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RACHEL WEISZ talks about her mercurial career, from award-winning Edinburgh Fringe shows to the Hollywood blockbuster The Mummy Returns. Oh, and Neil LaBute’s new play, opening in London this month.

Did you think twice about doing a sequel to The Mummy?

liveryone said if it was basically going to be the same thing. what happened the next day or what happened the next week after that and the characters were all the same and it hadn't progressed then it would be boring. And that included the writer/director Steven lSommersl. So there was a question mark. Then I read the script and it was really quite a departure. as you know it‘s ten years after the first one and livelyn is a mother and married. I loved it.

I understand you had to train quite hard for the role?

Yeah. especially for the chick light with Patricia Velazquez. Patricia and myself had to train with this Japanese-/\merican guy; he was llown over to choreograph all the light scenes and we shot them right at the end so we had live months to learn. every day for an hour or so. The lirst day when one of the stunt girls showed me the fight I just said. 'There‘s absolutely no way I‘m going to be able to do

that. ever". Patricia. who used to be a dancer. was a bit more UK about it. I got to know her really. really well because we were lighting and trying to kill each other virtually every day at work. It's an ancient Japanese sword light: we used these two little trident swords. small swords. and you have to spin them round your lingers. For me that was the most challenging and one of the most exciting things about the lilm. learning this martial art.

A film like this reminds you of the thrills of Saturday morning cinema. Totally. for me it was like Buck Rogers or Tar/an. The second one is slightly less self consciously B-movie. but yeah a good old fashioned romance action caper. larger than life.

How is working with Brendan Fraser?

Brendan is really. really a good chap. llis character is this big. beefy booming voiced lle Man. very macho. And in real life he is very softly spoken. very articulate. quite shy and gentle and delicate; he is a real chameleon.

He‘s like an old fashioned man.

The first film was so very successful.

When The Mummy came out I was doing a play in the West lind. so I was kind of just going to the theatre every day. When I lirst did The Mummy I had no idea it was going to be a big blockbuster. liveryone was like. ‘a Mummy movie. for God‘s sake‘. [I didn‘t sound like the recipe for a $400111 success. it sounded like it could have been a great big huge flop. That's what my family thought anyway: they were monilied. They said. ‘You are doing a lilm called The Mummy? What are you thinking." I said. ‘I promise you it‘s like Raiders ()f The T/M'I Ark‘. They said. ‘Yeah. but it’s called The Mummy". It's kind of hard to relate to a lilm making a lot of money. What it did mean for me was that I could help linance. with my name. other smaller lilms.

What did your family think when they saw it?

They absolutely loved it. That‘s the thing about it. kids love it. grown tips love it. clever people love it as well because it knows what it is. l was in a taxi in New York the day before yesterday and I got chatting to the driver who was from the Ivory Coast. I told him what I did and I said l was in The Mummy and be literally nearly crashed the car and he phoned up his wife on the mobile: it was her favourite lilm and she had just got the DVD and she watches it over and over again. And I spoke to her and she was so excited. lt's moments like that that you think. ‘God. that is really amazing’.