Oscar Actors: Connelly, Jennifer–Background, Career, Awards

Jennifer Lynn Connelly (born December 12, 1970) began her career as a child model. She appeared in magazine, newspaper and television advertising, before she made her film acting debut in the crime film “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984), at the age of 14.

Connelly continued modeling and acting, starring in the horror film Phenomena (1985), the musical fantasy Labyrinth (1986), the romantic comedy Career Opportunities (1991), and the period superhero film The Rocketeer (1991).

She gained critical acclaim for her work in the science fiction film Dark City (1998) and for playing a drug addict in Darren Aronofsky’s drama Requiem for a Dream (2000).

In 2001, Connelly won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for portraying Alicia Nash in Ron Howard’s biopic A Beautiful Mind.

Her subsequent credits include the Marvel superhero film Hulk (2003), in which she played Bruce Banner’s love interest Betty Ross, the horror film Dark Water (2005), the drama Blood Diamond (2006), the science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), the romantic comedy He’s Just Not That Into You (2009), and the biopic Creation (2009). In the 2010s, she took on supporting roles in Aronofsky’s epic film Noah (2014) and in the action film Alita: Battle Angel (2019).

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.

Born in Cairo, New York, in the Catskill Mountains, Connelly is the daughter of Ilene, an antiques dealer, and Gerard Karl Connelly, a clothing manufacturer. Her father was Roman Catholic, and of Irish and Norwegian descent. Connelly’s mother was Jewish, and was educated at yeshiva; all of Connelly’s maternal great-grandparents were Jewish emigrants from Poland and Russia.

Connelly was raised in Brooklyn Heights, where she attended Saint Ann’s, a private school specializing in the arts. Her father suffered from asthma, so the family moved to Woodstock, New York, in 1976 to escape city smog. Four years later, the family returned to Brooklyn Heights, and Connelly returned to Saint Ann’s School.

After graduating from high school, Connelly went to Yale University in 1988 to study English literature. After two years at Yale, Connelly transferred 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 industry the same year.

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.

She appeared on the covers 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.

When her mother began taking her to acting auditions, a then 12-year-old Connelly was quickly selected for a supporting role as the aspiring dancer and actress Deborah Gelly in Sergio Leone’s Jewish gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America (filmed 1982-83, released 1984).

TV Debut

While working on “Once Upon a Time in America,” Connelly made her first TV appearance in the episode “Stranger in Town” of the British series Tales of the Unexpected.

In Ron Howard’s biopic, A Beautiful Mind, she was cast by producer Brian Grazer as Alicia Nash, the caring and enduring wife of the brilliant, schizophrenic mathematician (played by Russell Crowe). The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing more than $313 million worldwide. Connelly had the chance to meet the real Alicia Nash before starting shooting and learned more about her life. For her portrayal, Connelly earned a Golden Globe, Best Supporting Actress Oscar, and a BAFTA award.

Although the showier performance belongs to Crowe, it is Connelly’s complexly detailed work, depicting a woman torn by equal measures of love for and fear of her husband that gave the film its emotional focus. Her keen, in moments even spirited interpretation was all the more impressive since the role was underwritten.

Marriage and Relationships

While filming The Rocketeer, she began a romance with co-star Billy Campbell, which lasted for five years before they broke up in 1996. Connelly then had a relationship with photographer David Dugan, with whom she has a son, Kai.
On January 1, 2003, she married actor Paul Bettany, whom she had met while working on A Beautiful Mind. The couple, who live in Brooklyn Heights, have two children, son Stellan, and daughter Agnes.