It took some convincing for Sigourney Weaver to tackle the role that would change her career.
Looking back on her audition for the role of fierce ET-battling Ripley in 1979’s Alien, Weaver says she wasn’t exactly gunning for the job.
“I remember that [director] Ridley [Scott] built an entire set for me just for the audition,” she told PEOPLE on Wednesday at the grand opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World, which is based on the 2009 blockbuster Avatar film. “I was from the theater. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be in a movie! I think I was the only person they tested. What was so helpful to me is that we did a run-through of several scenes. Ridley went out of his way to make sure that I had a very real world in which to be.”
Scott recently told Entertainment Weekly that actor Warren Beatty had recommended Weaver for the role.
“I went and met with her. She appeared — she had an afro, she had high heels on, [so] she was like, 7-foot-6. It felt like I was going out for dinner with Mummy.”
The star joined her Avatar castmates Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington, along with director James Cameron, at the grand opening of the new Disney “land,” which allows visitors to explore the lush alien world of Pandora, a “physical, tactile, olfactory, full-sensory experience,” as Cameron describes it.
“The extraordinary beauty of this place, I think people will come away with a lot of information about how fragile an ecosystem is,” Weaver says. “It’s just in time. I think President Trump should come down. I think it’s something we all need. The rest of the world is so ahead with all of this. Other countries are not climate deniers. I think it’s a fantastic experience where people can understand these issues from a new perspective.”
Although Weaver’s scientist character died at the end of the first Avatar film, she is signed on for the sequels — but remains tight-lipped about exactly how she is resurrected.
“Can’t tell you!” she said with a laugh. “But it’s awesome.”