The Good, The Bad and the Badass: Sigourney Weaver
Last week, we took a look at the career of a downright icon when it comes to being a badass- Denzel Washington. But, as good as he is, I think he just might be beat in that department by this week’s subject.
Chalk Sigourney Weaver up as one of our true modern legends. During the eighties, Weaver did it all. Not only was she one of the few (maybe only) actual female action icons from the era (ALIENS), but she could also do just as well in comedy (GHOSTBUSTERS, WORKING GIRL), and drama (GORILLAS IN THE MIST). Her versatility is legendary, and it’s served her well over a career that’s lasted thirty-six years.
Right from her first “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” appearance in Woody Allen’s classic ANNIE HALL, it was clear that Weaver had “it”, meaning insane star-power and, yes, sex appeal. Her lead role as Ellen Ripley in Ridley Scott's ALIEN shot her to instant stardom, and in the decades since, there’s never been a time that she hasn’t been on the A-list. In terms of longevity, she has very few rivals.
Sigourney Weaver’s been great in a whole bunch of movies, but for me she’ll always been Ellen Ripley. Without a doubt, Ripley’s one of the great action icons, comparable to any major action role played by any of her contemporaries like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, or Clint Eastwood. Weaver as Ripley is like Sean Connery as James Bond, or Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. She just is the character. What’s particularly interesting about her performance as Ripley is the growth she shows across the films, particularly the first two, ALIEN and ALIENS.
In ALIEN, Ripley is ice-cold, being the second-in-command to the nice-guy captain played by Tom Skerritt. Yet, her insane struggle to survive against the xenomorph monster humanizes her. But, she really comes into her own with ALIENS, particularly the director’s cut, which reveals that she left a child behind to take a contract for the company, and that her daughter died of old age while she was adrift. Her relationship with Newt is her redemption, and I defy anyone watching this not to get a chill when she’s goes mano-a-mano against the Queen. “Get away from her you BITCH!!!” Weaver was so incredible she was nominated for an Oscar (and should have won), almost unheard of for a blockbuster action role.
Tough one. Weaver’s one of those actresses who’s consistently underrated so picking one where she’s the opposite is tough. I guess maybe the only one that seems worthy of this is the short-lived series POLITICAL ANIMALS. Despite being cancelled, it managed to finagle its way into the “best mini-series” category and garner a slew of Emmy nominations it may or may not have deserved. Even still, Sigourney can’t really be blamed.
I’m gonna give JoBlo himself a shout-out with this one. To me, GALAXY QUESTis a criminally underrated film. People see Tim Allen on the DVD cover or poster, and automatically think it’s one thing, where it’s actually quite an ingenious satire of STAR TREK and its fandom. While Allen is great as the William Shatner-style star, and Alan Rickman steals-scenes as the Patrick Stewart (who’s gone on record saying he loves this film)-Leonard Nimoy serious “ACT-or”, Weaver is unexpectedly hilarious as the show’s leading lady. Her character complains about being fetishized by fans as an airhead sex-bomb, and yearns to prove herself as something more, and certainly does over the course of the film. She also has very nice chemistry with Tim Allen. Clearly Weaver’s having a lot of fun here and it shows.
While this may not be the ultimate test of her acting ability, how else could I choose anything but the chest-buster scene from ALIEN? It’s certainly the most memorable scene she’s ever been a part of, and iconically scary.
4. GALAXY QUEST
5.THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY
Weaver’s not slowing down at all. While her rumored role in the next MORTAL INSTRUMENTS movie may not happen after all (considering how badly the first one flopped) she’s keeping very busy indeed. Apparently, she’ll be back in the AVATAR sequels (even though she died in the first one), and has also signed on to Ridley Scott’s new biblical epic, EXODUS.