In her new British thriller “Close to Me,” Connie Nielsen plays a woman who is unable to remember an entire year of her life after a nasty fall and head injury.
As the series progresses, it becomes clear that the fall might not have been an accident.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played somebody like Jo before,” Nielsen, 56, told The Post. “I’ve never played someone who is that caustic or reality-based. I’ve played femme fatale in ‘The Ice Harvest’ but I don’t think I’ve played a wife this way. You really get to go through so many stages of her life with her over those six episodes. And that has felt like a luxury to be allowed to really dive into the life of a person to that extent.”
Nielsen, who is Danish-born but lives in San Francisco, is best known for co-starring in “Gladiator” and the “Wonder Woman” movies.
Now streaming (Sundance Now) and also on The UK’s Channel 4, “Close to Me” follows Jo Harding (Nielsen), a Danish translator who seemingly has a perfect life with her husband, Rob (Christopher Eccleston) and their adult children.
As the story progresses following her head injury, Jo learns that Rob has lied to her about several upsetting events that she’s forgotten from the past year, including her dog’s death (Rob tells her a fib that a neighbor is watching the pooch) and her father’s dementia. At first, it seems like he’s lying to spare her feelings, but she begins to suspect that something more sinister is afoot – and that one of them might have been having an affair. As she regains some memories and tries to piece together what really happened (aided by voiceover sharing her thoughts with the viewer), she becomes increasingly paranoid.
“If your brain is altered, are you yourself, or are you your brain? It’s just such an odd thing to think through,” said Nielsen. “And it made for a really interesting thing to work with regards to Jo, because it’s playing against these stereotypes that we put women in. Jo is so irreverent, and the ability to get behind a woman’s face and listen to how she actually thinks allowed for us to kind of dispense with some of the preciousness where we usually like to make female characters super-likable or quirky.
“They always have to be somehow charming,” she said. “But with Jo, we really are brutally honest. And especially because this is a woman who is also going through menopause, I wanted that to be part of the conversation because it’s like this sort of dirty secret that women live through. Women, even within their families, are going through really life-changing experiences, but without any support in their homes. So, I wanted to also highlight that.”
Ridley Scott also recently announced that he’s making a sequel to “Gladiator” but Nielsen did not confirm whether she’ll appear in that, or future installments of the “Wonder Woman” franchise.
“I’m not allowed to say anything,” she said.