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Sigourney Weaver Steals Our Hearts

The popular actress discusses her new film, Abduction, her early film career, and her work with the Flea Theater.

By New York City
Sigourney Weaver
(© Tristan Fuge)
Sigourney Weaver
(© Tristan Fuge)
Sigourney Weaver has amassed one of the most impressive resumes in show business, having starred in over 45 films (including Ghostbusters, which will get a theatrical re-release next month), 35 plays, and numerous television series and movies, earning three Oscar nominations, a Tony Award nomination, and two Emmy Award nominations.

In her latest screen project, Abduction, she stars as a psychiatrist who helps a young man (played by Taylor Lautner), who is determined to uncover the truth about his life after finding his baby photo on a missing person's website. TheaterMania recently spoke to Weaver about her film work, her experiences at New York City's Flea Theater alongside husband Jim Simpson, and what she has to tell young actors.

THEATERMANIA: You don't have a lot of screen time in Abduction. Does that affect the way you approach the role?
SIGOURNEY WEAVER: It's one of the reasons I took the role of Dr. Bennett. I was interested in playing this character with such a twist without a lot of screen time. The part in this is like a James Mason part where you come in and perform this function and you have to do it really well and you serve the picture and you're off.

TM: You performed most of your scenes with Taylor Lautner. How was it working with him?
SW: I loved working with Taylor. The movie is a real coming-of-age story and he handled it beautifully. I think for a young man with so much fame and attention, the way he just concentrated on what he needed to do as an actor was impressive. There is a lot of stuff going on in his universe, and a lot of that attention must be quite distracting.

TM: You had a lot of attention at the beginning of your film career. Did you enjoy it?
SW: I had wonderful parts early on, but it wasn't until I did Ghostbusters that I thought, "I am so happy." I loved doing films like Alien and The Year of Living Dangerously, but I didn't feel like I knew what I was doing. With Ghostbusters, I felt my sails furl with wind, and I was doing what I was supposed to do.

TM: You have at least five very different movies coming out soon -- you play everything from a professor of psychic phenomenon opposite Robert DeNiro in Cold Light of Day to a vampire in Vamps. Is that kind of variety a conscious choice on your part?
SW: I feel like I have the best of both worlds now. A lot of these young directors have grown up watching Aliens and Ghostbusters and they ask me to be in their movies and I get to do all these insane things. I feel I've finally gotten to the point where I'm not only offered good parts -- but I'm also offered hard parts.

Sigourney Weaver and Tom WopatinThe Guys
(© Joan Marcus)
Sigourney Weaver and Tom Wopat
inThe Guys
(© Joan Marcus)
TM: What do you get from working in the theater that you can't get from working in film?
SW: The theater can really show you where you are in terms of your acting and your voice -- sometimes in a more explicit way than in a movie. Earlier this month, we did the play The Guys again at the Flea, the company run by my husband, Jim Simpson. It was such a workout and I was so grateful to find out that all my breathing work had paid off! It was a completely different vocal experience for me and for the audience because I served those words in a completely different way. This may not be what young actors want to hear about, but it's the long game that's what's interesting about the profession.

TM: Do you like working with young actors?
SW: I love working with young actors! At the Flea, we have a lot of young people in their mid-20s in our resident company, The Bats. What I love about it is we're all equals, there's nothing hierarchical about it. I have put more time in, but they have other things that they bring to it that I don't -- like passion and hunger. I feel very happy in that dynamic. I love the intergenerational quality of our work there.

TM: Do you have any plans to teach acting?
SW: I'm going to teach at St. Mary's in Indiana with my husband in a few weeks. Having been dumped on in drama school and being told I was so talentless, I love meeting with young actors and telling them there's a lot of things they don't have to worry about. I can help them with the process of what it is they need to do at an audition. I can help them not make the mistakes I made.


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