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The Dilemma - Jennifer Connelly interview

Jennifer Connelly in The Dilemma

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JENNIFER Connelly talks about the appeal of playing Vince Vaughn’s patient, understanding wife in comedy-drama The Dilemma as well as working and improvising with Vaughn.

She also talks about choosing projects and why she adores her next role in What’s Wrong With Virginia.

Q. What appealed to you about The Dilemma in the first place?
Jennifer Connelly: It was a chance to work with Ron Howard [after A Beautiful Mind] again, who I love. I think he’s a great filmmaker and I just adore him as a person. So, that was nice. It was also a very different kind of film for me- a much lighter film. I liked the character. I thought she was easy-going, well adjusted, not neurotic, which is quite refreshing for me!

Q. It’s also a sub-genre of comedy that Vince Vaughn seems to specialise in – namely, finding humour in problems that are inherent in relationships. Is that something that’’s appealing to be able to explore?
Jennifer Connelly: Well, I like watching all different kinds of movies and it’s nice to have the opportunity to work in different kinds of films. So, I wouldn’t say that I set out to make a film because it’s that sort of a niche film, but it was certainly fun to do something a little bit lighter. And I think Ron was pretty adept at being able to balance those two tones of the film.

Q. How was working with Vince Vaughn?
Jennifer Connelly: It was great. It was a very different experience from anything I’ve done before in that he does a lot of improvisation, so that was interesting.

Q. He’s very sharp and quick-witted…
Jennifer Connelly: He is very quick-witted. He’s very bright and he is very invested in what he is doing – very thorough and really hard working.

Q. How were you with the ‘free take’? Is that something you enjoyed being offered the opportunity to do?
Jennifer Connelly: Yeah, I did. I have a different job in the film than Vince does. So, for him it means a whole different thing to do a free take than my character, who is really a counterpoint to his character. I mean, she’s very stable, she’s very grounded, so she’s not averse to having a good time but she’s not someone who sort of goes off on tangents when she’s speaking.

Q. But did he do it with you? Say a line differently each time that meant you had to react differently and understand quickly where he was going?
Jennifer Connelly: He said different things. Not all the time. We would always film what was in the script, but after we had done that and we were satisfied, he’d improvise different things. Sometimes it would just be parts of it, sometimes they’d be longer.

Q. How hard is it to keep a straight face when you’re supposed to be looking aghast at something he’s saying? The speech at your parents’ anniversary party comes to mind…
Jennifer Connelly: What’s in the film, the stuff about the aerobics and the pool guy, was an improvised take. It was not in the script. But he’d do different versions of them – some more shocking, some less shocking, some closer to what’s on paper. But I didn’t crack up. That didn’t happen to me. Usually, a lot of times when you lose it on a movie set it happens at the most inappropriate time. It’s not actually when the scenes are funny. Sometimes, it can be fatigue or embarrassment. Luckily, I managed to stave those off during the filming of this!

Q. The film is called The Dilemma, so do you ever have any dilemmas professionally in terms of what roles might be the right ones to take?
Jennifer Connelly: I wouldn’t say a dilemma. I think it’s a very different kind of situation. Vince makes a bit of a mess of things trying to sort out the right thing to do, so hopefully I don’t create that much chaos trying to decide which film to do next [laughs]. Certainly, I weigh up things perfectly and think things through as best I can. It’s always hard to predict which way something will go. But I try to avoid that much chaos.

Q. How was working with Dustin Lance Black on your next film, What’s Wrong With Virginia?
Jennifer Connelly: It was great. I loved working on it. It’s very original, I think, and a very different independent film – it’s very personal. I think that Dustin Lance Black, who wrote and directed it, is incredibly talented and I just adore him. I loved my character, Virginia… she’s kind of a marvel of a character to be able to play.

Read our review of The Dilemma