Calm down, Trekkies. There’s no Star Trek: Voyager movie planned with Jennifer Connelly in the role of voluptuous ex-Borg Seven of Nine, as made famous by Jeri Ryan. Connelly lends her voice to 7, the most badass of the nine creations of the last man on Earth, each one imbued with a portion of his soul, in 9, the darkly beautiful animated sci-fi thriller from director Shane Acker and producer Tim Burton, based on Acker’s original short film.
“She has one of the coolest entrances I’ve ever seen on film,” Connelly says of the sole female character in the movie. “She was a really fun character.” Check out that entrance right here.
“We talked about her temperament and her ferocity and her impulsive spirit,” she says of her direction from Acker on how to portray 7. “All of the characters are a little bit off balance. They all have strengths, but none of them have the answer until 9 comes along, and he’s able to integrate all the different characters. We wanted to let her be a little wild, a little hot-headed. It was okay, she didn’t have to be the perfect heroine. Sometimes she goes a little far, but she has a really good heart. She’s very protective of the clan and she’s always keeping an eye on them. Even though she’s independent and she’s not going to hide out in the sanctuary, she’s right there if any of them need help.”
She does note, however, that even though her whole family loved the original short, the film opening today is a bit different in terms of age-appropriateness, with how dark and scary it is. “The feature film is a little frightening for my younger son (Stellan, who is now 6), not my older son (Kai, age 12). He loves it. I think the light is extraordinary. The colors, the palate, the textures. To me, visually, it’s very striking and beautiful.”
This was Connelly’s first experience with voice work on an animated feature, and she spoke of what surprised her the most about the process. “Maybe how disconnected it all is, at least on this film. There’s no rehearsal period to start with where everyone gets together and you do a read through. We didn’t have anything like that. So I read the script, I had my information packet and the DVD of 9, the short film, which I thought was extraordinary. Then I had some phone calls with Shane and then I showed up to do a recording session. That felt very different to me, to feel so committed to something and involved in something on one level, but felt comparatively disconnected in terms of the process, compared to how I’m used to working on live action films.”
“I was mostly on my own,” she continues. “I had one session with Elijah Wood (the voice of 9). We found that we actually didn’t have that much to do together. He’s a very lovely guy, very nice, I had a great time, met him and he was very charming and lovely and kind and smart, but we didn’t have that much to do together. So it was a nice experience, but we spent more time with me sitting on a stool and watching him work and him sitting on a stool and watching me work.”
Of course, since she’s playing the action hero of the group, it still managed to be a physical role for her, even though she was alone in a sound studio. “So much of what I did was put voice to action sequences, so there’s trying to suss out how to do that and not be told off for stomping on the floor,” she says. “I did do some of my own, albeit probably quite wonky, moves in front of the microphone, trying not to make any noise, but trying to be involved in what I was doing. I think it would have been very difficult to just stand still and simulate running and jumping and fighting and all that, so I absolutely threw myself around a little bit.”
Given Connelly’s career with films like The Hulk, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Dark City, The Rocketeer and now 9, you might think she’s drawn to sci-fi flicks. She says otherwise. “I thought those films were all creative with interesting ideas and interesting writing, so it’s kind of wherever I find it. It’s how I am as a movie goer. That movie Let The Right One In – would I say I’m a huge fan of vampire movies? No. Do I love that movie? That movie was great. I loved that movie, it was really interesting. It was a beautiful film. It’s not really about the genre, it’s where I find the talented people that happen to want to work with me. That’s what I go with. Interesting scripts, interesting characters, interesting filmmakers. I’m not discriminatory in terms of genre. I find a lot of different kinds of movies interesting. This just came my way, and I happened to really like it and I happen to think that Shane’s very talented.”