It was not just her strong acting skills, but also her maternal instinct that made Connelly the right choice for the thriller, "Dark Water." At the time, Connelly's son, Stellan, was six months old. Her daughter in the film, played by Ariel Gade, was six years old.
Connelly tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler, "There are these scenes where my daughter's life is being threatened, especially towards the end of the film, and I think it brings out a ferocity that, as a mother, I certainly understand."
It all begins inside Apartment 9F. Connelly's character, Dahlia Williams, is trying to make a brand-new start in life. Attempting to escape from a bitter custody battle with her estranged husband, she moves with her daughter Ceci to a dilapidated, sprawling housing block on Roosevelt Island at the very edges of New York City. But Dahlia soon begins to suspect there is a far greater threat.
Connelly explains, "You wonder is there something supernatural and wrong going on in this apartment building that she's moved into? Or is it her husband trying to sabotage her to get custody. Or is it her, sort of cracking under the pressure of trying to make it work, being on her own with her daughter, and she's confronting the ghosts of her child."
Directed by Walter Salles ("Central Station," "The Motorcycle Diaries") the film revisits an original Japanese short story by highly regarded horror writer Koji Suzuki, which was in turn the inspiration for an influential Japanese feature film directed by Hideo Nakata.
Suzuki and Nakata are perhaps best known for "The Ring," which later went on to become a critically acclaimed hit in its Hollywood remake starring Naomi Watts.
What she likes about "Dark Water" is that, like the original "The Ring," it is scary yet moving at the same time.
Asked how she has managed to take care of her own family and be a working mom, she says, "it's slightly complicated logistically because our jobs have us traveling a lot."
Her husband, Paul Bettany, is also an actor.
"It's really a great job," Connelly said. "And I'm really fortunate. I know as a working mother because I can bring my children to work with me. Not many mothers can say that. So I know I'm really lucky in that way."
About Jennifer Connelly:
Born in New York, N.Y., on Dec. 12, 1970
- Attended Yale University in New Haven, Conn. Majored in drama and English (1988). Left after second year. Attended Stanford University in Stanford, Calif.
- Met her husband, Paul Bettany on the set of "A Beautiful Mind;" married in December 2002 in Scotland. Her son Kai Dugan was born in July 1997; his father is David Dugan. Her second son, Stellan Bettany, was born Aug. 5, 2003; named after Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgaard.
- In 1984, Connelly, a model, made her film debut at age 12, seen in flashbacks as the young incarnation of Elizabeth McGovern's character in Sergio Leone's gangster epic "Once Upon a Time in America."
- In 1985, she was the girl who has a peculiar relationship with the insect world in Dario Argento's "Creepers." The following year, she was featured in Jim Henson's "Labyrinth," in which she was overshadowed by David Bowie and a cast of Henson creatures. She was also in "Seven Minutes in Heaven."
- In 1990, Connelly was in Dennis Hopper's thriller, "The Hot Spot" and portrayed the voluptuous town beauty in the teen comedy "Career Opportunities." In 1941, she was cast as a 1940s Hollywood starlet who got the guy in "The Rocketeer." (Connelly and co-star Bill Campbell also enjoyed an off-screen relationship during this time).
- In 1993, Connelly, after pursuing an Ivy League education, worked in the TNT movie "The Heart of Justice." In 1995, John Singleton cast her as an earth mother lesbian in "Higher Learning." And in 1996, she played another woman of questionable virtues as Nick Nolte's doomed mistress in "Mulholland Falls."
- In 1997, Connelly played Eleanor, the self-styled bad-girl middle sister of a trio of beauties who all succumb to the charms of the town's bad boy (Billy Crudup) in "Inventing the Abbotts."
- In 1998, she undertook the challenging role of a woman who may or may not be real in the sci-fi thriller "Dark City."
- In 2000, after a brief hiatus for motherhood, Connelly returned as a woman of mystery in "Waking the Dead." In Darren Aronofsky's harrowing "Requiem for a Dream," she played a wannabe fashion designer with a nasty coke habit. And she also was the other woman in the life of the abstract artist in Ed Harris' biopic "Pollock." She made her debut as a series regular in the short-lived New York City-set serial "The $treet" (Fox).
- In 2001, she was the patient and loving wife of an eccentric math genius diagnosed with schizophrenia (portrayed by Russell Crowe) in "A Beautiful Mind," receiving an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress.
- The following year, after a stint out of the spotlight, Connelly portrayed Betty Ross, the tortured love interest in "The Hulk," an Universal Pictures project based on the Marvel comic book creature.
- In 2003, she appeared in "House of Sand and Fog," playing a troubled, substance abusing woman whose family beach home is wrongfully auctioned off by the government, pitting her in a heated battle of wills against the new owner (Ben Kingsley).