Saturday, July 14, 2012

Second Look: Sigourney Weaver

You probably don’t remember her in her first movie role in “Annie Hall”.  (She was Woody Allen’s date standing outside the movie theatre.) You probably didn’t relate to her in “Alien” (one, two, three or four.) You probably admired her as Dian Fossey in “Gorillas in The Mist”. You probably empathized with her as the sex-seeking/sex-escaping neighbor in “Ice Storm”. You probably hated her as everywoman’s nightmare boss in “Working Girl”. Despite more than 45 movie roles over her more than 35 year-long career --her most recent film as a psychologist studying paranormal activity in “Red Lights” opened this week-- and many turns on the stage including this fall's new Christopher Durang play, she has never acted on the small screen. At least not until this Sunday when she plays Elaine Barrish Hammond, a former First Lady now Secretary of State, a stern diplomatrix in Chanel sunglasses, as one critic described her real-life inspiration.

You probably won’t want to miss even one episode of “Political Animals”, USA Network’s “fun and fizzy” six-part mini-series premiering July 15. Following in the footsteps of “The Good Wife”, 
"Veep”and “Game Change”, Weaver plays a pantsuit- wearing public servant and divorced mother of two grown sons. When Morning Joe asked the nearly six-foot-tall Weaver last week if she enjoys playing “strong women,”she responded: “I don’t play strong women. I think all women are strong. I just play women.” 

To ready herself for the role, Weaver read Madeleine Albright’s memoir “Madam Secretary,” studied New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s demeanor, and modeled herself after the mothers at the private school in Manhattan that her daughter, Charlotte, attended. “They’re the ones who rolled up their sleeves and got things done,” Weaver said.

Weaver is no stranger to the workings of Washington, D.C. “My father was Governor (Nelson) Rockefeller’s campaign manager,” Weaver said in one interview. “I actually worked on Capitol Hill and campaigned for Rocky to get the nomination as opposed to Nixon. That summer in Washington made me feel cynical about the system, and that was the 1970s. Actually, I’ve always been one to do very cause-related things. For me, it’s not so much about candidates, but about issues.” She is passionate about such issues as education and conservation, and one of her pet causes among others is not surprisingly The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

And, what about national politics today? Here’s what her character says in the first episode: “I am sick to death of the (B.S.)” says Elaine. “The egos and the men. I am sick of the men. Just one time — just once — I would like to accomplish something in this city without having to spend all my energy navigating the shortsighted, selfish, self-involved and oh-so-fragile male egos that suck up all the oxygen in this town. It makes me so sick.”

You’re probably going to really like this show.


  1. Love this post! (And I've always enjoyed watching Weaver.)

    Unfortunately, I missed the first episode, but I'm looking forward to catching it a few days late!

    (What great dialog you just quoted!)

  2. Sigourney Weaver is fabulous - and you're right, I don't remember her in Annie Hall!

  3. Though I admire Weaver as an actor and find her presence strong and attractive, I always notice her mouth- not its shape, but the tightness of her compressed lips. I imagine a lot of control, a high-strung quality.

    It's not that I prefer cutesy or cookie-cutter pretty, but that crimped tension just scares me.

  4. I think I will... actually I know I will.. i also loved her in Heartbreakers... xv

  5. I love this show - I call it "Desperate housewives" for political junkies - not "West Wing" but a lot of fun -
    Sigourney is great!!

  6. Hey Pat,

    How did you like last episode of Political Animals? I think the show is really smart about women who
    are passionate about their careers AND their children. My new West Wing, by the way, is Newsroom.
    Same writer, Aaron Sorkin. It's good and getting better--but I suspect it will have a strong second season
    now that Sorkin has hired more female writers.

    Thanks for your comment. Please stop by often.

  7. Nice article/post! I really love every movie Weaver has been part of and just recently in Political Animals is very nice too! I watched all six episodes of it and I just got get all the negative critics... sure, she sure is THE reason I watched the show but the mini-series was quite good too on it's own, what do you think Caryl? :)