Jennifer Connelly plays the role of Maddy Bowen.
Jennifer, is this one of the lighter roles you’ve gotten to play lately?
JENNIFER CONNELLY: Yeah, in terms of her personality. 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.
Did your journalist friend give you anything concrete regarding what was like to be in the conflict diamond world?
JENNIFER CONNELLY: She was incredibly helpful, as I met with a number of women who had actually been in Sierra Leone at that time writing stories that so happened to be on conflict diamonds. And I got all the information I possibly could from them, some of it quite superficial. Silly things like what kind of notebook did you have and what kind of shoes did you wear and who did you hang out with, and all those practical everyday things so that I could make specific character choices in terms of what she looked like and that sort of thing. And also in terms of what she saw and how she dealt with that conflict of seeing so much and being limited in terms of what she could do on a daily basis to help the people that she saw.
Did you ever have a story related with diamonds, and how has this movie changed you personally?
JENNIFER CONNELLY: Well, I’m wearing diamond earrings right now that are from Bvlgari. I have done research into retailers that can certify that their diamonds are conflict-free. I don’t think that the film suggests a boycott on African diamonds because I think there are human rights implications in the boycotting of African diamonds as well. So, 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 looked into it, and there are companies like Bvlgari, 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.
What was the greatest challenge you came across in making this film?
JENNIFER CONNELLY: 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 was a delight. Djimon and Leo were both fantastic to work with. Ed is an absolute to joy. I loved being in Mozambique and South Africa. So, things were going pretty swimmingly for me. I’d say the most challenging thing is my own head, and my conviction that I can always do better and be better. And so, just putting up with that, and the subsequent endless hours of considering and wondering that I always put myself through when trying to make choices for a character.
With the relationship between your character and Leo’s being as it was, did you feel that you could accomplish more with your eyes than anything?
JENNIFER CONNELLY: I think it was. If you’re responding to a chemistry between us, it’s probably a testament to our great working relationship that we had. Like I said, I have so much respect for him and I really enjoyed the way that he works. I found him to be incredibly generous as an actor, truly generous; remarkably unselfish in the way that he approaches his work; very interested in storytelling, and in supporting his fellow cast members. So, it was really such a delight talking about the scenes and working on them together. I really like the balance that it struck. I thought it was realistic. I thought it didn’t take away from either of these characters. They were both able to be strong in themselves, but it was very human and understandable, their attraction to one another. And I really enjoyed working together with him to find that balance.
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