Interview: Rachel Weisz of 'The Bourne Legacy'
The dark-haired actress roars with laughter about her stunt work: 'It was NOT "Always very safe .."'
Rachel Weisz has jet-black hair, quick-talking ways and an air of graceful surprise and delight as you are brought to speak with her, briefly, in regard to her playing a scientist in "The Bourne Legacy." As Dr. Marta Shearing, Weisz is just one of the turning cogs whose small inventions and innovations are levers that, in the hands of people like Jeremy Renner's Aaron Cross, can move the world. We spoke with her in Los Angeles about why there's so little action on her resume, how series architect Tony Gilroy made it very easy to get on board figuratively, and how that phrase applied perhaps less literally when it came to real-word high-speed stunts.
MSN Movies: I'm curious, in your resume you have films like "Chain Reaction" or "The Constant Gardener," great films, but not the…
Rachel Weisz: Not often said together in the same sentence actually, but they're good. (Laughs).
Well, no, but I'm a huge "Constant Gardener" fan, but regardless, you'd normally work in a different métier in films like "The Deep Blue Sea" and what have you. What brought you to this? What made you pull the pin on being in a huge summertime action film?
Well, I'm a really big fan of the first three "Bourne" films, and Tony Gilroy wrote those first three films, so he's really the architect of the whole Bourne universe and Bourne mythology and he was going to direct this film as well as having written it. And "Michael Clayton" is one of my favorite films, which he wrote and directed. So I really wanted to work with Tony. I really liked, I loved, the franchise, so it was so good to be part of that, and I loved the character that he'd written for the female lead. She's kind of not just a damsel in distress.
Not to hypothesize, but let's just ask: If Mr. Gilroy had not been involved, it would have been a very different mental process of judging whether or not to be involved?
Well, it would depend who was involved ... but the fact that, as I said, he's the creator, he's the author of the Bourne universe. I felt like it was very safe hands to be in. He's in charge of that whole world, and in this fourth one, you know he's lifting the curtain on the first three and saying, "Aha! You think you knew who was in charge, but you don't." Yeah, I was thrilled to work with Tony.
I was saying to a friend that it's less a sequel than a side-quel; it's this nice little parallel experience.
Yes, I think that's right.
But there's a big difference between feeling you're in good hands with the director figuratively and literally being strapped behind your leading actor on a motorcycle in the streets of the Philippines.
Yeah, and I wasn't even strapped. I was just holding on. (Laughs).
Were there moments where you were completely terrified?
"It's always very safe," but still…
It was not "always very safe." (Laughs). I was terrified. Absolutely terrified. I mean, as safe as you can be when you have 200 vehicles and me on the back of a bike and Jeremy going very high speeds weaving in and out. I mean, it's controlled as much as it can be but anything could've gone wrong. Yeah, it was terrifying.
But I mean in a movie-going age where somebody can sit and go "click, there's a dragon," "click, there's a train," is it nice to be shooting real things in a real environment?
Yes, I love naturalism, realism, and that's what I loved about the first three Bourne films is that the action looked real when people were in jeopardy and they were running. It looked like it was really happening and no one has super-hero powers.
It's that nice line between real and amazing, that nothing feels too phony or forced. Did you track down and talk to Franka Potente from the original series of Bourne films about how to best take part in the series in that fashion?
I didn't, I didn't. I was a huge a fan of her work, though, in the first and second films. She's an amazing actress. Yeah, amazing. Didn't you think so?
Absolutely, very much.
Really good, really good.
("The Bourne Legacy" opens this week.)