Jennifer Connelly on Creating a Backstory and Returning to TV in ‘Snowpiercer’

Jennifer Connelly, asked to reflect on what she learns from her characters, explains that she learns about the perspectives of other people

“I was really excited about the possibility of having a character and staying with a character and seeing what could happen with 10 hours as opposed to under two.” – Jennifer Connelly on Returning to TV

Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Connelly has been a mainstay in cinemas for much of her career (even as a child actress), so her casting in the television adaptation of Snowpiercer came as a bit of a surprise. However, in her conversation with Gold Derby about her role in the series, Connelly went into great detail about what intrigued her about the Snowpiercer role and what she learns from each of her performances.

Because Connelly’s character is an original one and unique to the television adaptation of Snowpiercer, she could not draw on the original graphic novel or film adaptation for her character’s backstory. As a result, she worked with showrunner Graeme Manson to help her flesh out her character to understand her better. She explains, “I did give her a lot of my own backstory. I love that part of our job. I find it really fun. But in this instance, of course, I did it in tandem with Graeme because we didn’t have all the scripts when we first started shooting, so there are things that were down the line. So it was a collaboration with him. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t blindsided by anything. ‘What do I do later? What am I going to learn about my character?’ So armed with that information, yeah, then I went ahead and filled in the blanks for myself and tried to sort of flesh out her history.”

Snowpiercer is Connelly’s first television series since the short-lived 2000-2001 Fox series, The $treet. The interviewer remarks that television has lately been offering actors — particularly women — “a lot more interesting, nuanced roles.” Connelly agrees, adding:

“I think you certainly have a lot more time to spend with a character and developing the character. I think that there’s a lot of great work, a lot of great writing in television, a lot of great work being done in television. The way we watch content has changed. We’re watching a lot more dramas on TV more than in theaters. One can make a generalization. There are always exceptions, but more and more, I think there are amazing opportunities. There’s been incredible work done. But I was really excited about the possibility of having a character and staying with a character and seeing what could happen with 10 hours as opposed to under two. I thought that was kind of an exciting proposition and allows you to sort of explore things that you might not otherwise be able to explore, like a little bit more complexity, some more layers.”

Connelly won an Academy Award for her performance in A Beautiful Mind. When asked to reflect on what she learned from that performance, she explains that with her roles she learns about the perspectives of other people:

“I feel like they’re not always like sort of big ‘A-ha’ moments where you can say this is the life lesson that I can pinpoint but sometimes it’s just the experience of spending time, for me in my job and what I do, spending time with a character who makes choices and has a point of view that’s vastly different from my own and spending the time in that person’s shoes really having to really deeply consider that perspective and that point of view and that person’s motivations. I mean, that’s really interesting. I can’t say exactly how it impacts me and changes me, but I feel like the process of doing that and really considering other perspectives, I feel like it offers some kind of teaching.”

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