NEW YORK – Sigourney Weaver's long and illustrious career has allowed her the opportunity to work with some of the greatest directors of all-time. Ridley Scott, James Cameron, David Fincher, Ang Lee, Roman Polanski, Mike Nichols and Peter Weir, just to name a few. A number of those filmmakers have excelled in breaking down the conventions of science fiction in a number of modern day classics she's been lucky to be a part of (or, perhaps they were lucky to have her?) As Weaver notes, “it's a pretty short list” and therefore surprise then that she chose to appear in Neill Blomkamp's latest endeavor, “Chappie.”
“I must say, once I saw 'District 9' I thought, 'God, I'd love to work with this guy.' To see a science fiction film that was set in the future, an amazing future, but also dealt with so many immediate sociological problems was fascinating to me,” Weaver says.
The three-time Oscar nominee was also impressed by Blomkamp's follow up, “Elysium,” but appreciated that “Chappie” turned into something of a departure for the South African filmmaker.
“It feels like such a small, intimate story and it's about nature vs. nurture,” Weaver says. “But he's such a good writer that the movie is hilarious, very touching and incredibly thrilling. Even though it was a small part I thought, 'This would be so exciting.'”
Weaver plays Michelle Bradley, the CEO of Tetra Vaal, a robotics company that has landed a ground breaking contract with the police department of Johannesburg, South Africa. With crime at record heights, Tetra Vaal's robot officers have helped the city turn things around while lowering department and civilian casualties. Audiences may or may not believe that Weaver's character is one of the movie's villains, but she certainly does.
“I do think she's on the villain side only because she doesn't want to see any grey areas,” Weaver say. “She only wants to see profits. I think her job is to wrangle all these geniuses with all their ideas and just be able to germinate the ones that are going to make the most money. It's a pity that she can't see the monetary value of an A.I. robot, because I do. But I guess a painting, poem writing robot isn't valued.”
That sentient robot she refers to is the film's title character, Chappie, whose performance was guided by Sharlto Copley and brilliantly brought to life by a large team of CG animators.
After this interview was conducted, news broke that Blomkamp had agreed to write and direct a new “Alien” movie in which Weaver is expected to once again portray the iconic Ripley. That being said, another Weaver franchise made news immediately before our conversation when it was revealed Paul Feig would be bringing an all-female band of “Ghostbusters” to the big screen next year.
Weaver was genuinely thrilled by the idea remarking, “I think it's awesome. I'm so excited. I love all those women. I'm thrilled. I think it's great.”
And as to whether there is any room for an appearance by Dana Barrett? Well, Weaver certainly isn't closing any doors.
“I think they are probably just writing [it now],” Weaver says. “It wouldn't surprise me if they try to write cameos for the old geezers, but we'll see.”
You can watch our entire conversation with Weaver in the video embedded at the top of this post.
“Chappie” opens nationwide on March 6.