Sigourney Weaver admits her role as Dr. Grace Augustine in James Cameron’s long-awaited movie Avatar was something new for her.
“It was wonderful to play someone who ends up finding her true happiness and her true home in an alien life, especially after my history with aliens,” the veteran actress says with a laugh.
Weaver’s Dr. Augustine serves as part of a team of humans studying the Na’vi, an indigenous people on an alien planet whose home just happens to rest over a mother lode of minerals earth needs to fix its energy crisis.
And Weaver relished the chance to play a professional woman as complex as Grace.
“Grace was a wonderful combination of qualities. She’s full of authority and wit, but she’s also a very conflicted person,” Weaver explains.
“I admire women who’ve devoted themselves to the study of certain things or certain causes.”
Teaming up again with Cameron, who helped cement Weaver’s status as a science-fiction icon in Aliens, was a simple decision to make.
“There are a lot of big movies that involve special effects,” she says.
“Jim Cameron is the only one I know who understands that special effects are not for effect.
“He uses them to enhance the emotional story and to make even sharper — in this case through 3-D — the sensory experience of the audience experiencing the story.”
Given the environmental thrust of the story in Avatar, Weaver admits there could have been a better place to premiere it other than London — such as the U.N. Climate Change Conference happening at the same time in Denmark.
“I’m sorry that we didn’t show this at the kick-off of Copenhagen,” Weaver says, though she thinks a younger audience will have greater effect.
“You know what I think is going to work? A lot of families will see this movie, and they’ll talk about the message.
“I think children will hold us to this because they know this is the world they’re inheriting. I’m cautiously optimistic.”
• Avatar opens in theatres on Friday