Connelly auditioned as a child model when she was 10, at the suggestion of a friend of her father’s. Her modeling career started with the Ford Modeling Agency and she appeared on the cover of several magazines and Japanese pop songs.
In 1984, Connelly appeared in a Hollywood movie for the first time, in ‘Once Upon a Time in America’. She performed a ballet routine in the movie. During the same time, she made her first appearance on the television.
She got her first lead roles in 1985 with the Italian horror movie, ‘Phenomena’ and ‘Seven Minutes in Heaven’. These movies did not do wonders for Connelly’s image but it got her the required media exposure and attention.
In 1986, Connelly played a teenager in the fantasy film, ‘Labyrinth’. Her performance in the movie was highly criticized and the movie itself bombed at the box office but it became a cult film later.
She took a little break from acting to join back school and make sense of the things as her acting career was growing larger. Connelly joined Yale in 1988 to study English and later joined Stanford to study drama.
In 1990, Connelly’s parents encouraged her to join back movies and she left Stanford to act in ‘The Hot Spot’. Although the movie did not achieve commercial success but her performance in the movie earned critics’ appreciation.
Connelly’s next big movies were released in 1991––romantic comedy ‘Career Opportunities’ in which she worked opposite Frank Whaley and Disney’s ‘The Rocketeer’. Both the movies failed to take her career to new heights.
In 1996, Connelly did the most controversial intimate scene with her co-star John Malkovich in the movie ‘Mulholland Falls’, in which she played the role of his mistress who gets mysteriously murdered.
Connelly took a break from the commercial cinema and did a low budget film, ‘Inventing the Abbotts’, for which she gained critical acclaim. The following year, she did ‘Dark City’, and her performance as ‘femme fatale Emma’ charmed everyone.
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In 2000, she appeared in what is considered as the breakthrough film of her career, ‘Requiem for a Dream’. She played the emotionally heightened and difficult role of a woman who gets addicted and becomes a prostitute.
Next came the most prominent movie in Connelly’s life, ‘A Beautiful Mind’ in 2001, in which she played the role of Alicia Nash, wife of schizophrenic mathematician, John Nash. She won an Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA for it.
In 2003, she did ‘The Hulk’ and played the role of Betty Rose, who was a scientist and main protagonist’s former girlfriend. Connelly got interested in the movie because of Ang Lee’s unusual take on the Marvel Comics superhero.
She did ‘House of Sand and Fog’ in 2003, which was based on a novel by the author Andre Dubus III. She played the role of an abandoned wife who feels lost and lonely.
After remaining away from cinema for two years, Connelly’s ‘Dark Water’ came out in 2005. In this horror and psychological thriller, she was appreciated for playing the role of a mother who is haunted by her past.
Year 2006 proved to be a creatively fulfilling one in Connelly’s film career as she did movies like, ‘Little Children’ alongside Kate Winslet and ‘Blood Diamond’ opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. Both the movies were nominated for multiple Academy Awards.
‘Reservation Road’ in 2007 gave Connelly another opportunity to prove her acting skills as a serious actress. She starred in the movie with Joaquin Phoenix. The character that she played was stronger than any she played before.
In 2008, Connelly did ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ opposite Keanu Reeves and the following year, she did a light romantic comedy, ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ along with Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, etc.
Connelly appeared in the drama biopic ‘Creation’ in 2009, a movie based on Charles Darwin’s life. She played the role of Darwin’s wife who used to oppose his ideas and struggled with the death of their daughter.
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In 2010, Connelly did Dustin Lance Black’s ‘Virginia’. The movie was only meant to get limited theatrical release and her performance as a mentally unstable woman was very well received by the critics.
Connelly took up a comedy venture in 2011, ‘The Dilemma’, starring opposite Vince Vaughn. The same year, she did a comedy-thriller film with religious satire undertones, titled ‘Salvation Boulevard’, along with Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear.