Banff: Jennifer Connelly Talks Return to TV in 'Snowpiercer' Adaptation

Justina Mintz
Jennifer Connolly on 'Snowpiercer'

The Oscar winner told the media festival's virtual panel she jumped at playing a female lead in TNT's reboot of the 2013 feature film of the same name.

Jennifer Connelly, the Oscar winner for A Beautiful Mind, said it took playing a female lead on TNT's adaptation of the feature film Snowpiercer to get her back to working in television.

"There's great work being done in television right now. I like the idea that I can stay awhile. And I like that there was a woman at the heart of this whole darn thing. That was pretty compelling," Connelly on Tuesday told a Banff World Media Festival online panel.

Snowpiercer, based on the 2013 film by Bong Joon Ho, is about a massive train that carries what's left of humanity around the world after an attempt to stop global warming leads to a new Ice Age. Connelly plays Melanie Cavill, a first-class passenger who works as the Voice of the Train, responsible for making the daily announcements over its PA system.

A TV role was a departure for Connelly, who has mostly starred in features. In movies, the screenplay morphs a little, but remains a finite document, she told the Banff panel. "Here we were getting scripts as we're working. It's a different collaboration with the writers," she explained.

Daveed Diggs, the Tony Award-winning star of Hamilton who has appeared on TV shows like Black-ish and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, also talked about changing speeds as an actor while starring on Snowpiercer, which was also picked up by Netflix. "I never spent that much time on a TV set. I had never done that many stunts before. I'd never worked on a big sets and a super-high budget," Diggs said of joining the project.

The TV adaptation of Bong's postapocalyptic thriller-satire calls for an eponymous global-circuiting train, a 1,001-car ark of humanity, that often had Connelly wondering where she was next due to work on set. "There's so many sets. Outside they [train cars] all look the same. Two seasons in, I'm always lost," she told the Banff panel.

Added showrunner Graeme Manson: "The design had to reflect the confined space. It just adds to the sense of place and connected sets. It was one of the biggest challenges and one of the biggest jobs for all of us, to go onto the sets and lose yourself on those trains."

Banff's online-only festival kicked off Tuesday with the master class by Snowpiercer creative and cast after the in-person Banff festival was forced to go virtual by the coronavirus pandemic. The 2020 Banff World Media Festival was initially set to run June 14-17 in the Canadian Rockies, but will continue through the summer with virtual events.