Jennifer Connelly: Coming Up Connelly

I'm walking through a Santa Monica coffeehouse with Jennifer Connelly when a gentleman patron pipes, "Are you Jennifer Connelly? You're my favorite actress and you're in my dreams." It almost seems staged, but then Connelly turns to me and whispers, "Scary--he has dreams about me? I won't ask."

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Such is the life of the tall, dark beauty who's been recognized on the streets since age 14, when she starred in 1986's David Bowie kid-pic Labyrinth.

If her name doesn't come to mind right away it's because she's been out of the celebrity circuit and in Ivy League land for the past few years. There have been attempts at career resurrection, with the John Hughes dud Career Opportunities and Disney's superhero try, The Rocketeer, but she's mainly been out of the spotlight. Now, however, she has two high-profile films up for release: John Singleton's Higher Learning and Of Love and Shadows, with Antonio Banderas. So, does Connelly have any experiences with Banderas, Spain's hottest heartthrob, she'd like to share? "At first there was this strange tension between us," says the 23-year-old. "It came to a head when we were shooting this scene in the back of a truck. The crew closed it up and then heard this screaming from inside. They opened the truck and we were on either side. I was crying and he was upset but we went into my trailer for an hour and came out in an embrace. The crew must have thought that we'd slept together!"

I ask Connelly what it's like being a coed and a co-star at the same time. "It wasn't an issue at Yale, but when I went to Stanford I had these frat guys knocking on my door saying, 'We just wanna have a look at you.' Scary. And then I did Career Opportunities and they put out this poster of me on this rocking horse with lots of cleavage. One of my professors told me he saw it--I was mortified." "Did it help your grades?" I ask. "I don't know," Connelly replies, "but I hope not." Let's hope she stayed clear of his dreams.

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Dennis Hensley



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