Avatar - Sigourney Weaver interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
SIGOURNEY Weaver talks about reuniting with James Cameron for Avatar, seeing her character in Na’vi blue form for the first time and what advances in technology mean for her as an actress.
Q. How was it seeing the Avatar versions of yourself, especially your facial characteristics, for the first time?
Sigourney Weaver: We all had renderings of our performance capture when we were we doing our performance capture and for me Grace had such a haunting face. Her human life is so guarded and armoured. The rendering was so amazing to me, so I was really surprised when I saw the movie and Grace looked just like Sigourney, only I was 10ft tall and blue and 30 years younger, so I was a much improved version of myself. I could leap tall buildings at a single bound. It was wonderful having a double life as a character and seeing it realised so magnificently by Jim.
Q. What was your initial reaction to the concept of Avatar and reuniting with James Cameron?
Sigourney Weaver: You, know we had stayed in touch and I was always a big admirer of the challenges Jim took on, so I have to say I was absolutely thrilled when he called and really very sweetly – because even though he’s very capable, he’s so humble – asked me if I’d mind taking a look. So, I spent the next three days reading the script, which was so ambitious on every level. I’d be like, well it’s so amazing that she gets to ride on that banshee, but I just don’t see how you could do it, but I certainly wanted to be part of the adventure of going for it. But you always know with Jim that you’re never going to be in better hands. There’s no one going to fight harder or work harder to give the audience a great experience. And also, the part of grace, this woman who is a dichotomy between this very driven, dry, frustrated woman in the human world and this free spirit who has lost her heart to the Na’vi people, the combination of all these factors was just made me jumped at the chance to go on this adventure with Jim.
Q. Can you contrast the working practices of Aliens and the working practices on this film? How are the advances in technology going to impact actors?
Sigourney Weaver: Well, I think there have been several revolutions and I think this one is the biggest. When I did the first Alien here at Shepperton, there were was this awesome special effects crew who with a few hoses and things like that made those special effects. On Aliens we did use green screen. I think green screen is harder for actors. In avatar, when we were in our little suits with our ears and our tales on this empty set, we could see the world in Jim’s magic camera. I don’t know what he calls it. I call it the magic camera. We could see what we looked like in this landscape but we were completely free to be with each other as actors and characters and as Jim said, he could just focus on us.
I think green screen and some of the intermediate things were men thinking up clever things. I think the green screen was the most awkward and as an audience member, I always thought they put the characters too close together… it was just unbelievable to me. I’m so grateful as an audience member and as an actor that we have a new technology where we can get to the essence of the moment and the scenes and leave it up to the geniuses at Weta [Workshop, Avatar’s design gurus] to spend 50 hours per frame building on what we’ve done. I had an acting teacher along time ago who told me, as long as you’ve got it inside you don’t have to show anything. Well, we had it inside us of us and Weta just let that lead them. They don’t show it, they just bring it out into 3D and as an actor I am very grateful.
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- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
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