Jennifer Connelly's On-set Pastime: Ping-Pong
By Michelle Lanz
Most people are used to seeing gorgeous Jennifer Connelly in serious and dramatic roles; even her role in the rom-com "He's Just Not That Into You" was lacking in the com department. But in the upcoming Ron Howard comedy "The Dilemma," the dark-haired beauty embraces her silly side playing Vince Vaughn's girlfriend opposite Kevin James and Winona Ryder. Connelly recently took some time to chat with Wonderwall on the set of "The Dilemma," where she told us all about working with Ron again, moving away from drama and her intense ping-pong training.
Wonderwall: Now that you're wrapping up on this shoot can you recall a challenging or memorable scene that you guys got through?
Jennifer Connelly: Definitely the ping-pong. I was so nervous. I had to play ping-pong in this movie. The first day that I showed up I said, “Ron. I'm really going to give this my all, but you might want to have a ping-pong double.” Right now, my moniker at home is Snake Hands Connelly. I'm just not down with the paddle and the whole hand-eye coordination thing. It's not a thing that I grew up doing a lot of. No skills in the back pocket with the ping-pong. I worked on that really hard, I have to say. I spent a lot of time playing ping-pong in this movie.
WW: Did you have to get any training for your ping-pong scenes with Vince?
JC: : Well, we didn't practice together. I practiced with a coach, actually. We got a ping-pong table in the hotel, and anyone I could wrangle to come play ping-pong with me I'd get up there playing ping-pong.
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WW: Are you a ping-pong master now?
JC: I don't think I mastered anything. I think that'd be giving myself too much credit, but I did do okay. You can tell me what you think. I was so nervous because I had a break and I was in New York, and I went to this ping-pong club. I wanted to keep practicing. I don't have a ping-pong table at home. I played there, and there were all these people watching, and suddenly I literally couldn't hit the ball. I got really terrified that when we got out to the set that I would all fall apart.
WW: This is your second movie with Ron Howard. How has it been different from working with him on "A Beautiful Mind"?
JC: Really different subject matter, but I love Ron. Ron is great to work with. He likes to have a good amount of time for prep, and he likes to talk through the script and work through all of that stuff before you start shooting. He loves to cover scenes. Did that here too. Get it all in the bag. So it's a very familiar style on the set. He's like the sweetest guy in Hollywood ... it was a nice reunion.
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WW: Were you attracted to doing a comedy since you have a lot of heavier dramas in your background?
JC: I liked the idea of playing someone where I thought, "God. She's just normal. She's just nice." I thought that sounded great. I mean, I've just recently done a couple of movies that have more comedy in them. It's been nice recently working on things that have more comedic elements. I did also like the fact that she was this kind person. I like that she's just someone who wants to be happy. She is a woman who is happy and fights for happiness and tries really hard to make other people happy and to make the day go by nicely and make you feel good. That's kind of what she wants. I like that it was sort of that simple with her in a way.
WW: Were you excited by the improvisational element of this film?
JC: Yeah. It seems like we always do a sort of clean take, a clean pass at everything, and then they'll do [one] where it's more off-the-cuff. It's nice and it's really a different way of working. Sometimes it's wildly different and really long. You think, “This is a whole different direction.” It's fun, really fun, to do that. Again, there are places where it's appropriate, where I think, “Beth would be a part of it,” and then there are places where it's clearly just Ronnie doing his thing. You just sort of watch that thing, which is really amazing.