Sigourney Weaver back in spotlight at 60
Finally, after all these decades as an actress, Sigourney Weaver is having to come to terms with true fame.
"I think I've finally accepted the fact that people are going to ask me for my autograph," she says with a laugh.
The relative anonymity she always enjoyed is over. "I've sort of lived this hunted life in New York, pretending that I was just an actor, and now that's gone."
She gets recognized all the time these days -- and Avatar and her performance as Dr. Grace Augustine are the reason why. True, her stardom did begin 30 years ago with the role of Ripley in the Alien films, one of which was directed by Avatar creator James Cameron. But back then, the culture was different, so she was able to retain a certain "denial" about her celebrity status. "I was sort of holding on to that little shred of privacy.
"Now there's no turning back. I'm now an Avatar and now I am a household name."
But she can't really complain.
"I feel so fortunate to be in this business, to be working so much in this business."
Now a dazzling 60, Weaver opens this month in a new film comedy, You Again, in which she and Jamie Lee Curtis play old high-school rivals who, years later, are brought face to face again in the course of a turbulent wedding weekend. Weaver had a ball working with a cast that also includes Kristen Bell, Kristin Chenoweth and Betty White, and there were days when scenes were ruined because none of them could stop laughing.
"I really did laugh until the tears ran down my face. . . . It was really crazy."
You Again opens tomorrow, and -- trouper that she is -- Weaver is on hand to talk to the media on its behalf. But she's also realistic enough to know she'll also be peppered with Avatar questions.
Such as: What's happening with Avatar 2?
Weaver employs her considerable charm by saying essentially nothing, in deference to the notoriously secretive Cameron.
"I'm not at liberty to talk about it -- but of course it is science fiction," she says sweetly. Then, after the laughter subsides: "There will definitely be an Avatar 2. Jim is definitely at work on it."
She remains surprised by Avatar's huge international success, although she knew from the beginning it would be something special. It has also made her think about the technology Cameron used so brilliantly, while also making her wary of the rush by other filmmakers to leap onto the technological bandwagon.
"I'm grateful to Jim for reinventing 3-D as something that I think has real emotional power," she stresses. But that doesn't mean she embraces the technology wholeheartedly. "I think that 3-D continues to be used in a not very intelligent way -- as if it's a novelty and that's what the audience wants, when really, what an audience wants is to be immersed in an experience that is really compelling.
"I don't think anyone realized that Avatar would bring so many people into the theatre who hadn't been to the theatre for so long. I think it's a great thing to be a part of."
You Again is definitely not a 3-D film and, Weaver implies, there's no reason why it should be. The Disney Touchstone release takes a look at old high-school hostilities and how they can resurface years later and in different generations. Bell plays a successful woman whose adolescent insecurities start resurfacing when she discovers that the brother she adores is marrying the young woman who tormented her in high school. Meanwhile, her mother, played by Curtis, must come to terms with the arrival on the scene of her own old rival, in the person of Weaver.
When Weaver read the script, she loved the comedy, but she also felt it had something serious to say about the miseries many youngsters experience in high school. She cites her own experience in boarding school as an example, noting that, while it's one thing to be six feet tall in adulthood, it's quite another when you're a female teenager.
"I was tall when I was 11," she remembers. By the time she was 14, she was already five foot 10. "So when I got to high school, I was just this horrible, spidery, self-conscious, clumsy person. Thank goodness you have four years
"So I guess I feel there was a kind of universal story here about people trying to move on as if high school didn't happen, and you can't do that. I guess you have to go back and at least take a look at yourself."
By Jamie Portman, Postmedia News