Snowpierce is inspired by the French graphic novel, Le Transperceneige, as well as director Bong Joon-ho's film, a cult drama played by Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. Melanie Cavill is portrayed by Jennifer Connelly, the train's head of hospitality.
and keeping up appearances in Wilford's absence. For Connelly this is the first time she plays a TV show and she told us that was fascinating to invest so much time in a character. Living between Los Angeles and New York, the actress admits that her Spanish is not very strong but she is able to learn in her travels to Spain, a country that she has visited on multiple occasions.
Q: This show takes places 7 years after the movie of Bong Joon Ho ends, in the movie your character was played by Tilda Swinton
A: Yes. But we are very different. The series poses a bunch of questions we peel back as we dive deeper into understanding Melanie during Season 1. The answers to the questions become Melanie's character arc, and the challenge for me was to slowly humanize the villain over 10 episodes, and that's what I worked so carefully with the writers. When you understand what she’s carrying and who she really is you love her. I love that there was a woman in that position, and I wanted to know how she got there and who she was.
Q: Jennifer, you’ve done so many different types of movies and some of your best-known projects are in the sci-fi genre. Can you talk a little bit about how you think the role of women has sort of evolved in terms of sci-fi?
A: Well, to be completely honest with you, I don’t think I would be able to answer that fairly because I’m not enough of an expert to analyze that, the role of women and how it’s changed in sci-fi and all this. I’m going to have to take a pass on that one. I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer. We were talking earlier about the fact that it’s not a black and white world that we live in, there’s a lot of gray areas and I really appreciate films that explore that terrain. I think that this show really does explore the complexities in life and as a whole and within my character. I think my character is quite rich and complicated. I was really attracted to her as a character because she is really powerful and it’s a kind of deep and complex view of a human being. So I found that really interesting.
Q: When you become critically acclaimed, do you feel there’s more pressure to deliver as an actress every time?
A: No, I don’t for sure. Definitely not. I love my job. I love what I do. I don’t take anything for granted, I don’t take a single day at work, a single scene, I don’t take anything for granted. I feel like it’s a privilege to be there. I just want to do the best that I can do. I mean obviously it’s a formative occupation, so hopefully, there’s an audience for the performance, but it’s important to me to just do the best that I can do.
Q: Do you feel you sort of go through the same rituals as you did when you first started as an actress?
A: The way I work has evolved over the years but I don’t think you can look backward. I don’t think about it that way, I don’t think like, oh, this is what I did in this movie and so I’m going to try and replicate. You’re always moving and changing, I feel like I’m just here now. I make the choices I make now. I do the best I can do now. I’m not looking back to try and copy something I did or someone else did or anything. I’m just trying to kind of inhabit this character, take what’s in front of me and serve it the best that I can.
Q: What did you like about Snowpiercer?
A: Well, for me, I’ve never done a whole series of a show, a whole season of a show before. Just the amount of time spent with one character is really a different experience for me and I really enjoyed it. I felt like you’re able to explore so much more [by] just having that much time. So that was really great.
Q: Will you be in the second season?
A: I think that some shows you watch, the characters that you see in the beginning, it kind of sets you up for what’s going to happen for the rest of the show. And I feel like this one doesn’t really work that way. I feel like the people that you meet in the very beginning, and especially I think it’s definitely true with Melanie, you don’t end up in the same place. By the end of this journey, she is in a very different place than she was when she began. And I think, along the way, people have really different feelings about her.
Q: How close do you feel to her?
A: I had different feelings about her when scripts were coming in and I was reading them and was working on this, in terms of: -Oh, God, I can’t believe she’s doing this. This is so awful-. And then sometimes I thought, -Well, she’s kind of noble,- and then sometimes I was like, -Oh, no, she’s treacherous and awful-. But I think she’s kind of a polarizing character in that way, which for me was kind of interesting and fun.
Q: Talking about characters, is there any character in a Spanish book that you like
A: Don Quixote… (she laughs) Is the first that came to my mind. I think that book is unparalleled and many, many buddy shows and buddy movies are inspired by that book.
Q: How is your Spanish?
A: Well, I would never say it is good. But I like to cook and I read many Spanish recipes. When I was in Spain I fell in love with the food there and with the culture and I tried to recreate some of the recipes. I can order food in Spanish and say -Gracias-.