8 Facts about Jennifer Connelly from the ‘American Pastoral’ Press Day
Throughout this week, We Live Entertainment will be posting a series of articles about American Pastoral leading up to the film’s release this Friday. Each article will focus on one of the stars of the film. There will be an article dedicated to Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Uzo Aduba, Valorie Curry, and of course, Ewan McGregor.
In American Pastoral, Jennifer Connelly plays Dawn Levov, the wife of Seymour (Ewan McGregor) and the mother of Merry (Dakota Fanning). Dawn grew up in New Jersey and was a beauty queen as a teenager. She married her college sweetheart and moved to Old Rimrock, NY where they settled down and had a daughter. As Dawn tries to create a new life for herself, everyone around her keeps reminding Dawn of days as a beauty queen. Things only become worse for Dawn when Merry becomes an outspoke teenager with radical views. This leads Merry to blow up the local post office as a way to express her hatred of the war. It is after this horrible event that Dawn loses herself and everything that was once great in her life.
At the press day for American Pastoral, I got to sit down with Connelly for about fifteen minutes and discuss various aspects of her career as well as her role in the film. Here are eight interesting facts from our conversation.
8. Jennifer Connelly enjoyed working alongside Ewan McGregor as both an actor and as a director. She mentioned that McGregor didn’t seem like a first-time filmmaker and “seamlessly transitioned between his responsibilities as a director and as an actor.”
7. Ewan McGregor worked with Jennifer Connelly’s husband, Paul Bettany on Mortdecai. She never met McGregor before this film, however, pointed out that Bettany talked very highly about McGregor and liked working with him.
6. When asked to about playing Dawn, Connelly spoke very highly of playing this character. “I think that Dawn as a character is very richly drawn. It was very interesting to play a woman at so many different stages in her life and to see what happens to her – to see where she starts out and what she dreams of and then see what actually happens and how she deals with things not working out as she dreamed. I was very moved by her. She was very powerful, but at the same time had a brittleness to her that I thought was kind of beautiful.”
5. The character of Dawn had to deal with religious differences in her life. Very early on in the film, Dawn sits down with Seymour’s father and the two have a negotiation/conversation about her being part of Seymour’s life. Evan though she is American and Bettany is English, the two never had issues when it came to religion in her own personal life.
4. Connelly starred in the film, Shelter, which her husband Bettany wrote and directed. When asked if they planned to ever work together again on-screen, Connelly mentioned that they have been talking about working together on two future projects. One of the projects is something that they are working on together behind the scenes as producers. The other project is something that they potentially might star in together.
3. Since 1984, Jennifer Connelly has acted in over 40 different films. She has worked with a lot of actors turned directors. Ron Howard, Paul Bettany, Ed Harris, and Ewan McGregor are all people who started off as actors and became directors in which Connelly has been part of one of their films. When asked to explain working with an actor turned director, Connelly explained, “I’d say in all those circumstances you really feel that the director understands working with actors and is interested in supporting performances and creating an environment in which actors can really be part of telling the story together with the director.”
2. In her own life, Connelly has two teenagers and a five-year-old. She mentioned that her role as a parent is extremely different than Dawn’s experience as a parent. Dawn and Merry have a complicated relationship while she believes her kids “make it easy” on her.
1. There is a scene in American Pastoral where Dawn has a breakdown. I think this is Connelly’s strongest moment in the film so I felt it was only appropriate to break down this scene further and ask her about it. Here is how our conversation went:
When Dawn has her breakdown, there’s a lot to take in. When you go through your life; what it could have been, what it turned into. How much do you think was in the moment or how much was it personal regret?
I think it’s a combination of things. I do think that she and the Swede are very different people. He avoids confrontation. She is someone who we see from the first scene she has, invites it and takes situations on in a straight-forward manner. I think the rejection that she feels from her daughter, which sort of plays into all her insecurities about her own value and own worth, it’s excruciating for her. She’s completely dismantled by it. I think she goes through that period of years where she’s just waiting to see if her daughter is going to come back and wondering if she’s alive and ultimately she can’t take it anymore. She sets out to tear down everything that’s left standing. It’s fear. It’s rage. It’s regret. I think there’s some truth in some of it. I’m not sure that all of it is that way. I think that she did love Seymour. I really do. I think that they had something genuine and real. But it think that she has to destroy that narrative because she has to re-write something else. I think she’s so angry at him for the way things worked out. Frankly for the fact that he’s not with her anymore because he’s holding onto this fantasy that doesn’t exist anymore.
Q: Dawn takes a step back and doesn’t pursue it as much. But for him, it engulfs his entire life. He pushes the marriage to the side. From a female perspective, what does that say about having kids?
That’s a big question. I don’t really know. I don’t know that it has to do with having kids. I think that has to do with temperament. I don’t think it’s a function of being a parent. It’s certainly a portrait of how two very different people with very different tendencies and personalities deal with the same trauma and same grief. That manifests very, very differently. But certainly, their lives are destroyed by both of them.
American Pastoral opens in limited release on Friday, October 21, 2016 with a wide expansion planned for Friday, October 28, 2016. Be sure to check the film out for yourself and come back to We Live Entertainment and let us know your thoughts on the film. If interested, you can even join and partake in our Gradebook where we allow staff and fans of We Live Entertainment to be part of our own review roundup. You can be part of the Gradebook by joining our fan page on Facebook right here.