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Jennifer Connelly Discusses "Blood Diamond"

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Jennifer Connelly Discusses

Jennifer Connelly stars in "Blood Diamond"

© Warner Bros Pictures

Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind) plays an American journalist named Maddy Bowen who travels to Sierra Leone to do an exposé on the diamond industry in the action drama, Blood Diamond. Maddy's search for the truth about the industry's involvement in dealing with conflict diamonds leads her to Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), a diamond smuggler she hopes to convince to provide her with the details she needs to break the story.

The Appeal of Blood Diamond: “I thought it was a very powerful script, a very powerful story, and I thought it would make a very moving and exciting film. I thought, ‘How fantastic to make a good, solid action drama that at the same time is able to raise questions and talk about some of the important issues that are still relevant today.’”

The Attraction of Playing a Journalist in Blood Diamond: Connelly has a journalist friend who has been writing about conflict diamonds. That friend proved to be an excellent resource for Connelly as she got into the character of Maddy Bowen. “She was incredibly helpful. I met a number of women who had actually been in Sierra Leone at that time writing stories on conflict diamonds. I got all the information I possibly could from them, some of it quite superficial, really. Things like what kind of notebooks did you have, what shoes did you wear, who did you hang out with - practical everyday things that I could make specific character choices. What she should look like and that sort of thing. And then also just in terms of what she saw and she felt [about] that, that conflict, in limited terms of what she could do on a daily basis to help people that she saw.

The information that I got from all over was so compelling, and I think the film did a great job of representing and giving a really clear depiction of what actually happened. I think as viewers watching the film, you can get a good glimpse of what reflects a lot of what I heard from these women, and from a lot of reading that I did. It's just really one of the great tragedies, I think, of our time.”

Analyzing Her Character’s Relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio’s in Blood Diamond: “I really like the balance that is struck here in the film. There's a lot for them to overcome in terms of a relationship. She says at the beginning of the film they're pretty much opposite sides off the fence, and yet I think that my character understands that these are really difficult times and very difficult situations and no one is all good and no one is all bad. I think that she…sees the good that is in Archer's character. So I think that's a reasonable place where they come to, where they're attracted to each other, they're interested in each other, they've gained respect for one another, despite [the fact] they seem very much at odds at the beginning. And yet it's not cheap. It could be something actually quite meaningful, if they had had different circumstances and had had more time together.”

There’s Definitely Chemistry Onscreen Between Connelly and DiCaprio: “ “If you're responding to the chemistry between us, it's probably a testament to our great working relationship that we had. I had so much respect for him and I really enjoyed the way that he works. I found him to be an incredibly generous actor, truly generous, remarkably unselfish in the way he approaches his work. Very interested in storytelling and supporting his fellow cast members. It was really such a delight talking about scenes and working on them together.

I really liked the balance it struck. I thought it was realistic; I thought it didn't take away from either of these characters. They were strong in themselves, but it was human and understandable, their attraction to one another. I really enjoyed working together with him to find that balance.”

Did the Movie Change Connelly’s Attitude Toward Diamonds?: “Well, I'm wearing diamond earrings right now that are from Bulgari. I have done research into retailers that can certify their diamonds are conflict free. I don't think the film suggests a boycott on African diamonds, because there are human rights implications in the boycotting of African diamonds as well. I think what I got out of the film is a desire to be a more ethical consumer. I went about doing some research, and there are companies like Bulgari, like Tiffany, who are striving to be clean and accountable and that provide written guarantees that their diamonds are conflict-free, and that will also provide consumers with educational materials.”

The Challenges of Blood Diamond: “I have to say it was a joy making the film. I loved my time there, so externally there were no huge obstacles to overcome. The cast were a delight. Djimon [Hounsou] and Leo were both fantastic to work with. Ed [Zwick] an absolute joy. I loved being in Mozambique and South Africa, so things were going pretty swimmingly for me. I'd say just sort of the most challenging thing was my own head, my conviction that I can always be better and do better. So just putting up with that, and the subsequent endless hours of considering and wondering that I always put myself through and trying to make choices for a character.”

On Serious – Even Gloomy – Roles: Connelly joked that she’s not a gloomy person. “I was very happy for the film,” said Connelly. “I think also that the character in Little Children — I don't think she was gloomy at all. I think she was very positive and had a good career going for herself, and a family. All I can say is that I had a great time playing this woman who is out to experience all she can and learn all she can, and do as much good as she possibly can. I had a blast doing it.”

Connelly continued, “I loved her spirit, her enthusiasm, her dedication, her unflinching commitment to her work and to trying to accomplish something good, but also her absolute zest and love of life and new experiences and adventure.”

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