Jennifer Lynn Connelly (born December 12, 1970) is an American film actress and former child model. Although she has been working in the film industry since she was a teenager and catapulted to fame on the basis of her appearances in films like Labyrinth and Career Opportunities, she did not receive wide exposure for her work until the 2000 drama Requiem for a Dream, and the 2001 biopic A Beautiful Mind, for which she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Connelly was born in the Catskill Mountains, New York, the daughter of Eileen, an antiques dealer, and Gerard Connelly, a clothing manufacturer who worked in the garment industry. Connelly's paternal grandparents were of Irish and Norwegian descent, respectively, while her maternal grandparents were Jewish, their families having come from Russia and Poland. Connelly was raised in Brooklyn Heights, near the Brooklyn Bridge, and attended St. Ann's School, except for four years the family spent living in Woodstock, New York. One of her father's friends was an advertising executive, who suggested that she audition at a modeling agency.
At the age of ten, her career started in newspaper and magazine ads, then moved to television commercials. These led to movie auditions and her first film role was as "young Deborah Gelly", a supporting role in Sergio Leone's 1984 gangster epic, Once Upon a Time in America, filmed mostly in 1982 when she was eleven. She next starred in Italian horror-director Dario Argento's Phenomena (1985) and in the coming-of-age movie Seven Minutes in Heaven.
The big-budget Disney film The Rocketeer (1991) similarly failed to ignite Connelly's career; after its failure she took some time off from acting. The 1996 indie film Far Harbor played her against type and hinted at a much broader range than she had previously shown. Connelly began to appear in smaller but well-regarded films, such as 1997's Inventing the Abbotts and 2000's Waking the Dead. She played a collegiate lesbian in John Singleton's 1995 ensemble drama, Higher Learning. The critically favored 1998 science fiction film Dark City afforded her the chance to work with such actors as Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Ian Richardson and Kiefer Sutherland. Connelly revisited her ingenue image, although in a more understated way, for the 2000 biopic Pollock, in which she played Jackson Pollock's mistress.
Connelly starred in two films in 2003: Hulk and House of Sand and Fog. Hulk was something of a box office disappointment, but afforded Connelly the chance to work with noted director Ang Lee. House of Sand and Fog, based on the novel by Andre Dubus III, was reminiscent of much of her independent film work of the late 1990s. Connelly appeared in the 2005 horror film Dark Water, which was based on a Japanese film. In 2006, Connelly appeared in two films, both of which were nominated for multiple Academy Awards. She played a major role in an adaptation of the novel Little Children alongside Kate Winslet. Although her role as Kathy Adamson is very important in the novel, director Todd Field gave her character less screen time, instead focusing on the characters played by Winslet and Patrick Wilson. She also played a journalist in Blood Diamond opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. She next appeared in Reservation Road with Joaquin Phoenix, which was given a limited release in the fall of 2007.
Connelly will next star in a small independent thriller with her husband Paul Bettany, and will have a small role opposite Drew Barrymore in He's Just Not That Into You.
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