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.