​Jennifer Connelly on "Shelter"

"No, I've done a few. God, I don't know. I don't get cast in them very often."

"Are you funny?"

"Probably not!"

"You don't think so?"

"Probably not. I don't know. But I tend to get cast more in dramas. I think it's my eyebrows. I look very serious. I look stern even when I'm not stern. If I'm not feeling cross, I look a little bit cross. I can't help it. It's just my face."

And that face has opened a few doors.

Jennifer Connelly was born in upstate New York, and spent part of her childhood climbing trees in the little town of Woodstock. "I was kind of a tomboy," she said.

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Jennifer Connelly with correspondent Tracy Smith in Woodstock, N.Y. CBS News

Tomboy or not, she did clean up pretty well. Connelly started modeling in grade school, and that led to her being cast -- at age 11 -- in Sergio Leone's 1984 epic, "Once Upon a Time in America."

Smith asked, "Did you have any idea how incredible that was at the time?"

"I had no clue what I was doing," Connelly said. "Not that I do now, but I really had no clue what I was doing!

"There were so many first things. It was my first time on a movie set. And it was my first time out of America -- we filmed in Italy. And it was my first kiss. I had to kiss this boy in the scene. And it's the most chaste thing you've ever seen, but I was just mortified that it was in a movie. The whole thing was larger than life, and magical, really magical."

Not all of her roles after that were quite as magical, but her turn as a desperate drug addict in "Requiem for a Dream" established her as a serious actress.

And "A Beautiful Mind" would make her a household name. Starring opposite Russell Crowe, she played the wife of the brilliant but tortured mathematician John Nash.

"How emotionally draining was that movie?" Smith asked.