Jennifer Lynn Connelly (born December 12, 1970 in Cairo, New York) is an American actress.
After beginning her career as a child model, Connelly made her film debut at the age of 13 in Once Upon a Time in America, in which she played the younger version of Elizabeth McGovern's character. But she soon transitioned to leading roles, including in the horror film Phenomena and alongside David Bowie in the cult hit Labyrinth. Despite critics being lukewarm to her early performances, more leading roles followed. And she started to win critics over with roles like The Hot Spot. Success didn't come that quickly, however; she found herself typecast in Fanservice roles. For most of the '90s and early 2000s, Connelly was heavily associated with nudity or titillation in her films, regardless of the quality of her performances. The latter were usually acclaimed, leading critics to sigh about wasted potential.
Things started to turn in her favor with a turn in the well-acclaimed Cyberpunk film Dark City. But it was with Requiem for a Dream that she started to make the switch from Ms. Fanservice to serious actress. More roles like Waking The Dead kept earning her critical acclaim, and she managed to win an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind. Nowadays she's a very respected actress with lots of accolades to her name. She's also got Marvel Comics cred due to her role in Ang Lee's Hulk where she played Betty Ross as well as voicing the Ai "Karen" in Spiderman Homecoming.
As a fun fact, she's done three films that all feature the same exact shot: Jennifer's character stands at the end of a pier looking out to the sea. Dark City, Requiem for a Dream and House of Sand and Fog all feature this shot.
She is married to Paul Bettany, and they have two children. Connelly also has another son due to a previous relationship with photographer David Dugan.
- Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
- Phenomena (1985)
- Labyrinth (1986)
- The Hot Spot (1990)
- Career Opportunities (1991)
- The Rocketeer (1991)
- Higher Learning (1995)
- Mulholland Falls (1996)
- Dark City (1998)
- Waking The Dead (2000)
- Requiem for a Dream (2000)
- A Beautiful Mind (2001) - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
- Hulk (2003)
- House of Sand and Fog (2003)
- Dark Water (2005)
- Little Children (2006)
- Blood Diamond (2006)
- The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) (2008)
- 9 (2009): 7 (voice role)
- Inkheart (2009)
- Creation (2009)
- Stuck in Love (2012)
- Noah (2014)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
- Only the Brave (2017)
- Alita: Battle Angel (2018)
- Snowpiercer (2020-)
- Top Gun: Maverick (2021)
Tropes associated with her:
- Ability over Appearance: Inverted. Despite having no ballet training, she was cast in Once Upon a Time in America precisely because of her resemblance to Elizabeth McGovern. Of course they liked her performance too.
- Actor Allusion: Three films feature the same specific shot where Jennifer's character stands at the end of a pier looking out to the sea: Dark City, Requiem for a Dream and House of Sand and Fog. While filming the third, her reaction was "How many times have I done this already?"
- Actor-Shared Background: Both she and her character Marion in Requiem for a Dream had fathers who worked in the fashion industry.
- Best Known for the Fanservice: Ooh boy...
- Labyrinth, while primarily known for David Bowie providing the majority of Fanservice, is also known for Jennifer being dressed up in very flattering princess dresses in two scenes. In fact, it's this movie that Paul Bettany first saw her in and developed a childhood crush on her as a result.
- Career Opportunities is known for Jennifer wearing a tight cotton tank top, and a famous scene of her Gainaxing on a mechanical horse. The scene was used in the marketing, and one of her Yale professors even brought it up in class.
- The Hot Spot is remembered for her first nude scene.
- Mulholland Falls is about her character having sex tapes as a plot point.
- The Rocketeer for a scene where she puts on a stocking, and wears a tight white gown that shows plenty of cleavage in the latter half of the movie.
- Requiem for a Dream even feels the effects of this trope, for the scene of Jennifer's character performing a lesbian sex show. The scene is shot and directed as Fan Disservice - as she's prostituting herself in exchange for drugs, and drugging herself so she can get through them. However porn sites have used the scene out of context, turning the horror into straight titillation.
- Casting Gag:
- The Chanteuse: Having appeared in Dark City, she is the page image.
- Creator Couple: She and husband Paul Bettany worked together on Shelter and Creation. As of 2017, they are also both playing characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- The Danza: She plays Jenny in The Rocketeer, and Jennifer in Phenomena.
- Dyeing for Your Art:
- She normally has long hair, but cut it rather drastically into a bob for the movie Crime/Fly.
- She also lost weight to play a homeless woman in Shelter.
- Dyed her normally dark brown hair blonde for Virginia.
- Fake Brit: Sort of in Noah. She uses an English-sounding accent to blend in with her cast members. Earlier, she played Emma Darwin with a passable English accent in Creation opposite husband Paul Bettany as Charles Darwin.
- Former Child Star: Averted. She has come a long way from Labyrinth and other teen roles to become the respected adult actress she is today.
- Ms. Fanservice: See Best Known for the Fanservice above.
- Non-Singing Voice: Her singing is dubbed in the theatrical release of Dark City, but her actual voice is used in the Director's Cut.
- Old Shame: She's slightly embarrassed by her performance in Labyrinth, not helped by critics ripping it to shreds when the film was first released. But this seems to have diminished with time; she participated in the 30th anniversary DVD release's new bonus features and filmed a special introduction for the Fathom Events two-night theatrical reissue in September 2016.
- Playing Against Type:
- Romance on the Set: With Paul Bettany during A Beautiful Mind. They married without dating in the interim.
- Separated-at-Birth Casting:
- Star-Making Role: Requiem for a Dream marked the point where Jennifer transitioned from Ms. Fanservice roles to more serious, respected characters.
- Those Two Actors:
- Throw It In!: Jennifer prepared for Requiem for a Dream by making her own clothes - as Marion is a dress designer. She ended up wearing most of her own wardrobe in the film.
- Typecasting: In the 90s Jennifer was cast in lots of films playing 1930s-50s era women - The Rocketeer, Mulholland Falls, The Hot Spot, Inventing The Abbots and technically Dark City.note
- What Could Have Been: