Actress. Environmentalist. Philanthropist. These are just a few of the things that make up Sigourney Weaver. From her incredible portrayal of character and strength as Ellen Ripley in “Aliens” to her extremely vulnerable and powerful performance as Linda, an autistic woman, in “Snow Cake” to her recent role as botanist Dr. Grace Augustine in the box-office smash hit “AVATAR,” one can safely say that Sigourney Weaver is one of the most versatile and respected actors of our time. However, her eclectic array of movie roles is not the sole factor that makes this woman an absolute inspiration. Weaver has also been a pioneer on the environmental front, bringing awareness to many environmental problems that our world experiences today. With an incredible story to tell the INSPIRE@BTHS team, Sigourney Weaver is the epitome of all that makes an incredible individual.
Although Sigourney Weaver is considered one of the greatest actresses of today, the theater was not the first career path that she had chosen for herself. “I wanted to be a writer or a teacher. … I wasn’t one of those people who wanted to be an actor at seven or something. I think one of the reasons I became an actor was because I couldn’t decide what to do. So if I was to become an actor, I could try out all of these different parts… When I was at Stanford, my last year English classes were getting pretty boring, so I applied to all these drama schools and got in, at which point I thought that that meant something.” After Stanford, Sigourney Weaver was accepted to and attended the Yale School of Drama.
At Yale, Weaver began to grasp how difficult show business really was. “When I was accepted to the Yale School of Drama, which I was terribly excited about, in the second year, out of the blue, they told me I had no talent and would never get anywhere. They told me essentially to leave the school and my father said ‘I’ve already paid all this money, at least stay and get a degree.’ I think I hung in there out of spite.” However, Weaver persevered and slowly, but surely, found herself in New York City and made her dreams go from impossible to possible. She says “… going to New York was the smartest thing I had ever done because you get to audition every week and to be in one thing after another; none of it paid very much, but I felt that off-off Broadway was, and still is, a really cool place to work.”
Through the hardships and the constant rejection, Sigourney Weaver not only made it to the other side in one piece, but has also reached Hollywood superstardom. From her experiences at Yale School of Drama to her constant auditioning in New York City, Weaver developed tough enough skin and proved all of the non-believers wrong. “I think you have to have a lot of personal character strength [to be in the movie business]…It’s a tough business, and I think I was very lucky to work with people who were very generous and very professional; most of them were from the theater. I arrived on the set of “Aliens” not having had much film experience, but I had done four years of off-Broadway and I always approached every film sort of as an English major, which I was. Was it about more than just the people in it? Instead of going for the role, you know, that was never interesting to me.”
In addition to being an incredible actor, Sigourney Weaver is also an environmentalist and philanthropist. Recently, accompanied by James Cameron and Suzy Amis- Cameron, Weaver traveled to the Amazon Forest, in order to bring awareness to the construction of the newly install hydro-electric dam that is damaging the lives of the indigenous people of the region. Furthermore, Sigourney Weaver has traveled to different schools, such as Brooklyn Technical High School in New York City, to bring awareness to the young people of today that our world truly needs our help. “I think a lot of people aren’t aware that a lot of CO2 has gone into the atmosphere and about a third of it goes into the ocean. And when CO2 mixes with sea water, it creates carbonic acid. So we’ve noticed, the scientists have absolute irrefutable data that in the last three years, the shells of all our precious creatures like mollusks, oysters, shrimp and even plankton is down and that in another 30 years the shell creatures will not be able to make shells if it continues the way it is. A lot of people think the oceans are these vast forgiving places and they are not. “This is one of the many daunting ways in which our world suffering and also one of the many reasons why everyone should get up and go green!
The INSPIRE@BTHS Team then went on to ask Sigourney Weaver a few questions out of the Marcel Proust Questionnaire. We believe that this is a great way to get to know our interviewee. Weaver had some incredible answers to tell us.
Favorite fictional character: Hawkeye from the novel The Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooper.
Your most treasured object: My family.
The happiest moment of your life: I am happy every day. I am very happy being a mother.
Greatest extravagance: I really love flowers. I think if I had no money at all and I could spend a dollar towards something I would probably buy that. My favorite flower is a Peony. They come out actually around now [April]. They have a very short season and they are beautiful flowers that open in beautiful pinks and reds.
Favorite journey: I went to Morocco a couple of years ago. I went to the film festival there ,and I said I would love to spend two nights in the desert. So we got to drive out to part of the Sahara desert and spent two nights in these beautiful tents just living in the desert. It was awesome. The desert is so beautiful, so many stars… a magical place.
Greatest achievement: I think the Flea Theater. I am very proud of having founded the Flea Theater; it does excellent work. It provides a lot of entertainment and illumination to our audiences. We are very daring and we do a good job. We don’t charge anyone for their training; it’s the one program in NYC that doesn’t charge kids to learn the theater.
Greatest influence: Probably the actor Hume Cronin. He’s been an old friend of mine and a when I was first starting out, he and Jessica Tandy were most helpful to me, very encouraging and really good friends because it’s great to have friends who are your parents age. I learned a great deal about discipline, commitment, and organization…I really learned a lot from them, they are very inspiring.
Motto for life: My mother’s motto which was “Look forward, Look Forward.”
So there you have it, Hollywood at its finest. Sigourney Weaver is one of the most generous, beautiful and caring people the INSPIRE@BTHS team has ever had the pleasure to meet. She breaks new ground in her acting career as well as in the environment every day. We are so excited to follow Sigourney’s future endeavors. Congratulations, Sigourney Weaver on all of your successes and may you have brilliant successes in the future.
So everyone, look forward, look forward. Be assertive. Be curious and most importantly, be inspired.
Adieu and Arrivaderci everyone! Until next time on INSPIRE@BTHS.