Sigourney Weaver on Abduction, Studying Twilight, and Ghostbusters 3
Twilight idol Taylor Lautner may be new to the action hero game -- well, at least as a young adult, now that his Shark Boy days are long gone -- but he had a seasoned vet by his side on the set of John Singleton's Abduction: Ellen Ripley herself, Sigourney Weaver. As a therapist to Lautner's thrill-seeking teenager, who stumbles into the spy game after discovering the truth about his own childhood, she shows her young co-star how it's done, effortlessly and with grace. But it wasn't Lautner who studied Weaver's body of work for pointers; instead, Weaver admitted, it was she who studied Lautner's work -- his work in the Twilight movies.
"I play a vampire in Amy Heckerling's Vamps, so I tried to watch the whole oeuvre -- the vampire world," Weaver told Movieline. "And I enjoyed them very much." Her verdict on Lautner, the actor? "He didn't need any pointers from anybody." Read on for more with Sigourney Weaver as she talks choice character roles, working with Taylor Lautner, the latest on Ghostbusters 3, and more.
The Abduction premiere was a little nuts, wasn't it?
Yeah! You know, it's like an old-time premiere.
The masses of Twilight fans there to see Taylor Lautner probably made it feel even more surreal than usual.
It was great! It's part of the Hollywood tradition, screaming fans. [Pauses] And Justin Bieber was there, too. There was a lot of screeching and screaming. I was a Beatles fan, I understand!
Do you get the whole Twilight phenomenon and the recent obsession with vampires?
I play a vampire in Amy Heckerling's Vamps so I tried to watch the whole oeuvre, the vampire world. And I enjoyed them very much. That's how I knew who Taylor was when [aAbduction] came up, because I had seen him play that part, I thought very well.
How did Abduction come about up for you?
I think this role was actually written for a man, so I think it was pretty cast and they sent it to me. I was a big fan of John Singleton's and I liked the part -- I thought it was really interesting. I've been fortunate to play some very big parts but I actually find the smaller parts to be more challenging. You don't have too much time to establish things. I kind of want that. So in this case, to try and make the audience think, absolutely, it's this, and fifteen minutes later I have to make them think absolutely, it's this -- I thought that was cool.
Is it also appealing to take a smaller role because it demands less time in your schedule?
Well, not really. I think to me, growing up seeing lots of movies and lots of plays -- I think of this as like a James Mason part, who I adored. I saw him onstage, live. You get someone who has a certain kind of chops to come in and set something up. I really thought about him a lot, what he would do.
I love James Mason.
He's just so good. He brings such heart and soul into it. And to me, he's an example of the saying, "There are no small parts," because he still imbues the film with whatever he's brought.
You having been in many iconic action films and Taylor in his action hero debut, was there any advice you gave him?
[Laughs] He didn't need any pointers from anybody. He hit the ground running and I thought he did such a great job. It's a very interesting character, Nathan. Everything he thought was one way is another way. And then the action, to me -- I think we all knew he could do the action -- as it's part of the film, is secondary. The acting of that young man -- he did it beautifully. Lily [Collins] too, who I didn't know. It was really fun to work with them. I thought it was a very interesting relationship.
When this was first presented to you, was the genre absurdity of it all part of the pitch?
You know, I haven't seen many films in this genre. It's a genre I enjoy as an audience member, but I don't really know much about. In fact, I do another one that's coming out in April called Cold Light of Day, with Henry Cavill, where again I'm playing a CIA person. It's interesting to be in them. They're challenging, because you have to really know your stuff as a CIA person to tell the story well. There's a lot of establishing certain things, and they're very, very specific, which I adore as an actor.
I noticed a mini-trend in your recent film roles, playing psychologist types, in Red Lights and in this, although in Rampart you play a district attorney. Even in Rampart, from a recent clip released in which you share a scene with Woody Harrelson, your character seems like she's picking apart his psyche.
That's a scary idea! [Laughs] She probably is, but she's a district attorney so she's not necessarily on his side. He's a troublemaker.
Why do you think you get offered these kinds of roles now -- psychologists, CIA types, people in positions of authority?
I don't know. I know that some of these parts were written for men and they sent them to me, which I think is great because I think our world has changed since I started making movies. Now there are many more fields that have a lot of women of authority in them. Women of strength and directness. And I love playing women like that, who I perceive in the real world to be doing just that. It makes sense to me; to me, it's more realistic, in this movie, is Gerry [her Abduction character] is a woman. I think it's more reflective of the way things actually are, and that makes a better movie.
I got a kick out of the scene in which you tell Taylor to get his shit together. What was your favorite moment?
[Laughs] I think that scene in the car... You know, she says a lot of tough things to him.
And in the span of about two minutes.
Yes. I think that was the most challenging scene that I had and probably the reason I did the movie, because she suddenly turns everything on its head and instead of being the nurturing person she just says, 'Get your shit together.' And she means it, and we know he has to in order to pull this off. Also, 'Leave the girl!' [Laughs] You're better off alone. I enjoyed all the scenes with Taylor; I liked 'rescuing' him in the hospital with all the wretched balloons, which made so much noise for the poor sound people. They're mylar; they're a nightmare for sound! But it was a good ploy.
It's funny to see your face popping out of a bunch of balloons.
[Laughs] I know, it's very silly.
We play a game at Movieline called My Favorite Scene. Take us through one of your favorite movie moments!
One of my favorite movies would clearly be Notorious -- the scene where Cary Grant [visits Ingrid Bergman]. Just seeing how ill she is... to me that was such a hard picture. Such a steely picture. And then there's this amazing soft center in the picture which is that she's almost dead and he clasps her in his arms and talks to her. It's like the whole movie turns into a different organism.
You know, we talked a lot about Hitchcock for this movie. John is such a film buff, he knows everything. And I know nothing, because I never took a film course. But he would talk about these different elements, and you'd have to talk to him, but so many of the shots he did were an homage to a great movie that he loved.
What's the latest on Ghostbusters 3?
I don't know! I get more stuff from you guys.
Have you read a script yet?
I've gotten a couple of phone calls. I think they're still working on the script because they don't know if Bill [Murray] is going to be a part of it or not. I can't imagine us doing it without him, so fingers crossed. We'll see.