Jennifer Connelly doesn’t know about the ‘Nepo Baby’ controversy
Sundance: And he’s not wrong, as the star tells IndieWire why he wanted to work with Englert on his remarkable debut, “Bad Behaviour.”
Jennifer Connelly gets it: a good script, an original script, a little humor, definitely just something different. And that’s exactly what actress Alice Englert found in her debut film Bad Behaviour. It never occurred to Connelly that Englert, who also appears as Connelly’s daughter in the film, is the real-life daughter of filmmaker Jane Campion. The “nepo baby controversy”, what is it? After 40 years on the big screen, the Oscar-winning actress knows great work when she sees one. This is it which he gets into.
And Connelly’s inclinations were exhausted by this. In “Bad Behaviour,” Connelly plays someone who sounds a bit like the actress on paper (Lucy is also a former child star), but beyond basic biographical facts, she’s nothing like the actress. Unable to cope with her life, Lucy heads to a quiet retreat led by guru Elon Bello (the very funny Ben Whishaw), where she has to mix and mingle with other struggling people, including Beulah Koale and Dasha Nekrasova. Meanwhile, his daughter Dylan (Englert) faces similar difficulties as she tries to boost her stunt career on a New Zealand shoot.
Yes, both women are prone to bad behavior, but Englert’s film takes a wild turn, aided by plenty of humor and a strong bond between the leading ladies, and gives it something fresh. Connelly loved it, and as he tells IndieWire, he can’t say enough good things about Englert, the “nepo baby” he claims is the damn thing. Plus, Connelly reacts to the massive success of “Top Gun: Maverick,” unpacking the joys of playing bad and giving a glimpse into his love of research for any filmmakers who might want to work with him.
The interview below has been edited and condensed for clarity.
IndieWire: What was the first sign that “Bad Behaviour” was something special?
Jennifer Connelly: First, I read the script, which I thought was really special and felt very creative and original. I thought it was wonderfully written and I thought it was funny. I appreciated a lot of things in it. My first meeting with Alice was a Zoom meeting. I actually never met him in person until I got to New Zealand!
He is so smart and I think he is very bold in his writing and decisions. Her voice is very much her own and I was instantly drawn in and very curious about her vision. I wanted to see what he was going to do with the film.
That’s how you get to New Zealand and meet in person for the first time – how did you connect then?
This is a difficult question to answer. I think he wrote very beautiful scenes that I think were very intimate and specific. We had a wonderful working relationship. It’s not like we had time outside of our fast and furious shooting schedule, but I really admired and adored him and immediately felt so much, I don’t know how to put it. to the material and to the joint work.
Your character Lucy is someone who was influenced by growing up as a child star and a teen star. I have to assume it’s something he personally related to.
Not like Lucy does. I mean, we definitely have that in common, but I don’t think his life is anything like mine. I started working when I was 10, but that parallel pretty much ends since I didn’t base her on my history, experiences, or relationships.
And by Lucy, I mean, as the title says, she behaves very badly. Yet you spend your time with him as if he were a protagonist rather than an antagonist, and somehow you actually watch him. I think that’s pretty brave of Alice, but let her write a project about characters who act like that.
I love that he watches things that we do all struggle, like what to do with legacy stuff that might not be our best stories? How can we avoid this path and move forward and develop better relationships?
courtesy of the Sundance Institute
But also funny!
I think the tone of the film is very interesting, and it’s so unique him its own thing. I find it very funny! I love that it’s so funny and the characters make fun of them and kind of get the dirt out of themselves. But it’s not cynical. There is nothing cynical about this.
Without giving too much away, halfway through the movie, things take a turn and suddenly the action is thrusting us to a place where you and Alice can share the screen. What was it like playing with Alice then?
It was so much fun when we finally got to work together. It was really amazing. I loved shooting this. I lovely we shot the scenes we played in the hotel room. I think the scenes were written so well. There were scenes I couldn’t wait for.
I thought she was fabulous, so easy to work with and so much fun to work with and explore things with. She was so confident, but at the same time… so confident, I guess, but also open and flexible. It was very easy to play with the family.
Alice has also assembled a wonderful supporting cast. Ben Whishaw is a guru and doesn’t seem to have the answers, but yeah, he’s worth following anyway.
I love that character. I think its very good. He is very good in this movie. It was a pleasure to work with him. I hate to categorize people and this is just my impression of what kind of actor he is. You may not agree with it at all. But I felt like my experience working with him was that I really found him so accessible and open to where that move could go, and he was so connected to me, to the other actors he worked with.
I found him and the rest of the cast to be a lot of fun to work with. I thought the entire cast was very good and very enjoyable. Everyone was so much fun to work with. Beulah was so great. Dasha was so great.
Alice is someone who grew up in a very creative environment, and I’m sure you’ve seen this kind of ongoing thing about ‘nepo dolls’, which is basically Alice and her mother, the great Jane Campion.
I didn’t follow the nepo baba debate.
I don’t know what the argument is.
Well, the debate is just this: “Did you know that these famous people also have famous parents?”
But this is not a debate. I think Alice’s mother is extremely talented and has made wonderful films. And I worked with Alice because I read her script and I thought her script was very interesting. I watched his short films, the two short films he directed, and I thought they were very good. They’re so funny, I thought, in a way I’ve never seen before. It only captured me as a filmmaker.
I would be remiss if I didn’t ask a question about my favorite movie of last year, “Top Gun: Maverick”.
Did you feel that this was going to be the absolute sweetheart?
No! I had no idea how it would be received. I mean, I was really excited to work on it. I was so excited to make it. I had a lot of fun making it.
I saw it in the IMAX cinema for the first time, but without an audience, just with my family, believe it or not, because it was during the time of COVID and Tom Cruise wanted to direct a screening, and I think he directed screenings. He really wanted us to see it on the big screen. I think it was the first time I felt how possibly to play for the audience (when) I watched my children’s reaction. My daughter was literally on the edge of her seat with her legs bouncing up and down while she watched.
I think Joe Kosinski is a great director. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him twice. He is a great director and a pleasure to work with. And of course Tom… There is no one like him. He is extraordinary. It was indeed a testimony to him. This is a huge achievement for him and Joe and Jerry Bruckheimer. I think they made a great movie, really.
“Bad Behaviour” premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Currently looking for distribution.
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