DISCourse: Exclusive Interview with Sigourney Weaver

DISCourse: Exclusive Interview with Sigourney Weaver

Oct 27, 2010

The actress tells us why she's OK with an Alien franchise reboot, whom she resembles more--her Alien or Avatar character--and why she sometimes misses Ripley's company.

The Ripley character was originally written to be a male in Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi masterpiece Alien, but Sigourney Weaver stepped in and created perhaps the strongest female character ever on-screen. She was nominated for an Academy Award for reprising her Ripley role in James Cameron's Aliens and then said sayonara to Ripley in Alien3 only to be reborn in Alien: Resurrection. It's been 13 years since the latter film and Weaver has since reclaimed her "Sci-Fi Queen" crown by starring in a little film called Avatar, which is coming out in an extended special edition Blu-ray on November 16.

We could chat with Weaver for hours about being possessed in Ghostbusters, spoofing herself in Galaxy Quest and that hilariously bad Russian accent in Heartbreakers, but the conversation always circles back to Ripley. Fox just released the definitive Alien Anthology, which features the Blu-ray debuts of all four Alien movies and over 60 hours of bonus material, so we thought it timely to reminisce about Ripley in an exclusive interview with the woman who made her a cinematic icon.

Movies.com: You've played Ripley in four Alien movies. Which was the most challenging for you as an actress and why?
Weaver: I think they each were challenging for different reasons. I think the biggest role was probably the one in Aliens. The scale of it, to go from someone who wakes up after her own family has died and is thrown into space and no one will believe her. It's sort of the most existential beginning. She finds her new nuclear family by the end—a venture that completely exploded. In terms of scope and scale and challenge, it was a good workout.

Movies.com: Ripley is one of the strongest female characters in film history, but hasn't appeared on-screen since 1997. Some 13 years later, do you have "Ripley days" and channel some of that character's strength into your real life or other roles?
Weaver: I feel like she's still very relevant. She's an ordinary person who is thrust into extraordinary circumstances and had to come through. I think that a lot of us in extraordinary circumstances today are being very heroic. Not me particularly, but single mothers and others. I feel like there is a lot of Ripley in a lot of ordinary people. She comes up for me, and I kind of miss her company.

Movies.com: Hollywood is remake crazy. How would you feel if someone wanted to remake Alien and cast a new Ripley? Do you feel protective of the character?
Weaver: It's not that so much as we had such great directors doing the movies. I think what they're doing now with the Alien prequel and trying to jumpstart a new franchise is a smart idea. There are a lot of movies now that are not so well done. I just watched Marathon Man because I'm going to be playing a CIA person, and there are just certain movies that you shouldn't try to redo because they had the time and dedication to make them all they could be. It would be a great mistake.

Movies.com: Who has more of your personality traits in real life: Ripley or Dr. Grace Augustine from Avatar?
Weaver: I'm much sillier than both of them. But probably I can relate to Grace now because I am often in a position on the set where I know that I represent 30 years of experience and have more experience than a lot of people. It's sort of a natural mentoring situation even though I am not mentoring anybody…but I'm there. Ripley and Grace are both pretty different for me. There are times when I try to channel Ripley when I have something really challenging to do, because I know we can all find that in ourselves.

Movies.com: Do you think we'll ever see Ripley on-screen again?
Weaver: I think the prequels are interesting because they start before Ripley even existed and will probably try to go into where the Aliens first came from. I'm delighted that Ridley Scott is involved because I know that it's going to be high class. I don't really feel like her story is over, though. We'll see!

Categories: Disc-y Business
Tags: Alien, Avatar
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