“I like that feeling of being scared, of thinking, I don’t know if I can do this: it’s too hard, it’s too complicated, it’s too unknowable,” says Rachel Weisz. She has just dropped off her 9-year-old son, Henry, at school, and is now on the phone explaining the uncanny allure of fear. From where the Academy sits, Weisz has little to be afraid of. She has an irresistible mix of talent (an Oscar and a Golden Globe for 2005’s The Constant Gardener and a Laurence Olivier Award for her excellent Blanche DuBois are just a few of her laurels), brains (she’s a Cambridge graduate), and beauty (those bee-stung lips are legendary)—and a made-for-the-movies marriage to James Bond actor Daniel Craig. But Weisz insists that self-doubt is, in fact, among her chief assets as an actress, and one that keeps her unwaveringly on course.
It’s this kind of candor that lends Weisz’s fierce intellect an approachable warmth. In conversation, she darts nimbly from topic to cultural topic, referencing everything from Romantic poetry (“I’m crazy for Wordsworth”) to Polish theater director Tadeusz Kantor. Yet her dialogue is peppered with conspiratorial giggles and she is disarmingly curious. Although she’s meant to be the one interviewed, Weisz asks just as many questions as she answers (“How old are you?” “Are you an academic?” “Who do you call when you want to have fun?” and so on).
It took me a long time to get to that place where you park all self-consciousness and judgment at the door. You have to be willing to make a real arse out of yourself.
Her other forthcoming project, Yorgos Lanthimos’ science-fiction dramedy, The Lobster (which hits stateside in March), already snagged the 2015 Jury Prize at Cannes, and allowed Weisz to revisit her love of the absurd. The film, which co-stars Colin Farrell, is set in a dystopian reality where one must either find a life partner or be transformed into an animal. “It was pure instinct, pure imagination,” she says of Lanthimos’ directives. “It was absolutely terrifying.”
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When she’s not acting, Weisz moonlights as a producer (her first passion project, completed last year, was the micro-budget British film Radiator) and also revels in “incredibly normal, soothing, domestic things: hanging out with my son and husband, cooking [stir-fried shrimp is her signature], watching movies, going for walks, going to the theater.” She says she manages to live relatively anonymously in New York—“no makeup and a pair of a jeans and I can go anywhere I like”—and loved the absence of hair and makeup on The Lobster. “All mucky, covered in mud in the forest; it was heaven,” she laughs. Today, as Weisz is off duty, she plans to stroll home through the Manhattan streets. “I really love people-watching, just walking around not having a plan,” she says. Aimless, however, she certainly is not. “I don’t think I’ve ticked all the boxes at all!” she insists, when pressed on the subject of her prosperous life and career. “I really feel that I’m just getting going.”
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