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Paul - Sigourney Weaver interview

Paul, Sigourney Weaver

Interview by Rob Carnevale

SIGOURNEY Weaver talks about getting involved with the sci-fi comedy Paul and working alongside a CGI alien.

She also talks about satirising her own iconic status within the genre, finding good comedies and why she believes there are real-life people like her shadowy character out there…

Q. What was it like working with a CGI character in Paul? Are you used to CGI now having done so much of it on the likes of Aliens and Avatar?
Sigourney Weaver: I always think it’s strange because they come in with like balls or something and they do this thing with balls that are lit perfectly. To me, it’s so unscientific looking. It was actually the same with Avatar. It was bizarre… and pretend that this thing of tin foil is this. That’s nice, though, because it’s still up to us as actors rather that a production artist. You have to sell it. What I think is so wonderful about Paul, though, is how they’ve created a comedy with a missing character.

Q. This is the second film where we’ve seen you satirise your own iconic sci-fi status…
Sigourney Weaver: What was the first one?

Q. Galaxy Quest
Sigourney Weaver: I was just playing myself in that one [laughs].

Q. How quickly did you say yes to this?
Sigourney Weaver: Well, I loved the script and wanted to be a part of it. I think the challenge for me, of playing ‘the voice’, was how to be part of an ensemble but not really be there… to just try to have this relationship with Agent Zoil throughout the film with just my voice. I worked on it as hard as I could and then kept my fingers crossed. Luckily, I had a rehearsal with Jason [Bateman], so we could kind of talk about who was ‘voice’ really. You know, something’s off with her. But how that would translate itself into a voice over the radio, and how much to show, that was challenging. We never actually spoke directly to each other during those scenes. Jason did his first because he was on camera and then I arrived to do my scenes. I’d love to have another chance to work with Jason!

Q. You must have been confronted with a lot of nerdism during your career. Can you talk about that a little?
Sigourney Weaver: Well, I was one. I was this tall when I was 11 and always had my nose in a book and really didn’t fit in anywhere for many, many years. So, to me these are my people [smiles]. I’ve managed to crossover, or at least give that impression, but at heart I’m just one of them. So, I have the same joy and excitement surrounding these movies and a sense that these movies are so important for tell these stories and sharing these stories. Especially right now, I feel the world could really use a movie like Paul.

Q. In what way?
Sigourney Weaver: Well, to me it’s just an old-fashioned, very witty funny comedy with so much heart where you love all the individual characters. It sort of turns a whole way of thinking about extra-terrestrials on its head and it’s just one of those movies where the people are who they are. Take Kristen Wiig’s character, for instance, she’s as mad as a hatter as a Christian, but there’s a universal quality to the movie that I find very appealing.

Q. Do you think comedy is important right now? And how easy is a good one to find?
Sigourney Weaver: It’s very hard to find a good comedy. I prefer doing comedy far over anything else because I think they’re actually more profound. But finding a good one and a great ensemble is very difficult to do and I’m delighted that in these particular times there is so much interest in comedy and that comedy is having so much success.

Q. Is it even harder for women to get good comedic roles, especially as leads?
Sigourney Weaver: It’s true there aren’t as many female driven comedies that are just about being goofy and irreverent. That will come, but now they have to be about shopping or getting married or something. That’s too bad because we can be just as goofy as guys. With the new emphasis on geeks and nerds women have to be not far behind. We’ll have our moment.

Q. You have one scene where your character is finally revealed in which she steps out of the helicopter wearing a beautiful dress. Was it difficult to then have to fight in it?
Sigourney Weaver: Apparently not! My arms were free! It was such a delicious character, to be this disembodied voice for so long and then she comes out. I thought it’s one of the greatest entrances that an actor could possibly make. But these people, like voice, are very confident and have no doubt that they will vanquish in the end. But part of the fun of this, after doing all the voice work, was to actually get to be with these actors and hit them and hurt them [laughs]! I also loved the idea that this character was kind of a girly girl for one evening a year and they were ruining it.

Q. When you play people like voice are there any real life voices that you’d think of for inspiration?
Sigourney Weaver: Well, I can’t lay claim to knowing anyone like her in the real world. I’m sure there are many but I bet most of them are men. I do, however, get the feeling that there are whole developments of our government that are trying to squash any reports of extra-terrestrials and stuff like that. I think it’s so unfair because it would be wonderful for us not to have to depend on The Enquirer, which never prints anything accurate. But I’d love to know how much of our budget goes to support people like voice’s job, keeping the people who think they’ve been probed in a little cell somewhere in the basement.

Q. Do you think there’s something out there?
Sigourney Weaver: We can’t be the only game in the universe. That would just be ludicrous.

Q. Will you be involved with Ridley Scott’s Prometheus – the former alien prequel?
Sigourney Weaver: Oh, I don’t think I could be! But I wish him well [smiles].

Read our review of Paul

Read our interview with Jason Bateman