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Wall-E - Sigourney Weaver interview

Sigourney Weaver

Interview by Rob Carnevale

SIGOURNEY Weaver talks about playing the voice of the spaceship in Pixar’s new animated hit Wall-E, why it was such a joy to be involved with the project and her own favourite moments from this instant classic.

She also discusses some of the film’s deeper themes surrounding the environment and humanity, as well as her own pet hates involving robotic voices in real-life…

Q. You’ve said that you’re a huge Pixar fan and that you would have done this for no money? Is that true?
Sigourney Weaver: I was absolutely delighted to be asked as I was a stalwart fan and very, very enthusiastic of Pixar. I was still delighted even when I found out why I was cast, which was not for my talent but because I was in Alien. It’s funny because I was sent a little film of WALL·E, who’s so endearing, and the script. The ship’s computer has a limited number of lines, but then I met Andrew [Stanton, the director] and I said all of the robot entities, all of the electronic entities in this movie have so much character and so much heart. Being a computer I also think that I start as the voice of this rather evil corporation that’s gotten us into this mess, but by the end I too want to go back to Earth and find out what a hoe down is. So it was a wonderful world to enter, even as a computer, and I really, thoroughly enjoyed it. They also really let you play around, and I told Andrew I wanted to have an arc as my character, levels etc. He was very indulgent and we had a very good time.

Q. What do you think about the film now that it’s been completed?
Sigourney Weaver: I think it’s a perfect movie, actually. To me, a movie that succeeds at it’s best is a movie that’s about much more than just the characters in it, which this certainly is, from the first second. What I admire so much is that it has this totally endearing, captivating story, adventure and romance. But within such a striking context, to show Earth as it might be if we don’t take care of it, and to not pull their punches. That’s how the movie starts, I just have so much admiration for the way they’ve taken this on, and how they’ve gone for it. That’s why it’s such a pleasure to talk about, there’s nothing negative you can say about this picture, so it’s easy to be here.

Q. Are you surprised at the things people read into the film after the event, the themes of capitalism, environmentalism and even obesity?
Sigourney Weaver: Yes, I’m fascinated also to hear that some of these issues – which are the larger context – have grown in importance. I guess I find that last shot where you pull back and the grass is growing over the next hill, really that’s what brings tears to my eyes… that the Earth is also trying to get back. So, I guess it’s perfect that the film is coming out now because, first of all, we need something very loving to humankind and very entertaining.

I think what Andrew said about answering the question of what the purpose of living is, the idea that none of these people who made these choices or who have gone along with these choices, none of them are castigated or demonised for being lazy or fat or whatever, they’re just these big children and no-one has ever asked anything more of them. All of these issues are introduced not only with compassion and lack of judgement, but also with this feeling that WALL·E doesn’t give up, WALL·E doesn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself, WALL·E is dogged and devoted. Whatever he does he tries to do well, he brings his best self to whatever the situation is and that’s what you see the humans doing. So, whatever is happening in the environment, one of the reasons I’m so happy the movie’s coming out now is that all the news is so dire, and this is actually such an encouraging movie to watch about the environment.

Q. Do you find that you’re still able to watch this movie as a fan, as having a smaller role means there’s no pressure on your shoulders?
Sigourney Weaver: [Laughs] Yes, I’m this really happy hitchhiker. That’s why it’s easy for me to talk about the movie, I don’t have any stake in it, I can just objectively say as someone who’s seen it twice and who fell in love with every element as I saw it that it’s just such a wonderful, wonderful story presented to me.

Q. You’re a calm voice in the film, but in real life what are the disembodied real voices that drive you nuts?
Sigourney Weaver: I think it’s always the voices on the phone that are very polite but never actually hear what you’re trying to do because there’s no correct button to push. I guess it’s interesting how people come up with the right voice that they think won’t drive you crazy when you can’t get through to someone. It’s always a woman’s voice – very pleasant and very polite. That would be the one, the one that never gives you the button you need to press.

Q. What’s your favourite moment from the film?
Sigourney Weaver: Gosh, there are so many. I think my favourite moment is when you see EVE destroy that ship. She’s like my dream action woman figure because she’s so off handedly emotionally destructive. You don’t really understand EVE until she giggles and her eyes do that funny thing. But then you fall in love with EVE too. The fact that he’s not intimidated by this gorgeous, sleek destructive woman just gives us hope. And look how nice she is once he gets to know her.

Read our review of Wall-E

Read our interview with Oscar-winner Ben Burtt