Sigourney Weaver Exclusive Interview!
You Again brought Sigourney Weaver together on screen with Jamie Lee Curtis and Betty White for the first time. Although Weaver had appreciated the careers of both, the chance to work with and get to know these entertainment icons in You Again was priceless. Even for an actress with Weaver’s three-decade blockbuster career, opportunities such as the new comedy about cross-generational frenemies are actually quite rare. "It’s so hard to find a good comedy," Weaver said exclusively to SheKnows.
Weaver is a picture of Hollywood elegance as she sits across from us on a recent weekend to discuss her stellar career, finding cinematic women wizardry with You Again and how a woman inspired by her father to pursue a film career digests the idea that she is the star in the highest grossing movie of all time.
The film career of Weaver is beyond impressive. She first discovered superstardom when she famously appeared as Ripley in Ridley Scott's Alien.
Since then, her film resume is beyond legendary from The Year of Living Dangerously, Ghostbusters, Gorillas in the Midst, Working Girl, Dave, The Ice Storm and Galaxy Quest to Avatar and one thing is congruent: Weaver is one of her generation's most versatile actresses.
Speaking of amazing actresses, You Again not only stars Curtis and White, but also Odette Yustman, Kristin Chenoweth and Kristen Bell as a successful PR executive who heads home for her brother's wedding only to discover his fiance is the girl at the center of Bell's completely depressing high school experience.
SheKnows: With so many talented actresses and actors in You Again, it looked like it was total and complete fun…
Sigourney Weaver: It was a total love fest. We loved working with Andy (Fickman, director). We just got to play with those scenes and improvise. It was a great experience.
SheKnows: I know with a movie like this, you really have to move the plot, but there was room for improv?
Sigourney Weaver: Andy was always encouraging us to improvise. A lot of that stuff with Ramona, I was constantly being encouraged to go a little further. It's a delicious character.
SheKnows: There's so much there, and with so many of these characters, there are a lot of layers to them…
Sigourney Weaver: I think that's what drew all of us to You Again. Two things really: The acknowledgement that everyone had a miserable high school experience [laughs] on some level, even if you were successful. Also, all of us need to pay a little more attention, go back and try to come to terms with who we used to be and who our friends used to be. It was a great experience for me to work with people like Kristen Bell, and also Betty White and Jamie Lee Curtis. I am a huge fan for so long and Jamie's such an awesome woman. It was so much fun to play her frenemy.
SheKnows: Although your careers parallel time-wise, you have never done a movie with Jamie Lee Curtis, have you?
Sigourney Weaver: You know, we've worked with a lot of the same people, but never together.
SheKnows: Had you ever met her before starting You Again?
Sigourney Weaver: I met her a long time ago at a party and she was going out with Michael Weaver at the time. I thought I'd never seen such an attractive young woman. She burst into the trailer in the morning. She's such a morning person, she takes charge, she gave me clothes, she gave me books. She's so generous, she's just great.
Sigourney Weaver: Why You Again?
SheKnows: What first appealed to you about You Again that first time you read it?
Sigourney Weaver: I'm always looking for a good comedy. Comedies also have to be about something. I found Ramona was a delicious character, Auntie Mame-like, but there was such a drive in her to prove to this little town, and Jamie Lee's character, that she was somebody. She's still trying to make up what she missed in high school. I thought that was so human. I also loved the idea of playing someone who gets to play with all of these ideas of what success is: Europe, fancy clothes, cars, scarves and jewelry [laughs]. It was fun for me, because I don't really live like that.
SheKnows: We've talked about the fantastic women in this movie. But, can we talk about one of my favorite actors who is in You Again, Victor Garber? What was it like working with Victor?
Sigourney Weaver: [Sighs] I worked with Victor on my first job. It was both of our first jobs. PBS, channel 13, had a series called Best of Families, it had a lot of people that went on to do other things like Bill Hurt. Victor and I played husband and wife, we were the rich couple. All I did was walk through in the most gorgeous dresses. I had a big crush on Victor. I did not know he was gay. I just thought, "Why won't he ask me out?" We were reunited for this. We've seen each other in New York, but we haven't worked together since Best of Families. We love getting together. Last summer, making You Again, we laughed so hard. He took a part that was, I have to say if there was any part in there that lacked distinction, it was his. He took it and gave it so much life, so much wit, so much light. He is such a pro.
Sigourney gets silly
SheKnows: You've done some great work in comedy from Ghostbusters to Heartbreakers, what was it about You Again that you thought fit with your other smart comedies?
Sigourney Weaver: Because it was about something real and had such a wonderful cast. And Andy Fickman, whose work I had loved, he loves theater and he loves actors, he always brought such amazing energy to the set. He walked around with this riding crop. We called him, "Heir Director." [Laughs] We just had such a blast. It was really an exalted exuberant experience making this movie. It was gradual. I read the script, I loved the character, I met Andy and I fell in love with it.
SheKnows: As I mentioned, you have done great work in comedy and you've done the richest of work in drama and sci-fi, when you first set out, did you see yourself as an actress who wanted to do a little bit of everything or has it happened more naturally?
Sigourney Weaver: I think both. But, also what I really wanted to be was an actress at the Guthrie (Theater). I wanted to be in their repertory company and I wanted to play the small part and the big part, a comedy, a drama…I wanted my career to look like a repertory year. I tried to design my whole career around that. What I think of as a season has lasted 35 years [laughs]. I've been very fortunate with the opportunities. I also really wanted to be in popular movies. From my father, I think, I have a very strong commercial instinct. I didn't want to only be in highbrow movies. I think my taste is very popcorn. In an odd way, and I can see that now, it was kind of a compass for me. For me, it was, "Is this a movie I'd want to see?" If it wasn't, I didn't want to do it.
SheKnows: Given that fact, is it difficult to wrap your head around the fact that you were in the number one movie in the world? Talk about popcorn!
Sigourney Weaver: Wow. I still can't believe it, I can't believe it. Avatar has transformed the movie going experience for people. I think it's an impossible act to follow -- until Avatar 2, frankly. I say that with great love and respect for other filmmakers. They shouldn't be made to make 3D movies unless they can be done properly, 3D is not a cheesy novelty, 3D has legitimate emotional power. It needs to be used for that purpose, not just to have things fly in your face. After Avatar, I think that's irritating to people.