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Jennifer Connelly (1970)

Jennifer Lynn Connelly

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Jennifer Lynn Connelly is an American film actress, who began her career as a child model. She appeared in magazine, newspaper and television advertising, before making her motion picture debut in the 1984 crime film Once Upon a Time in America. Connelly continued modeling and acting, starring in films such as the 1986 Labyrinth and the 1991 Career Opportunities. She gained critical acclaim for her work in the 1998 science fiction film Dark City and for her portrayal of Marion Silver in the 2000 drama Requiem for a Dream.

In 2002, Connelly won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a BAFTA Award for her supporting role as Alicia Nash in Ron Howard's 2001 biopic A Beautiful Mind. Her later credits include the 2003 Marvel superhero film Hulk, the 2005 thriller Dark Water, the 2006 drama Blood Diamond, the 2008 science fiction remake The Day the Earth Stood Still and the 2009 romantic comedy He's Just Not That Into You.

Connelly was named Amnesty International Ambassador for Human Rights Education in 2005. She has been the face of Balenciaga fashion advertisements, as well as for Revlon cosmetics. Magazines including Time, Vanity Fair and Esquire, as well as the Los Angeles Times newspaper have included her on their lists of the world's most beautiful women.


 life and career
 Early life
Connelly was born in Round Top, New York, in the Catskill Mountains. She is the daughter of Ilene, an antiques dealer, and Gerard Connelly, a clothing manufacturer. Her father was a Roman Catholic with Irish and Norwegian ancestors, while her mother was a yeshiva-educated Jew of Polish and Russian descent. She was raised in Brooklyn Heights, near the Brooklyn Bridge, where she attended Saint Ann's, a private school focused on the arts. Her father suffered from asthma, so the family moved to Woodstock, New York in 1976 to escape the city smog. Four years later, the family returned to Brooklyn Heights, and Connelly resumed her education at the same school.

 Child modeling and early movie appearances
When Connelly was ten years old, an advertising executive friend of her father suggested she audition as a model. Her parents sent a picture of her to the Ford Modeling Agency, which shortly after added her to its roster. Connelly began modeling for print advertisements, before moving on to television commercials. In an interview with The Guardian, she revealed that, after having done a bit of modeling, she had no aspirations to become an actor. She appeared on the cover of several issues of Seventeen in 1986 and 1988. In December 1986, she recorded two pop songs for the Japanese market: "Monologue of Love" and "Message of Love". Connelly sang in phonetic Japanese as she did not speak the language.

Her mother started taking her to acting auditions; at one of these, she was selected for a supporting role as the young aspiring dancer and actress Deborah Gelly in Sergio Leone's 1984 gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America. The role required the performance of a ballet routine. During the audition, Connelly, who had no ballet training, attempted to imitate a ballerina. Her performance, and the similarity of her nose with Elizabeth McGovern's, who played the character as an adult, convinced the director to cast her. Connelly described the movie as "an incredibly idyllic introduction to movie-making". While Once Upon a Time in America was being filmed, Connelly made her first television appearance, in the episode "Stranger in Town" of the British series Tales of the Unexpected.

Her first leading role was in Italian giallo-director Dario Argento's 1985 film Phenomena as a young girl who uses her psychic powers to communicate with insects to pursue a serial killer who is butchering students of the Swiss school where she has just enrolled, followed by the lead in the coming-of-age movie Seven Minutes in Heaven, released the same year.

Of her early career, she said, "Before I knew it, became what I did. It was a very peculiar way to grow up, combined with my personality". She described herself as feeling like "a kind of walking puppet" through her adolescence, without having time alone to deal with the attention her career was generating.

Connelly gained public recognition with Jim Henson's 1986 fantasy film Labyrinth, in which she played Sarah, a teenager on a quest to rescue her brother Toby from the world of goblins. Although a disappointment at the box office, the film later became a cult classic. The New York Times, while noting the importance of her part, panned her portrayal: "Jennifer Connelly as Sarah is unfortunately disappointing. Perhaps Mr. Henson gave too much attention to his puppets and not enough to developing a compelling performance in his lead actress. She looks right, but she lacks conviction and seems to be reading rehearsed lines that are recited without belief in her goal or real need to accomplish it. Since the film has only five human characters – Sarah, her parents, who appear briefly at the beginning, baby Toby and Jareth, the goblin king – Sarah's role is very important". Two years later, she starred as a ballet student in the Italian film Étoile, and portrayed college student Gabby in Michael Hoffman's Some Girls.

Balancing work and school, she studied English for two years at Yale University in 1988 and 1989, before transferring to Stanford University in 1990 to study drama. There, she trained with Roy London, Howard Fine and Harold Guskin. Encouraged by her parents to continue with her film career, Connelly left college and returned to the movie making industry the same year.

In 1990, Dennis Hopper directed The Hot Spot, in which Connelly was cast as Gloria Harper, a woman being blackmailed. The movie was a box office failure. Stephen Schaefer wrote for USA Today, "Anyone looking for proof that little girls do grow up fast in the movies should take a gander at curvaceous Jennifer Connelly in The Hot Spot. Not yet 20, Connelly has neatly managed the transition from child actress to ingenue". During an interview with Shaeffer, Connelly commented on her first nude scene: "The nudity was hard for me and something I thought about...but it's not in a sleazy context". The same year, director Garry Marshall considered her for the role of Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman, but ultimately felt that she was too young for the part.

Connelly's next movie was the 1991 romantic comedy Career Opportunities, starring alongside Frank Whaley. The director, John Hughes, was criticized for exploiting Connelly's image. People deplored an advertisement that showed Whaley watching Connelly ride a mechanical horse; the caption read "He's about to have the ride of his life". In an interview with Rolling Stone Connelly stated, "I don't know about anyone else, but that wasn't something I felt all that comfortable about. That sure as hell wasn't a subject that I was trying to learn about from my professor".

The big-budget Disney film The Rocketeer followed later that year, but failed to ignite her career. She played Jenny Blake, the aspiring actress girlfriend of stunt pilot Cliff, "the Rocketeer". New York characterized the movie as "pallid". The review said of her performance, "Connelly is properly cast; she has the moist, full-to-the-cheek bones sensuality of the Hollywood starlets of that period, but she's a little straight".

She appeared alongside Jason Priestley in the Roy Orbison music video for "I Drove All Night" the following year. In 1995, director John Singleton cast Connelly as a lesbian college student in Higher Learning. She next appeared in the 1996 independent film Far Harbor as Elie, a prominent person in a Hollywood studio who writes a screenplay based on her own traumas.

The neo-noir crime thriller Mulholland Falls centered on the murder of Allison Pond , mistress of General Timms , and the investigation by a group of detectives led by Maxwell Hoover , followed the same year. New York wrote about a clip that reveals to the investigators the link between Timms and Pond: "This footage is actually dirty. That is, it makes us feel like voyeurs when looking at it, but it's so juicily erotic that we can hardly look away". About nudity in the movie, Connelly said: "It kind of shocked everyone who knows me that I wound up doing this movie, because I had always been so careful about nudity, it was very much a part of this character and I couldn't be coy or guarded or self-conscious--otherwise it wouldn't work. It was sort of a challenge I wanted to take on, I guess".

She subsequently began to appear in small budget films which did well with critics, such as 1997's drama Inventing the Abbotts, set in the late 1950s, in which she played the part of Eleanor, one of three daughters of the town millionaire, Lloyd Abbott. About her performance, director Ron Howard said, "She not only was beautiful and seductive but gave some difficult psychological moments in the film a lot of depth and complexity. She had an extraordinary combination of talent and beauty, and I guess I stored that information in the back of my brain".

Her next appearance was in the critically acclaimed 1998 science fiction film Dark City, where she played alongside Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Ian Richardson and Kiefer Sutherland. Connelly portrayed femme fatale Emma, a torch singer whose husband, John Murdoch , suffers from amnesia. As Murdoch is regaining his memories, Emma is kidnapped by Mr. Hand (Richard O'Brien) and The Strangers, who alter her memories and assign her a new identity. Author Sean McMullen wrote, "Jennifer Connelly is visually splendid as the 1940s femme fatale. "

 Early 2000s
In 2000, Ed Harris directed Connelly in the biopic Pollock in which she played Ruth Kligman, Jackson Pollock's mistress. The same year she appeared in what critics considered her breakthrough film, Requiem for a Dream, directed by Darren Aronofsky and based on the novel of the same name. Connelly played Marion Silver, Harry's girlfriend in a movie that also starred Marlon Wayans and Ellen Burstyn. Her character is a middle-class girl from Manhattan Beach who pursues the dream of establishing a dress shop, but whose addiction ultimately leads to a degrading life of prostitution. Connelly prepared for the role by renting a separate apartment in the building where she lived. During her time in the apartment, Connelly isolated herself, painted, listened to music that she considered that her character would, designed clothes, and used the time to reflect about addictions and their origin. Connelly also talked to addicts and attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings with one of her friends, who was being treated. Critics acclaimed the individual performances due to the courage needed to demonstrate their characters' constant physical and mental degradation. Connelly stated that she was interested in the script for its depiction of the addictions and their impact on the lives and affections of the characters' relatives. Critic Elvis Mitchell wrote in The New York Times, "Ms. Connelly, too, whittled herself down to a new weight class, and it's her performance that gives the movie weight, since her fall is the most precipitous. By the end, when she curls into a happy fetal ball with a furtive smile on her face, she has come to love her debasement.... Her dank realization is more disturbing than anything in the novel, and Ms. Connelly has never before done anything to prepare us for how good she is here."

During 2000, she appeared as Catherine Miller in the FOX drama series The $treet, about a brokerage house in New York City. Also in 2000, she appeared in Waking the Dead, a film based on the 1986 novel of the same name, playing Sarah Williams, an activist killed by a car bomb in Minneapolis while driving Chilean refugees. Initially, director Keith Gordon was reluctant to cast Connelly. Gordon, who did not consider Connelly a serious actress, was convinced to cast her after her agent, Risa Shapiro, persuaded him to watch Far Harbor. Gordon later stated: "There was a subtlety and depth even to her gaze that captured more of the relationship than I ever could have hoped for." About her role, Connelly said, "Waking the Dead was the first film I worked on where whatever I did felt like my own thing. I was really trying to make something of the part and threw myself into it, so that meant a lot to me". The New York Times described her performance, "As Sarah, Ms. Connelly captures a burning ethereality and willfulness that are very much of the period. And she and Mr. Crudup connect powerfully in love scenes that convey the fierce tenderness of a relationship whose passion carries a tinge of religious fervor."

The script of Ron Howard's 2001 film A Beautiful Mind, which was loosely based on the 1998 biography of John Nash by the journalist Sylvia Nasar, sparked her interest in the project. Connelly was invited to an audition after her agent, Risa Shapiro, sent the producers a tape with a clip of the then-unreleased Requiem for a Dream. She was cast by the film's producer, Brian Gazer, as Alicia Nash, the long-suffering wife of the brilliant, schizophrenic mathematician played by Russell Crowe. Howard and the producers eventually chose them after being particularly impressed by their screen chemistry. The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing more than US$313 million worldwide. Unlike her co-star, she had the opportunity to meet the real Alicia Nash before starting shooting in order to learn more about her life. For her portrayal, Connelly earned a Golden Globe, an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and a BAFTA for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Time magazine critic Richard Schickel called her performance "luminous" and the actress intelligent and passionate. Roger Ebert wrote, "...Jennifer Connelly is luminous as Alicia. Although the showier performance belongs to Crowe, it is Connelly's complex work, depicting a woman torn by love for and fear of the same man, that elevates the film to a higher level".

Connelly stated afterwards, " is the film I'm really proud of and really love." A.O. Scott of The New York Times said, "There is, for one thing, Ms. Connelly, keen and spirited in the underwritten role of a woman who starts out as a math groupie and soon finds herself the helpmeet of a disturbed, difficult man." In relation to previous roles, she expressed: "There was a period where I felt like I wasn't quite being considered for the projects that I wanted to work on because maybe people were thinking. 'I'm not going to cast the girl who was in that movie for this adult project.' I've 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 really strongly about and the rest of the time just live my life."

According to Connelly, she was interested in Ang Lee's Hulk because of his philosophical perspective on the Marvel Comics superhero. She described it as "a family psycho-drama with hints of Greek tragedy". She played Betty Ross, a scientist and the former girlfriend of the main character, Bruce Banner. The film was a moderate success. It was followed the same year by The House of Sand and Fog, a drama based on the novel by Andre Dubus III. She portrayed Kathy Nicolo, an abandoned wife whose inherited house is sold at auction to the Iranian emigre and former colonel Massoud Amir Behrani . The film received worldwide critical acclaim, with a BBC reporter commenting, " convinces totally as a selfish, desperate and lonely woman who confesses to her brother, 'I just feel lost.

 2005 onward

After a two-year absence from the film scene, Connelly returned in the 2005 horror/psychological thriller Dark Water, which was based on a 2002 Japanese film of the same name. She played Dahlia, a frightened young woman traumatized by her past, who moves with her daughter to an apartment in New York City where paranormal happenings take place. In his review, critic Roger Ebert wrote, "I cared about the Jennifer Connelly character; she is not a horror heroine but an actress playing a mother faced with horror. There is a difference, and because of that difference, Dark Water works". Both films that she appeared in the following year were nominated for multiple Academy Awards.

She played Kathy Adamson in an adaptation of the novel Little Children alongside Kate Winslet, a movie which focuses on the relationship between Sarah Pierce and Brad Adamson . Connelly co-starred in Blood Diamond opposite Leonardo DiCaprio where she portrayed journalist Maddy Bowen, who is working on exposing the real story behind blood diamonds. New York praised her performance: "Connelly is such a smart, sane, unhistrionic actress that she almost disguises the fact that her character is a wheeze."

Her next appearance was as Grace in the drama Reservation Road with Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo, a film released in 2007. After her son dies in a hit-and-run, Grace gradually tries to overcome her grief, while her husband Ethan becomes obsessed with discovering who killed him. By her own account, the character she played in the movie proved tougher than any of her previous roles. USA Today's Susan Wloszczyna commented, "The strong performances of Jennifer Connelly and Mark Ruffalo ... raise the film above overheated melodrama".

Parisian fashion house Balenciaga and Revlon cosmetics signed Connelly as the face of their 2008 campaigns. Connelly portrayed astrobiologist Helen Benson alongside Keanu Reeves in the 2008 remake of the 1951 science fiction film The Day The Earth Stood Still. Unlike the original movie, in which Benson was a secretary and her relationship with Klaatu was the focus, the remake featured Benson in a troubled relationship with her stepson, portrayed by Jaden Smith. This was followed by a role in the 2009 romantic comedy He's Just Not That Into You, which also featured Jennifer Aniston and Ginnifer Goodwin. The film was based on the self-help book of the same name. Variety praised her portrayal: "Despite its layer of darkness Connelly gives a really rich performance as a woman whose principles back her into a corner".

In 2009, she appeared in the costume drama biopic Creation, in which she played Emma Darwin, wife of Charles Darwin, opposite her real-life husband Paul Bettany.
Set during the writing of On the Origin of Species, the movie depicts Darwin's struggle with the subject of the book as well as with his wife, who opposed his theories, and their mourning for their daughter Annie. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Darwin's wife, a religious woman who disapproved of her husband's theories, is played by Jennifer Connelly, Bettany's real-life wife, in the kind of casting that doesn't always work, but it does here. We believe in the Darwins' history together, their familiarity and affection. Connelly's English accent is also as good as Renée Zellweger's and Gwyneth Paltrow's. She doesn't get just the sounds right, but also the music and the attitude".

She then voiced the character named "7", an adventurous warrior in the animated film 9. Dustin Lance Black's What's Wrong With Virginia premiered on September 15, 2010, at the Toronto International Film Festival. Connelly portrayed the title role of Virginia, a mentally unstable woman who has a 20-year affair with the local sheriff, whose daughter then starts a relationship with Virginia's son. According to Cinema Blend, "Virginia is propped up by a strong central performance, with Connelly doing some of her best work in years".

In 2011, Connelly starred in Ron Howard's comedy The Dilemma, opposite Vince Vaughn. Although the Austin Chronicle's review noted, "Vaughn nails it, and his nicely nuanced everyguy performance is aided by the always-excellent Connelly," the movie opened to generally negative reviews. Variety remarked, "Connelly, though a shade looser and more spontaneous than usual, seems stuck at an emotional remove from the action". Her next project, George Ratliff's Salvation Boulevard, premiered during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. In the film Connelly played Gwen, the wife of Carl Vanderveer ; the couple are members of the Church of the Third Millennium, led by pastor Dan .

 personal life
Her first son, Kai, was born in 1997, from her relationship with photographer David Dugan.

On January 1, 2003, she married actor Paul Bettany, whom she had met while working on A Beautiful Mind, in a private family ceremony in Scotland. The couple's first child, Stellan, named after their friend, actor Stellan Skarsgård, was born the same year. She gave birth to her third child, Agnes Lark, on May 31, 2011, in New York City.

On November 14, 2005, Connelly was named Amnesty International Ambassador for Human Rights Education. She appeared in an advertisement highlighting the global need for clean water, and sought donations for African, Indian, and Central American drilling projects. On May 2, 2009, she participated in Revlon's annual 5k Run/Walk for Women.

Publications such as Vanity Fair, Esquire, and the Los Angeles Times have ranked her among the most beautiful women in the world.

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