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Rachel Weisz Jumps Into The Deep Blue Sea

The award-winning actress discusses starring in the film version of Terence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea.

Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea
(© Liam Daniel)
As Terence Rattigan's year-long 100th Birthday celebration draws to a close in the U.K., a new filmed version of Rattigan's play The Deep Blue Sea will open in U.S theaters on March 23, helmed by Terence Davies and starring Oscar winner and Olivier Award winner Rachel Weisz as Hester Collyer, the beautiful, young wife of a high court judge (played by Simon Russell Beale) who falls madly in love with a handsome younger man (Tom Hiddleston). TheaterMania recently spoke with Weisz about the film, her childhood, and her desire to be on the New York stage.

THEATERMANIA: Rattigan writes about repressed people from his own era and yet this hot and heavy romantic triangle seems totally relevant in 2012. How do you explain it?
RACHEL WEISZ: You have a nice, steady marriage and then suddenly you fall in real love. So what do you do? It's a disaster! The repression of the 1950s makes this a much more interesting story. It's about what Terence calls "erotic love" and Hester's never felt it before. She's bourgeois, married to an older man, a judge, and her life just falls to pieces.

TM: Do you think she's mad?
RW: I don't think she's mad in any real way. She's just not really thinking, not about anything practical or about self preservation; so she's just screwing up in a big way with this crazy love she's discovered.

TM: In most of your films, you're the love object of the main character. How does it feel to switch roles for a change?
RW: Great! I mean she basically just throws it all away and that's delicious to play. Terence grew up in an era where there were all these strong female movie stars like Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck who were powerful and complex and they were often the seducers of their male co-stars on screen.

TM: Can you talk a little about your two leading men?
RW: Well, when I read the script, I'd imagined the husband being an unpleasant sort of control freak. But then Simon came in and played him sweet. He was so lovely to work with that it actually made it hard to leave him. And Tom is very easy-going with that wonderful period face of his, and he's so passionate and sexy and smart that we just clicked.

TM: What was it like working with Terence Davies for the first time?
RW: He's probably as passionate and emotional as Hester is -- in fact he's a lot more like her than I am! And he'd never shot a sex scene before, so I had to spend a lot of my time making him feel all right about it. Oh, and he was so particular about all his music choices, especially in that pub scene with everyone singing -- apparently that's what [English] people did before TVs and sports in bars.

TM: Did your parents ever talk to you about growing up during that period?
RW: My mum would sing some of those 1950's songs and she'd tell us about how everything was rationed during the war -- the butter and the meat -- and how that kind of gets under your skin so that she still does it a bit even now today.

TM: You won the Olivier for playing Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. Is there any chance we'll ever see you on stage here in New York?
RW: Well, I live here (with husband Daniel Craig), so that would be great. And there are things in the air -- just nothing I can talk about now. But I definitely want to do it!

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