Category: Interview

Sigourney Weaver on an unexpected life in sci-fi

TORONTO (AP) — A movie has a way of sitting up straight whenever Sigourney Weaver is in it. Whether the part is small or large, she reliably jolts any film alive with her intelligence and commanding presence. She usually means business.

That, of course, has been apparent since her breakthrough role as Ellen Ripley in “Alien.” But it’s no less true of Weaver at 67. She has an almost queen-like status on today’s movie landscape, particularly in science-fiction.

She has defined one mega franchise (“Alien,” with one more on the way) and been the MVP of another (“Avatar,” with four sequels coming). Just her voice is enough to lend sci-fi credibility, whether as the ship’s voice in “WALL-E” or as the all-powerful Director in “The Cabin in the Woods.”

Weaver has been particularly ubiquitous in 2016, gracing the year’s top box-office hit, “Finding Dory,” with its best gag (her aquatic center greeting), and popping in to reprise her original role in the contentious “Ghostbusters” reboot. She was even glimpsed in Ron Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” as a young, rabid Beatlemaniac.

But she ends the year with “A Monster Calls,” a smaller film that uses fantasy to plumb deeper emotional depths. Directed by J.A. Bayona (who’s helming the next “Jurassic Park” film), the adaptation of Patrick Ness’ novel is about a boy coping with his mother’s terminal illness. Aside from approaching grief with uncommon seriousness, the film flips some genre tropes, including Weaver’s grandmother character.

The actress (who hasn’t lost a bit of her glamour) recently reflected on “A Monster Calls,” her re-entry to Pandora and her legacy of strong female protagonists.

AP: Your father, Sylvester ‘Pat’ Weaver was president of NBC and created the “Tonight Show.” Was it like you grew up in show business?
Weaver: At the time, I thought everyone’s father ran a network. I thought everyone got to go on the set of “Peter Pan” and meet Mary Martin. I always used to think I was going to go to school and then come home and be a different girl and go to a different house. It took me a while to realize I was stuck with me. Maybe that’s the early awareness of an actor that we’re all changeable. I remember thinking, “Gosh, I’m so amazed I’m in this body for so long.”

AP: You have such an impact on a film, regardless of how large your part is.
Weaver: I really love being part of a good story. I don’t need to be the center of the story. That’s why I really loved “A Monster Calls” because the grandmother was unlike anyone I’ve played before – not completely unlike my mother, who was British. It’s a movie I hope families go to together.

AP: Was your small role in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” your first film?
Weaver: Woody offered me a bigger part but I turned it down because I was in a play. I played a multiple schizophrenic who kept a hedgehog in her vagina and I wasn’t going to give that part up.

AP: “Alien” was quite a follow-up.
Weaver: It didn’t feel like a big movie to me. It felt like a very small, dark, strange movie and I could relate to that because I was used to doing very strange things off-Broadway. I thought: This is fine. This is like a workshop movie.

AP: Ripley was one of the first strong female protagonists in an action film. Is that a legacy you’re proud of?
Weaver
: I am. I’ve since read other scripts and I go, “Well that’s kind of an interesting part but I’d rather play this guy.” Because I always feel still, like in our world, there’s a lot of testosterone in some of these movies where really legitimately a woman would be involved.

AP: Do you think that’s changing?
Weaver: I think by the time your daughters are in the world, everything will be different.

AP: What did you think of the backlash to Paul Feig’s “Ghostbusters”?
Weaver: I was very surprised by it. I enjoyed the movie. I love all those women. I think Feig is brilliant. I do think it has something to do with the misogyny Trump has unearthed. I thought it was very charming. Does it also make you remember how much you loved the first one? I think so, but not to the extent that I’m going to boycott it. We’re sitting at the table. You’ve got to make room for us. We’re not going to go away.

AP: Ang Lee’s “Ice Storm” must be a film you’re particularly proud of.
Weaver: I was discussing a character I might play with someone and they said, “This woman’s cold.” I said I find that a nonsensical adjective for a woman. I’m sure you could describe Janey in “Ice Storm” as cold but she wasn’t cold. She was so disconnected from her life and bored by it.

AP: You’re soon to head into one mammoth “Avatar” production.
Weaver: The scripts for “Avatar” are absolutely incredible. I have committed to a very interesting movie about a woman (“Second Saturn”) that I hope to do in May. It’s like: This is my wonderful meal before I go into Pandora.

Source: wbal.com

Sigourney for ‘Harper’s Bazaar.’

 

In my career, I’m always getting chased by something, whether it’s a chicken or a monster,” jokes Sigourney Weaver in reference to the actor dressed in a yellow chicken suit who is quietly lurking on the periphery of her Harper’s Bazaar shoot with the fine-art photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia. The setup is a playful take on the lensman’s images, featuring a real bird confronting the actress in a New York penthouse, that ran in the magazine’s October 1996 issue. “Maybe I was the chicken’s pet,” she says with a laugh when asked who ruled the roost on set 20 years ago. As it turns out, Weaver’s avian adventures are not the only thing taking us down memory lane. She is also celebrating the highly anticipated release of this summer’s estimated $154 million reboot of the 1984 blockbuster Ghostbusters, the film that helped cement her place in Hollywood. This time, though, instead of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson as the proton-pack-wielding cast, there is a powerhouse quartet of female comedians, namely Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon.

This new, ladies-centric take did not pass without a fair amount of controversy. Self-proclaimed “Ghostheads” railed against having women in the lead roles, prompting the trailer to became one of the most “disliked” videos in YouTube’s history, and director Paul Feig to address the backlash in a series of tweets that called out commenters for “misogyny” and for being “haters.” Weaver, who makes a cameo, could not be more confident about the current ensemble. “To be able to hand Ghostbusters over to these incredibly talented women felt perfect, and it was time,” she says. “There is such wonderful chemistry between the four of them. That does remind me of the boys because they were old friends and they had worked together a lot too. That kind of comedic pairing is just gold. You just turn the camera on and let them go at it.

It was really the chance to be possessed by a dog,” says Weaver of her role in the original Ghostbusters. “I thought that would be fun.

It was Aykroyd’s studied belief in the supernatural that prompted the original script, which he and Ramis polished in the basement of Aykroyd’s home on Martha’s Vineyard one summer, as their families took to the beach. To say the movie was an insta-hit is an understatement. It grossed $238 million domestically, which would be impressive by 2016 standards, never mind 1984, and was nominated for two Oscars. While the men famously battled the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and a slobbish green ghost named Slimer, Weaver turned into a sexy demon in an off-the-shoulder shimmering copper dress. She opted for the role for a very specific reason: “It was really the chance to be possessed by a dog. I thought that would be fun,” says the Yale School of Drama graduate. “I love the idea that a cellist would turn into this crazy ghoul.

The spook factor has been present throughout Weaver’s epic career. In addition to the Ghostbusters films, there was the bloodcurdling Alien franchise, the wondrous Avatar series (which is now in preproduction for four more films), and her upcoming vehicle, the fantasy film A Monster Calls, costarring Felicity Jones and Liam Neeson. Yet even with all her experience, the actress hasn’t developed a belief in the paranormal. “I haven’t,” she says, “but I do have a friend who tries to get in touch with the other world, and she does things like go on ghost tours of Grand Central station and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So there’s a lot of ghost presence, perhaps, in New York.

That presence is certainly being felt this summer as McCarthy and the three Saturday Night Live all-stars suit up. “I think the fans are going to be pleased by how we pop up,” Weaver says of her role in the film. “It’s just a very sweet movie but also very funny and kind of crazy. I think that’s a big part of what films can do—take us to another world.

Source: harpersbazaar.com

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