Exclusive: From Role Play to Gladiator 2, Connie Nielsen Makes Her Mark

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Motherhood, marriage, and mayhem collide in Role Play, the new Prime Video film from director Thomas Vincent. The outing marks another coup for Connie Nielsen this year, who stars alongside Kaley Cuoco and David Oyelowo in the high-stakes drama about a suburban mother and wife leading a double life as an assassin. Elsewhere, Nielsen reprises her pivotal role as Lucilla in director Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated Gladiator 2, starring Paul Mescal (All of Us Strangers). Then there’s her role in Ava DuVernay’s Netflix feature, Origin, and a part in director Siri Rødnes’s upcoming film, Follow Me, which revolves around money, secrets, deception, and fatal attractions.


But Role Play is generating big buzz at the moment. Nielsen plays Gwen Carver, a powerful woman maneuvering things behind the scenes, in the action-packed film, written by Seth Owen. The film finds Cuoco playing a seemingly peaceful suburban mother and wife (Emma Brackett), leading a double life as an assassin. David Oyelowo stars alongside her as Emma’s husband, Dave. Nielsen’s Gwen may be pivotal to the Bracketts’ safety — or not — and there’s some great fun watching the Troika stretch their limits here.

If you love films that offer a great balance of action sequences and comedy, Role Play is worthy of your time. Connie Nielsen shares more about working with her costars and the overall production in this exclusive MovieWeb interview.


Connie Nielsen Chooses The Right Roles

Role Play
Role Play

Release Date
January 12, 2024

Director
Thomas Vincent

Rating
R

Runtime
1hr 40min

The last decade has been fruitful for Nielsen. The actor turned heads as Queen Hippolyta in blockbusters Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman 1984, Justice League, and the Snyder Cut of Justice League. She also co-starred with Bob Odenkirk in the wild action film, Nobody, and co-starred with Simon Pegg and Lily Collins in The Inheritance.

On taking on the role of Gwen in Role Play, she said:

“I liked the idea of an authority who is hiding in the transnational Interpol space, and using these powers, presumably, through anti-terrorism legislation, to create outcomes she herself wants. She is someone who wants to control people. She wants to have a ‘family’ she controls. And there’s that thing about love — that you got to earn it. You can’t just make it happen.”

Related: The Toughest Female Characters in Movies, Ranked

When asked what she appreciates most about some of the recent roles she’s taken, women who have been strong, vulnerable, or both, Nielsen shared: “One of the most important things for a character is really where the vulnerable side is to them? Where is the peak behind that facade behind which this machine is working so hard, right? That’s what an actor does. They’re showing the machine and at the same time, they’re also allowing people to see through the motivations of the character.”

On Kaley Cuoco

Nielsen was in Denmark for a summer holiday with her kids when she received the invitation to head down to Berlin to “make this really fun movie” with Kaley Cuoco and David Oyelowo. “I was like, ‘that sounds really great — kids, what do you say, Berlin?’ Then I read the script. I’d just seen the Flight Attendant and gotten totally hooked on it and I thought, ‘This girl [Cuoco] is just so good at this.’ She plays this everywoman with a freedom and directness that’s just so refreshing.”

In the film, the Bracketts’ seemingly innocent “date night” role-playing takes a wild turn when an assassin (played by Bill Nighy) appears and intends to go after Emma. What follows is a tour du force, sending Emma to Berlin and Dave to unravel a horrible secret. Nielsen’s Gwen is a by-the-book government official, but there’s something shady on that front, too.

RELATED: Role Play Director Thomas Vincent Discusses Stars Kaley Cuoco, David Oyelowo, and Bill Nighy

Nielsen went on to praise Cuoco’s great comedic abilities in the film, and how much she appreciated her take on a troubled woman hiding behind a persona. She found the character of Emma to be inventive because of her traumatic background and how she became somebody trying to overcome it by desperately maintaining a normal family life.

“I thought that’s very clever,” Nielsen added, “because that’s a human. It’s a deeply human understanding of someone who is lying and who needs to learn something. I think she learned so much throughout this film. She learns that she has to have a deep respect for the thing she loves the most in the world.”

Role Play and Motherhood

One of the more interesting twists in Role Play is how well the screenwriter balances Emma’s two lives. She’s a steely assassin, but she’s also a loving mother, which Nielsen identified with.

“Before I was pregnant I was like, ‘Yeah, I think I’ll have kids when I’m like 39, 40, maybe 50, and once I actually was pregnant, I was stunned that no one really talks about the fact that that experience is so emotionally gratifying. It is one of the most deeply satisfying sensations of love that you ever feel. This connectedness is so magical and so special, I can’t even express it.

“We don’t really talk about women in general outside whether they’re pretty or sexy or smart,” she added. “The fact that they’re also doing something so connected on so many levels to these giant things in the universe — something life-giving — is extraordinary. It’s just incredibly satisfying, heartbreaking, and difficult. Above all, it is one of the most beautiful experiences of love that you will ever have as a human being.”

Looking ahead, Nielsen said she’s “very excited” about Gladiator 2 and that she’s, “about to rev up another film that I can’t talk about. But it’s all very exciting.”

Dive into the fun and action in Role Play on Prime Video on Jan. 12, 2024. You can watch it through the link below:

Watch on Prime Video

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