“I think that there had originally been some idea that the Amazons had been deeply traumatized by some kind of horrible event that involved mass rape.”
With the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Nobody right around the corner, Connie Nielsen took the time to join us for an episode of Collider Ladies Night to revisit some of the most pivotal moments of her career. That, of course, includes her experience joining and contributing to the DC film franchise.
Nielsen joined the series with the 2017 release Wonder Woman. She steps in as Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons, a race of awe-inspiring all-female warriors who stand for peace, truth and tolerance. Their material was a major highlight of that 2017 release and their sequence in Wonder Woman 1984 was the best of the bunch, in my opinion at least. (How is a Themyscira-set feature not in the works yet?)
We already shared what Nielsen told us about feeling supported as a working mother by Warner Bros. while making Wonder Woman, but now it’s time to focus more specifically on what director Patty Jenkins brought to the film. While chatting with Robin Wright for a recent episode of Ladies Night, she emphasized that Jenkins really pushed to have her movie made. She noted, “[Jenkins is] going to get what she wants and she doesn’t have to be mean about it.” Here’s what Nielsen said when asked for a moment when she saw Jenkins wield that ability:
“She was very clear about what the Amazons were supposed to be. And I think that there had originally been some idea that the Amazons had been deeply traumatized by some kind of horrible event that involved mass rape. And Patty just said, ‘Hm, no. No, no, we’re not gonna put that on those Amazons. We don’t want to start out seeing them as victims, and why would we? Let’s just get rid of that part and make sure that these are heroes in their own terms. They’ve not been part of the victims of history. They are these unbelievably courageous women and we’re not gonna saddle them with a trauma from the outset. We’re going to have them be received by people on the basis of who they are. What is their culture? Why are they so fierce? What does it mean to live on an island where there are no guys?’ It made so much sense, you know? You needed them to have a very uncomplicated background in order to be able to just accept them as the heroes that they are.”
How exactly did Jenkins manage to get such vital changes implemented while working on a massive blockbuster that, no doubt, had many creative entities involved? Nielsen gave credit to the clarity that Jenkins brings to her work:
“The reason why she does that and gets what she needs to get is because she’s very clear. She has very clear thinking. And she’s able to transmit those ideas in a very clear way. And so she doesn’t need to be mean, she doesn’t need to push the envelope because she’s right. She’s thought it though. She knows what she’s talking about. She’s super well prepared. She has great instincts. She’s a great director and she’s a great visionary in her own right.”
Nielsen also took a moment to highlight Jenkins’ work as a leader on set and how it creates a sense of community on screen and behind the scenes:
“There is not a time where she will not take the five minutes to talk to even the most minor character on the set. She’ll remember their names and she’ll be respectful of them and she will give them that moment on screen as well that registers and is necessary to really bring together what is a community. If you only have three people in a community and you don’t know who all of the other people are and you don’t recognize in them a distinct personality, you don’t really have a community. And that’s how she does it. She creates this whole full-fledged experience by having that razor eye for detail.”
For more on Nielsen’s experience working on the DC film franchise, Best Picture winner Gladiator, the upcoming Bob Odenkirk-headliner Nobody and so much more, keep an eye out for her full Ladies Night conversation coming to Collider on Friday, March 18th, just in time for the release of Snyder’s Justice League.
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