Jennifer Connelly Interview: Snowpiercer Season 2

Snowpiercer season 2’s extraordinary sixth episode broke the show’s multi-story format by centering exclusively on the series’ protagonist, Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly). “Many Miles From Snowpiercer” depicted Melanie’s dangerous solo mission to get a research station online so that she could prove her theory that the frozen Earth is starting to warm up.

In the process, Cavill faced her deep-seated guilt and fears as she struggled to survive with no food in the frozen facility for a month. Snowpiercer also delivered flashbacks for the first time, which showed what the world was like before the Freeze, and what drove Melanie to steal Snowpiercer from Mr. Wilford (Sean Bean), and leave him to die, although it meant leaving her young daughter Alexandra (Rowan Blanchard) as well.

Screen Rant had the honor to interview Academy Award-winner Jennifer Connelly about her experience filming “Many Miles From Snowpiercer”, which is arguably the finest episode of the post-apocalyptic sci-fi series’ run on TNT. We discussed Melanie as a role model and advocate for science and engineering, what it’s like to work with her co-star Sean Bean, and what the real-life Jennifer Connelly would need to survive on Snowpiercer.

Screen Rant: I love “Many Miles From Snowpiercer”. I think it’s the best of the series so far.

Jennifer Connelly: Oh wow, thank you! I appreciate it.

Screen Rant: So what went through your head when you read the script, it was a Melanie Cavill solo adventure, but you were in every scene?

Jennifer Connelly: I thought it was really fun. I thought it was really interesting. It was so different from everything else we’ve been doing. We have so many characters and we’re tracking so many characters at once. And here, I feel like we’ve been slowly getting to know Melanie over time. You know, the woman that we met in season 1 is a very different woman than the person that we’re spending time with now, and I think she really started to come back to herself at the end of season 1.

And now in season 2, she’s back to her original purpose, and she’s confronting her past, and getting deeper into her past and back to the person who she was in her original mission. And I thought it was a great opportunity to go deeper with her, get to know her better, and go further on that journey with her.

Screen Rant: I really believe Melanie Cavill is one of the best characters on television today. 

Jennifer Connelly: Thank you so much!

Screen Rant: Melanie makes the hard choices, even when it hurts her. She’s so intelligent and she believes in science. She’s such an advocate for STEM. Was it important to you that Melanie was a scientist and hopefully inspires young people to embrace science and engineering?

Jennifer Connelly: I love that about her. I’m so happy – and I think that she is so happy – to be getting back to her original purpose, which is the science of this mission, and coming through with the evidence and the science that there can be a future. The future is with the science on this show, and I think that that’s great. I love her arguments; she has arguments in this episode with Wilford about his fighting for law and order, and she’s fighting for science, and it’s a very direct conflict.

I love her position and I love what she stands for, and I think she’s super cool! I mean, look, she’s done some super uncool things in the past, especially in season 1, but as a scientist, I think she’s smart and capable and she’s able to accomplish some extraordinary things.

Screen Rant: And she even built a better mousetrap.

Jennifer Connelly: She built an amazing rat trap!

Screen Rant: The episode had amazing flashbacks. We got to see Chicago before the Freeze, and Melanie and Wilford in the good old days when they were still allies and friends. What’s it like working with Sean Bean?

Jennifer Connelly: I thought he did such a great job. I love the fun that he brings to it, I love the delight that he has in seducing his fanbase and the glitz and glamour of it all. I think he’s great and he had such a good time doing it, and did such a great job on it, and it was so much fun. And as Melanie became more her genuine self, [Sean] was such a fun opposition with his character.

Screen Rant: And it was also an imaginary version of Wilford, so it was fascinating to see Melanie debate a negative aspect of herself when she talked to Wilford.

Jennifer Connelly: Yeah, I thought they did a really great job. I love that device. It was a very intimate episode where you’re in a very isolated environment in a really small space. It was a very internal thing. She’s out there in a very vast landscape outside but what she’s experiencing is all internal. The writers did a really good job with it.

Screen Rant: You lead an amazing cast on Snowpiercer. It’s an embarrassment of riches how talented everyone is but the person who’s really standing out for me this season is Rowan Blanchard [who plays Melanie’s daughter Alexandra]. Your scenes together are some of my favorites.

Jennifer Connelly: She’s so great! I really like those scenes too. She’s able to be surly, and tough, and mean, and dismissive, but you always feel her desire for her mom, and her love underneath, and that fragility. I think she did such a great job embodying all of those things. And she’s just lovely to spend time with and work with. Super sweet, and kind, and professional, and I really like her a lot.

Screen Rant: And of course, the third person in the episode you interacted with is Daveed Diggs, Melanie’s frenemy. 

Jennifer Connelly: I love the shift in their relationship. They’re allies. They have this crazy partnership going on. Who’da thunk it from the beginning?

Screen Rant: Since it was an imaginary Layton, he was a little more antagonistic than the real thing has been this season. Is there some unresolved tension between them?

Jennifer Connelly: Yeah, um, maybe! (laughs) Maybe a little bit! You may be right.

Screen Rant: You also spend more time than anybody in the cast outside of the train wearing a cold suit. Melanie does a lot of Breacher work, it seems. Are you a cold-weather person in real life? Are you an Icy Bob?

Jennifer Connelly: I wouldn’t say I’m an Icy Bob. I love the snow, we’ve had a lot of it back east in the country this year. I’m okay with cold weather, playing in the snow, skiing.

Screen Rant: If you, Jennifer Connelly, had to spend seven years on Snowpiercer, what are the three must-haves you have to bring to keep you sane?

Jennifer Connelly: Obviously family. You learn that being in lockdown, the people that you’re with. A good music collection, I think, is pretty crucial. And some good books.

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