Jennifer Connelly Comes Clean
Jennifer Connelly stars alongside Kevin James and Vince Vaughn in Ron Howard’s return to comedy, The Dilemma. The film doesn’t arrive until January, but we were on the set and spoke to Connelly and asked her what it was like to be working with director Ron Howard once again.
Connelly famously worked with Ron Howard on A Beautiful Mind -- a performance that earned her an Oscar. The Dilemma is a comedy, so don't expect a wave of Oscar nominations, but it still strikes at a serious subject, told through the art of comedy.
The Dilemma concerns what happens when best friends for life, Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, have a secret that one is keeping from the other that could not only rip apart their friendship, but destroy one of their romantic relationships. Winona Ryder plays James' wife and Connelly is cast as Vaughn's better half.
When we caught up with Jennifer, it was her second-to-last day of shooting before marking the end of filming by celebrating her son's birthday with her husband, actor Paul Bettany.
Jennifer Connelly chats
SheKnows: For your last day, are you going to have a big party with everyone?
Jennifer Connelly: Well, actually, it's my son's, Stellan, birthday tomorrow -- his seventh birthday. So that's why my kids are here and Paul is here. So I think we'll all come to work together and have some cake. We'll put on a little celebration -- much more important than finishing a movie. [Laughs] The seventh birthday is a big day to a boy.
SheKnows: Can you talk about your character in The Dilemma?
Jennifer Connelly: I play a woman named Beth who is kind of just a really nice girl. She's a chef. She has her own restaurant. She does pretty well in her chosen vocation. She's just sort of like an uncomplicated, not neurotic, very easy-going, supportive, nice person who lives with Ronnie [Vince Vaughn]. He's my boyfriend and she's just one of those people that you go, "God, I wish I reacted like that in that situation." She's just kind of nice and easy.
SheKnows: How is it playing Vince Vaughn's girlfriend? Is it ever a challenge to play off his comic improv?
Jennifer Connelly: It's been good. I think he's really good in this movie, which is interesting because obviously it's funny and he's very funny in it but also there are scenes that are moving and a little more dramatic. It was nice for me to see him doing that, too. You don't get to see much of that side of him.
Jennifer Connelly: Reuniting with Ron
SheKnows: This is your second movie with Ron Howard. How has it been different from working with him on A Beautiful Mind?
Jennifer Connelly: [It is a] really different subject matter. I love Ron, Ron is great to work with. And it was a really similar process. He likes to have a good amount of time for prep. So we had that. He likes to talk through the script and work through all of that stuff before you start shooting and we did that on this, too. He loves to cover scenes -- did that here, too, get it all in the bag. So it's a very familiar style on the set. He's like the sweetest guy in Hollywood. He's so nice to work with, so it was a nice reunion.
SheKnows: Any differences because of the material? Have you seen him take a different tact?
Jennifer Connelly: There might've been a little, just because of the subject matter, a slightly more intense set when we worked on A Beautiful Mind. So it feels like things perhaps have been a bit smoother, a bit shorter days. The whole French hours thing [laughs]. It feels pretty light and comfortable on set and it's not that we had a bad set on A Beautiful Mind, it was also really nice but just a little less complicated maybe with what we're doing here.
Connelly on comedySheKnows: Were you attracted to doing a comedy since you have a lot of heavier dramas in your background?
Jennifer Connelly: Yeah, I thought it was fun. I liked the idea of playing someone where I thought, "God, she's just normal. She's just nice." I thought that sounded great. I mean, I've just recently done a couple of movies that have more comedy in them. Straight before doing this, I did a movie called Salvation Boulevard and that's sort of hopefully funny. Then before that I did What's Wrong With Virginia which is sort of dramatic and I think sort of funny. It's been nice recently working on things that have more comedic elements in them. I did also like the fact that she was this kind of person, there was something about her that I really liked. I like that she's just someone who wants to be happy.
SheKnows: So what is the challenge of that then, playing a character who wants to be happy?
Jennifer Connelly: I guess it's the same as any movie. You try and make things make sense. You try to believe in what you're doing and make it all seem believable and real.
The ping-pong DilemmaSheKnows: Now that you're wrapping up The Dilemma shoot, can you recall a challenging or memorable scene that you guys got through?
Jennifer Connelly: Definitely the ping-pong. I was so nervous, I had to play ping-pong in this movie. The first day that I showed up, I said, "Ron, I'm really going to give this my all but you might want to have a ping-pong double." Right now, my moniker at home is Snake Hands Connelly [laughs]. I'm just not down with the paddle and the whole hand-eye coordination thing. It's not a thing that I grew up doing, no skills in the back pocket with the ping-pong. I worked on that. I worked on that really hard, I have to say. I spent a lot of time playing ping-pong on this movie.