Sigourney Weaver (born Susan Alexandra Weaver; October 8, 1949) is an American actress and film producer. Following her film debut as a minor character in Annie Hall (1977), she quickly came to prominence in 1979 with her first lead role as Ellen Ripley in Alien. She reprised the role in three sequels: Aliens (1986), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award Best Actress; Alien 3 (1992), and Alien: Resurrection (1997). She is also known for her starring roles in the box-office hits Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II (1989), and Avatar (2009).
Weaver was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for the 1980 Off-Broadway play Das Lusitania Songspiel, and received a Tony Award nomination for the 1984 Broadway play Hurlyburly. A seven-time Golden Globe Award nominee, she won both Best Actress in Drama and Best Supporting Actress for her work in the 1988 films Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl, becoming the first person to win two acting Golden Globes in the same year. She also received Academy Award nominations for both films. For her role in the 1997 film The Ice Storm, she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Additionally, she has received three Emmy Award nominations and won two Saturn Awards.
Weaver acquired the nickname of “The Sci-Fi Queen” for her numerous contributions to science-fiction film history, including minor roles in successful works such as Futurama (2002), WALL-E (2008), Paul (2011) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012). Her other films include The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), Dave (1993), Death and the Maiden (1994), Copycat (1995), A Map of the World (1999), Galaxy Quest (1999) and Prayers for Bobby (2009). In 2013, she returned to Broadway to star in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
Weaver was born in Manhattan, New York City, the daughter of Elizabeth Inglis (née Desiree Mary Lucy Hawkins; 1913–2007), an actress, and the NBC television executive and television pioneer Sylvester “Pat” Weaver (1908–2002). Her uncle, Doodles Weaver (1911–1983), was a comedian and actor. Her mother was English, from Colchester, Essex, and her father, who was American, had English, Scottish, and Ulster-Scots ancestry, including roots in New England. Weaver began using the name “Sigourney Weaver” in 1963 after a minor character (Sigourney Howard) in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby.
Weaver attended the Ethel Walker School, a girls’ preparatory school in Simsbury, Connecticut. She also attended The Chapin School and The Brearley School. Sigourney was reportedly 5′ 10½” (179 cm) tall by the age of 14, although she only grew another inch during her teens to her adult height of 5′ 11½” (182 cm). In 1967, at the age of 18, Weaver visited Israel and volunteered on a kibbutz for several months.
Weaver attended Sarah Lawrence College as well as Stanford University, where she first began her involvement in acting, by living in Stanford’s co-ed Beta Chi Community for the Performing Arts. Weaver earned her Master of Fine Arts degree at the Yale University School of Drama in 1974, where one of her appearances was in the chorus in a production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical version of The Frogs, and another was as one of a mob of Roman soldiers alongside Meryl Streep in another production. Weaver later acted in original plays by her friend and classmate Christopher Durang. She later appeared in an “Off-Broadway” production of Durang’s comedy Beyond Therapy in 1981, which was directed by the up-and-coming director Jerry Zaks.
Weaver has been married to the stage director Jim Simpson since October 1, 1984. They have one daughter, Charlotte Simpson (born April 13, 1990).
After making Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey, she became a supporter of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and is now its honorary chairwoman. She was honored by the Explorers Club for this work. Weaver is considered to be an environmentalist.
In October 2006, she drew international attention through a news conference at the start of a United Nations General Assembly policy deliberation. She outlined the widespread threat to ocean habitats posed by deep-sea trawling, an industrial method for harvesting fish.
On April 8, 2008, she hosted the annual gala of the Trickle Up Program, a non-profit organization focusing on those in extreme poverty, mainly women and the disabled, in the Rainbow Room.
She is a longtime friend of Jamie Lee Curtis. In their 2015 interview together, Curtis admitted to Weaver that she never saw Alien entirely, because she was too scared.