Excerpts from “A LIFE IN THE DAY OF JACK WALTZER” – London Sunday Times Magazine – September 27, 1998
“I was a terrific actor – a lot of people said that about me. But I wasn’t getting the kind of parts that fed my ego. I was getting small parts. Or very weird parts. Like Lucky in Waiting for Godot. And I did very well with it. But I don’t have a type. I’m not short like Dustin. I’m not fat. I’m not a leading-man type – I don’t look like Robert Redford. I’m neutral – that’s the reality. And I was tired of not getting the big parts. I found when I was teaching I had more satisfaction than when I was acting. Now I say, “Have Stanislavsky system, will travel.”.
When I work with Sigourney – I’ve done five movies with her – I go to her apartment on the East Side. I first met her on the set of Death and the Maiden. She had a pretty good reputation – three Academy Award nominations – but I sat in on her first reading. I said, “That was good. Now, if you can just have a little more nervousness inside..’ She’s very tall. She looked down on me and said, “If I need you I’ll let you know.” I screwed up – she didn’t know me from Adam. But I saw something that had to be there. Two days later we were friends.
Excerpts from Sigourney Weaver’s interview – Los Angeles Times – January 10, 2000
As in “Oh, man, I just let loose” (talking about her lifechanging acting lessons around the time of her stage role in “Death and the Maiden”), or “Oh, man, I never knew what was going to happen next” (about playing Alice in her new film “Map of the World” and “Oh, man, I don’t want that much chaos” (recalling her former resistance to free-form jazz: Which she has since grown to love).There’s a no-holds-barred quality to her acting these day’s, whether she’s going for the emotional jugular or over-the top laughs, unlike her more restrained roles in films such as “The Ice Storm.” She credits her newfound range with a process that began after Roman Polanski introduced her to uber-acting coach Jack Waltzer in Paris in 1993.
“I never really learned anything in drama school. It was all about representation acting than about real acting. Real acting comes from here, she says, putting her palm on her chest. . “Not from here. ” She points to her head.
“l used to think that I still had to do that stupid head-figuring-out. I didn’t really do it. I was always rebelling against it. I felt like I developed a new technique for every new roIe I had. Jack helped me discover the kind of actor that I was. So what that did was to have me fall in love with acting all over again, and the idea of reaching into another life and coming out and telling the story to everybody.
“I- don’t even have to think about it now, ” adds Weaver, who , turned 50 in October but looks at least 15 years younger on screen. ” You just do your work ahead of time and you experience it as if it’s happening to you. You just surrender to it. “She compares playing Alice in “Map” to listening to jazz a type of music that used to frighten her. Now, she says she loves its anarchy.
“Jazz used to intimidate me because when it went outside, it would be like, “Man. I don’t want that much chaos “. Now, when we go to see people play, that’s the best kind of work, because it’s all just in the moment. It’s so out there, you don’t need to do anything but relax totally and be there, and be picked up by whatever that is and thrown around.
“Playing Alice was like that. I never knew what was going to happen. I was, like, flying.”
Excerpts from Sigourney Weaver’s interview – Harper’s Bazaar – October 1996
Death and the Maiden marked a turning point for Weaver – she already had three Oscar nominations to her credit, but in Maiden she displayed a new range and power…
“When I was a less experienced actor, I wanted to know what was going to happen in a scene,” she says, “but during Maiden, I felt way over my head, and it was very exciting not to have any image of how a scene was going to turn out. With these big parts, you kind of surrender and let them take you. And that’s quite addictive – it’s really a high.”
As a result of her more instinctive approach, which she credits to acting coach Jack Waltzer and to her husband’s encouragement, Weaver has, she says, “fallen in love with what I do all over again.”
Excerpts from Sigourney Weaver’s interview – Back Stage West – January 13, 2000
Back Stage West : ln the past five years, starting with Death and the Maiden, it seems that you’ve been offered more serious dramatic roles. Have you felt a shift in your career?
Sigourney Weaver : Yes, I think when I did Death and the Maiden, first of all, it was a huge dramatic part, and secondly, I studied with a new teacher Roman Polanski turned me on to – Jack Waltzer. Jack studied with Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Sandy Meisner, all of them, so he’s sort of a living treasure of theatre. And he has his own techniques, too. Working with Jack gave me different ways of approaching a role that were much more from the gut and also gave me a new confidence. […]
And of course l was always, l thought, a very good comedienne. That was an area where l had a lot of confidence. But l had never gone after these roles that, say, Meryl Streep took, or Jessica Lange. I just thought, I’m fine over here. And suddenly l started to get offered these roles, and, with Jack’s help, I just started to break through again and again. And by the time l did A Map of the World, that kind of emotional – you know, sort of throwing yourself out of a plane without a chute – had become more natural to me.
BSW : How is this approach different from your studies at Yale?
Weaver : You know at Yale you were taught to double-think every single gesture. For example, with every prop you used, you had to write down how you were going to use it. And you had, like, these three columns you had to make on the left-hand page of the script and all of this crap. It was so intellectual, and so not what l needed. I’m more a gut person. And the work with Jack and the roles l was getting just liberated me and gave me much more confidence.