With Animal Kingdom and Silver Linings Playbook, Jacki Weaver proved herself to be one of the most formidable acting talents on the big-screen, even picking up a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the 2013 Academy Awards for her turn in the latter.
It was her work in the 2010 Australian gangster drama as the terrifying Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody, the matriarch of the criminal family, that first brought her to worldwide attention, though.
Despite now calling Los Angeles home, the Sydney born actress has stayed close to her roots, and still finds time to play characters with her native tongue.
This week sees the release of the Outback crime thriller “Goldstone,” in which Weaver stars as a corrupt mayor.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Weaver about the film, as well as the importance of remembering Australia’s checkered past, falling in love with Steve McQueen and playing bi***es.
What first attracted you to “Goldstone”?
I wanted to work with Ivan Sen. Who is Aboriginal Australian, and he has such close connection with the Earth and that part of the country.
He wrote, directed, edited, was the camera operator, and did the music for the film. I also wanted to work with the star of the film Aaron Pedersen, who is an Australian national treasure, and another indigenous actor.
Was it important to tell an Aboriginal story?
It it is really important. And the more often that happens the better. Because like most colonies we have a very checkered history of how we treated our indigenous folks.
That shouldn’t be suppressed. Which is the tendency. It needs to be brought up a lot. The old cliché is, ‘If you forget history you will repeat it.’ It is very important.
Do you enjoy playing such villainous matriarchs?
At first I was worried that this was derivative of “Animal Kingdom.” She was written almost the same as that horrible woman, and there were definitely echoes of it. Mostly I play sweet good people, but it is nice to play a villain.
Because the thing about sociopaths is that they usually try to hide their vileness. They’re not always recognizable. It is more chilling when they are seemingly enjoying it and are charming. I’ve played enough bit**es to know how they operate.
Do you find more creativity in Australian films than Hollywood films?
I wouldn’t say that. I think you get from brilliant scripts and ideas in mainstream films. I just did a Hollywood film called “Bird Box” with John Malkovich, Sandra Bullock and Trevante Rhodes, and that had a very intricate and original script.
They say there are basically only 20 plots in the world, and everything is a variation on them. But I still get scripts where I go, ‘Wow. That’s really original.’
I also worked on “Widows” with Steve McQueen, who I am in love with, and that was a fantastic script with an intriguing plot and I got to work with Viola Davis. Steve has such a towering intellect and has a brilliant sense of humor.
Everyone whispers on his set, too, no one shouts, which I loved.
Does being directed by an original voice sway your decision?
That’s certainly a factor. I certainly get offered a lot more work than I can accept.
I usually go with a character, a story and then the director. I love to do something that I haven’t done before.
And they are still writing parts for women my age that depart from the usual. I can’t complain. I have been very lucky.
In the 7 years I have lived in Los Angeles I have done about 20 films and 3 TV series, 30 episodes all together. I have been very busy, and had a lot of variety.
“Goldstone” is opening in New York on March 2 and in Los Angeles on March 9.