If you take her at her word, Sigourney Weaver is tired of being an icon. Alien 5 or no Alien 5 down the road, Weaver wanted to play bad for a change. Which is why she relished her role in Heartbreakers (2001) as the matriarchal half of a seductive con duo, with Jennifer Love Hewitt as her daughter.
Weaver did not con during this interview, as she told all about not being exempt from getting her own heart broken in real life, and surviving a screen kiss with Gene Hackman in the movie, even though his mouth was filled with stained teeth and fake tobacco.
What caught your heart about Heartbreakers?
Well, I loved the script. I thought it was very funny. And I wanted to play a mother again. I thought it would be interesting to play the mother of an older child. But then Jennifer is not exactly a child. And it was also the kind of part I've been looking for my whole career, actually, in film. You know, just to play a femme fatale who's very smart, and wicked. It was just a very good, complicated part, the plot, everything. A great comedy.
Did you ever get an urge to try out any of your cons in the movie on your friends?
You know, I kept saying to Jennifer, let's go out to a restaurant and try that free meal con. We considered it, but we didn't actually do it. But the movie didn't make me want to do that sort of thing, as much as making me start to realize that we all con a lot. Like the way you're always trying to convince someone to trust you with this or that. I had never really thought about it, but it's not really for monetary reasons that we do it. Like conning someone into giving you a job, or going out on a date with you, whatever. But there's a lot of conning as part of our society, I think.
Have you ever been conned?
Sure. I mean, sometimes you trust someone who turns out not to be honest. There are a lot of things that happen in life that don't turn out the way you're given the impression that they will. And I think that's all kind of a con. But I think we've probably all been hurt.
What was it like mothering Jennifer in Heartbreakers (2001)?
I think Jennifer has a very strong relationship with her mother, they're very close. And I have one with my daughter. So I felt that was sort of my job, was to use a lot of my feeling for my own daughter. Like I know that when she's older, I won't be thrilled to let her go, just like it happens in the movie. Being an overprotective mother even now!
Were you surprised at how funny Gene Hackman can be?
Yeah, he's so funny! And he's such a good actor. Gene comes in, and he's very organic. You know, he'd never smoked before. And then to play a chain smoker in Heartbreakers, even the first day, his smoker's cough, the way he held the cigarette, everything. I mean, I don't know how much work Gene did beforehand, probably none. But his commitment is so strong, that he just went for that whole chain smoker thing. And it was really.. .disgusting! So...
What was Gene smoking anyway?
They were those herbal cigarettes, really gross. And he had these horrible teeth made, that were filled with tobacco, nicotine stains and everything. Then his makeup, his hands were all stained yellow. So he really did a great job!
You are a good looking woman, so have you ever had that experience like in Heartbreakers (2001), where you can get men to follow you to the moon and back?
Have I ever had that experience.... Well, I guess in my younger years. But usually those aren't the guys you like, you know? Usually it's the guys that don't follow you around, who you're attracted to! But thank you. I think that this is a very glamorous film. It's a film where women look really great - thanks to our crew - and for a very good reason. You know, it's our livelihood!
While we're on the topic of strong women, what can you tell me about one of the most famous female butt kickers of all time, Ridley?
Ah....Rumors of her re-emergence are largely exaggerated, I think! But I don't know what's happening. I'm sort of astounded by people coming up to me all the time, and asking, when is Alien 5 coming out? Like we've made it already and stuff! There was a script for Alien 5. I never read it. But our philosophy has always been, don't make another one until you absolutely have to. There's always been a good artistic reason, rather than just, oh let's make another one.
I remember when we would do sequels in the past, they were seen as tainted. But the younger generation sees these things like episodes in an ongoing adventure. Like they're not really the same things. So in a way it takes the curse off the idea that, if we make a sequel then we have to use the same elements, and all that. With Alien, because we always use a different director, each one kind of stands on its own. So I guess it's possible for them to make another one, but we have no plans.
And yet a new Alien was reported.
I know! I don't know where that story came from, except that it started in England. That's the first I heard of it. So it was one of those funny things.
Which Alien movie was your favorite?
Oh, that's like asking me which of my children I love most. I don't know, I really enjoyed working with each of those directors. And each of the movies is very much their spirit. I would say that as an actor, the second and last ones were interesting for me. Because those parts had the most change in playing someone who was both light and dark, sort of Jekyl and Hyde. So that was interesting. And indeed, we left the last one as a kind of cliffhanger. It's the only one that we left open. I don't know why they did that, if they weren't planning to make another one. But then again, I'm always the last person they go to with a sequel, because I'm the most skeptical. You know, I'm very proud of what we've done, and I don't want to screw up our series.
Would you be willing to do another Alien?
Hmm...If they offered me fifty million dollars! No, I don't know. Actually, I'd be more interested in doing a smaller, character driven thing, rather than another action picture. But I think some of the elements, the spooky elements, like if we went back to the original planet, that might be worth doing. So I'm certainly not saying no. I like science fiction.
You got to sing a song in Heartbreakers
Yes, I did
And in a Russian accent, no less. How much fun was that?
(Sigourney doing a Russian accent) Eet vas dee most fun of enythink een film! For me, that was like my favorite day. I had worked really hard on the song. And secretly, I had always wanted to go to Vegas, and have my own really bad act! So I just loved playing Olga. She was so...wicked! And remorseless. And it was so much fun to play Olga on the spot. You know, where suddenly her whole con could come crashing down all around her. So that was great fun.
How did you get that wild accent to go along with Olga?
I vorked on zat accent vetty hard!