Actress Jennifer Connelly Sees 'Only the Brave' as 'An Act of Remembrance'

By Terry, Josh | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), October 18, 2017 | Go to article overview

Actress Jennifer Connelly Sees 'Only the Brave' as 'An Act of Remembrance'


Terry, Josh, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


SALT LAKE CITY — This weekend, a new film from director Joseph Kosinski tells the story of the tragic Yarnell Hill Fire, which claimed the lives of 19 wildland firefighters southwest of Prescott, Arizona, in June 2013. For the veteran cast of “Only the Brave,” re-creating the story of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots was a unique, moving and unforgettable experience.

The first half of the film follows Prescott Fire Crew 7 as they work to qualify as the first city crew to achieve Tier 1 “Hot Shot” status, meaning they deal directly with wildfires. Later, re-dubbed the “Granite Mountain Hot Shots,” the firefighters battle a series of fires throughout Arizona until the film culminates with the Yarnell Hill Fire.

The leader of the Granite Mountain crew was superintendent Eric Marsh, played in the film by Oscar-nominated actor Josh Brolin. Eric's wife Amanda is played by Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Connelly, and Connelly was able to work with the real-life Amanda as she prepared for her role.

“I really enjoyed spending time with her,” said Connelly in a phone interview. “She strikes me as someone who’s incredibly strong and resilient and brave, but also really loving and open-hearted and really honest.”

While Eric fights fires, his wife has her own career, tending to abused horses. Fortunately for Connelly, Amanda was able to help the actress with the more physical aspect of her role, since, Connelly admitted, “I was quite intimidated by horses.” Amanda also helped Connelly with important background information to give context to the scenes between her and Brolin, as they wrestle with the life-threatening nature of his job.

For Connelly, the opportunity to play a real woman that she got to know carried a great deal of responsibility.

“I feel beholden to her,” shared Connelly. “I feel it’s important for me to honor her and respect what she wants made of her life and her marriage.”

Actor James Badge Dale, who portrays Eric’s right-hand man Jesse Steed, was impressed not only by Steed's physical stature, but by his character. “This guy was a lot of things I’m not,” Dale said. “He had the strength and the bravery to look people in the eye and say, ‘I love you.’”

Family themes run through Kosinski’s film, echoed in the reflections of its stars. “(Steed's) wife told me that he would go work 16 hours a day on the line, cutting line with these guys,” Dale said, “and then come home and be with her and the kids as if he hadn’t even gone to work. He had that much to give.”

For actor Miles Teller’s character Brendan McDonough, the concept of family was something relatively new. …

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