Jennifer Connelly Talks Going Blonde at the Cinema Society's ‘Virginia’ Screening

Dustin Lance Black, Jennifer Connelly
Photo: Patrick McMullan
Dustin Lance Black and Jennifer Connelly at the premiere.

All eyes were on Jennifer Connelly as she floated down the red carpet at the Cinema Society screening of her latest film Virginia at New York City's Crosby Street Hotel.

Hosted by Shiseido and Grey Goose, the screening was followed by an intimate after-party where guests including Jane Lynch, Paul Bettany, Billy Bob Thornton, Juliette Lewis, Eve, Nina Dobrev, Alexa Chung, Christopher Abbott and Adam Driver from Girls, Southland's Michael Cudlitz, Jaime Cepero from Smash, Russell Simmons, Olivia Palermo and more enjoyed Grey Goose Cherry Noir cocktails, music and mini burgers. 

Written and directed by Dustin Lance Black and produced by Scott Brooks and Hopwood DePree, the film details the disturbed yet often endearing life of Virginia (Jennifer Connelly), a psychologically disturbed woman who has engaged in a 20-year-long affair with the sheriff of her town, played by Ed Harris. The most touching parts of the movie involve Virginia's relationship with her infinitely loyal son, played by Harrison Gilbertson, and the son's budding relationship with the sheriff's daughter, played by Emma Roberts.

FashionEtc took a moment to chat with director Dustin Lance Black, who, before talking to us, spotted Jane Lynch in the corner and shouted, "You're here. Holy crap. You flew all the way across the country for me!"

Black, who also wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for Milk, talked to us about showing Jennifer the script for the first time and how everything else unfolded. "This has been such a journey. I wrote this script about eight years ago and showed it to Jennifer about five years ago, and then there was a tornado with Milk, so we put everything on pause. Then, when I came back, Jennifer was still interested. She was the first person to really put faith in the project, in the screenplay, the character and in me, who was just this little kid on a TV show [referring to his time as a writer for HBO's Big Love.] She brings all the gravitas that you need to be able to play a role like this. It is a very complicated role. She is playing a very specific kind of person," said Black.

For the first time in her career, Jennifer Connelly plays a blonde. We asked Black how important her hair color was for the role. "One of the few things that a schizophrenic of her type can control is color, and they have a hard time controlling sound. We discussed it and we thought one of things she has probably tried to control all the time is...the color of everything, including her hair. In the movie, you see all the water bottles with the various colors. I think she is always trying to aid her mood by changing the color of things. Plus, she looks hot as a blonde," the director added.

Back to her signature raven strands and dressed in a sleek black Alexander McQueen sheath that showcased her enviously svelte shape, Jennifer Connelly was a far cry from her disheveled character. "She is definitely very different from my other roles," said Connelly. "She is not very well, so I spent some time doing a lot of medical research.

We asked if being blonde helped her get into character and Connelly said, "Yes because I felt like she was really her own creature. I actually had a lot of fun being blonde, but not as much fun getting to blonde. It was very time-consuming, but the upkeep wasn't bad because she didn't have to be perfect."