Connie Neilsen offers insights about the upcoming DC movie, and what it’s like to survive in Hollywood
In Gladiator, she played the role of Lucilla (Commo-dus’s sister and Maximus’s former lover), the Roman princess who asserted herself firmly — but always from behind the shadows. As Hippolyta in DC’s Extended Universe, she no longer remains an ancillary — she is the Warrior Queen of the Amazons.
The characters that Connie Neilsen has portrayed onscreen have often been that of fierce, strong yet loving women or leaders. The same could be said of the actor in real life. The mother of four spearheads a non-profit organisation called the Human Needs Project, has had a bevy of eclectic roles since her onscreen debut in 1997 (alongside Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves) and believes in being hands-on in every aspect of her real and reel life.
Connie, who is set to reprise her role as Queen Hippolyta for the third time, in the new Wonder Woman 1984, turns 55 today. We had a chat with the Danish actress about her lockdown routine, on-set camaraderie with director Patty Jenkins and more.
We’ve been hearing little tidbits about Wonder Woman 1984. What are you most excited about from the movie?
Well, I’m most excited first of all, for the fans to continue seeing into this amazing universe that has been created. I can’t tell you anything about the movie itself because we’re not allowed. But you will see all of the characters you fell in love with last time and some new ones as well. It’s not a lot, but here we are. (Laughs)
The last time Hippolyta saw Diana was just before she left the island. What’s that relationship like in 1984?
All I say is there’s always something about the Amazons and what they represent through Diana — this way of living and a way of mastering yourself. But, yeah, like all mothers, we stand at a
distance and watch our kids learn and grow by fighting against the inequities of life and our society. You watch them as they try to find a way to be good people in the middle of that, make wise and kind choices and fight to make a better world.
You have worked with Patty Jenkins before. Is there a marked difference in working on a female-helmed set?
It depends on the director. I have worked with men that I have felt a real artistic intimacy with and people that I have really trusted — the ones who saw me as an artist. But there is this one wonderful thing that most male actors have with directors (because most directors are men), and that is the sense of camaraderie and intimacy! It’s like they know what it's like to be the other person. That’s what I have when I work with a female director. The camaraderie, the shared experience, the shared knowledge makes things so comfortable that we almost speak in shorthand. I love that, and I feel very safe in it.
When there is so much conversation surrounding the way an actor looks, how does one process getting older in a business that is ageist?
It’s so hard. It’s so hard to just remind yourself that you are an artist first and foremost. The stories you want to tell have nothing to do with age or how you look. On the other hand, it has everything to do with narrating incredible tales, the ones that grab your attention and make you feel things. That’s what movies are about. Whether I look one way, or another won’t really change that.
I’ve been ageing, and I’ve been conscious of ageing since I was 18. You’re always either too young or too old or one thing or the another. It can drive you crazy if you let it, and I just don’t. I just go like, I am probably the best I will be at this point of my life, and by the time it's the next point, I'm going to be the best I will be at that time. That's the way I move forward.
How have you been spending your lockdown?
I run an NGO called a Human Needs Project. I'm the President and so my morning usually begins with early meetings with people in Africa and Kenya, and with my US team.
I take my son out for a run. I'm a runner, I love running and it's my way of not just staying fit but also of staying sane. I also try to find some time to play some ping pong with him.
I am also preparing for a miniseries that I'm going to be shooting in the UK. So I'm comparing news clips with the former versions and doing my bit of research. I'm just really working hard to get those into production.
Watch Justice League and Wonder Woman on July 3 on Sony PIX.