Photography: Marili Andre
Styling: Sara Van Pée
Clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories (throughout) Louis Vuitton
As Jennifer Connelly describes it, New York City is where it’s at. With a career in film that began when she was just 14—appearing in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America—the actress has built a reputation for herself by starring in some of the most celebrated projects in cinema, from Jim Henson’s The Labyrinth and Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream to her role in A Beautiful Mind, for which she received the 2002 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 2019, Connelly played the role of Chiren in Alita: Battle Angel, Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron’s adaption of the manga Gunnm. Next year, she’ll be acting alongside Tom Cruise in director Joseph Kosinski’s Top Gun: Maverick and as a part of the ensemble cast of the dystopian series Snowpiercer (adapted from Bong Joon-ho’s 2013 film Snowpiercer and the 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette). In addition to her cinematic bona fides, Connelly is a fixture on the fashion world circuit as a brand ambassador for the storied French house Louis Vuitton. Here, she catches up with L’Officiel to discuss her love of fashion and Paris, of course—as well as her forthcoming roles.
What do you like about Paris?
The beauty of the landscape. It’s a remarkable city that takes my breath away every time I come back. There is no place more magical than Paris for getting lost in the streets. I also have a very good friend there.
That very good friend being Nicolas Ghesquière, with whom you have been working with for a long time.
We met more than 15 years ago. His work at Louis Vuitton impresses me. The silhouettes, the fabrics—everything is spectacular. Over the years, we have become closer and closer.
He has a futuristic sense of fashion, sometimes close to science fiction. It’s a genre you know well.
I’ve worked within very different genres, but I’m usually attracted to provocative movies. I like having to spend time with a character who may have a radically different point of view from my own, who will capture my imagination and make me think.
Snowpiercer is your first TV series in a long time. How was the filming of it?
It was very interesting. I developed a strong relationship with my character, a complex woman charged with ensuring good relations between the passengers on the train. I spent 10 hours a day in her skin. The script for the first episode was written ahead of time, but for the following episodes, the writers worked on versions that they continually adapted according to what had already been shot. The test was constantly changing and so was my character.
In today’s world, are dystopic fictions like this more relevant?
I believe they allow us both to escape and to critique. It is entertainment: everything is done to amuse, excite, surprise, but in the case of Snowpiercer, the social structure of the train and the actions of the characters also pose pertinent questions about today’s society.
How has cinema and the experience of filmmaking changed since you began your career?
I feel like we’re spending more time at home. People go to the movies less; they stream movies at home on big TV screens. This has had an impact on the industry. These days, the films made for theatrical release have to be spectacles. In the 1970s, an Oscar-winning film was also a blockbuster. Today, there is no room for independent production and different points of view.
You started very young, with great directors like Sergio Leone and Dario Argento. What was that experience like?
I didn’t realize the importance of Sergio Leone when I did Once Upon a Time in America, which was probably for the best. Working with him was very impressive as a first experience. It was the first time that I left the United States, I found myself in this magical setting, meticulously detailed, with a director whose work I barely understood, but who fascinated me. He was very sweet with me, as was Dario Argento on the set of Phenomena. It was a gory movie in which my character fell into a grave full of corpses, but I had a great time.
You also acted alongside David Bowie in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. What do you remember of him?
Another film with a magic set. David Bowie was adorable and generous. He had a great sense of humor and made everyone feel at ease in his presence, and I admired him for that.
How do you prepare for a role?
I try to understand in what context, in what reality the character evolves and to determine how that character would react in this or that situation according to their personality. For that, it is necessary to build a past to anchor them in reality.
You will also be in Top Gun: Maverick.
I loved working on that project. I can’t give you any details about the story, except that I play the role of a character already mentioned in the first part. I’ve only seen five clips so far, but it promises to be extraordinary.
What feeds you as an actress?
Over the years, I’ve listened to various albums by Radiohead while working on movies—different albums depending on the project. I often return to the books of Virginia Woolf—I find interesting things there for building my characters. But what feeds me the most are the streets of New York. They’re unpredictable.
Makeup Kay Montano (The Wall Group)
Hair Renato Campora (The Wall Group)
Manicure Kamel (B Agency)
Photo Assistant Bertrand Jeannot
Styling Assistant Claire Rumeau