Jennifer Connelly talks about her new thriller, Dark Water
- By Paulington
Based on a 2002 Japanese movie of the same name, this summer's Dark Water is shaping up to be a major contender. A chilling psychological thriller, the film stars Academy Award-winner Jennifer Connelly along with Academy Award-nominees John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, and Pete Postlethwaite. I recently spoke with Jennifer on the phone about the film. She seemed genuinely happy with the finished project, directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries). And I really have to thank Jennifer for calling me back after I lost the signal on my cell phone twice during our conversation...
You've been doing this since you were a little kid. Do you ever feel like retiring from the acting business?
Jennifer: Actually, right now, I think I'm more eager to work than I have ever been. I have really enjoyed working these past few years. I don't plan on retiring anytime soon.
I was looking at your bio earlier today, and noticed that when you were first starting out, you got to work with both Dario Argento and Sergio Leone. Can you tell me anything about the experience of working with both of those guys? I'm a big fan of both directors, and they are luminaries in the business.
Movie PictureJennifer: I might not still be doing this if it hadn't been for Sergio. Once Upon a Time in America was the first film I ever did. I didn't know what I was getting into. I didn't know who he was as a filmmaker. I was completely naïve. I was eleven years old, and I was completely mesmerized by him. And I just adored him. My experience on that film was very different. I obviously approached the film different than I approach working now. It was sort of the experience. He was so kind to me, and so generous, and protective, and encouraging. I was intrigued by him. There were these fights he would have over the bullhorn with Tonino, his DP, up on top of this crane. He was this little diminutive guy, and Sergio was this big bear of a guy. It was always sort of magical. And Dario...He was fantastic. It was a kooky movie. And he was this really outrageous character whom I had a lot of affection for.
Jennifer: (Laughs) That's a big old question. Do you mean in a more meaningful way, or a more superficial way?
I mean in a more meaningful way.
Jennifer: I think it's about ghosts. For me, a lot for the ghosts that we carry around with us. So, it works as a supernatural thriller...(The phone connection is lost)
(Jennifer calls back) Hi, I'm so sorry about.
Jennifer: It's okay.
I'm having a real problem with my signal.
Jennifer: Oh, no...
Hopefully that won't happen again. I think I got most of your answer on that last question. The thing about the original Dark Water...Have you seen the original?
Movie PicturePaulington: It's my understanding that the director viewed the ghost of the little girl upstairs as the former spirit of your character's daughter before she lost her dad. The ghost represents this past life that died when your daughter's father figure went away. It sort of represents a transformation. Is that idea represented in this new film?
Jennifer: Yeah. I think that idea is intact. It is someone looking to be parented. In this case, looking to be mothered. It's about ghosts of little children that have been abandoned by their parents; that have fallen between the cracks.
With so many Japanese horror films being remade in the states, what made you want to participate in this one in particular?
Jennifer: I think it's a really subtle one. I think that (director) Walter (Salles) is actually a really good choice to do an adaptation for our culture. I think that he was really out to consciously make a film that would transcend the genre. I think he was able to make it accessible to an American audience in developing the characters a little bit more. This is not a strictly visceral experience. It's frightening. It's a bit shocking. But it's still deeply moving. Which, the original film was. I was surprised at how moved I was by the original Dark Water when I saw it. I think that Walter has a really good sensibility when it comes to this type of film. He's a very elegant director. He's very sensitive. I think with this one, the subject matter is really sensitive, and really subtle. I think he is dexterous in that way.
How was your working relationship with the young actress that plays your daughter, Ariel Gade?
Jennifer: She was so sweet. She's a sweet little girl. She was really excited to be working. She worked really hard. Everyone just adored her. She was just sweet, and wanted to be good, and wanted to get better, and wanted to do everything that everybody asked. And she seemed to love it the whole time. It was really nice, because I have my son, and she was about the same age as my older son. We had her over to the house to play games of hide and seek. It was nice.
This is a question you probably get asked a lot, but have you found it harder to find good roles since winning your Oscar for A Beautiful Mind?
Jennifer: Have I found it harder? Well, I read more scripts, but I think it's still hard for me to find roles that I feel really passionate about. I don't know if that has anything to do with winning or not winning an Oscar. I think it just has to do with the kind of films that are being made. And the kind of material that is out there.
This is kind of a weird question, but I just found out about this the other day. Does it freak you out to know that there's a group of doll collectors out there that are dressing up their G.I. Joe dolls to look like characters from A Beautiful Mind?
Jennifer: I didn't know that.
Yeah, they enter them into competitions.
Jennifer: That's really funny.
I found it kind of weird, myself.
Jennifer: Well, there's all sorts of things out there, I supposed. If only we looked. I've heard much worse than that.
I've seen some of them. They're kind f spooky looking.
Jennifer: Are they?
Well, yeah. They're made out of G.I. Joe dolls. I've seen some of you that are made out of male dolls.
Jennifer: Male G.I. Joes?
Yeah. I just thought that was interesting. I want to know, how often does someone come up to you and tell you they love Career Opportunities?
Jennifer: Not very often. Someone said it to me either yesterday or today, and I said, "Wow! That's not one I get that often." That's reaching way back there.
It's my favorite Jennifer Connelly movie.
Jennifer: It's not very high on the list.
Does your husband ever go back and watch that particular movie?
Jennifer: I'm not sure what my husband watches when I'm not there. But not in my company, he doesn't. I do that thing were I have to put my fingers in my ears and go, "La, la, la, la, la! I can't hear."
Do you get embarrassed going back and watching some of your older movies?
Jennifer: I do. I don't do it.
What would be the hardest one to go back and watch for you?
Jennifer: They're all really difficult. I thought, not too long ago, "Okay, what could I watch with a friend? Or with Paul, for example." I thought, maybe, something like Phenomena (the film directed by Dario Argento), because I was thirteen, and it's a horror film. Paul, early in our relationship, really wanted to see it. But I couldn't. As soon as it came on, I just went over the top of his head trying to cover it, "No, no, no, shut it off!" I couldn't handle it.
What about his movies?
Jennifer: You know, we really don't sit around watching each other's films. We really don't. It's not something we do. I really like...I thought he (Paul Bettany) was really great in Gangster No. 1. I thought he was great in Master and Commander. I think he was really good in the film The Heart of Me.
I'm not familiar with that one.
Jennifer: No one really saw it. It was a small little film with him and Helena Bonham Carter, and Olivia Williams.
I just found out today that they moved Dark Water to compete against the Fantastic Four. Is that right?
Jennifer: It's been the same for a little while now, but I think they did move it from somewhere else.
The guy at Disney told me you're going to be going up against the Fantastic Four.
Jennifer: Yeah, I guess so.
Do you think you have the super power to take them down this summer?
Jennifer: I don't know. What do you think?
Well, I'd rather see your movie than the Fantastic Four. The Fantastic Four looks horrible.
Jennifer: Well, there you go. Thank you. You know, I really have to say, I like the film. And I don't say that too often. I usually have to really dance around that while doing these sorts of things. And I have to give really artful answers. But I really like Dark Water. I think it's a good film. And I hope that people who don't necessarily like scary movies will like it. Because they usually associate scary movies with horror films.
Do you think this is more of a horror movie, or a scary movie?
Movie PictureJennifer: I think this is a scary movie. More than a horror film. It's not gory. It's not about killing, and blood, and violence. It's more about slowly creeping the tension so that it builds and builds. Until, finally, all hell breaks loose. I think you can have a lighter audience. I think that it will appeal to people who don't normally go and see horror films. I think they will really like it. I think it's still scary. I like it.
Speaking of the Fantastic Four, I know you were in the Hulk film. Do you think there will be a sequel to that, and will you be associated with it in any way?
Jennifer: I don't really know about a Hulk sequel. I'm sorry. I don't have any, any, any kind of information for you.
Would doing another one interest you at all?
Jennifer: Hmmm....Yeah, I'd be interested to see who was going to direct it. But it's all speculation, so it's hard to comment on something that's just hypothetical.
Okay. I'll let you go now. It was great talking to you.
Jennifer: Thank you, it was my pleasure.
Yeah, I'm a big fan of your. This was a lot of fun.
Jennifer: That's sweet of you. Thanks.
Dark Water opens on July 8th. See it or suffer the consequences of continuously dripping water!