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July 2005
Dark Water : An Interview with Jennifer Connelly

Dark Water: An Interview with Jennifer Connelly

By Wilson Morales

There seems to so many remakes of Japanese horror films these days, that why stop if the films are proving to be profitable for studios. Ever since "The Ring" came out a few years ago and was a financial hit, its sequel and 'The Grudge" have followed suit. . Another Japanese film being remade for a domestic audience is "Dark Water", starring Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind). Connelly most recently starred with Ben Kingsley in "House of Sand and Fog". In speaking to blackfilm.com about "Dark Water", Connelly goes over her character Dahlia Williams and her opinion on the scary movie genre.

Your son Stellan was six months old when you filmed this. How did that heighten to your maternal instincts playing the mother of a five year old?

Jennifer Connelly: I've been a mom for almost eight years now so that would mean everything I've done since Waking The Dead. I played a mother in A Beautiful Mind. I think that I felt that I was really moved by the story anyway. Of course it's impossible for me to separate because I am a mom and it's a very big part of who I am all the time, every day and it informs how I perceive things. It's undeniable. I thought it was really beautifully rendered (the mother-daughter relationship). It's a really poignant thing to have. I think it will have a particular resonance with people in the audience who are parents.

Did your kids come on the set?

JC: Stellan was there every day with (husband) Paul (Bettany) and Kai went back and forth. Kai has always come with me on location. He's a big boy now and had proper big kid school so he stayed with his dad and it was only an hour flight (to Toronto) so he came up on a two-week break. On alternate weekends we'd play hooky (from school) on a Friday and a Monday, which is probably naughty of me to say! He goes to an artsy school so it's OK. They usually do stuff on set like art projects galore. I had a room on the set that was completely stocked with toys and lots of art materials, papers and pens and clay and wood stuff. We would go around the studio and do found object sculptures and there was always stuff to learn about from the camera department and the wardrobe department. I think that's actually good for kids in terms of becoming socialized and being in their parents' environment and seeing their parents functioning in the world and having their own lives separate from the family. I think that's sort of nice for a kid to be able to see and it's educational. They also would go to the science center, museum and playgrounds and that stuff (with their dad).

Are you a fan of the scary movie genre?

JC: I have always been very affected by horror stories and am a little afraid of them. I watched the (original) Japanese film before I signed on (for the role) and it opened up a whole world for me because I hadn't seen a scary film in ages. I thought of myself as someone who didn't do scary movies and I was really impressed by it and realized that I had been missing out. Then I had these scary movie film festivals, which basically meant my husband and I watched like two or three a night. There are fantastic films that have been made over the years like Rosemary's Baby and Don't Look Now, which is another one of my favorites.

This is a ghost story. Did anything creepy happen to you?

JC: My house did flood shortly after (director) Walter (Salles) came to visit me but I think that was just bad plumbing and an unfortunate timing. I've met lots of people who are haunted, but that's more by the past.

Speaking of flooding, your character must've been water-logged during some of these scenes where you have to emote and water is gushing on top of you. How did you handle that?

JC: (The dark color) was dyed by the caramel color in Coca Cola. It was a bit distracting. I tend to roll with the punches and go with things but it got to a point where I got silly puddy in my ears to protect my ear drums. There was about seventy or eighty pounds of water coming out of those jets which for me is quite heavy and my arms were just covered with bruises. I'm a bit of a tomboy so I was quite proud. I'd come home and say (to my husband, Paul Bettany), 'honey look what I got today,' (laughs) and showing off my war wounds. I tried not to swallow the water but I couldn't hear the girls in the tub (during the bathroom scene) and often times I couldn't see them. I could hardly hold myself up and it was quite difficult. Also the scene in the rain on the cell phone outside the hospital was quite difficult because it was so cold I could hardly keep from shaking with those huge rain machines and it was chilly and windy and there was no cell phone connection so I had to pretend I could hear (someone). I was in this wet clothing in this cold building (the apartment building) and I would have to run from the set to the hot tub to warm up.

How do you deal with those obstacles?

JC: The obstacles add up to that and it almost becomes comical. (Shouting) We're losing the light, the cell phone connection is down, oh sh*t we just gotta go anyway, and there are rain problems. It gets sort of mad but those moments are fun in hindsight.

Have you ever had nightmare apartment hunting episodes like your character has in the film?

JC: I think New York City is expensive. I think it's hard to find an apartment in Manhattan. I lived in the same apartment for ten years. I got to a point where I thought, 'I really should move,' but I'd spend a week looking at stuff and I'd get disgusted. I'm not paying five thousand dollars a month for that box above a funeral parlor! I stayed in that place until finally we were a family of four and my husband cursed me every day because he was too tall. We were sleeping in a loft because Kai had the only proper bedroom; it was absurd. I think it's quite challenging finding a good place to live in New York City. Of course apartments in movies are so unbelievable. They've got these big lofts with great views and they've got the sub zero fridge and the Viking stove. Dude, she can't afford that, she's a secretary!

Roosevelt Island in Manhattan where you filmed has a history of housing mental patients. Did it creep you out to shoot there?

JC: Roosevelt Island is a special place; a lot of New Yorkers don't ever get to go there. I had been there once. Oddly enough my son Kai had a school field trip that went there at one point and I chaperoned the field trip. I had a sense of what it was like there. The apartment building (we shot in) was interesting. I loved the idea that it was built in the brutalist style, which John C. Reilly came up with (as the realtor). I learned about it while we were there. (I would ask) What is that odd abandoned building and came to learn about it's history of madness and illness, what with the asylum and the hospital. It's almost like a character in the film, cut off from the life of (New York) just on the other side of the river. I didn't mind the Tram (the sky trolley that goes across Manhattan to Roosevelt Island on a high wire) but it's not something you like to think about that often because that could come off that wire couldn't it!

DARK WATER opens on July 8th, 2005


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