Once described as resembling a teenage Elizabeth Taylor, one gets the feeling that Jennifer Connelly may, with her winning of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in A Beautiful Mind (2001), have finally found what she once referred to as, "the film I'm really proud of and really love." And though she has graced the screens of theaters since 1984, Connelly remains a capable and versatile actress undefined by any single role or film.
Born in the Catskill Mountains of mid-state New York in December of 1970, and raised in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of New York City, Connelly got her start in show business as a model at the age of ten. Quickly coming into high demand due to her striking beauty, Connelly often traveled abroad, where she eventually made her acting debut. The burgeoning actress landed her first role in an episode of the British horror anthology Tales of the Unexpected, and soon found work in small roles such as the Duran Duran music video for "Union of the Snake" before making her feature debut in Sergio Leone's sprawling gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America.
Connelly's next film role, as a gifted schoolgirl who teams with an entomologist to solve a string of murders in Dario Argento's Phenomena, proved that the young actress was well capable of handling leading roles. After a memorable Dorothy-esque turn in Jim Henson's fantasy adventure Labyrinth (1986), in which she must rescue her brother from Goblin King David Bowie, Connelly seemed to almost disappear for a short while. Subsequent appearances in such forgettable films as The Hot Spot and The Rocketeer, while frequent and helping the actress to maintain visibility, remained unchallenging and did little to advance her career.
Things began to look up for the talented actress in the mid-'90s. Maturing into an actress capable of taking on challenging roles, Connelly's portrayal of a sensitive lesbian who befriends college freshman Kristy Swanson in John Singleton's Higher Learning hinted at abilities previously unexplored. After small roles in such well-received films as Lee Tamahori's Mulholland Falls and Alex Proyas' Dark City, Connelly was nominated for an Independent Spirit award for her portrayal of a burned-out junkie in Darren Aronofsky's emotionally jarring Requiem for a Dream (2000). In addition, 2000 brought Connelly her first recurring television role, in the fast-paced Wall Street weekly The $treet, and a role in Ed Harris' directing debut, the Jackson Pollock biopic Pollock. The following year found Connelly at a turning point in director Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind. As the loyal wife of famed mathematician turned paranoid schizophrenic John Forbes Nash Jr. (portrayed in the film by Gladiator star Russell Crowe), Connelly once again showed her versatility and ability to gracefully shine amidst such notable talents as Crowe and Howard. With her roles in the early 2000s increasing in both emotional scope and dimension, Connellywould next appear in acclaimed director Ang Lee's eagerly anticipated The Hulk before taking the female lead in The House of Sand and Fog (both 2003). She played opposite a number of Oscar nominees in 2006 with her supporting work in Blood Diamond and Little Children, and continued to work steadily in a variety of projects including Reservation Road, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Inkheart. She played the title character in screenwriter Dustin Lance Black's Virginia. She was cast as the put-upon wife of Vince Vaughn in Ron Howard's romantic comedy The Dilemma in 2011. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi