Showbiz Today Star of Tomorrow
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Few actresses have an opportunity to tackle comedy, drama and action adventure in one career -- much less one season. But Rachel Weisz has done just that, and you might not be able to recognize her from one project to the next.
The 30-year-old native of London, England, stars as a hopeless gangster who must dispose of her boyfriend's body in the comedy "Beautiful Creatures," plays an army intelligence officer caught in a love triangle in the drama "Enemy at the Gates" and reprises her role as librarian-turned-fighter-of-the-already-dead in the action-filled "The Mummy Returns."
CNN met up with Weisz earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, where she was promoting the independent "Beautiful Creatures." She talked about her versatility and the certain effects that hair color can have on the opposite sex.
CNN: What are the benefits of making an independent film like "Beautiful Creatures"?
Rachel Weisz: To do something more risky, more quirky, more unusual and (with) a less-mainstream subject matter. And it is quite challenging to do things that are a bit unusual, I think.
CNN: Tell us a little bit about Petula, the character you portray in "Beautiful Creatures." What's unusual about her?
Weisz: Well, she is a platinum blonde. I had to dye my hair blond. And she is very dizzy -- she is like a trophy girlfriend. She spent most of her life making herself look good and she's got a pseudo-gangster boyfriend who is very abusive and beats her up, but she loves him anyway. ... But through the film she gets a bit stronger and a bit tougher.
CNN: Do blondes actually have more fun?
Weisz: Personally, I didn't think it was more fun. It's something about being a platinum blonde -- I don't know if it's genetics or conditioning -- but men just go "Ahh ..." Their heads swivel. You sit there. You don't have to say anything; they just come and flock to you. ...Men must have some gene in their brain that makes them flock to platinum blondes.
CNN: The men in this film are not sympathetic. That causes your character, and that of the other beautiful creature played by Susan Lynch, to accidentally commit murder.
Weisz: Yes, Dorothy (Lynch's character) ends up accidentally killing my boyfriend, and we get left with this dead body and we don't know what to do. But Dorothy thinks up this scam -- that we are going to pretend that he has been kidnapped, and we are going to demand a million pounds ransom money. We are kind of hopeless gangsters, really. We try to outwit these corrupt policemen and corrupt men. I mean, all of the men in the film are bad, so it's not set in the real world.
CNN: In 1999 you did another film not set in the real world, "The Mummy." Did you expect it to be so successful?
Weisz: No, I don't think anyone expected that "The Mummy" would make as much money as it did, or become so successful and popular. No, it was a really pleasant surprise. ... My family (said) "You are going to do a mummy movie?" You know, they couldn't quite believe it.
... I just thought it was a great role for a woman as well. A librarian in an action movie: How funny is that? It's like being stuck in the wrong genre or something. But we were all so happy that it did well. And we just shot "The Mummy Returns."
CNN: You and Brendan Fraser reprise your roles in the sequel, correct?
Weisz: Yes, Brendan Fraser and I are married (in the film) and we have an 8-year-old son who is half brains and half brawn. We're grown up, we are really happily married, and my character is less wide-eyed and innocent. She is kind of sassier and sexier.
There are also flashbacks to ancient Egypt, and there some great chick fights. We are in these ancient Egyptian bikinis and body paint, and it was actually really challenging getting to do that.
CNN: You have another film out now where you are less sassy and more down and dirty.
Weisz: Yes, I did ... "Enemy at the Gates," which is with Jude Law and Joe Fiennes. And that was much more frightening and challenging because I play a Russian sniper, so I had to learn how to fire a rifle from the second world war, and that was difficult.
CNN: How do you feel about starring in three movies opening within weeks of each other?
Weisz: I don't know. I just hope people don't get sick of my face. Luckily, I look very different in all of them, and they're very different characters.
CNN: Do you have a preference between doing the big studio films versus the small independent ones?
Weisz: I've got more of an indie spirit, but I don't have any rules. I just do whatever script I like.
CNN: Where would you ideally like to see your career go?
Weisz: Goodness! Just to be able to keep doing scripts that I find interesting. I feel really lucky that I have been able to do comedy and a big sort of action-y type film like "The Mummy" and then a big, serious, dramatic film like "Enemy at the Gates." I like to keep it all mixed.
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