I had the pleasure of taking part in a round table interview with Constantine star Rachel Weisz as she discussed her dual roles in the film as twin sisters Angela and Isabel Dodson. To genre fans, Weisz is probably best known for her turn as the lovely Evelyn in The Mummy films, first a love interest and later the wife to Brendan Fraser’s character. In Constantine she’s stepping away from the light-heartedness of the Mummy films and taking a good, long look at hell.
Question: Was there any talk of the irony that Constantine went from British to American, and you are British playing American? Any discussion of using your normal voice?
Rachel Weisz: Of me personally? No. I’m an LAPD homicide detective. It would be really odd if I spoke in English. No, there was no talk of that.
Q: How much did you have to work on the American accent?
RW: I’ve done it a bunch of times, so it’s not a big deal now.
Q: Did you think you wanted to go back to a big action fantasy thing?
RW: At the time I was actually looking for a comedy, and I was reading romantic comedies and there just wasn’t one that really got me. Suddenly I read this script. I’d never read the comic book, I’d never heard of the comic book. Sorry, I know it’s a huge cult comic/graphic novel, but it never crossed my path. But I just couldn’t get it out of my head. Something about the world that it painted and the complexity of this woman within it. I just thought it was just such an interesting role for a woman. Then I met Francis (Lawrence, the director) and I was really impressed with him and I saw his music videos, which I’d seen before and hadn’t realized they were him, and I just thought he’s such a great visual stylist. He’s so intelligent and really was interested in working with actors. So no, it was real left of field for me, but obviously I must be interested in supernatural stuff because the Mummy totally is more for kids. It’s more like Saturday morning TV B-movie, more self consciously. This is much more grown-up stuff I think.
Q: Do you go for the dark, brooding type?
RW: When I was younger, definitely. The bad boys, brooding types. Now I’m much more interested in geeks. Nice, kind, geeks. I think what’s meant to be cool, like bad boys, I find it very uncool. I’m into geek culture. I think that’s where the coolness is.
Q: Is there a middle ground, brooding geek?
RW: Geeks are too cool to brood. Brooding is kind of pretentious I think.?
Q: Is doing a comic book movie a good way to reach out to geeks?
RW: That is genius. Yeah, I never thought of that but probably. Yeah, maybe I’ll get me some geek fans.
Q: Do you choose one indie, one studio film?
RW: As I said, I was looking for a comedy, so it really wasn’t part of the plan. It wasn’t like I want to do a big Hollywood special effects movie. It literally came out of nowhere and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I couldn’t bear to let anybody else play her.
Q: What do you like better?
RW: You know, after you’ve done a big effects movie, I was definitely yearning to do a film where I could just sit in a room and talk to somebody and they talk back and that would be it, which I did. So I’m kind of greedy. I like to do both and right now no one’s making me draw down the line and choose.
Q: You met with a psychic to talk to for research on the film, do you believe in them?
RW: I actually met her through somebody I know here in LA who’s quite deep into that culture. I believe that she believes that she’s psychic, this woman that I met. I don’t know, I can’t prove it.
Q: How did meeting her affect your performance?
RW: In doing research, if you meet someone who really is who you’re pretending to be, I steal. I just steal from them so I ask them questions about their childhood and about what it feels like to have a vision, what it feels like to have sight and how it’s a burden, how it’s a blessing and what it’s like to have a boyfriend and you can read their mind. I just ask them all the questions. So then I just steal from them, so when I’m playing the character, I’ve just gotten stolen goods from somebody else and it’s research. Like detective work.
So did I believe? I believed that that was her reality. A ghost has never revealed itself to me. I’m pretty in tune with people. I can normally get a sense of what the vibes are in a room, but I can’t read somebody’s mind. It would be fun. It would be fun for about a month. Then it would get really exhausting. Like if we were sitting here and I could hear what you were all thinking in your mind, that I must let the cat out, whatever it is you’re thinking, it would just be exhausting.
Q: How much of this can you personally accept? Do you believe in possession?
RW: You know, it’s never happened to me or to anybody I know, but I’m not ruling it out. Weird stuff goes on in the world and I have a friend who used to live in South Africa and he used to tell me stories, like voodoo stories. I don’t know. I would never be so arrogant as to say not true, because how do I know. Just because I haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. So I’m going to look into it now. I’m very curious, like TV shows about psychics and stuff. It’s fascinating.
Q: Did the film help convince you one way or another?
RW: No. A ghost has to come, something has to happen to me in reality. Film is make believe.
Q: How did your relationship with Keanu change from working almost ten years ago together on Chain Reaction?
RW: Just like old pals, really. We didn’t have to go through the getting to know each other phase. We just were like old pals, as you say, getting together. It made things really comfortable and easy.
Q: Did you research the police aspect?
RW: I trained with this ex- what was it called in America? Seals. I don’t know, in England we call it SAS. It’s like the highest trained possible. This guy is called Peter Warita and amongst the LAPD he was a hero. I mean, we’d walk into police stations and the whole room would just stand up and applaud him. He was the man. He’s now training people in movies and doing personal security for really big Hollywood stars, but he gave me kind of a crash course in being a cop and introduced me to a lot of female officers. I met a few days with a female homicide detective. He took me to the LA County Morgue. I spent an evening there which was very intense and a very new experience. I’d never seen dead bodies before and I saw hundreds that night. And he took me in drive-a-longs in police cars at night and taught me to fire a gun at the firing range. I love to do all that stuff. I got to do cops and psychics in this. It was a complete research fest.
Q: Was there any prosthetics used on your stomach during the exorcism scene or was that all CGI?
RW: That was CGI.
Q: Did you have any physical stunts?
RW: Yeah, did you see the movie? There was the scene where I get dragged through the building. They rigged a special machine,it was a chair on a kind of track that was about four times as long as this room. And they pulled the lever on the chair and I was seat belted in but [whoosh] I was whipped back incredibly fast and your body jerked back. That was pretty terrifying. Then they painted in the office blocks afterwards. So yeah, I don’t remember any other stunts, but they were…
Q: You’re moving and they add what you’re moving through? Why not just CGI you?
RW: No, no, you need the motion of the person.
Q: Does your new film the Fountain have a lot of FX?
RW: It does have in one section. It has a kind of science fiction element to it so there is. We haven’t done it, but a little bit of the film is green screen.
Q: How is it going?
RW: It’s phenomenal. The most original, incredible screenplay which is written by Darren Aronofsky. It’s an original story and he’s directing it and Hugh Jackman plays my husband. It’s a love story, a great, big ginormous love story.
Q: How has the struggle affected Darren?
RW: He’s like the happiest guy in the world. He spent six years trying to get something made. It’s his dream. It’s his dream come true, so he’s as happy as anyone can be.
Q: Did you differentiate Angela and Isabel?
RW: One had really long hair. One had short hair. (Laughs)
Q: But how you played them?
RW: One’s an LAPD homicide detective and the other is locked up in a hospital. It just became obvious that they were just apples and oranges, totally different.
Q: What about the bathtub scene?
RW: That was quite scary. That wasn’t CGI. That was me under the bath and the water being held down. The director wanted it to look as real as possible so he told Keanu, in front of me, “don’t go easy on her”. So it was scary. I mean, I had a signal which I think was tap him on the arm, but it was very hard for him to tell because I was thrashing about so much what was tapping and what was thrashing. I think he just knew when it was enough and I had to come. After like a minute and a half, no one’s doing too well without breathing.
Q: What did you say before you got in the tub?
RW: I can’t remember. We did do some improvising. It’s a good moment. I think it must have been in the script.
Q: In the scene when you are running out of the bathroom it looked like you actually fell. Did you really slip there?
RW: They used that take. That was it I just slipped. The best things always are mistakes.
Q: Any chance of a Mummy 3?
RW: Who knows?
Big thanks to Warner Bros. for letting us be a part of the junket and to Rachel Weisz for taking the time to indulge us geeks. Constantine opens everywhere on February 18th! Be sure to check out its official site right here!
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