It’s a reunion made in cinema geek heaven. Two decades after they tore up movie screens in 1986’s sci-fi epic Aliens, Sigourney Weaver and director James Cameron will team-up again for Cameron’s upcoming sci-fi, 3-D, alien-inflected epic Avatar. Given the momentous occasion, a quick chat with the former alien ass-kicker was surely in order, and Weaver was happy to oblige.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So how did you get involved with Avatar?
SIGOURNEY WEAVER: I got a call from Jim [Cameron], and he sent me this incredible script. It was such a dizzying ride and such an ambitious script on so many levels that I think my jaw was permanently dropped the entire reading. And then I had to read it again. It’s not complicated story-wise, but there is so much amazing detail in it.
How do you fit into the cast and story?
It’s basically a small cast. We have the wonderful Sam Worthington playing the lead, which is a great classic hero part. And then we have Zoe Saldana playing the young woman, and she’s amazing too. So it’s also a very romantic film. I play a scientist — it’s actually a really terrific part on many levels. [Producer Jon Landau confirmed to EW.com that Weaver will play a botanist who is a mentor to Worthingon’s former Marine. –Ed.] It’s a very interesting cast of characters, typical of Jim.
And you haven’t worked with him formally since Aliens, right?
We kept in touch, but not a lot. He was kind enough to give me my Hollywood square. Is that what you call it? Square or star on the Walk of Fame? He came and did that. So we’ve kept in touch. But you know this is the first movie he’s done in 11 years. It is a kind of the culmination of his fascination with science and his concern about the planet. And I also think it’s a wonderful love story about family and community and the miracle of unspoiled nature. I think it has a lot of details in it from all of his explorations underwater. He really is a man of so many parts, and it’s all in the script. So it’s very exciting to read it.
Even though Avatar and Aliens sound quite different, there’s a certain science fiction fan who will be thrilled with the notion of you in a James Cameron movie with, you know, aliens.
Well, I’m that fan, too! I’m very thrilled to be involved. You know, I’ve worked with such amazing directors, but Jim is very unique. He’s very caring. He absolutely goes for it. I remember looping [dialogue] with Jim on Aliens [in post-production]. We stayed there every night until midnight, and believe me, most directors aren’t willing to stay as long as I am to get it right. [Laughs] They’re like ”that’s good enough, you can stop doing that heavy breathing, it’s fine!” But he’s a perfectionist, and he’s incredibly excited about this [project]. Also, it seems he has a very happy family life with, I think, five children now, and all that, I think, mellows a person. But he’s still as excited as he ever was.