Jennifer Morrison has had the distinct pleasure of giving birth to Chris Pine (via Chris Hemsworth, at that) in J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" and haunting Kevin Bacon in "Stir of Echoes." However, she's probably best known for her portrayal of Dr. Allison Cameron, a woman holding her own in a man's world on "House M.D."
Jennifer continues her legacy of being the feminine presence in a male-dominated environment in "Warrior," director Gavin O'Connor's hard-hitting family drama set against the backdrop of mixed martial arts. Jennifer plays Tess Conlon, a good wife and mother going through a tough time in her marriage to Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) -- as her husband sneaks off to boxing competitions, trying to make ends meet, she's fighting for her family outside the ring.
We spoke with Jennifer about her experiences while working on "Warrior," her early days as a ghost in "Stir of Echoes" and her future on the upcoming fairy tale series, "Once Upon a Time."
You play a very strong female character in "Warrior," and seemingly one of the very few female characters in the movie at all. Were there any particular challenges or joys in being in an extremely male-dominated project?
I was really lucky because I'm used to being in that situation, being the only girl around a lot of men in film and television. Even thinking about "House," I was the girl on the team, but it was always House, Foreman, Chase and me, so there were always a lot of men around.
In particular, I was lucky on this because it was such a great group of guys. We had all men in the cast and then you have the director, the writer and a lot of the crew, the fight doubles, the stunt doubles and the backup fight doubles... There was a real true camaraderie between them. And they were all very respectful and caring and supportive. In the end, as testosterone-driven as they all were, I felt like I had 100 brothers that would go out and do anything to protect me and take care of me.
You're from Chicago and were originally a "theater person." Did your theatrical training play into doing a film like "Warrior" more than some of the other projects that you've worked on?
I would have to say that working on "Warrior" felt more like working on a play than any other film I've ever done. I think part of it is just the way that Gavin works. He gave us all 100 questions to answer about our characters before we even showed up -- and I already sort of work that way, where I would build a detailed history for the character -- but he asked questions I never thought of. It's so great when you work with a director that really adds to your process, where he's going to end up informing your future characters based on realizing that he'd helped you with that particular character...
By the time we were actually shooting, it feels like how you feel in a play, where you've had this whole rehearsal process where you've been able to explore so many options before you're actually on the stage and presenting it. In the film, we've been able to explore so many options, mentally and emotionally hashing through all of it before we were even on set, and we could just let go and live the marriage at that point.
Earlier this week, we posted a story called, "Yep, That Was Jennifer Morrison in 'Stir of Echoes.'" Is there any particular fond memory or story behind that film?
That movie was also a great experience. David Koepp directed that movie, and I remember auditioning for him. He was looking for an actress that could pull off playing a character that was a little bit mentally slow, which has its own challenges, but also he was technically going to shoot the footage of that character in a way where he was slowing down frame rates. He was looking for someone who had a dance or movement background because this person was going to have to be able to perform scenes at quarter-speed, half-speed and three-quarter-speed.
I remember going in and reading for him, and he really liked it, and then talking about all the technical stuff. And I was so confident that I could do it, I was like, "No, I can do it. I'm telling you I can do it. I've been in dance for 15 years." And he looked at me and said, "Are you really this confident or are you going to have a breakdown at some point?" And I said, "No, I'm really this confident. I promise you, I can do this." It was just a great experience.
After "Stir of Echoes," you did "Urban Legends: Final Cut," and that was the last horror film you did. Is horror something you'd like to do again sometime?
For me, in general, it's always about the material. Obviously, it's about the material and hoping that someone wants to hire me for a job, too, but I've certainly seen films like "Orphan" and movies like that where I know that if I had had the opportunity to read that script or had an opportunity to do it, I would have wanted to do it. It really is just about the script and the character, and if there's something there that's really cunning and intriguing about what is going on.
You did the voice of Wasp on "The Superhero Squad Show." Would you be interested in perhaps doing a live-action version of that character if they were to ever bring her around?
Oh, I would love it! I don't know if there is anyone who wouldn't want to play some kind of superhero. I don't know if the world is getting sick of superhero movies or not, but I think you will endlessly have actors who are intrigued by the idea of playing a superhero. Especially with Wasp, I feel like she has such a great sense of humor; she's a very funny superhero. So yeah, I would sign on 100 percent.
What can you tell us about your new TV show, "Once Upon a Time," on ABC?
It's a show created by Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, who were executive producers and writers on "Lost" for almost the entire run of that show. Just extraordinary scripts. When I got the script for this, it was one of those things where you can't not do it because it's so good. Every script since has just gotten better and better and better. I didn't even know that was possible because I already thought the first one was incredible.
Literally, if there was a camera on me when I read the script, people would be laughing because I was like, "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh, I can't believe this is happening!" I was so vocal while I was reading the script, and I'm texting [co-star] Ginnie [Goodwin], "Did you read this script? Did you read what just happened?" And she's like, "Yes, I know! I'm freaking out!" I feel like I'm reading this great novel and I have to wait every week to get the next chapter. The guys have just come up with such creative storytelling and great, unexpected stuff. I'm just so excited for it to get on the air and have people see it.
With "Once Upon a Time," there's been talk that there's been a whole fairy tale resurgence and people think the fairy tale might be the next comic book or superhero movie. Would you agree? You mentioned earlier that people might be getting sick of superhero movies.
Yeah, I don't know. I mean I think it's interesting that Snow White in particular is surfacing so much right now. "Snow White," the Disney version, came out during the Great Depression, and it's interesting that we're in sort of a parallel economic time when people are once again becoming fascinated with the idea of the fairy tale. I've been reading about the psychology of the fairy tale, and it's interesting when you dive into the subconscious meanings of this stuff and realize that these stories really are about hope and self-discovery.
I think when we're in a certain time as a country and a global economy -- when we're struggling and we're questioning the choices that have been made and what our future choices will be -- people are subconsciously turning to these fairy tales because ultimately they are about hope and self-discovery, and that's exactly what everybody is searching for right now. So I think that there is some kind of subconscious parallel going on there. Also, there is that excitement of the familiarity of those stories and yet it's also something new and different compared to some of the comic books that people have now seen filmed so many times that they've kind of gotten used to it.