filmmakers that I really respect and trust, and that's a great feeling to know that I'm going into a project that I have no idea what will become of that movie, but I really trust Ang Lee. And I really trusted Ron. It's just really nice to work with people that you feel that way about.
Did the events of Sept. 11th, and living in New York, reinforce your sense of protection of your son?
We live in downtown Manhattan and we have pretty big windows that looked right at the World Trade Center. I was home along with Kai and we watched it all happen. I was holding him in my arms and we were looking out the window when the second plane hit. I gasped and he put his hand on my face and said, “Shhh mommy, mommy, don't get upset, you're the grown-up.” I thought okay; I became the filter through which he measured his reactions to what was happening. At that time, I really needed to keep my own emotions in check and stay really solid for him, so that I wouldn't alarm him. I've been trying very hard to not lie to him about anything that's going on, because kids are so smart and they know. At the same time, do everything that I can without promising him anything that I can't promise him to help him feel safe by trying to focus more on the things that are being done to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. The ways in which our government is trying to keep our cities safe, and our people safe, and try and focus on that. He talks about it a lot.
Do you think that it's changed the atmosphere among artists? Is there more tolerance for serious projects?
Certainly seemed ridiculous to talk about a lot of trivial things after that, didn't it? A nice by-product of the tragedy was in New York City, everyone talking to each other. Everyone having a reason to stop on a corner and say, “How are you and how is your family? How is everyone you love? Are you guys all okay and how are your kids dealing with it?” I never felt such a sense of community in New York City and I was born and raised there. So that's been kind of interesting. There have been benefits and concerts and plays and projects that have come out in relief. It just seems like an upwelling of compassion. It would be great if that sustained.
Are you surprised that people suddenly talk about you being a “serious” actress where they didn't a few years ago? Do you feel that at all? Do you think it's overdue?
I'm not really aware of the comments you may be referring to. It's all so flattering. I'm so happy in the projects that I'm able to make, to be involved in projects like this. This isn't always where it was at for me, I started working when I was a kid. I'm just a different person now, I'm 30. I started working when I was 11 and it's a different ballgame. I'm really passionate about what I do. I'm in it because I love the process of working. I love the creative process of it.
What do you love about acting that has sustained you since age 11?
It's changed over time, but right now it's a great thing to do on so many levels. It's sort of my niche. I need to be involved in some sort of creative expression and it just feels like the right niche for me. Like any kind of creative endeavor, it's like a personal archaeological dig every time you work on a project and I love that. I love questioning what I'm doing here - “Why are we here? What is this about? What does this mean? What do we feel? What are our dreams?” I've been engaged in those kinds of explorations for as long as I can remember. It's the perfect place for me to be because that's what I do in my work.
That brings to mind "Requiem for a Dream." What do you think makes you willing to go on those digs?
I've always wanted to understand people. It's just in my nature to understand why we are here, and communicate with people. That was a movie I felt strongly about. I felt strongly about the idea of looking at addiction. Not just addiction to drugs, but people and their relationships to mothers. People not feeling protected and mothered maybe. This is my personal view of the movie and why it was important, mind you. People not trusting themselves, not loving themselves or respecting themselves. And therefore people who are incapable of having any kind of intimate relationship who then have to turn to feeling this incredible hunger and void, have to turn to some quantifiable external product to make them feel whole. That's a lot safer because you can measure it out. You can't predict what someone else is going to do and when someone else is going to leave. I think that's really tragic and I think that's really prevalent in our world, on really subtle levels sometimes, but I think it's really prevalent. I think it's great to lend myself to discussions about this.
Did you feel you always wanted to make that transition from child actor to an adult actor, or was there a point when you didn't quite know?
I went through a period a long time ago, when I was a lot younger, that I thought this is all so stressful. Growing up, being watched from the outside and it's kind of very taxing and maybe I should just do some kind of manual labor - it might be more relaxing. But I can't, it's not in my nature. So I keep coming back to it and I've re-chosen it. Then there was a period that I felt like I wasn't being quite considered for the projects that I wanted to work on because maybe people would think, “I'm not going to cast the girl from THAT movie for this adult project.” There was a period of transition for me. I felt for a long time that this is what I want to do so I'm happy at this point to just take my time and work on projects that I feel strongly about, and the rest of the time just live my life. I love getting the opportunity to work on projects like this. It means a lot to me.
More fun stuff about Jennifer Connelly
Cut a single in Japan, which she sang in phonetic Japanese. She says her agent made up the idea that she is semi-fluent in the language.
Speaks fluent Italian and French.
Was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People by People Magazine in 2002.
The character "Veronica" in Heathers (1989) was originally written with her in mind, but she turned the role down.
Daughter-in-law of actor Thane Bettany.
Measurements: 34C/D-22-34 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)
She is of Irish, Polish, Norwegian and Russian descent.
Named her son Stellan after Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård.
In three of her movies - Dark City (1998), Requiem for a Dream (2000), and House of Sand and Fog (2003) - she appears standing at the end of a pier in a striking image. All three directors created the shots for different reasons, and they are not an homage or reference to each other, just an unlikely coincidence.
She was nearly cast as Diane Court in Cameron Crowe's Say Anything... (1989). Ione Skye got the part instead.
Bettany and Connelly for 'Brideshead Revisited'?
Hollywood husband and wife Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly may be planning to star together in a new big screen version of British TV period drama Brideshead Revisited. According to sources at the Cannes Film Festival, where both are currently guests, British actor Bettany is desperate for the chance to share the screen with his American wife - and sees a movie adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh novel as the perfect project. The pair will play Charles Ryder and Julia Flyte - roles originally taken by Jeremy Irons and Diana Quick in the 1980s mini-series. An insider says, "They've wanted to do a movie together for a while and they both feel this could be it."
'Hulk' Stars Smash Into London
Hulk co-stars Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly and Josh Lucas joined over a thousand of British fans at the London premiere of their blockbuster film last night. Connelly, who is eight months pregnant, was accompanied by her husband Paul Bettany. The couple are staying in England at the moment while Bettany completes filming on his romantic comedy Wimbledon. Bana - who arrived in fresh from filming Troy in Malta - was flanked by fellow Australian Holly Valance and made jokes about his charcoal colored suit. He told reporters, "I looked everywhere for a green suit but I couldn't find a nice one so I've had to make do with this."
Connelly Planning Water Birth
Actress Jennifer Connelly is planning a water birth in London for her second child, but she's worried it might be a weirder experience than she's been led to believe. The A Beautiful Mind star is almost eight months pregnant with her second son, her first with husband Paul Bettany, and she's opted to bring the baby into the world via a birthing pool - but she's already reconsidering her plans. She says, "I think it would be a bit disconcerting because the baby comes out still attached to the umbilical chord and it must be weird to see your baby submerged in water. We'll see how it all goes."
Connelly Considered Quitting
Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Connelly nearly gave up show business after a string of humiliating Hollywood mistakes. The brunette beauty is riding high on international screens with new release The Hulk, but admits she once seriously considered quitting acting because she couldn't find any decent roles. Higher Learning star Jennifer explains, "My college professor told me he saw a poster for the movie Career Opportunities showing me in a tank top and Eighties hair, riding on a mechanical rocking horse. I was mortified because that person has nothing to do with who I am and is no way a reflection of my taste. These movies I'd been making in no way reflect my taste as a moviegoer. It got to a point where I didn't want to work in movies anymore because it became too embarrassing and humiliating. So I thought, 'I can either do something else or see what happens if I really invest myself in what I'm doing and take responsibility for what I'm doing.'"
Connelly and Bettany's Baby Name Blues
Pregnant superstar Jennifer Connelly already knows she is expecting a baby boy - but finding a name for the tot is proving difficult. Connelly and A Beautiful Mind co-star Paul Bettany married on New Year's Day and announced they would be having their first child together soon after. But Bettany reveals that they are still pondering a suitable moniker for the baby. He laughs, "There's time. We'll call him 'It' for a little bit."
Jennifer & Paul Celebrate Baby News
Newlyweds Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany are expecting their first baby together. The A Beautiful Mind co-stars, who wed in private at the beginning of the year, are said to be ecstatic about the news. Connelly already has a five-year-old son, Kai, who she had with photographer David Dugan. The Oscar-winning actress will next be seen in the long-awaited film version of The Hulk, co-starring Eric Bana, due out this summer.
Bettany and Connelly Wed
Sexy actress Jennifer Connelly has finally wed her A Beautiful Mind co- star Paul Bettany. After months of speculation about when the ceremony would take place, the pair tied the knot over the recent Christmas holidays in Scotland in a private ceremony, according to reports. Connelly, who won an Oscar for her role in the Russell Crowe-starring flick and will be seen in the upcoming Ang Lee version of The Hulk, met British actor Bettany on the set of the 2001. It's a first marriage for both screen stars.
Jennifer Connelly Delays Wedding
A Beautiful Mind actress Jennifer Connelly has delayed plans to marry her British beau Paul Bettany. The Oscar-winning beauty, who has a five-year-old son, Kai, from a previous relationship, and A Knight's Tale star Bettany were due to tie the knot this month - but now pals say that the two will not wed until "some time next year." But sources insist the screen stars have not broken up - they're still living together in Connelly's Hollywood Hills home. A pal tells American tabloid the Star, "It's just that she wants to give her little boy more time to adjust. Jennifer felt like they were rushing things."
Jennifer Connelly Branded a Serial Cheat
British actor Paul Bettany is being warned that his sexy fiancee Jennifer Connelly has a history as a serial cheat. The 31-year-old screen stars, who appeared alongside Russell Crowe in the critically-acclaimed movie A Beautiful Mind, announced their plans to wed earlier this year. But friends warn that Bettany could have a tough time keeping his Oscar- winning belle in check, because she's been known to have quite the wandering eye. A source tells American tabloid the Star, "Jennifer is extremely flirtatious, and she was often cheating on one of her boyfriends with somebody else. If one boyfriend stops being in awe of her, she'll move on to the next one. She cheated on one boyfriend several times." The source adds that brunette Connelly had been dating Josh Charles, the star of TV series Sports Night, for nearly two years when she met Bettany in 2000. The source also claims that Connelly two-timed Charles with A Knight's Tale star Bettany. Connelly was also linked to the bitter bust-up of Hollywood couple Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, with reports surfacing that Don was openly flirting with the then-19-year-old star. But pals insist that although Connelly may have something of a checkered past with men, she's sure about her present man. A friend says, "The good thing for Paul is that she really wants to settle down for good."
Connelly And Bettany To Marry
Hollywood wedding bells may be ringing for hot couple Jennifer Connelly and her A Beautiful Mind co-star Paul Bettany. After winning an Oscar and losing a boyfriend almost simultaneously, the stunning actress found comfort in the muscular arms of British heart-throb Bettany. And last week the sandy-haired hunk was seen in the shop of LA jeweller Neil Lane, who has created nuptial baubles for Madonna, Debra Messing and Kate Hudson. Evidently Bettany did much more than just window-shop. He is reported to have settled on a rather specific piece of wedding equipment - a diamond ring.
Connelly Humiliated By Cardboard Hulk Head
Jennifer Connelly found filming the forthcoming The Hulk movie a humiliating experience - because she had to act to a cardboard head. The Beautiful Mind actress, who plays Betty Ross in the Ang Lee- directed film, was forced to talk to a stand-in of the muscular green superhero, who was created entirely by computer. The cardboard cutout was to give her an eyeline, but the Oscar-winning actress says she found it an unsettling experience. She says, "I'm looking at pieces of pink tape on the cutout head. There's nothing there! I've never done that before, it's a little humiliating." But Lee says Connelly coped admirably with the situation, despite her initial discomfort. He says, "The first day it was a bit of a problem having her talk to the Hulk head. But within a week, she had a scene with the Hulk where she looks at him with real feeling, and all the emotion was there."
Jennifer Connelly Set To Wed?
Actress Jennifer Connelly is now engaged to her A Beautiful Mind co- star Paul Bettany, according to a pal of the actress. Oscar-winner Connelly and Bettany, both 31, have been openly dating since May. A source tells American magazine Us Weekly, "They became close on the set. Paul fell for her pretty quickly and knew he wanted to be with her." Connelly, who has a son, Kai, five, from a previous relationship, "realized he was everything she wanted", says the source. The sexy screen star split from her previous actor boyfriend Josh Charles shortly before the Oscars ceremony in March.
Connelly Stays Grounded After Oscar Win
Jennifer Connelly insists her Oscar win will not change her career too much. The A Beautiful Mind star, who won best actress, says she's grateful for the honor but won't let it change her life. She says, "I'm immensely flattered by it. All that said, you know, I'm working now on something else, and then there's the next job and it's kind of like I start from scratch." Jennifer will not let her ego swell after receiving the award. She said, "I get right back into the 'will I be good?' (mode). So, I'm just hoping that I can do well in the next (movie)." Connelly's next big movie is the action flick, The Hulk.
Connelly Amazed At BAFTA
American actress Jennifer Connelly was shocked at beating four of Britain's most respected thespians for this year's BAFTA Best Supporting Actress award. Connelly won the honor ahead of Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith and Kate Winslet. She says, "I'm shocked. I didn't expect this and I'm absolutely flabbergasted. All the other actresses put in beautiful performances. I'm completely taken by surprise. It was fantastic working with Russell Crowe. He's a great actor and it doesn't get much better." Jennifer admits she's also pleased with her "particularly pretty" award.
Jennifer Connelly's Favorite Director
Jennifer Connelly has worked with some of the best directors in Hollywood - but she is convinced her four-year-old son beats the lot. The sexy 31-year-old picked up a Golden Globe for her role alongside Russell Crowe in the Ron Howard directed, A Beautiful Mind. But Connelly says Howard will have to take second place to her son Kai, who she is convinced will make a great movie-maker. Jennifer says the toddler has a "Theatrical, exuberant personality." Adding, "We've already done plays together. Very short plays. He dictates them to me. Sometimes he casts me, sometimes he doesn't. And when I'm in the play, he'll sometimes say to me, 'No Mom, you didn't say that right.'"
Jennifer Connelly Happy With Nude Scenes
Unlike many of her other Hollywood counterparts, Jennifer Connelly is proud of the nude scenes she's done in past movies. The sunning brunette, currently starring as Russell Crowe's wife in A Beautiful Mind, took things to shocking proportions in the gritty art film Requiem For A Dream. In the movie, Jennifer treats viewers to a full-frontal nude scene and her character becomes a drug-addicted prostitute who performs a naked lesbian show, featuring a sex toy, for a roomful of cheering businessmen. And the screen star is happy with her racy past, explaining, "I don't regret anything. Those were formative experiences. I used to be shy and timid. I was a good kid and I wanted to be one, but it can lead to a reserve that can be a little hampering. It's been a gradual unleashing." The actress, who also bared her breasts and buttocks in Waking The Dead, Inventing The Abbotts and The Hot Spot, recently won a Golden Globe for her role as Alicia Nash in A Beautiful Mind.
Russell Crowe And Jennifer Connelly An Item?
Russell Crowe and actress Jennifer Connelly sparked rumours of a romance with their flirtatious behaviour at the Broadcast Film Critics Association's awards ceremony last Friday. The Oscar-winning actor and his A Beautiful Mind co-star couldn't take their eyes of each other at the event in Los Angeles, according to the Pagesix website. Crowe is said to have frequently pecked the cheek of his beautiful brunette seat-mate during the evening. And in his acceptance speech for Best Actor, the Hollywood playboy referred to his co-star as "sublime". Connelly, who won for best supporting actress, beamed throughout and afterwards shared a cigarette with Crowe on the cozy patio.