Image Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/LifetimeWhen you think of Sigourney Weaver, probably the first image that comes to mind is her iconic action heroine Ellen Ripley, big-ass gun in hand, doing battle with acid-belching aliens. But her talent runs far deeper than shouting lines like “Get away from her, you bitch!” Last year, the three-time Oscar nominee appeared not only in James Cameron’s Avatar, but in the Lifetime drama Prayers for Bobby, earning an Emmy nod playing a real-life mother, Mary Griffith, who can’t accept her son Bobby’s homosexuality, but becomes an advocate for gay rights after his tragic suicide. A precursor to the It Gets Better Project, the film was just released on DVD, almost two years after it first aired. We chatted with Weaver about Bobby and about whether we may yet see her in Avatar 2, Ghostbusters 3 and Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What drew you to Mary Griffith’s story?
SIGOURNEY WEAVER: When I first read it, I thought, well, I have nothing in common with this person, and I hate what she represents. And then of course, when I met her and we started talking as mothers, we had so much in common. And I realized, there but for the grace of God went I, you know? Because I have a lot of gay friends, but that’s because of where I live and what I do. It really enriches my life, but Mary didn’t have that. And she was part of a church that turned away the whole homosexual community … and she was lost. And by the time she realized what she had done, Bobby was dead.
What did you take away from your meeting with Mary?
I think I was a little concerned that I would meet someone who had the same colors as this zealous Christian woman, but in fact, the woman I met was so generous, so candid about who she’d been and the decisions she’d made and how destructive they were to Bobby. We opened up her Bible, and you could still see all these things she’d underlined. She was just so terrified for Bobby, for his immortal soul, even more than for his human life. That was secondary. And I think that by the time she realized what she was doing, it was too late. It seems so simple: listen to your children, respect them, respect their choices.
Tragically, Prayers for Bobby, which first aired on Lifetime in January 2009 has become all the more relevant of late, what with all the sad reports of gay teen suicides these past few months…
It’s just heartbreaking. Unfortunately, there’s so much ignorance and cruelty in our community still, and I wish we could have brought this DVD out sooner, but at least it’s here now.
Why did it take so long to come out on DVD?
If you find out, let me know! Because the producers and I have been trying to get Lifetime to release it for months. It was held up by one producer, and I don’t know the story, frankly, because he’s out of the picture now.
What would you say to a teenager who’s struggling with his or sexuality and contemplating suicide?
I would say “I love you” and “I’m so sorry this is so painful.” But you have to be you, glorious you, and it’s going to be tough for awhile. But in the end there’s only one you. And I would just urge them to reach out to PFLAG or the Trevor Project or to whatever they can find in their community and find out how they are not alone.
Image Credit: WetaHas James Cameron reached out to you about being in the next Avatar film? I know your character, Grace, was killed…
Well, I wouldn’t use that word. I wouldn’t use that word — she was changed. You know, it’s science fiction, so we saw something happen to her, and we don’t quite know what it is. She definitely went into the Tree of Souls, right? It’s science fiction. What looks like death, who knows? I think Jim is just starting to write [the sequels] now.
Did you accompany Cameron when he went down to the Amazon to screen the film to indigenous tribes who are waging fights against corporations?
Yes. I think he felt like the same story is unfolding on our planet, and unfortunately that struggle is not going well either. You know, they’re planning to build 60 dams along the Amazon and its tributaries for a kind of power that is so old-fashioned, you know, hydro-electric power. So it’s heartbreaking, but I know Jim wants to go down there now and make a documentary about those people.
I was struck by how he said he took to heart that some tribal leaders objected to the violence of Avatar. Might the sequel be less of a battle epic?
It’s hard for me to see that with Jim and his love of weapons.
You were quoted as saying that James Cameron didn’t win the Oscar for Best Director because “he didn’t have breasts.” Do you stand by that?
Oh, I just made a crack! Because, of course, all of us who worked on Avatar felt that he should win Best Director and Best Picture. And, you know, ultimately I certainly loved The Hurt Locker, and I am a great fan of Kathryn Bigelow’s. It felt like women in the community really wanted a woman director to win … I felt that he should have won as director, but not at the expense of her losing. I think they should have split that prize.
Are we going to see Ghostbusters 3 anytime soon?
I just saw Bill Murray at the Scream Awards, and he said we’re gonna do it, but I’m not sure. I think no one’s really read a script. But I’ve talked to Ivan Reitman. He definitely wants to do it. There was a script that was being rewritten as of about a year ago. The one thing I said is that I’ll do it if Oscar, my little son, can be a Ghostbuster, and I think he liked that idea.
Image Credit: Everett CollectionOf course, Ridley Scott is also developing a prequel to Alien. Could we see you in that?
Oh no, I’m not in any way involved, and I won’t be.
Do you think there are as many opportunities for women in action movies today? Could we still have a character like Ripley?
I think so. I think the uniforms might be a bit different. I think I’d be wearing a little less. You know, I’d have a sexier costume. And what Ridley Scott and I loved was that I was wearing an actual flight suit from NASA. And what I loved about Ripley was it didn’t matter if she was a man or a woman. She was this person who didn’t give up. She was all of us, you know? And it was especially significant that it was a woman, a young woman. But I don’t think that men didn’t identify with her because she wasn’t in a little skimpy dress, you know? She didn’t look out of place in her world. She looked practical and real and I liked that about her. It’s what I would wear to fight a monster.