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Rachel Weisz

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Rachel Hannah Weisz (born 7 March 1970) is an Academy Award-winning English actress. She became well-known after her role as Evelyn “Evie” Carnahan-O’Connell in the Hollywood films The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and has since continued appearing in major film roles.

Early life

rachel weiszWeisz was born in London, England and grew up in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Her mother, Edith Ruth (née Teich), is a Vienna-born Austrian teacher turned psychotherapist. Her father, George Weisz, is a Hungarian-born inventor whose family fled to England to escape Nazi persecution. Weisz’s father is Ashkenazi Jewish and her mother has been referred to as either Catholic, Jewish, or having Jewish ancestry. Weisz was raised in a cerebral Jewish household and refers to herself as Jewish. Weisz has a sister, Minnie Weisz, who is an artist.

Weisz was educated at North London Collegiate School. She was then sent to Benenden School and eventually settled in St Paul’s Girls’ School. She then entered Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where she graduated with a 2:1 in English. During her university years she appeared in various student productions, co-founding a student drama group called Cambridge Talking Tongues, which went on to win a Guardian Student Drama Award at the Edinburgh Festival for an improvised piece called Slight Possession.

Career

Her breakthrough role was that of Gilda in Welsh director Sean Mathias’s 1995 West End revival of Noel Coward’s 1933 play Design for Living at the Gielgud Theatre. Having already worked for television, with parts in major UK series such as Inspector Morse (1993), Weisz started her cinema career in 1995 with Chain Reaction and then appeared in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty. She followed this work with more English films including My Summer with Des, Swept from the Sea, The Land Girls, and Michael Winterbottom’s I Want You. Although she received favourable critical recognition for her work to this point, her breakout into wide audience recognition came from a popular serio-comic horror movie The Mummy, in which she played the lead female role alongside Brendan Fraser. Since then she has starred in a number of films including The Mummy Returns (2001), which grossed higher than the original, as well as Enemy at the Gates (2001), About a Boy (2002), Runaway Jury (2003) and Constantine (2005). Her stage work includes the role of Catherine in a London production of Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer and Evelyn in Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things at the Almeida Theatre (also film).

In 2005, Weisz starred in Fernando Meirelles’s The Constant Gardener, a film adaptation of a John le Carré thriller of the same title set in the slums of Kibera and Loiyangalani, Kenya. For this role, Weisz won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. In her home country, she was recognised as a leading role for the film according to the nomination from the BAFTA awards and winnings from the London Critics Circle Film Awards and British Independent Film Awards.

In 2006 Weisz was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The same year, she starred in The Fountain and also provided the voice for Saphira in the much-criticized film Eragon. Her 2008 films include the Wong Kar-wai-directed drama My Blueberry Nights (in which she played an "anti-Southern belle") and director Rian Johnson’s upcoming The Brothers Bloom, in which she plays a wealthy American woman targeted by two con man brothers (Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo).

On 7 July 2007, Weisz presented at the American leg of Live Earth.

She is signed to Independent Models in London.

rachel weisz biography

Personal life

Weisz is engaged to American film-maker Darren Aronofsky. They have been dating since 2002. They have a son, Henry Chance, born on May 31, 2006 in New York City. The couple reside in the East Village in Manhattan. They are considering getting married in a traditional wedding ceremony at the oldest synagogue in New York.

Filmography

Year Movie
1995 “Death Machine”
1996 “Chain Reaction”, “Stealing Beauty”
1997 “Bent”, “Going All the Way”, “Swept from the Sea”, “I Want You”
1998 “The Land Girls”
1999 “The Mummy”, “Sunshine”
2000 “Beautiful Creatures”, “This Is Not an Exit: The Fictional World of Bret Easton Ellis”
2001 “Enemy at the Gates”, “The Mummy Returns”
2002 “About a Boy”
2003 “Confidence”, “The Shape of Things”, “Runaway Jury”
2004 “Envy”
2005 “Constantine”, “The Constant Gardener”
2006 “The Fountain”, “Eragon”
2007 “Fred Claus”, “My Blueberry Nights”
2008 “Definitely, Maybe”, “The Brothers Bloom”
2009 “The Lovely Bones”, “Agora”, “Dirt Music”
2010 “Sin City 2″

Rachel Weisz Interview

Actress Rachel Weisz has become a name to be reckoned with in Hollywood where she is now in the same league as other major British female power players such as Kate Winslet and Minnie Driver. The London-born actress first came to public attention in the BBC’s adaptation of Scarlet And Black in which her nude scenes with Ewan McGregor caused something of a stir.

Since then she has appeared in Chain Reaction, opposite Keanu Reeves, Second World War film The Land Girls and the re-make of The Mummy which sees her cast as an action heroine - a genre she is getting used to.

In her most recent film Enemy At The Gates, Weisz spent months being covered in mud and bruised while playing a sniper in the beleaguered Russian army during the siege of Stalingrad.

In The Mummy Returns she punches and kicks her way through the action - and even learned the Japanese sword-fighting martial art Sai, for her fight scenes with Venezuelan actress Patricia Velasquez, who plays the Mummy’s love interest.

"I suppose I’m doing things that aren’t traditionally feminine, whatever that means," admits Cambridge-educated Weisz. "It’s technically difficult and Patricia and I spent four or five months learning it, like in the mornings or after filming and in lunch breaks.

"As a child I was the best tree climber in our neighbourhood, I was like a little monkey. I’ve never been afraid of hurting myself or a little physical discomfort," Weisz says.

The fight scenes between the two women are reminiscent of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and although Weisz claims she enjoyed the filming, co-star Velasquez admits she and Weisz were not keen on it at first.

"When Rachel and I first read the screenplay and saw we had to fight we were not impressed," she smiles. "We thought it would be just gratuitous. Then we saw that what they had in mind was really quite spectacular."

Weisz smiles when she recalls reading the script which sees her once more teamed up with Brendan Fraser, as a librarian battling dark Egyptians forces. She admits even now she finds the concept amusing.

"I thought it was funny - a librarian in an action movie. Like someone stuck in the wrong genre," she says.

Despite her rise to fame, Weisz remains remarkably down to earth. She is ambitious but has resisted a permanent move to LA and, refreshingly for a Hollywood actress, confesses to having recently turned 30

"Turning 30 has come as something of a relief," she says. "I’ve felt a lot better as a person. The older you get the more capable you get at managing life."

Although Weisz appears to be managing her life just fine, she has never been entirely comfortable with life under the media spotlight. After enjoying high profile romances with Men Behaving Badly actor Neil Morrissey and American Beauty director Sam Mendes, she discovered for herself what it was to be the object of media interest.

"I think actors have a choice of drawing attention to themselves or living on the outskirts," she says firmly. "I prefer being as far from the centre of celebrity as possible."

She claims to be on good terms with her exes. She still talks to Morrissey, whom she met while filming the football comedy My Summer With Des, on the phone and says: "He’s one of the most good-hearted people I’ve ever met. I felt really sorry for him during that business with Les Dennis’s wife."

Weisz is currently single and with her current heavy workload she admits it would be difficult to give the time needed to a relationship.

Following on from The Mummy Returns, she will be returning to the London stage to play an art student in the black comedy The Shape Of Things.

"You get to do it from the beginning, to middle to end in one night," she says, reflecting on her love of the theatre. "You can’t go back on it. As an actor it’s very challenging and very powerful."

But after completing the run, she’ll be straight back in front of the cameras as Hugh Grant’s love interest in About A Boy and will star in the biopic Marlowe based on the life of Shakespeare’s contemporary Christopher Marlowe.

She is even about to lose her trademark dark locks - turning bottle blonde to play a Marilyn Monroe-esque gangster’s moll in the upcoming Beautiful Creatures, a small independent production being touted as a British Thelma And Louise.

"This character’s a huge disappearing act because I’m so not like her. She hides beneath her looks because she’s frightened. She’s an abused trophy girlfriend," she says.

And With Weisz currently calling the shots in Hollywood, playing second fiddle to a man is not something you could accuse her of.

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