Jennifer Connelly on How We’re All Living in ‘Snowpiercer’ Dystopia These Days (Video)

TheWrap Emmy magazine: “Everyone on (the train) has been separated from their communities, from the lives they had before, from all the places that they can’t visit anymore,” she says of the dystopian sci-fi miniseries

This story about Jennifer Connelly and “Snowpiercer” first appeared in the “Race Begins” issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine. It is one in a series of conversations about the effect of the coronavirus on the television industry.

The TNT series “Snowpiercer” shares a title with Bong Joon Ho’s 2013 film and the French graphic novel on which it is based, but this is a reboot, not a remake. The first 10-episode season tells a different story set on Snowpiercer, a train that’s 1,001 cars long and runs eternally around a frozen Earth, trying to keep the last remnants of humanity alive while also keeping them strictly separated into different classes. Jennifer Connelly plays the head of hospitality on the train, though there’s much more to her character than meets the eye.

I recently got an invitation to a “Snowpiercer” virtual premiere and I thought, “What’s a virtual premiere”?
I’ve never been to one, but I’m curious. I’m going to check it out.

How did things change for the series with the coronavirus?
Season 1 was finished. Season 2, there was still a little bit of work to do. I believe Season 2 is on hold for now. It feels like work isn’t going to resume again until it can be done in a safe manner.

“Snowpiercer” is about people who are crammed together, who can’t social distance. But I remember a scene where your character is talking about all the things that she misses — and as I was watching, I was thinking, “This situation has nothing to do with what we’re living through, but it feels current.”
For sure. I think, yes, the issue of confinement and the loss that’s inherent in that confinement. Everyone on (the train) has been separated from their communities, from the lives they had before, from all the places that they can’t visit anymore. You know, we’re all living a version of that right now.

It’s told through a sci-fi lens, but I think the core themes were always relevant. The train is capitalism and its effect on the environment. You have a closed system with limited resources, and it asks questions about who has the authority to distribute those resources. Those things were always relevant in our society.

What drew you to the project?
I liked the script and thought it had potential to be a really interesting and entertaining show on face value. It was a good ride, no pun intended, but then it had some deeper things to talk about. And I liked my character. I shouldn’t say I liked her, because it’s debatable whether she’s likable. But I was intrigued by her.

As viewers, our thoughts about her definitely change over the course of the 10 episodes.
Yeah. She was a really challenging character, in a good way, in that regard. I found her surprising and I think that she also surprised herself at times. She’s not the person that we think she is when we first meet her. But then at a certain point in the course of the series, I think she realizes, “Well, I’m not the person I always thought I was — how did I get here?” She made certain choices, she thought for the right reasons, and she wound up doing some very, very wrong things along the way. And over the course of the season, she has this reckoning that comes to her.

Later in the season, for me, it was really fun, because she starts to crack and she does some of the more egregious things. And then she’s kind of shattered by her guilt and her loss, and everything comes out.

After the initial pilot was shot, the showrunner changed and things went in a different direction. At that point, did you have to reconsider your approach to Melanie?
Yeah. When I first got involved, it was a completely different iteration. But then we shot the pilot, and there was a lot of upheaval. And when we came back, the whole show was really re-imagined. We got a new writer, new sets, new wardrobe, new everything. My character remained the same, just expressed a little differently, but I am in the same role. Some actors switched characters — their characters had the same names, but they were completely different roles. So it was a re-imagining for sure.

To read more of the “Race Begins” issue, click here.

thewrap emmy magazine 2020