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Entries in interview (193)

Wednesday
Jan122011

Jacki Weaver "Grinning Like a Cheshire Cat"

Exclusive Interview
Before Animal Kingdom, the Australian crime drama which Jacki Weaver so memorably inhabits as den mother Janine "Smurf" Cody, she was unknown to many American moviegoers including myself. The last time I see her onscreen, perusing a few key scenes from the film prior to the interview, she's training those enormous unblinking peepers on good cop Guy Pearce. They're in a sterile grocery store but the conversation is anything but; the words are loaded and coded. Her stare is equal parts dare, gloating and faux sweetness. "I hope you catch the killers," she tells him, with disingenuous grandmotherly concern, both of them fully aware of who is getting away with murder and why.

In person, what can you expect: An evil granny? A diva actress? A regular woman? When we sit at the Regency for a half hour chat over coffee, Smurf departs leaving only Jacki the "Oscar Hopeful" (more on that in a bit).

try "Greatness" - get that Oscar nom, Jacki!

"I should rewatch it," she tells me when I mention my pre-interview visual cram session with her movie. She's seen Animal Kingdom four times but not recently. She remembers the plot details and her co-stars frequently. She's quick to praise Ben Mendelsohn's "amazing" work. (He plays her son Pope, the only character more unsettling than Smurf.) But when it comes to her own part, the famous dialogue is escaping her. "They keep quoting lines that I said" she says "I have no recollection of them at all. It's been two years since we shot the movie. I've been in six different plays since then so's the slate has been a bit wiped clean."

Why hasn't she watched it recently?

Jacki: I find it quite distressing. It's really heart in the throat stuff. Even though I know what's going to happen.

Nathaniel: Was it disturbing to shoot?

Jacki: It wasn't at the time, no. It was more exhilarating than distressing because I felt we were doing such good work and it had a ring of authenticity about it all the way.

Nathaniel: I know you do a lot of theater and Animal Kingdom actually reminded me a little of a stage play. It's very cinematic but he's [David Michôd, the director] often using medium shots, which I loved, and showing you the crucial interplay between the actors. Do you think of stage and movie acting differently?

Jacki: I think of them the same way. In movies, you have the luxury of being able to whisper [Laughter].

Coffee has arrived and we chat for a bit about filmmaking. Jackie says "I love a good editor" [don't all smart actors?] and shares with me a bit of Oscar trivia that I hadn't connected: Animal Kingdom's editor Luke Dolan was up for an Oscar just last year for the short film "Miracle Fish". "He's just turned 30," she says, marvelling. "That's impressive." While she's on the subject of fresh careers we naturally drift over to her director. He's a fully formed talent already, I think, and this is only his first feature.

Nathaniel: I met with Michôd this summer when the movie came out. He called you a "National Treasure."

Jacki: [Laughter] I'm more of a national relic, i think. I've been around so long. I keep telling people that I think Australians think of me as a comfortable old piece of furniture that they're not quite ready to throw out yet.

Nathaniel: You've been in the industry a long time.

Jacki: 48 years.

Nathaniel: Have you seen it all or this year special? I mean, if i tried to list all your honors from the movie I think we'd be here for hours.

Jacki: I've lost count. I'm totally overwhelmed.

Nathaniel: When you were filming it, did you ever think...

Jacki: No! [Sensing the awards question coming.] Well, you never do...

AFTER THE JUMP... Jacki on awards buzz, "Smurf" character choices, loving Cate Blanchett, kissing Sullivan Stapleton, and her brief scenes in Aussie classic Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975).

Click to read more ...

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