Connie Nielsen


February 08, 2007|By NEWSDAY

Connie Nielsen is probably best known as Lucilla, Russell Crowe's love in Gladiator. But the stunning, Danish-born actress' resume includes big-budget films (The Devil's Advocate, Basic), indies (One Hour Photo, Brothers) and TV (she subbed for Law & Order: SVU's Mariska Hargitay during her recent maternity leave). That, and she's the live-in girlfriend of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. The actress' latest film is the Iraq war drama The Situation. The Situation is about the Iraq war. Brothers is about Afghanistan. Did you choose to make them for political reasons?

It's political in the sense that it's relevant to my life. This concerns you and me, and because it concerns us, I'm interested in it.

What is The Situation trying to say about the Iraq war?

It's exactly that - the situation. If you are interested in trying to understand who are the Iraqis, what are they living with, what is it like trying to be a normal person - if you want to see what it's like to live through this, then you should go see this movie.

You just finished Battle in Seattle, about the rioting during the World Trade Organization meeting in 1999. Why do you go for films like this?

They ask relevant questions. To not ask questions is to be culpably indifferent. ... These movies are not didactic, they're just trying to give you a sense of what a thing is like and to make you have empathy for these people. I am not a propagandist.

You recently guest-starred for several episodes on Law & Order: SVU. What was it like doing TV after being in movies for so long?

It was hard work. I take my hat off to TV actors. The amount of work that is done is incredible to me. I did it for two months, and if I had to do it for 10 months, I don't think I could take it.

You've bounced back and forth between big-budget and indie films. Is that a conscious career decision?

I like doing the big popcorn movie. But there are a lot of Hollywood female characters I won't have anything to do with; all you're doing is feeding these ridiculous male roles. The girl is only there to make him look hotter, sexier, younger. I go back and forth because they're roles I enjoy, and I do like sometimes to go from lighter fare to a more painful place.

You're 41. Are you worried about what's going to happen when you're 50 or 55, when it becomes tougher for actresses to get certain types of roles?

I think it's a myth. If you look at the last 10 years of Oscar, look at the roles that have been nominated. At least half have been women of that age. And once you're 55 you can play anything between 50 and 75.

Did you find at a certain point in your career that you had to work against your looks?

Always. I cannot tell you how bummed out I was throughout my 20s, having a personality that is very different from the idea people had of me. It freaked me out that someone would talk to me as if I was an inferior and inferiorly intelligent human being. I've never gotten over that. It really was stunning to me that someone would take me for a bimbo.

You're now living with Metallica's Lars Ulrich. Were you together when the 2004 documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, a film about the band's personal and personnel problems, came out?

No. I think the third date he took me to see a private screening of it, and after seeing it, I was like: `Are you crazy, showing me that movie? I don't even know if I want to go out with you anymore.' I was a little stunned. But to see that openness and honesty, that was kind of cool.

You have a 17-year-old son. Now you're pregnant again. What's it like to be with child after such a long time?

It was something to stand there with a huge stomach and at the same time filling out college applications. But I gotta tell you, I feel pretty much the same as when I was running around Rome, pregnant, 17 years ago with the first one. I feel really, really good.

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