Usually when you do these type of phone interviews, you get a call from a publicist first who'll ask if you're ready, put you on hold for a few seconds and then connect you to the participating talent. So on this particular night, I picked up the phone rather nonchalantly. "Hello?" "Hi, Mike?" "Yeah..." "Hey, it's Jen Connelly." Udddy-uddy-uddy. Talk about surreal. I almost wish I was on the other line so I could click back and go, "Hey Bill, gotta go, I got Jennifer Connelly on the other line." Here she is/we are talking kids, DARK WATER and which movies have scared the crap out of her:[9:45pm] is kind of an odd time for an interview... I'm sorry I just had to put the kids to bed first. Oh, me too. Glad we both have that out of the way now. (Laughs) Yeah. I appreciate it though. It's one of those things where if there's any way I can do it, I love to be the one to read them to bed at night. I was gonna bring this all up later but since we're talking about it now, it must be tough to be a mother and a working actress filming on location. Well it's not bad. I bring them with me. Stellan comes with me everywhere. When we did DARK WATER he was there on set every day. I did the same thing with Kai when he was younger. Now that he's older - he's in second grade now - it's a bit different with his school. But it depends on where we are. Until recently he was still coming with me and then I'd put him in schools if I was on location somewhere. But now his, sort of, social life is becoming that much more important. And so DARK WATER, for example, we filmed in Toronto, which is about an hour-and-a-half flight [from New York] so it's a lot of flying back and forth. He stayed with his Dad for the first time when I did a film and since then we've done back and forth. But he had school vacations of two weeks and we'd play hookey on a Thursday and Monday and he'd come up for a long weekend. You know what I mean? It was really OK. We never went more than four or five days and that didn't happen until he turned seven.
Do you try and pick projects now that allow you to be near your family? I try to and I absolutely consider it. It's absolutely a huge plus. The next thing I'm doing is shooting in New York and I'm thrilled (laughs). Sure, you can go home every night. Yeah and I'm on location in the summertime. I try and do that cause we won't have to worry about school. You were offered the Naomi Watts role in THE RING and turned it down. What was it that appealed to you about DARK WATER that didn't necessarily about that project? I wouldn't want to compare them... It's hard to compare films. It just wasn't the right thing for me at the time. And DARK WATER felt like a different film at a different time. It just resonated with me. I like the script and thought it was well-written. Rafael Yglesias wrote it and he had done a great job with things like FEARLESS. I liked the relationship between the mother and daughter. Walter Salles was attached to this and I'm a huge fan of his. And I really liked the original film. I was moved by it. Frightened by it and moved by it. It's a bit more subtle. I like the fact that it can go either way. It has supernatural elements to it or you can look at it as an allegory. It's a film that's talking about the ghosts we carry with us. A woman who is struggling to reconcile her own relationship with her mother that's still unresolved and the feeling like she was abandoned. Now she fears she won't come through for her daughter. I just found it very interesting on a number of levels. Did you watch the original film when it was offered to you or had you already seen it? I watched it when it was offered to me. I hadn't seen it. But I had gone on a huge... I hadn't really seen many scary films. I tend to get really effected by them. I took a LONG break. I was sort of, for a lot of years, a person who said, "I. Don't. Do. Scary. Movies."
Was there a particular movie that especially freaked you out? All of them! All the ones I saw traumatized me (laughs)! I think I saw DRESSED TO KILL to young as a kid. Then I had this thing where every once in a while I'd get in an elevator and think the other person in there was in disguise with a knife or whatever. And then... Oh God, films that people who are horror buffs told me they didn't think were scary, for me? Forget it. I was...seriously troubled by them. But then I started really watching them when I started thinking about this and I found some I really loved. Do you find yourself drawn more to the intensity of foreign horror films or the American ones which have become rather watered-down as of late? I think that we've had a lot of slasher movies here or gory horror movies, which are different. They're not B-movies over there. The original DARK WATER wasn't a B-movie. I love movies like ROSEMARY's BABY and DON'T LOOK NOW. THE SHINING is great. Speaking of movies that freaked you out... That's the one that did it for me. Just the sound design on that film alone was terrifying. Like when he's riding his little bike around the hotel? And he goes over the rug and it's quiet and then clak-clak-clak he goes over the floor. Even THAT was bad. Redrum... Oh my God... It was horrible! What do you think Walter brought to this movie that your typical genre director might not have? I think he's a really elegant director. And I think he's a perfect person to insure that those beautiful qualities in the original remained intact in this version, which we've translated into English and adapted for an American audience. I think the characters are a little more accessible and there's more character development in the beginning. But he makes smart choices... I don't know how better to say it than he's just so dexterous. He's so elegant. Really good with actors. I loved working with him. I think that he pulled together a great cast. John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, Pete Postlethwaite and worked with them beautifully. He's delicate. He's got a real delicate touch and I think you need that in this sort of film. It's not the kind of film that has killing after killing. It's the kind of film that builds tension as you go along slowly, slowly. You have to ride that cause you don't want it to be that kind of thing where [the audience] goes, "Oh, come on, move out. There's a simple solution." You know what I mean? You'd check out if it was too overboard. I think it's been shot beautifully and the music is beautiful. He's just got really good taste (laughs)! I think anyway...
Is filming a movie like this where it's very intense emotionally and physically more draining than your average film? Well it was really draining for me because I was in almost every scene. I didn't really have any down time. And I was nursing Stellan who was a little baby. I'd have to run back to the trailer, take care of him, run back to work... I didn't sit down (laughs) the whole movie. But it was exhilirating at the same time. I liked doing the movie. It was one of my favorite experiences I've ever had making a film. Was it tough to be shooting knee-deep in water for days at a time? Yeah... That was just physically tough. the things that were emotionally tough were fun the way Walter shot them. There's this scene where Dahlia has this breakdown where she's wondering if she's good enough and if she's just going to revisit what she went through with her mother with her own daughter. She has this crisis but it was fun the way Walter shot it. We did improvisations with it and it felt like a great opportunity to play and explore. But yeah, the water was a bit of a drag. There's one drag where Walter said, "She's really into it! She's really traumatized!" Finally I had to interrupt the take and say, "It's so fucking cold!" (Laughs) The water was SO cold. I could hardly breathe. But they wound up making it very comfortable but there were a couple weeks where I stayed wet pretty much all day. And before we go, you're working on LITTLE CHILDREN this summer? Yup. I start shooting that on July 18th. Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson are in it as well. Great, best of luck. Thanks Mike - enjoy your summer. Thanks, you too.
DARK WATER opens in theatres on July 8th