Jennifer Connelly Bio: In Her Own Words – Video Exclusive, News, Photos
Jennifer Connelly (December 12, 1970) is an American actress. After starting off as a child model, Connelly worked her way into film. Since then, she has won many awards for her acting, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA Award. She is most well known for her work in Requiem for a Dream, A Beautiful Mind, Hulk, The Day the Earth Stood Still, He’s Just Not That Into You, and Noah. She also continues to do some modeling work and has been a leader in various charitable causes.
Jennifer Connelly Bio
Jennifer Lynn Connelly was born on December 12th, 1970 in Cairo, New York, located in the Catskill Mountains north of New York City. She is the daughter of Gerard, a clothing manufacturer, and Ilene, an antiques dealer. The Connelly family moved around a bit during Jennifer’s childhood, moving first to Brooklyn Heights, where Jennifer attended the Saint Ann’s School, then to Woodstock, NY, and then back again to Brooklyn Heights.
At the age of 10, Connelly went into the world of modeling after a suggestion by one of her father’s friends. She joined with the Ford Modeling Agency and appeared in a variety of print advertisements and eventually commercials. After making her first film appearances, she landed on the cover of Seventeen magazine multiple times in the late 1980’s. Although modeling seemed to be where she was heading in her career, acting would soon become her larger role in life.
Jennifer Connelly Early Career
While her modeling career was getting underway, Jennifer Connelly’s mother started taking her to acting auditions. In 1982, Connelly landed a role in the British television show Tales of the Unexpected. Two years later she made her film debut in the mob crime drama Once Upon a Time in America, which had the direction of Sergio Leone and the acting of Robert De Niro. Connelly’s audition for the young Deborah Gelly, whose older version was played by Elizabeth McGovern, impressed the producers in both her dancing ability and her similarity to McGovern’s appearance.
In 1985, Connelly began to take on more roles. She had her first starring role in the Italian horror film Phenomena and her second later in the year in the teen flick Seven Minutes in Heaven. In 1986, Connelly played the role of Sarah in Jim Henson’s movie Labyrinth, which exposed her to a larger audience than her previous roles. A couple of years later in 1988, Michael Hoffman tapped her for the role of Gabby in Some Girls, starring alongside Patrick Dempsey.
While her acting career blossomed, Connelly had to balance her film life with her college life. In 1988 and 1989, Connelly attended Yale University to study English. She then transferred a little closer to Hollywood to Stanford University in 1990 to take up Drama. The balance was a bit too much to handle, however, so Connelly, with the advice of her parents, decided to focus on her film career and left Stanford.
After a role in the Italian ballet film Etolie, Connelly took a turn into a much more adult role in 1990’s The Hot Spot. The Dennis Hopper directed film saw Connelly as a blackmailed woman. Furthermore, Connelly had to do a nude scene for the first time in her career. After taking on many roles in children’s and teen films, Connelly had more or less entered the realm of more serious filmmaking.
Jennifer Connelly Career
Connelly then played in Career Opportunities as Josie in the 1991 romantic comedy’s female lead. Connelly also took on the female lead in Disney’s high budget 1991 film The Rocketeer as Jenny. The film was well received by critics and netted her a nomination for the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress, but did not meet expectations at the box office. Connelly made her music video debut in 1992 for Roy Orbison’s “I Drove All Night,” which also starred Jason Priestley, as well as a role in the 1992 television film The Heart of Justice.
The mid 1990’s saw Connelly take on a variety of roles. In 1994, she joined Antonio Banderas in the 1994 Argentine-American drama Of Love and Shadows. The following year she portrayed a lesbian college student in the drama Higher Learning, then followed that up in 1996 by joining John Malkovich in Mulholland Falls and a starring role in the independent film Far Harbor.
In 1997, Connelly played alongside Liv Tyler and Joaquin Phoenix in Inventing the Abbots. In 1998, Connelly put on a critically acclaimed performance in the science fiction film Dark City. As the female lead of Emma, the wife of lead character John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell), she must deal with her husband’s amnesia and the effects of her kidnapping by the movie’s villains, The Strangers. Connelly’s portrayal was praised by critics, who pointed out her 1940’s style was on point and her acting abilities had shown throughout the movie. Dark City wasn’t a box office hit, but it did send the message that Connelly was becoming one of the best actresses in Hollywood.
2000 was a busy year for Connelly with three movies and a television show being among her credits for the year. It started off in the drama Waking the Dead, followed by the portrayal of Ruth Kligman, the mistress of famous painter Jackson Pollock, in the biographical film Pollock. Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden both received Academy Award nominations for their roles in the film. Connelly also made her full television series debut in Fox’s short lived drama The $treet, which focused on the lives of the employees of a small Wall Street brokerage firm.
Jennifer Connelly’s breakout performance would come that year in Requiem for a Dream. She played Marion Silver, a Brooklyn heroin addict whose dreams of becoming a boutique owner quickly spirals down to a life of prostitution as she and her friends Harry (Jared Leto) and Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) see their drug trade collapse. The film was a critical success and landed Connelly nominations for Best Supporting Actress awards from various critics circles. Yet as much of a breakthrough performance Requiem for a Dream turned out to be, Connelly’s biggest performance was just right around the bend.
In 2001, Connelly and Russell Crowe teamed up to join Ron Howard in A Beautiful Mind. Connelly portrays Alicia Nash, the wife of mathematician and Nobel Laureate in Economics John Nash, as she provides her love to him in spite of the schizophrenia he possesses. The film was extremely well received, aside from some apparent historical differences, and Connelly shined in her portrayal of Alicia. The performance landed Jennifer Connelly with the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. A Beautiful Mind also won three other Oscars at the 2002 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Additionally, Connelly won a Golden Globe, an American Film Institute Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Satellite Award for the performance, as well as a nomination for a Screen Actors Guild Award. It remains Connelly’s most successful role to date and established herself among the film industry’s elite actresses.
Two years later, Connelly went to the world of superhero movies by taking on the role of Betty Ross in Ang Lee’s Hulk. In the film, Betty is one of the only ways The Incredible Hulk can calm down and turn back into Dr. Bruce Banner. The film was a summer blockbuster, exceeding its expectations at the box office to rack in $245.3 million.
Although Connelly’s more well known 2003 film was a popcorn flick, her most critically acclaimed role of the year came in the much lower budget House of Sand and Fog. There Connelly played Kathy Nicolo, a recovering drug addict who’s trying to get her life back together but is thrown into a destructive battle with an immigrant Iranian family over the possession of her home. The film was another big hit with critics for Connelly, earning her nominations for film circle awards for Best Actress and taking the award home from Kansas City’s critic film circle.
After a brief absence, Connelly returned in 2005 with Dark Water, a psychological thriller about a woman and her daughter who move into a New York City apartment with paranormal activities haunting them. 2006 saw Connelly work with both of Titanic‘s stars, first starring with Kate Winslet in the film adaptation of Little Children and then following it up by starring with Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond. The latter of the two films had Connelly portray journalist Maddy Bowen as she worked to uncover the workings of Africa’s blood diamond trade. Both films were very well regarded and were nominated for Academy Awards.
Connelly joined Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo for 2007’s Reservation Road, a drama involving the aftermath of a fatal car accident which Connelly has said was one of her toughest roles. The following year she played Helen Benson in the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Her character takes on a bigger role in the modern film, going from a secretary who’s storyline with Klaatu (played by Keanu Reeves in the 2008 film) is the focus in the original to a doctor who’s dealing with her relationship with her son, played by Jaden Smith.
In 2009, Connelly played the part of Janine Gunders in He’s Just Not That Into You. The romantic comedy had a star studded cast, including Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, and Kevin Connolly. 2009 was another busy year for her, as she played roles in three other films. She starred alongside real life husband Paul Bettany in Creation. There she portrayed the wife of Charles Darwin, Emma, through his writing of his theories on evolution. She also had roles in two family movies– Inkheart and 9, the latter of which she provided her voice to along with Elijah Wood and John C. Reilly.
Connelly made her return to independent films by taking on the title role in 2010’s Virginia. The role was another challenging one for her, as she played a schizophrenic woman who has an affair with a police officer as their children also begin to develop a relationship together. Although the film was generally panned, critics loved Connelly’s performance. It was eventually given a limited theatrical release in 2012.
Connelly teamed up with Ron Howard once again in 2011 by joining the cast of The Dilemma, which contained Vince Vaughn and Kevin James. Later in the year she took part in the religious satire movie Salvation Boulevard with Pierce Brosnan. In 2013, she starred in the independent romantic film Stuck in Love.
2014 saw Connelly in two more films. She joined Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe in the film adaptation of Winter’s Tale as Virginia, a character who helps the main character of Peter regain his memory. Connelly and Crowe joined forces once more in Noah, which portrayed the biblical story of Noah’s Arc. She took on the role Naameh for the film.
In 2015, Jennifer Connelly took on a role in the film Aloft. She plays Nana Kunning, an emerging artist who is faced with reuniting with the son she abandoned 20 years before the setting of the movie. uInterview landed an exclusive interview with Connelly, who talked about her role in the film with us.
“I don’t know that there’s one key,” Connelly said of understanding her character. “I think that she’s a complicated woman in a very difficult situation. For me, I thought that she was someone who had a great strength, almost stoicism. But I think if anything the one key is embracing how complicated life can be and how multi-faceted, and allowing her to be complex and make decisions that might not necessarily reflect myself and the choices that I might make as a mother.”
Jennifer also talked about the role of healers and the belief in them in the film. “You know, we talked about sort of where she had been. I didn’t meet with healers in preparation for the role because the majority of the story is really about this woman, who actually isn’t quite sure if she believes in that for most of the story. She’s very skeptical about this type of healing herself. And so for me it was more a story of the mother and the son and this journey that they make back to one another. And it’s open ended, I think, to whether she has that power or not.”
Later in 2015 Connelly will star in her husband Paul Bettany’s directoral debut in Shelter. The film has already premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and is slated for a wider release sometime this year.
Jennifer Connelly Personal Life
Jennifer Connelly was in a relationship with fellow The Rocketeer co-star Billy Campbell in the 1990’s. The two dated from 1991 to 1996 before they broke up. Connelly was also in a relationship with photographer David Dugan, with whom the two have one son, Kai, from their time together.
In 2003 Connelly married actor Paul Bettany, who she met on the set of A Beautiful Mind. The two have two children together– Stellan (born 2003) and Agnes Lark (born 2011).
Connelly is a frequent contributor to charitable causes. In 2005 she was named Amnesty International’s Ambassador for Human Rights Education. She has since then also helped Charity: Water in their efforts to raise funds for clean water drilling projects in developing nations, Revlon’s 5k Run/Walk for Women, and being an ambassador for Save the Children to advocate children’s rights.
Jennifer also knows fluent Italian and French, as well as having a single in Japan that was sung in Japanese to the best of her ability back in the 1980’s. She is also an avid fan of the outdoors, with interests including camping, hiking, bicycle riding, and swimming.
Connelly and Bettany currently live in New York with their children.