INT: Rachel Weisz
Rachel Weisz has had a damn impressive career over the past few years. She has co-starred with Brendan Fraser in THE MUMMY and THE MUMMY RETURNS and garnered critical attention in such films as a dudes worst girlfriend in THE SHAPE OF THINGS. But she achieved a new level of success with a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for THE CONSTANT GARDENER. And starting this week you can see her in Darren Aronofskys mesmerizing new film, THE FOUNTAIN.
got a chance to catch up with Ms. Weisz when she stopped by the
Beverly Wilshire Hotel in
So after being involved with this project for so long, is it a big relief, weight off your shoulders now that its done?
Well, I wasnt really involved with it. It was Darren, it was never on my shoulders, it was never my weight; it was his. You know, I was doing my work during those years. So it was his totally his project. I had nothing to do with the writing of it; my relationship to it was I was an actress for hire and I watched the journey of it. It wasnt on my shoulders.
But, in your own relationship, can you see the weight off his shoulders now that its almost all over?
Yeah, I know, I wouldnt ever say it was a weight on his shoulders. It was his passion, his burning, burning to tell this story and its very unusual, its very original. Its not, you know, everyone wants to make genre pictures and it needed a certain budget because he wanted it to look a certain way so he couldnt make it as an indie film. It defies genre so it was very hard to get the thirty million dollars to get it made, and it was a challenge. But I dont think it was a burden for him, I think it was hes an artist and that was going to be the story he was going to tell so I think its like, I think its an amazing story.
Darren told us a little bit about his apprehensions about mixing personal with professional in his choice to cast you in this film and how it works positively in some ways because of the shorthand and intimacy in your relationship and how it might not because of the blurred lines between the personal and the professional. Did you have similar apprehensions and how did it work out for you being directed by your boyfriend?
Im a very unrealistic person, thats why Im an actor so Im like involved in make-believe all the time so I didnt I was like ahhhh hes a realist, he sort of goes he thinks ahead and thinks this could happen and that could happen. Im just like, No, its gonna be fine. But he definitely I mean, obviously weve heard stories of people working together and it could go either way, but I dont I didnt have any sense that when we were working that it would be anything but an incredible, professional relationship, which it was and now, in our personal lives, weve been through this journey together.
You know, it really feels like these two people love each other, I mean it really comes off the screen. When you meet with somebody whos going to play your love interest in a film, is there a moment that you know youre going to have that chemistry on-screen? Or does it sort of develop as the process moves along?
Thats a really good question; we rehearsed a lot for two weeks, which is quite a lot in film. And Darren, you know there are a lot of very emotional scenes in the film and Darren often in film, directors will be like, Save it for the day. Save it for the day. But, did Darren and Hugh talk about this already?
But we really did the scenes and we got to the point where Darren said, I dont want you to save it for the day. I want you to do it now, were going to shoot this scene maybe in three months time but lets do it now. And Id be sobbing, Hugh would be sobbing and hed go, Now do it again. And thats what you do in theatre, do things again and again and again, and Darren as a director doesnt believe in saving it for the day, he thinks that, as an actor you can and both Hugh and I have done a lot of theatre so maybe we were okay with coming up with the goods, you know, many times.
But in the rehearsals I think Hugh and I exposed ourselves to one another emotionally, you know, its very raw, its very emotional, we were very vulnerable to one anther and I think we had to answer youre question, I think you do know pretty immediately and I think Hugh and I had chemistry, but we had heart chemistry as well. We just kind of had heart connection. You dont know why you sometimes Im sure you do, you meet someone and you have empathy for them so I definitely had that with him.
You suggested that it must be an extra challenge for an actor playing someone as you are in this film, coming to terms with death and just by coincidence, yesterday I saw VENUS, Peter OTooles movie which is pretty much what his character is going through as well. Can you talk about playing that particular aspect of life and what do you learn from it?
Yeah, well, its something I think most of us just dont think about unless we lose someone close to us or we ourselves have a terminal illness or you know its something we dont think about, dying. Particularly in our culture, its sort of unspoken and we dont examine it. So I had to do a lot of research, I did a lot of reading of first person accounts by people who [have] terminal diseases. Lots of literature by cancer patients, I went to hospitals and meet people, particularly young people who were willing to talk to me.
many were and people wanted to tell their story.
And I think its very different to be dying of old age or
to be dying way before your time which this young woman is.
And I think the most inspiring thing was going to the
hospices. We were
talking to these people was the most life altering thing in
perception terms because they got up in the morning so they could go
help people to die. Death
was just in their lives, every day.
And I think it was intense for them in a sense but it was
also, I think they were doing something so useful to humanity.
Its like when Mother Theresa had a place where people
would go to die in
Is there an extra acting challenge to that compared to other characteristics of an individual that you might play?
Was it a challenge playing someone whos accepting dying?
Yeah, of course, because its an almost impossible thing to accept so it was an ultimately challenging role. How do you get to a place where you actually believe and I did get there. I really did get there. Ive lost it now again. Now Im totally afraid and never think about death [Laughing] ever. But during that time when I was dreaming about it and thinking about it so intensely, I did get to a place where when I was Izzi, I believed I was still frightened and there was one line that I had to say to him. I had to say to him, Im not afraid anymore, Tommy. And that was the hardest line Ive ever had to say in any stage of a film or anything Ive ever done. And I meant it when I said it but I was still a little bit afraid, but I think that was right. I think that was right for the character. She really wasnt afraid. As she said it there was a little bit of fear so it was a big challenge.
Can you give us a quick update? A few months ago we spoke about the THE MUMMY 3 film was moving forward. You hadnt received the script yet. Is that moving forward? Is it still based on that Chinese mummy storyline?
I know nothing more about it than I did then. There is a script. I havent read it. I believe theyre looking for a director.
Any time hopefully when theyll start shooting that or anything?
Dont know. I really dont know. Im sorry.
So are you working with Wong Kar Wai now?
I did. Yes. Its his first English language film. Hallelujah!
Can you tell us what that movie is about like what the storyline is about?
The lead is Norah Jones, the singer. Its her first acting role and she is amazing in the film. And she is traveling across America, shes heartbroken like everyone in a Wong Kar Wai film [laughter], and shes traveling across America working bars and diners and she witnesses these different stories in different cities and my story was in Memphis and Im married to David Strathairn whos an alcoholic cop and Im this kind of messed up, kind of anti-Southern belle, kind of a good time girl whos not having a very good time. And they brawl we kind of brawl in this, but we have a very tragic love story with alcohol, and its all a mess. And Norah Jones is working the bar and she witnesses the stories. That was my part in it.
Yeah, it was wow. It was wow.
Do you like playing characters that are a mess? Is that more interesting for you than just playing your normal, average, everyday girl?
Um, yeah, I like all different kinds of characters but it was definitely It was definitely She was a mess. [Laughter] Shes a mess but really kind of feisty. She was a great character.
How has your career changed since winning the Oscar in terms of how youre looking to do projects coming up? I dont know if you committed to the Wong Kar Wai project before?
It was before. He offered me the job before [laughs].
A lot of actors go on different roads. They try to stay on the same road they were on before or sometimes they wish they hadnt taken like Hilary Swank is famous for saying that she wished she hadnt made some of the pictures she did after she won the first time. So Im just curious what has your thought process been in terms of what pictures youve been picking since.
you know, Im sure one gets more interesting directors wanting to
work with you and possibly more interesting scripts but it hasnt
really changed what I want to do which is just to keep telling
different kinds of stories. Ive been wanting to do comedy for a
long time so I just did a supporting role in a comedy in
Can you tell us what the comedy is?
can. [Laughter] Its called DEFINITELY, MAYBE and Adam Brooks
wrote and directed it. It was shot in
Oh, Abigail Breslin.
Yeah, Abigail. Im so sorry. Abigail. Abigail Breslin is his daughter and shes basically saying to her dad - her parents are divorced - shes saying Tell me the story of how you met my mom. So he goes back to the 90s and he tells his story and the daughter has to guess which one is her mom. So it kind of romantic comedy but its about the boy who meets the girl and has got divorced and the daughters trying to guess who the mother is. You know, its kind of a neurotic, romantic comedy.
Are you looking forward to working with Darren again? He said he has a couple projects in the works one is biblical and
There are no parts in them for me.
No, there arent. I wish there were but there arent. I would love to work with him again but the things that hes doing in the near future there are no roles for a woman my age.
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