The action thriller Abduction tells the story of Nathan Harper (Taylor Lautner), a high school teenager who has the uneasy feeling that he’s living someone else’s life. His therapist, Dr. Geri Bennett (Sigourney Weaver), tries to talk him through his intense nightmares, but when he stumbles upon an image of himself as a little boy on a missing persons website, he realizes his parents (played by Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello) are not his own and that his entire life is a lie. Targeted by a team of trained killers, he is forced to go on the run with the only person he can trust, his neighbor Karen (Lily Collins), who he’s had a crush on for years.
At the film’s press day, actress Sigourney Weaver spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about the fun of playing roles originally written for men, what she enjoys about working with younger actors like co-stars Taylor Lautner and Lily Collins, and that she would be interested in exploring this character more, if there were to be a sequel. She also talked about how fun it is for her to see the ways kick-ass women have evolved in film, what made her want to jump into the vampire genre for Amy Heckerling’s upcoming comedy Vamps, and how her next role will be as a professor of queer theory in a film called It Is What It Is. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
SIGOURNEY WEAVER: I can’t remember how it came up, but I had dinner with John Singleton. I’m a big fan of his and he talked to me about this role, and he said, “We’d been thinking that this would be a man, but then we thought of you.” I actually think it’s great that they made it a woman ‘cause it would have been a little heavy on the testosterone, if they hadn’t. But, it all happened very organically from that meeting.
As you do more and more roles that were originally written for men, do you just look at any role as something you can play, when you’re reading scripts?
WEAVER: Actually, by the time they send it to me, they’ve told me what role to look at. I often think that they get a script finished and then they look at the chemistry of it all because our world is so peopled with women in fields that traditionally were men’s fields, but are no longer. We have so many women in authority in our lives now that it makes sense to have a lot of these parts go to women now. I say, “Don’t change a word. Keep it the way it is.”
What was it like to work with Taylor Lautner and Lily Collins?
WEAVER: I really enjoy working with younger actors. I just feel like we’re all peers together. I felt that Taylor and Lily had a great dynamic, right from the start, and they both understood their characters very well and worked very hard. And then, between set-ups, we’d goof around and be silly together. One of the things I really like about our industry is that it’s so inter-generational.
How difficult was it to maneuver that batch of balloons around the hospital? Were there any mishaps?
WEAVER: The only thing that I had to worry about was sound. For the sound department, it was a nightmare. I think I had to loop that scene, and I never like to loop. I try to put it out there, so I don’t ever have to loop, but there was a lot of noise from the balloons. It was a good gag. I never got tangled up, oddly. They tied them in such a way that it made my job easier.
Were you ever disappointed that you didn’t get in with the action at all?
WEAVER: It’s their story. The whole point was that they had to do this by themselves because of their age. I thought that was the whole point of this story. You have to trust that whatever you’ve said to Nathan will carry the day.
What was it like to work with John Singleton?
WEAVER: I love John. He’s such a film lover and has such extensive knowledge of film. I never took a film course in my life, so to hear him just talk about all these different genres and everything, he really knows his stuff. He is a director that I admire, and I was delighted to get a chance to work with him.
WEAVER: I guess so. It’s set up for that. We added that scene because he didn’t really have a place to live, at the end of the original script. They added that Dr. Bennett’s home would become his, and that made sense to me. In this business, it’s a mistake to take anything for granted, but I like the character. I like being a seasoned veteran who’s having to unexpectedly use these resources that she’s developed in the past. I thought it was an interesting touch that she’d trained Nathan’s father. I liked that.
When you’ve done a character like Ripley in the Alien films, and then you see a character like Selene in Underworld that probably wouldn’t have existed without that, what’s it like for you to see women in these strong action roles now? Is it fun for you to see how it has evolved?
WEAVER: Oh, yes! And, I think it’s much more about our society that now it’s not a big deal for women to see women kicking ass, as it were. It was great to see Zoe Saldana in Avatar, being the bravest of them all. It’s just something that certain filmmakers have really championed, like Jim Cameron and Ridley Scott. As the mother of a daughter, I think that my daughter just takes it totally for granted. I don’t take it for granted. Every time it happens, I’m delighted.
What made you decide to jump into the vampire genre with Vamps?
WEAVER: Well, I’m a big Amy Heckerling fan, and I also loved the character. She was so unrepentant. I watched the whole genre, as it were, and that’s how I knew who Taylor was. I loved the company that she put together, and I think it’s going to be a lovely movie, even though I’ve only just seen a little tiny bit of it. I love playing delicious, evil parts like that.
WEAVER: She is the person who turned the girls into vampires. So, they have to do her bidding, and she’s very unreasonable and demanding. I would have to say that the one change I made was that I thought she was not really enjoying herself very much, in the original script. I thought, “What’s not to enjoy?” She’s 2,000 years old, she can have anything, she can have anyone, she can do what she wants, so I wanted her to be totally in-the-moment. So, I talked to Amy about it and she just evolved that way. She’s a really happy vampire. She digs it.
When you look back at your career and think about all the memorable roles you created, in both drama and comedy, are there any that you remember most fondly?
WEAVER: Gosh, I’ve been so lucky. I’ve had such a wonderful time doing lots of different things. But, I’ve probably enjoyed doing the comedies more. Who would not enjoy Ghostbusters or Galaxy Quest? Those were such fabulous ensembles. Paul was great. I always think it’s more fun to be in a comedy. On the other hand, with a movie like Snow Cake, where I played the woman with autism, I worked on that for a year and it really was a fascinating experience, and a really good experience.
Having been in the business as long as you have been, do you find yourself as passionate about the craft now, as you were when you started, or is it more of a challenge to find those roles to get passionate about?
WEAVER: No, I have to say, if anything, I’m even more passionate. I actually have a little confidence now, which I didn’t used to have. When you hit your strive, and you feel confident in what you’re doing and in your process, you really want to do more and try lots of different things. I’ve also really worked on my breathing, which is a funny thing to talk about, if you’re not an actor. I think breathing is actually the key to a lot of opening up of other parts of yourself that you haven’t used, for any job, but particularly in acting.
Do you have any idea what you’re going to do next?
WEAVER: Yes, I do. I’m playing a professor of queer theory in a movie called It Is What It Is, that is co-written and will be directed by a young woman named Susanna Fogel. It’s her first movie. It’s mostly about these four young people, in their mid to late 20′s. I play the mother of one of them, and she’s this really famous, beloved, lesbian professor, who talks about how important it is to own the word cunt, and really use the consonants. It is a comedy, but it’s one of those wonderful indie comedies that’s got a lot of different qualities going on, and I’m very excited about it.
Is the diversity of your roles intentional, or have you just been really lucky that everything has been so varied?
WEAVER: I think I’m lucky. Also, I have fabulous agents. My agents at UTA, bless their hearts, think I can do anything, and I let them think that. They know I’m game. I love working with young people and young filmmakers, and I love working on first films. I think it’s cool. It’s fun. I just take it as it comes.