Avatar’s habit of breaking records is not coming to an end any time soon, last monday it broke the UK record for the biggest opening-day sales of a Blu-ray disc, selling 222,824 copies, which was more copies in one day than what the previous record-holder The Dark Knight sold in its first week. I’m sure the first week totals are going to be ridiculous. Check out my interview with the legendary and lovely Sigourney Weaver for Avatar’s DVD/Blu-Ray release below.
What was it like working with James Cameron again?
Sigourney Weaver: I found it less intense than in ALIENS, maybe because we’re both older now. He was much more relaxed this time; he was like a kid in the candy store. The hours were long and everything took longer than expected. But it has been such an adventure and I think because I did work with him before, it was wonderful, I know him well. We picked up where we left off, except I think he’s merrier now, he’s happy, he has kids and a family and he was so excited about working on AVATAR and working with each of us.
What kind of director is he?
Sigourney Weaver: Very intense but wonderful. Jim is always so generous, finding out what we want to try with each scene, or what we think about our characters. He is a very gentle, encouraging director who always makes you feel good about what you are doing. He has worked so hard to create this entire world for AVATAR, the whole concept, the creatures, everything. It is amazing, because Jim actually invented the cameras that shot this movie, he shot every frame. I remember reading the script and thinking that it was just so incredibly ambitious. I’m just so thrilled for him, that he’s pulled it off, you know. He’s done the impossible, which was to create this other world, it is an entirely different way of life. And that’s such an amazing accomplishment. I hope he had a good time doing it.
What was the most challenging aspect of the work for you?
Sigourney Weaver: The challenging part was the motion capture work, you do have to pretend it is Pandora, because you are acting on an empty stage, you have to use your imagination. It is all about being very specific, because you might just have a stick or a feather to react to.
Can you talk about your character’s journey in this film?
Sigourney Weaver: When you meet Grace, she’s working for a company that she hates and hoping to work with Jake’s brother, because he is a very promising scientist and she wants him to help her crack this mystery about Pandora, so she can get the corporation (who are mining on Pandora) to stop mining and protect this world she loves so much. When it turns out that Tommy is dead and has been replaced with Jake (Sam Worthington) she is furious, because she discovers that this ex marine clearly has not got a scientific bone in his body. So during the course of the story, she goes from a difficult position, working for a company that she hates, to trying to break through to find the science she needs that will wake them up to what they’re doing. In the course of the story, she is thrown together with Jake again and again. I think they both fall in love with Pandora and he ends up really teaching Grace how to fight.
What’s the theme of this movie for you?
Sigourney Weaver: I think it’s a story about a young man who comes of age and who finds something to fight for. Avatar is a great love story and it’s the story of a modern conflict. It is a conflict between what you love, what you have to do and what you believe in vs. what people are telling you to do. So it’s a very rich story with creatures and places and huge battles. There is nothing modern and cynical about this story. In many ways it reminds me of my favorite classic films. I used to love the feeling of settling into my seat in the theater and then it would say: ‘David Lean Presents’ or something like that and you would know that you were going to a place that would be extraordinary and that something was going to happen to you that you would be thinking about for days to come and I feel like AVATAR is that kind of movie.
You were essentially the first female action star; do you feel that you changed everything for actresses in some ways?
Sigourney Weaver: Well I think that if it hadn’t been me it would have obviously been another actress (laughs). I really loved the character Ripley (ALIEN). I still see the woman who inspired me to play Ripley, she’s awesome. She works as an environmentalist actually. At the time I played Ripley, women were entering the work force and were taking on jobs only men had done before, in the armed forces and in industry, so I think it was the right time for that to happen. But I am really glad that I got to be a part of that. What I love about Ripley is that I was allowed to play a woman as a complicated character, without a man, without anything and that is still unusual. I sort of blame Ridley Scott for all of that and Jim Cameron, because they love women and respect women. Ridley just let Ripley be a person. ”
You have had such a challenging career, what have been the defining experiences for you so far, do you think?
Sigourney Weaver: I think most of my life changing experiences have been as a parent and as a wife. For a mother, just getting your child through the school system is a heroic job. And when I think of my life, I don’t think of my work, I think of my real life. You know, at home I have my family and I have all the different things that I care about, like human rights. There are lots of causes that I work for and when I’m in New York I end up just spending a lot of time on them. I don’t begrudge it all, I’m saying that I keep incredibly busy.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Sigourney Weaver: I love to be with my family, I love to do nothing, I love to read, to be in the garden, I love to take walks, play with my dogs and to cook – I am incredibly boring (laughs). My perfect day would be spent in the country, out in nature with the dogs and my husband and maybe my daughter and her boyfriend. We would hike up some small mountain with a picnic, then have a swim and cook hamburgers or something and then go to sleep.