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Rachel Weisz Actress

Rachel Weisz, co-star of the "Constantine" Movie!

A British actress whose name and dark looks effortlessly conjure up associations with Eastern European exoticism, Rachel Weisz first earned the attention of an international audience with her role as the spoiled daughter of a sculptor in Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty (1996). The daughter of a Jewish-Hungarian inventor and an Austrian psychoanalyst (both sides of the family fled Fascist Europe during the '30s), Weisz was born in London on March 3, 1971. Much of her adolescence was spent modeling, and after attending Cambridge to study English, she broke into acting with a role in Sean Mathias' West End revival of Noel Coward's Design for Living. Weisz's performance in the play won her the Critics' Circle Best Newcomer award, and she subsequently took advantage of this recognition with a starring role in the BBC's TV adaptation of Scarlet & Black (1993), and then in 1996 with her aforementioned part in Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty. Although most attention was paid to Liv Tyler in her role as the film's protagonist, Weisz managed to garner notice of her own, and this recognition was furthered by her top billing opposite Keanu Reeves in Chain Reaction that same year. Unfortunately, the big-budget thriller was an unmitigated turkey; Weisz followed it with leads in smaller films such as The Land Girls (1997), a WWII drama that cast her as a young socialite sent to work on a farm; and Going All the Way (1997), a post-war coming-of-age drama starring Ben Affleck and Jeremy Davies that saw Weisz play Wasp, Affleck's Jewish girlfriend.

After returning to Britain to star as a hairdresser in the noirish drama I Want You (1998), Weisz reappeared on the Hollywood radar as Brendan Fraser's damsel in distress in the 1999 summer blockbuster The Mummy. That same year, she played yet another love interest, that of a womanizing Ralph Fiennes in Sunshine, István Szabó's epic drama about three generations of a family of Hungarian Jews. Weisz' subsequent turn in the period drama Enemy at the Gates (2000) saw her play the inamorata of yet another Fiennes brother, Joseph. As a Russian-American sniper caught between the affections of a Russian party official (Fiennes) and a legendary sniper (Jude Law), the actress again returned to the early part of the 20th century (this time the Battle of Stalingrad) and to the deep end of the Fiennes family gene pool.

Dutifully returning for The Mummy Returns a few short months later, that same year found the starlet gaining positive notice for her role in director Neil LaBute's biting stage drama The Shape of Things. Cast as a young art student whose latest "piece" is a strikingly original form of sculpture, Weisz's character would attempt to transform her boyfriend from schlub to stud to surprising effect. When the play was adapted to film in 2001, the team stuck together with Weisz and co-star Paul Rudd stepping before LaBute's all-seeing lens. For her role in the 2003 crime drama Confidence, Weisz would join a band of talented con artists in a daring bid to take a banker with ties to organized crime for all he's worth. Though the film may not have struck box-office gold, it did prove something of a sleeper and drew generally favorable reviews from critics. Confidence would be one of two films that found Weisz cast alongside screen legend Dustin Hoffman in 2003, the other being the courtroom thriller Runaway Jury. If her last few years had been slightly weighed down in drama, audiences could be assured that things would lighten up considerably when Weisz joined the cast of the Barry Levinson comedy Envy (2004).

Rachel Weisz talks about "Constantine"

Rachel Weisz arrived fashionably late for her first interview promoting the dark supernatural thriller Constantine, which casts her as a cop trying to come to terms with her sister's suicide. Her own journey leads her to John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), a world-travelling, mage-like misfit who investigates supernatural mysteries and the like, walking a thin line between evil and good, heaven and hell.

Based on a cult comic book, Weisz, quietly spoken, answers questions with as much brevity as she can muster, admitted to not knowing anything about the source material prior to getting this movie. I had never heard of them but I am representative of the audience who doesn't know anything about them ", she adds smilingly. "All I know is it's a cult graphic novel with a huge following and they will have a lot to say about the movie," she adds, referring to some of the grumblings made by hard core fans of the comic who may disapprove of this screen adaptation.

Hers is one of the few completely original; characters to surface in the film, and the actress says it was clear from the outset why she was attracted to this particular project. "It is a great character or actually two characters to play within a world that I thought was incredibly interesting. I have always been drawn to tales of the supernatural and I thought she was very real and grounded, a real girl who enters into this fantastical world." Weisz says that the supernatural has always been of interest to her. "It's something since I was a child that I have been drawn to. Nothing supernatural has happened to me, so its' more alike a fairy tale." What is particularly interesting about Constantine, that unlike many comic bok adaptations, this one is genuinely dark as it delves into religion and the old dialogue about heaven and hell.

Weisz says she does not consider herself, personally, to be religious, but was still drawn to those elements that permeate within this movie. "I am not practicing any religion. I just have my own superstitions that are not theologically based like never walking under a ladder. For me heaven and hell and demons and angels are within us and there are different ways of talking about it. A psychiatrist might say that there is a good and bad angel and supernatural tales would talk about an angel and a demon so there are different ways of talking about it. However, I am interested in the idea of free will and that we have the capacity to be good or evil and that heaven and hell are places on earth that we make and that is just me. The movie is old testament Christian mythology."

This is not the first time that Rachel had worked with Keanu, the last being some 8 years ago on the unfortunate Chain Reaction. He is the same kind, sweet enigmatic person. He is a contradiction, because he is very down to earth and not part of the Hollywood world but very enigmatic - an international man of mystery, " she adds, laughingly.

Weisz has been in the business for over a decade, dividing her time between smaller films such as The Shape of Things, through to Hollywood blockbusters and it is those two extremes that Ms Weisz has coming up., beginning with The Constant Gardener, directed by Fernando Meirelles and based on a John Le Carre novel. "It is a pharmaceutical story, a thriller, and very topical right now." And she is currently shooting Darren Aronofsky's long-awaited The Fountain, alongside Hugh Jackman. Weisz is very coy about the film, insisting "It is a little bit of a secret. I will say that The Fountain is a huge, gynormous love story through the ages and has a science fiction feel."

As for sequels, maybe a Mummy sequel if the right script comes along. "sometimes I hear things but there are no plans and I am not in shackles." Nor is she tied to a Constantine sequel. "No one has talked to me about it."

The Shape of Things: An Interview with Rachel Weisz

It’s been a while since anyone took a role they created on stage and brought it to the film world. In fact, that seems to be a rarity since too many producers think about marketing the film with a different and bigger name. For example, Catherine Zeta-Jones just won an Oscar for her portrayal of Velma Kelly after Bebe Neuwirth and Chita Rivera won Tonys for their roles on stage. Rachel Weisz is most known as a film actress. She’s done films like Chain of Reaction, The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, About a Boy and most recently Confidence with Ed Burns and Dustin Hoffman. Over a year ago, she played the part of Evelyn in Neil Labute’s theatrical production of The Shape of Things, a play about the changes of couples in love. Neil has decided to make a film out of the play, and once again, Rachel Weisz is back to play the role she created. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Rachel talks about the role she’s at ease with.

WM: Can you talk about the production of the film, when the original plan was to not do a film based on the play?

RW: It was just Neil’s idea. While doing the play in London, he said, “Wouldn’t it be fun if” and we all said, “Yes.” That’s how it happened. It was Neil’s idea.

WM: You ended up producing the film. How did that come about?

RW: Neil had asked me if I wanted to produce it with him, which was very flattering and I felt honor, and I said yes. I had just worked with Working Title doing “About a Boy” so I took Neil to meet Eric Fellner. I helped him set up financing for the movie and from then on it was a learning experience. I brought passion to the table and deep knowledge of the story but I hadn’t produced before, so I was learning. I also thought it was a natural extension of my character that she should be producing the movie that she was in. It seemed kind of fitting.

WM: What’s your philosophy on couples trying to change one another in a relationship?

RW: Well I think my ideal philosophy would be that you should accept the person that you love for who they are and not try to change them in any way. But I think anyone whose has been in a relationship and says that they haven’t tried their partner in any way would be lying, at least to themselves. Couples will say, “Darling, I prefer it when you wear the red shirt.” Little benign things like that and then it could go into more serious things like not accepting someone for who they are.

WM: Is that the ultimate lesson as you go on in life to really try to accept your partner for who they are?

RW: I think definitely so.

WM: Neil wanted to cast an American in the role, but you came along and wowed him. How did you wind up meeting him?

RW: I was on fire when I went to meet him. I was sitting in London and reading and I was holding out on a play and “The Shape of Things” came upon me. You don’t ever read plays like that. It’s just very funny piece of writing which is about some very important profound issues on how couples trying to change each other and contemporary society’s obsession with the surface of things like appearance and they way people look. I was a fan of Neil and he’s a wordsmith. He writes like a dream and as a young woman, it’s the ingénue role in a piece. It’s an extremely complex interesting character and they really hardly ever come along. I was really blown away by it. I also love his writing because he’s not an elitist. He writes plays that anybody and everybody can understand and they are about really big important issues. He’s provocative. He’s a provocateur. People leave the cinema and already they are in a hot debate and I like it when writing does that. I think it’s interesting.

WM: Is it hard to shake this character after playing her in countless theater performances and in a movie?

RW: I was her for a year and I can slip back into her easily. Whenever you play a character, you can’t judge them. You have to identify with them, so yeah, I relished her. I wish I was as ballsy and gutsy as her. I’m way too good and timid. I think she’s a great character.

WM: Do you know people like her?

RW: Some people have told me that the character reminds them of people they know.

WM: Everything your character was for art. Did you ever have barriers in your own life about art? Did you have the similar type of credo like, “I will do anything for my art?”

RW: No. I don’t believe I’m good enough to have a credo like that. I think that you have to really believe you’re good at what you do. I’m joking. Yeah, I have a tons and tons of boundaries all over the place as what will or won’t do for the sake the art. There are different degrees. I wouldn’t do anything to hurt anybody to do my art but I’m away from my family for months and months, so I hurt my family. Maybe I already crossed that boundary. I don’t think my work is worth it.

WM: How difficult was it letting go of the character?

RW: I relished her conviction and her anarchy. I was sad to see her go but at the same time I was getting a little old for her. I didn’t get depressed. I think my family was happy to see the character go. They’ve had enough of her at dinner. She turned up every now and then at home. When you play a character for a year, they show up at times and you don’t even know it.

WM: Are you going to be in the Mummy sequel? I had read somewhere that you decided not to.

RW: That’s absolutely not true. I don’t know how that got leaked in the press or internet, but there isn’t a third film planned. The director and writer, Steven Sommers, is directing another film, Van Helsing, with Kate Beckinsale and Hugh Jackman. He will be editing that film for the next year or so. There isn’t another “Mummy” in the works, but if they do plan another film, I should be back. The family is going to need a mom.

WM: What do you look for in taking a role?

RW: You just know it when you read it. I just read in innocence. You read something and you just know if it’s a story you want to tell and if it’s a character whose skin you want to get into. Your gut tells you that this is the story you want to tell next. It’s a big commitment, but when you read it, you know it.

Rachel Weisz: The Mummy Returns

How different is "The Mummy Returns", to its predecessor?

It's a big difference actually. I'm a mother. I'm married to Brendan Fraser. We have an eight year-old son. My character's really developed. She's not a wide-eyed innocent librarian anymore. She gets to use guns. She's kind of more of a warrior librarian - tougher.

What did "The Mummy"'s success do for you?

You're talking about success in financial terms. It meant that I could finance my own pictures. I did a film called "Beautiful Creatures", a very low budget independent film. It was a luxury to be able to choose very risky, bizarre projects.

What do you recall feeling when you got the role?

When I told my parents that I was doing a film called "The Mummy", they said, "You are doing what?"It reminded me of "Raiders of the Lost Ark", and I love those movies. I thought it was a really funny role, I love comedy. It's a librarian in an action movie, which was an hilarious concept. It was a good role!

Do you think you're a star now with this film?

I don't think I am. I'm an actress. That's a whole other conversation. Marilyn Munroe was a star. Everyone's a celebrity. If you go out with a TV presenter for ten minutes you're a celebrity. There are so many nowadays. It doesn't mean anything any more. There was Elvis, Munroe. I can walk down the street without being mobbed; it's not really like that. There's a myth that's been created and people don't want that myth to be burst.

John Cusack and Rachel Weisz Discuss "Runaway Jury"

“Runaway Jury” is the latest in a long line of movies adapted from John Grisham bestsellers. Like the novel, the movie deals with jury tampering. However unlike the book, which was all about the tobacco industry, the screen version is an indictment of gun makers.

John Cusack plays Nick Easter, a charming manipulator who works his magic on his fellow jurors in an attempt to secure the verdict of his choosing. Rachel Weisz co-stars as his girlfriend and assistant in the plan to sale the jury’s verdict to the highest bidder.

After playing a couple onscreen, John Cusack and Rachel Weisz teamed up for this interview to promote the 20th Century Fox movie, “Runaway Jury,” directed by Gary Fleder.

John, one of the reasons you were interested in this project is because of the chance to work with Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman. What did you learn from watching those guys on the set?
JOHN CUSACK: Yeah, when I grew up in Chicago there was [this theater] - it was huge, a thousand seats, it had the balcony, it had the stars on top, and a big screen - and we used to go there in the summer when they would have these retrospectives of all the great filmmakers in the 70s. They'd have Dustin's movies for a week or Gene Hackman's movies for a week, and all of the great directors. I used to go in the summer for a 10:00 show and listen to a retrospective.

These are two great icons of American film and veteran actors, and they're right among the very elite. I feel very fortunate to work with those people that I grew up watching. I think that they sort of inspire me and reinforce things. Dustin is obviously so tenacious and passionate and so hungry, and he never wants to rest on his laurels. Gene is more of a thinker. He just comes in and knocks it out of the park and knows what he wants to do.

RACHEL WEISZ: I guess coming from England, Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman, they're your country’s big stars, and in England, they're even more so. I mean, they star on the American screen. These are huge American icons. I think that what John was saying about Dustin, he works harder than anyone I've ever seen. He cares so deeply about what he's doing. His passion is tremendous and he still gets scared. I still get scared, and I was terrified working with these guys and he told me, “I still get scared myself,” and I think that's what keeps an actor good. And Gene has this incredible power. You can sense that he's doing nothing. It's so simple what he's doing, and he has this thing going on inside him. It's a smoldering power, and he comes in and does his job, he's very chivalrous, and very polite.

I've been a massive fan of John’s since I can remember. It was a genuine honor to work with him. I feel like I was better when I got to work with him. He has this unbelievable charm and a lightness of touch, which is so brilliant for his character on this jury. No one suspects that he's up to anything. He sort of makes everything feel light and charming, but he has this other side as his character. I think that he has a huge intelligence, a profound intelligence. He's just an unbelievable combination, that wit and charm.
Do you stay with the accent when you’re not shooting a scene?
WEISZ: I try to stay a little bit in the accent. It just helps. I can slide in and out, but I try to stay a little bit in it.

You knew where the script was going. How did you measure how many clues to drop without tipping off the audience?
CUSACK: Well, I think in the theater - I sounded like an a**hole right there - there's a saying, “Don't burn your steps,” which is you don't want to play where you're going to get to. So you know, that's a fun thing about doing something that's kind of a con movie or has a confidence game. You're gaining people's trust and there are some very slight misdirections. When you know that an audience is trying to figure out where a character is going or what their agenda is, there are some nuances, very subtle things, and you can sort of misdirect them so that they go, “Oh, I know it's going down this way.” And then it actually ends up going somewhere else.
It's kind of fun that way.

Gary [Fleder] is a very precise kind of storyteller. He had methodical visions to the thing. We, of course, knew where it was going, but you sort of have hang back a little bit, and maybe do less sometimes than the audience imagines. That's the idea anyway.

The director said he didn’t think of your character as a ‘John Cusack type of role.’ Does it bother you when people can or can’t picture you in a role?
CUSACK: I don't know what those roles are, really. I know sometimes what the studios want to pay me money to do, generally romantic comedies and stuff, which I don't like doing. So, I don't know what those roles are. This is a totally different role than stuff that I did in, say, “High Fidelity.” I don't know what that means, but I'm glad that Gary felt like I was stretching outside of my box, whatever that box is [laughing].

Recently you’ve played characters who are playing characters. Was that the draw of playing this character?
WEISZ: I don't know why one would be drawn to that. I think that it's fun to play a role where you have a secret and you have masks and you can take those masks off and have sort of a reveal. It just gives you something interesting to play. I think that made things more challenging and interesting.

Is it a conscious strategy to mix up the types of films you do?
WEISZ: I wish that I had a strategy. I'm just a storyteller. I read a story and if I want to tell that story, I'll tell it. It doesn't really matter to me how much it costs. That's really a question for a producer. So, it's different kinds of stories. I have different tastes.

Did you draw on any other performances for this role?
CUSACK: For the stuff that Rachel and I were doing, I definitely remembered the people that I'd met and studied for “The Grifters” because that was a con movie too. The first half of that movie is an elaborate con that these two people are doing. I definitely thought about that, but I'd never really seen a movie about jury tampering. The closest thing to that was “12 Angry Men” and that was just about jury deliberation. That was more of the aspects of being on a jury and what that means.

There are scenes where you're in the jury box, just watching the action. Is it difficult to act without dialogue?
CUSACK: No, it's actually fun to do. It's fun to see what you can bring to that. That's also an element, when you're playing two movies about a confidence game, it's what you can express and what you can show. Rachel has a great, to me, transparency about her face and I think that a lot of movie stars, you can really see inside, [see] what's going on. You can see it right there, all of her emotion. She has that aspect to her, but then, she can cover it up, mask it and only let you see what she wants to let you see, and what the character wants to let you see. That's a great combination.
How much does participating in big Hollywood productions give you the freedom to chase artistic films? Have you been doing much theatre in Chicago recently?
CUSACK: I haven't really been doing much theatre in Chicago for a while. I took the theater company, or the spirit of it, and turned it into my film company, which is basically me and a couple of people trying to get movies made. I sometimes think that one big film is worth two “'Max's,” some little, smaller film that I want to do, but the only way to do it is to make the studio box office on a big film. Then you say, “We want to do this film about Hitler and modern art and all of these different things,” and they say, “Well, you can't do that. No one will see that movie, but let’s go check it out.” They say, “Well, you're worth this in this territory, this in this territory.” They do pre-sales and then give you some money to do it.

There's a direct correlation between your box office profile and being able to make films that wouldn't get made if you didn't have a passion for them. So that's my plan, and this movie kind of falls in between because this is really smart [and] literate. It's also kind of very commercial. It's John Grisham and it has a big studio behind it, and it's a rare kind of no-brainer where you have a combination of a pretty cool film and [something] really commercial.

The film changes the books subject matter from tobacco to gun control? Was it because the tobacco issue had already been the subject of a movie?
CUSACK: Yes, it seems like “The Insider” done by Michael Mann was about a tobacco suit, but also think that it's just smart because it allows the movie to be its own thing. I mean, secondhand smoke kills, but I don't know if kills more than assault weapons. I think that it was very smart and very brave to do that. I loved it that it became about guns. I love the idea that these two characters find out the effect of gun violence [and] the extremes that they'll go to fight corruption. I thought that was very dramatic.

Do you think that this movie shows that the justice system is for sale in America?
CUSACK: Justice is not for sale.

WEISZ: I don't know; I'm an actor. I think that it definitely could be possible. It's a pretty extreme circumstance. I imagine that much worse things are going on than this movie shows. So, that's just me.

CUSACK: I think that when there is that much money stake, there might some influence. I don't think that justice is for sale. I think that it's a battlefield. People are trying to fight the corruption.

This movie was filmed in and around New Orleans. What’s it mean to be able to shoot on location?
WEISZ: It completely depends on where you are and what movie you're in. Sometimes you think, “I really feel like going there right now,” and sometimes you don't. I think that it was more than a beautiful backdrop. It had a wonderful mystery and ambiguity to it and I think that it has a pretty dark side. I was [in New Orleans] for five months and I wouldn't even begin to think that I know all about it. It's very multi-layered and I think that it's a good location for the story.

CUSACK: I don't know if the movie would be as interesting if we were shooting on a lot in California and you had to drive on a freeway to get there and it was a smoggy sun, and we went in there and tried to affect Louisiana accents. I don't think that I'd feel the same.

Rachel Weisz Talks About "Confidence"

from Rebecca Murray and Fred Topel
The "Confidence" filmmakers went through an exhaustive search looking for the right actress to play their tough yet tender femme fatale, Lily. After Edward Burns passed the script on to Rachel Weisz, director James Foley knew their search was over.

"Weisz was a real lucky stroke for me," Foley says, adding, "She had to be believable as this tough talking broad who takes care of herself. On the other hand, she had to have a kind of vulnerability."

Here's what the talented British actress had to say about working on "Confidence" and working with director James Foley. Weisz also provides a few details on a couple of her other upcoming film projects:

Are you playing a con on the audience?
When you're acting in a movie, you feel like you’re playing a con on the audience.
Actors are con men and con men are actors. We’re first cousins, I think. You may be playing a character who’s acting but then people act, you're going to be completely different when you’re with your loved ones or your families. Right now we’re doing 'people at a press junket.' We’re behaving in that way. We all act at a time, so it’s part of being a character, acting.

Were the others cast when you got the part?
No, when I agreed to do it - well, when Jamie said I could be in it - he was directing and Ed [Burns] was in it. I was very excited about both of those people. Then my agent called me and said Dustin Hoffman is going to be in it. [That's just] an incredible group. So, no, I didn’t know.

What was it like working with James Foley?
He’s a card. He’s actually really one of my favorite people. He’s very passionate about what he does and the atmosphere that he creates on the set is one of a lot of passion. Everyone’s at liberty to behave how they like. He’s the craziest person there, so you don’t feel crazy trying stuff out.

Crazier than Dustin’s character?
He’s much less violent. In fact, he’s not violent at all. I would say he’s as crazy as Dustin’s character without being evil and violent. He’s wild, so he creates a very libertarian kind of atmosphere where you feel like you can do whatever you want and not be criticized. So, he’s a great joy. He’s very smart. He’s got a great sense of style.

Was it fun to be a redhead?
Well, the thing about having your hair a different color is that it doesn’t change your DNA. It’s how people respond to you, I guess. I didn’t notice anything particularly different about being red. I’ve been platinum blonde.

Did you have fun?
No. Guys [just gawk]. They just have some Pavlovian response to it.

Was it flattering to be cast as the babe?
Yes, very. I don’t know how to elaborate on that. It was very flattering.

You were a babe in "The Mummy" movies.
No. Was she a babe? I thought she was a librarian. Oh, was she a babe librarian? Yeah, it was like a Hollywood librarian. When I went to the audition for that, I went with my hair sprayed back with glasses, and Steve Sommers, the director, was like, "Could you maybe take your hair down?" [I said,] "I thought she was a librarian." "It’s a Hollywood librarian."

What movie role is most like yourself?
On the whole, I’ve almost never played anyone who’s remotely like me because I always thought what’s the point to just be yourself? I guess the character in "About a Boy" was just me. It wasn’t like a character part. It wasn’t a character study. I was just me. I’m not a single mom, so it was different in that respect. It’s all a lie. Everything’s a lie. None of it exists.

You've got "Runaway Jury" coming out soon in which you work with Dustin Hoffman again. What was that set like?
It was great. It was the last movie I finished. It’s a John Grisham novel, which was adapted for the screen. Dustin plays a good guy in it. He plays this very benign, idealistic southern attorney. It’s like a big courtroom drama.

Have you ever taken a prop home from a set?
I did a movie in Scotland called "Beautiful Creatures" and there was a painting on the wall that I took home. It’s this famous, kitschy ‘70s painting called The Blue Lady. She looks kind of Polynesian and she’s got a blue tint on her face. It’s in my sitting room in London.

Will you be in "The Mummy 3?"
If there is one, I hope they ask me, yeah.t would be kind of weird not to.

What other projects have you got coming up?
"The Shape of Things" comes out next in May. It’s written and directed by Neil LaBute. I play opposite Paul Rudd. It’s a very black comedy.

More like LaBute's first two?
Yes, well, those are the two that he wrote as well as directed, so yes. It’s like a romantic comedy but it’s a Neil LaBute romantic comedy. It’s the ultimate date movie, if you like, and it’s done on a student campus in California. I play a graduate student.

What is it about LaBute?
His writing. He’s a phenomenal writer.

What’s he like?

He’s full of compassion. He’s a moralist. The stuff that he writes, he writes about very extreme ugliness' in human beings, but I think his point of view is like a fable about a bad person and maybe we could learn from it. Up close he’s very kind, warm, human, [and] hilarious. [He has] one of the best senses of humor.

And you've also got "Envy" coming out soon?
"Envy" is a Barry Levinson-directed comedy. [It's a] beautiful, warm, loving comedy. I play opposite Ben Stiller and Jack Black. That’s a gorgeous Barry Levinson comedy.

That sounds like an interesting cast.
It was amazing. It was gorgeous and it was very, very light. I get to play a 'valley mom' married to Ben. We’ve been married for years. It was a gorgeous experience.

Are Stiller and Black as funny in person?
Yes. [They are] absolutely hilarious. They’re actors. They’re working, learning their lines and concentrating, but they’re very funny.

Rachel Weisz: Enemy at the Gates

Why did you do "Enemy at the Gates"?

It had everything. It's a cliché when female actors say they can't find strong roles, but it is very hard to find challenging roles that are different and difficult. It's also a story I didn't know anything about and that was interesting on an intellectual level. I thought it was a great role for a young woman.

What preparation did you do?

We read lots of history books and saw documentaries, reportage. And lots of photographs. There was one incredible image of a woman, a Russian soldier who was lying asleep on her rifle. Her face is covered in mud and dirt and she had such a serene expression on her face. It's such an incredible image. I had it pinned up on my wall. I didn't know there would be women fighting.

Were you comfortable using a gun?

Not immediately, but I had to learn to be comfortable. I felt my biggest responsibility on this film was to be believable as a soldier. I'd never picked up a gun. It's strange at first. In England, the police don't have guns so we live in a culture where I don't see guns. We were trained by a military officer and had to load, unload, clean, fire, pick-up. They're very heavy. I developed big muscles from carrying it around for five months. It didn't make me feel very macho.

Were you good at using a gun?

I didn't have to be as good as Jude Law, but apparently - according to the ex-SAS officer who trained us both - I was a natural. Very bizarre thing to discover that you're good at, and not something I'm necessarily proud of. Normally actors are not very coordinated with guns, I don't know why. I just took to it quickly. Jude then became better than me, but I was faster.


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