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lSltll'éi ~ A life of Weisz WE Rachel Weisz is best known for her role in The Mummy but her CV reveals many gems. Words: Paul Dale
TV ‘ I ma gm 8 no" pa” 0‘ my Soul. I always have. I've watched
hundreds of noir movres and I can feel noir like that —' and Rachel Weisz snaps her fingers. It's hard to imagine the young lady who played the much put-upon Helen in Michael Winterbottom's obsessive noir romance I Want YOu. saying such words. But five years on, with a few healthy blockbusters under her belt. the lady oozes confidence. which is handy because it is the title of her new film. a film ab0ut a talented group of confidence artists.
It is an unusual choice for Weisz. whose general pattern of working outside of The Mummy franchise has been to pick unusual European or unestablished American directors. ‘It was the scnpt.’ she says. ‘It was unusually witty and literate. it just had very fast paced dialogue. It was the kind of repartee that His Girl Friday had. It was like an old-fashioned noir style but set in modern America. You rarely read scripts that have that many words. It’s very wordy. which is fun for an actor. We like words.’
Weisz was born in 1971 in London to a Jewish-Austrian psychoanalyst and a Jewish-Hungarian inventor. After making a mark on the Edinburgh Fringe with her own experimental theatre company. she entered the public consciousness in 1993 as Mathilde de la Mole in Scarlett and Black. By 1996 she was working with Bernardo Bertolucci. on the Tuscan set of his underrated Curio piece. Stealing Beauty. Some disappointing choices followed. She starred in Beeban Kidron‘s colourless version of Joseph Conrad's Amy Fisher. Then came David Leland's Surprisineg dull The Land Girls. Even her TV work stank of late 90$ beer-stained new laddism (anyone remember a travesty with her then partner. Neil Morrissey. called My Summer With 093?).
As if by magic. the great Michael Winterbottom stepped into her life and gave her what is still her finest role in I Want You. A year later her kharma had changed and The Mummy had made her into a minor Hollywood star. So what did this plummy young lady do? She went and made a three-hOur Hungarian epic called Sunshine with the brilliant lstvan Szabo and Ralph Fiennes. It was a behemoth of a film, tracking the fortunes of one family across 150 years of wars. prejudice and class struggle. and Weisz shone as the believany naive Greta.
She followed this with a few duds. including the interesting. but wholly neurotic Beautiful Creatures, scripted by Edinburgh's Simon Donald. before she climbed back into period costume for Jean Jacques Annaud's fantastic portrait of the Stalingrad seige. Enemy at the Gates. Her performance was vital. clean and almost perfect for the role of Tania. the woman who gets to touch the lovely pecks of marksman Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law). The second Mummy film came knocking in 2001 and then last year Rachel played another Rachel in the joyous film version of Nick Hornby's About a Bay.
Which brings us to Confidence. Weisz is in the big league now so it is doubtful we will see her on our TV screens again. Conﬁdence is only one of two films she stars in this year with Dustin Hoffman. the other being a John Grisham novel adaptation called Runaway Jury. She is in awe of the little big man: “Dustin never does the same thing twice. He has an inﬁnite variety of ways to do a scene. Every take is different with him. He was zeroing in on anything. it's fabul0us.'
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