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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 dude’s 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 Aronofsky’s mesmerizing new film, THE FOUNTAIN.

I got a chance to catch up with Ms. Weisz when she stopped by the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills . She talked about death, her relationship with boyfriend/director Aronofsky and what is happening with THE MUMMY 3. Not only was she charming, she looked incredibly beautiful. She is also very happily involved with Darren and a proud parent, so sorry guys… you’ve got ZERO chance with her.

Rachel Weisz

So after being involved with this project for so long, is it a big relief, weight off your shoulders now that it’s done?

Well, I wasn’t 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 wasn’t on my shoulders.

But, in your own relationship, can you see the weight off his shoulders now that it’s almost all over?

Yeah, I know, I wouldn’t ever say it was a weight on his shoulders. It was his passion, his burning, burning to tell this story and it’s very unusual, it’s very original. It’s 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 couldn’t 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 don’t think it was a burden for him, I think it was… he’s an artist and that was going to be the story he was going to tell so I think it’s like, I think it’s 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?

I’m a very unrealistic person, that’s why I’m an actor so I’m like involved in make-believe all the time so I didn’t… I was like ahhhh… he’s a realist, he sort of goes… he thinks ahead and thinks this could happen and that could happen. I’m just like, “No, it’s gonna be fine.” But he definitely – I mean, obviously we’ve heard stories of people working together and it could go either way, but I don’t… I didn’t 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, we’ve 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 who’s going to play your love interest in a film, is there a moment that you know you’re going to have that chemistry on-screen? Or does it sort of develop as the process moves along?

That’s 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 don’t want you to save it for the day. I want you to do it now, we’re going to shoot this scene maybe in three months time but let’s do it now.” And I’d be sobbing, Hugh would be sobbing and he’d go, “Now do it again.” And that’s what you do in theatre, do things again and again and again, and Darren as a director doesn’t 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, it’s very raw, it’s very emotional, we were very vulnerable to one anther and I think we had… to answer you’re 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 don’t know why… you sometimes… I’m 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 O’Toole’s 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, it’s something I think most of us just don’t think about unless we lose someone close to us or we ourselves have a terminal illness or… you know it’s something we don’t think about, dying. Particularly in our culture, it’s sort of unspoken and we don’t 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.

Surprisingly, many were and people wanted to tell their story. And I think it’s 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 filming in Montreal and there was a hospice there. I’m sure you all know, but I didn’t know really what hospices were, places where you go when the doctor’s can no longer do anything for you and so you go there to die not to be cured. And so the people who work there; that’s what their job was, they went everyday to help people to die with grace and with dignity and with comfort, with music or whatever it was that these people wanted.

And 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. It’s like when Mother Theresa had a place where people would go to die in India , a girlfriend of mine went to work there and people would just go and volunteer and go and hold people in their final day. These kinds of things… how did it change? It made me think about things that I would have never thought about and I think that, I feel kind of privileged to have explored it. Does that answer your question?

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 who’s accepting dying?


Yeah, of course, because it’s 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. I’ve lost it now again. Now I’m 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, ‘I’m not afraid anymore, Tommy.’ And that was the hardest line I’ve ever had to say in any stage of a film or anything I’ve 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 wasn’t 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 hadn’t 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 haven’t read it. I believe they’re looking for a director.

Any time hopefully when they’ll start shooting that or anything?

Don’t know. I really don’t know. I’m sorry.

So are you working with Wong Kar Wai now?

I did. Yes. It’s 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. It’s her first acting role and she is amazing in the film. And she is traveling across America, she’s heartbroken like everyone in a Wong Kar Wai film [laughter], and she’s traveling across America working bars and diners and she witnesses these different stories in different cities and my story was in Memphis and I’m married to David Strathairn who’s an alcoholic cop and I’m this kind of messed up, kind of anti-Southern belle, kind of a good time girl who’s 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 it’s 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] She’s 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 you’re looking to do projects coming up? I don’t 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 hadn’t taken…like Hilary Swank is famous for saying that she wished she hadn’t made some of the pictures she did after she won the first time. So I’m just curious what has your thought process been in terms of what pictures you’ve been picking since.

Well, you know, I’m sure one gets more interesting directors wanting to work with you and possibly more interesting scripts but it hasn’t really changed what I want to do which is just to keep telling different kinds of stories. I’ve been wanting to do comedy for a long time so I just did a supporting role in a comedy in New York . So, yeah, I really wanted to try to do some comedy. So that’s like a bit of a newish color for me.

Can you tell us what the comedy is?

I can. [Laughter] It’s called DEFINITELY, MAYBE and Adam Brooks wrote and directed it. It was shot in New York and Ryan Reynolds is the lead actor and then he has three different girlfriends in it – me and Isla Fisher and Elizabeth Banks and also it’s sort of a story between him and his daughter and his daughter is played by… I did how many scenes with her, the wonderful actress, she’s from LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE.

Oh, Abigail Breslin.

Yeah, Abigail. I’m so sorry. Abigail. Abigail Breslin is his daughter and she’s basically saying to her dad - her parents are divorced - she’s 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 it’s about the boy who meets the girl and has got divorced and the daughter’s trying to guess who the mother is. You know, it’s 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? [Laughing]

No, there aren’t. I wish there were but there aren’t. I would love to work with him again but the things that he’s doing in the near future there are no roles for a woman my age.

Let me know what you thing. Send questions and comments to [email protected].




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