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Sigourney Weaver: An Appreciation

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Elizabeth Inglis

Born on October 8, 1949 in Manhattan, the commanding brunet we know and love as Alien’s iconic Ripley is from a showbiz family: Her British-born mother Elizabeth Inglis (née Desiree Mary Lucy Hawkins) acted on the big screen in Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, and her dad Sylvester Weaver was a television pioneer and the President of NBC for years.

Her father wanted to name her Flavia because of his passion for Roman history (elder brother’s name is Trajan), but Susan was the winner in appreciation of mum’s bestie, the explorer Susan Pretzlik. Susan means “lily flower,” while the name Sigourney, a French male moniker used perhaps most famously in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, means “daring king.” Regardless of gender, which name would you rather have – that of a posy or a potentate? At the age of 14, the future supernova decided she would have a new and fitting name.

Following some stage work and a couple of tiny bits onscreen, Alien yielded Sigourney’s third and largest role. After May 25, 1979 her life would never be the same. That’s not to say Alien was a huge hit. Few dubbed it an instant classic and Sigourney’s take on Lieutenant Ripley wasn’t even singled out as being badass – she’s barely even mentioned in the reviews.

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert dismissed Alien as “basically just an intergalactic haunted-house thriller,” while Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader described the creature as “a rubber monster running amok in a spaceship,” and film itself as “An empty-headed horror movie with nothing to recommend it.” Leonard Maltin griped that Alien’s “stomach-churning violence, slime, and shocks” were “some people’s idea of a good time.”

The venerated and opinionated New Yorker critic Pauline Kael sniped, “This was a haunted-house-with-gorilla picture set in outer space.” And Michael Sragow of the L.A. Herald Examiner wrote, “An overblown B-movie… technically impressive but awfully portentous and as difficult to sit through as a Black Mass sung in Latin … Alien, like Dawn of the Dead, only scares you away from the movies.”

Even though she was wandering around a spaceship in her undies and battling mutant Xenomorphs while hugging a tabby cat, the then-unknown actress managed to escape the critics’ wrath. Instead she garnered a BAFTA Most Promising Newcomer nomination for the role, then went on to star in Oscar-bait flicks Eyewitness (1981) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982).

She’s won a ton of awards, but to genre fans she’s “The Sci-Fi Queen.” Not only because of her reoccurring role in the Alien franchise, but she’s been unforgettable over the decades from turns in Ghostbusters (1984) to Avatar (2009). And, as Interview mag said, she not afraid to make fun of herself: “After the fourth installment of the Alien franchise, Weaver hilariously firebombed fandom, Hollywood, her own image, and everything in between as the desperate and venal star of a long-running TV sci-fi series, in Galaxy Quest (1997).”

That’s one of the coolest things about the actress who plays badass babes, avenging angels and ice queens so very well – she can be warm and funny too. And not just onscreen; most-everyone who knows her says she’s very sweet and down-to-earth. That isn’t something one usually hears about folks to who grew up in the lap of luxury, raised with nannies and maids, and who attended posh private academies. But maybe her ever-changing childhood—the Weaver family moved from coast-to-coast—is what helped her become adaptable and able to take on different roles with equal aplomb.

Or maybe it’s her ability to imagine she’s in another movie entirely. She told Vulture recently, “You know, when I was doing Alien—because I was such a snob, so I didn’t really want to do science fiction—I just pretended I was doing Henry V the entire time. I thought, ‘Well, as a woman, I’ll never be cast as Henry V, so this is my Henry V.’” The role of Ripley was originally written for a male, so it seems her mindset was right on target.

She said in an interview with Films and Filming magazine, “Looking back, in some ways Ripley was the most unimaginative character I ever played – which isn’t to say I don’t like her. Actually, the part I wanted to play was Lambert, Veronica Cartwright’s part. In the first script I read, she just cracked jokes the whole time. What was wonderful about it was that here was a woman who was wise-assing, telling stupid jokes just when everyone was getting hysterical. And she didn’t crack up until the end. That’s a character I could identify with because that’s how I assume I would act.” [Read more of this fascinating interview here]

One thing you won’t ever see are Sigourney stories in tabloids. She’s a straight-arrow, having been married to stage director Jim Simpson since 1984. Sigourney told the story of her marriage in Interview magazine: ”I met my husband during the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 1983, when I was doing a Pinter play with Dianne Wiest and the late, great Ed Herrmann. Jim was directing the nonequity groups, [and] he was also the bartender at the bar we called the Zoo. Within six months, I had invited him to a party, and he stayed late to help me put away the decorations, and then I asked him out to dinner, and three months later we decided to get married. That’s how it happens.”

The couple have a daughter, who was born in 1990. Sigourney told The Guardian, “Charlotte is absolutely the most important thing to me. My family comes first and I’m so grateful to them that they let me go off and make films. But I find it very difficult to leave them. I hate it.”

While you may not associate the cinema star with music, there is a song all about her by Mike Garrigan…

…And she sings, too!

(Well, kind of.)

In the midst of a storied career including three Oscar nominations, more than $2 billion in lifetime grosses, what’s next for the 68-year-old actress? Aside from her work on TV in the series “The Defenders” she’s slated for several more Avatar movies. But still… we can hope Ripley will return to that haunted house in space one day.

And maybe we will. Sigourney plans on growing old gratefully, and gracefully: “I like getting older—it’s interesting,” she said in an interview with The Guardian. “I don’t think it’s attractive to have a taut face with a 65-year-old’s body. I find that look scary. My mother was a great beauty and she never succumbed to plastic surgery. She thought it was best to grow old gracefully. I feel the same. We change ourselves by looking back and trying to stay young instead of moving forward.”

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Amazon Developing Stephen King’s The Dark Tower TV Series

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The Dark TowerIt’s been a while since we brought you guys an update on the planned TV series based on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower book series.

But today it looks like we have confirmation via Deadline that, “Amazon… is developing a slew of high-profile titles, including The Dark Tower…”

The series is being developed by Amazon as part of their bid to move into bigger budgeted spectacles ala their recent acquisition of the rights to The Lord of the Rings.

No further info is available at this time but we will keep you up to date as we hear word on Amazon’s “The Dark Tower.”

Are you excited about this series? Let us know below!

Synopsis:

Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, is locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), also known as the Man in Black. The Gunslinger must prevent the Man in Black from toppling the Dark Tower, the key that holds the universe together. With the fate of worlds at stake, two men collide in the ultimate battle between good and evil.

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Rutger Hauer Says There Was No Love and No Soul in Blade Runner 2049

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I don’t know about you, but I dug the hell out of last summer’s Blade Runner 2049. I found the film to be a tonally perfect addition to the Blade Runner universe and appreciated how it built on the story established in the original film.

That said, there are some out there that aren’t fans of the sequel – most of all, it seems, is the original film’s baddie, Rutger Hauer.

Recently, Hauer spoke with THR and didn’t hold back on his dislike of the new film.

“I sniff and scratch at it,” Hauer says. “It looks great, but I struggle to see why that film was necessary. I just think if something is so beautiful, you should just leave it alone and make another film. Don’t lean with one elbow on the success that was earned over 30 years in the underground.”

He continues: “In many ways Blade Runner wasn’t about the replicants; it was about what does it mean to be human? It’s like E.T. But I’m not certain what the question was in the second Blade Runner. It’s not a character-driven movie and there’s no humor, there’s no love, there’s no soul. You can see the homage to the original. But that’s not enough to me. I knew that wasn’t going to work. But I think it’s not important what I think.”

Wow, don’t hold back, Hauer. Tell us how you really feel!

I’m kidding. And while I don’t agree with Hauer on this particular issue, the man has more than earned the right to think it IS “important what [he] thinks.

Do you agree with Rutger Hauer on Blade Runner 2049? Let us know below!

Synopsis:
Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

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Ash vs Evil Dead Set Visit Part 2: Learning About Kelly, Pablo, and Brandy

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If you haven’t read through the first part of my set visit for the third season of “Ash vs Evil Dead”, make sure to do so here.

After walking through the halls of Brandy’s high school, the sperm bank clinic that has been seen in the trailer, Brock’s house, and the streets of Elk Grove (all through the magic of set designs), it was time to sit down with stars Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago, who told me about their characters Kelly and Pablo through this season of “Ash vs Evil Dead”! Oh, and there’s also a lot from Arielle Carver-O’Neill about her character Brandy as well, because who can resist hearing from Ash’s daughter?

After finding out that Dana, who is from Youngstown, Ohio, is a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes, our interview nearly ended. After all, your boy is a Wolverine, through and through, and anyone who knows sports rivalries knows that Buckeyes and Wolverines don’t get along. That being said, we managed to put aside our differences so that I could learn a bit about Kelly and what she’ll be going through this season.

I really loved Kelly’s journey in season one and two. It was very exciting to play because, in a way, it mirrored my own as an actor coming into a franchise like this. Just like Kelly was dragged into this fight against evil and was caught completely off guard, it was very similar to the actor struggling for 10 years. I was living in Los Angeles working at a bar when I got this job. All of a sudden I’m being thrown into this with this incredible franchise, with the amazing producers of Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, where a franchise that’s built upon one man, a lone wolf as we’ve said, who is the star of this show and now he’s going to have sidekicks, that was terrifying as well! But it was really cool because I feel like I got to grow with Kelly and every time Kelly did something new, it was me doing something new,” DeLorenzo explains.

Expanding on that, DeLorenzo starts telling me more about Kelly and how she specifically changes through the upcoming season, saying, “At the end of season two, there’s the parade. And if you look, you can see that Kelly isn’t happy. Kelly is the smart one of that trifecta, the ghostbeaters. She knows that evil is not gone for good, which brings us to season three. Now that she’s tasted blood, she’s constantly chasing that high. So, at the start of season three, Kelly is a warrior without a war. She wants to stay on her game for when evil comes back. Her journey for season three…evil paints Kelly in a bloody corner and sets up her to fail where she can’t do what she does best, which is kick evil’s ass. She’s put in these catch-22 situations that she can’t fight her way out of without someone she cares about getting hurt. I think fans will be shocked at her transformation [this season].”

The theme of family running throughout this season of the show is not lost on DeLorenzo, who recognizes that Kelly’s ultimate purpose throughout this series is called into question through events that she wasn’t able to elaborate upon. However, she did tell me, “It was always about protecting and staying by the side of Ash and Pablo because they are not her family by blood but they are her family by bloodshed.

When describing the ghostbeaters, she calls Ash the “brawn”, Pablo the “heart”, and Kelly the “brains”. Later, as I sat with Arielle Carver-O’Neill, I asked what Brandy represents, to which she stated, “the hope”. “They all become very protective of Brandy and are very supportive of her journey,” Carver-O’Neill explains.

I asked her to envision a world where a fourth season is confirmed and how she’d like to see Brandy’s role expanded. Pondering this for a couple of moments, she then told me, “I’d like to see her find herself a bit more. I think just because she’s a teenager, you go through that journey at that age where you are figuring out who you are and your parents, either consciously or unconsciously, play a large role in that. For her, she only had her mum and then she found parts of herself in her dad. But she’s got a lot of growing up to do and I think that’d be really fun to explore how she goes about that.

For Santiago, the character and evolution of Pablo throughout the series has a very personal meaning for him. “As a kid, I grew up watching horror films and I always wanted to be the hero saving people from the monster and I always wanted to be the person chased by the monster. I think, in this show, I have the opportunity do that every day as Pablo and I’m one step closer to becoming the superhero I wanted to be as a kid,” he states.

As for his evolution, Santiago sees Pablo as going from a pushover in the first season to someone very important and potentially very powerful in the third season. “We’ve seen Pablo go from this naive guy [in the first season] that’s pushed through the ringer to last season and…the Necronomicon and Pablo have an undeniable relationship that will never end. As we move into this third season, Pablo sees things differently. He’s not just tormented by his visions of darkness, we see that he may not be just a sidekick but also psychic! We’re going back to his family and we callback to his roots. Perhaps it wasn’t just a coincidence that he met Ash and that he himself was always destined to be somewhat of a Jefé. I think season three is where we see all that coming to fruition. He’s not just along for the ride, he’s become an integral part of the team.

Part III of our set visit coming soon!

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