Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver (born October 8, 1949) is an Academy Award-nominated American actress, best known for her roles as Lt. Ellen Ripley in the Alien film series.


Early life

Weaver was born Susan Alexandra Weaver in New York City, the daughter of Elizabeth Inglis (née Desiree Mary Lucy Hawkins), a English former actress (d. 2007), and the NBC television executive Sylvester "Pat" L. Weaver (d. 2002) who is of Scottish descent, possibly Clan MacFarlane. Her uncle, Doodles Weaver, was a comedian and actor. She began using the name "Sigourney Weaver" in 1963, aged fourteen, after a character in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

Weaver attended the Ethel Walker School, a prep school in Simsbury, Connecticut and graduated from Stanford University (BA, English, 1972). She earned an MFA (1974) at Yale Drama, where she appeared in the chorus of a production of Aristophanes' "The Frogs" and as one of a mob of Roman soldiers in another production as well as, later, in original plays by friend and classmate Christopher Durang. She later appeared in the 1981 off-Broadway production of his comedy Beyond Therapy.

Film career

Although Weaver has played a number of critically acclaimed roles in movies like Gorillas in the Mist, The Ice Storm, Dave, and The Year of Living Dangerously, she is best known for her appearances as Warrant Officer/Lieutenant Ellen Ripley in the blockbuster "Alien" movie franchise. Her first appearance as Ripley was in Ridley Scott's 1979 film Alien. She reprised the role in three sequels, Aliens, Alien³, and Alien Resurrection. She was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for portraying Ripley in Aliens. Ripley was a breakthrough role: the first female action hero. Although Ripley is tender and nurturing with a cat or a child, she is tough and aggressive with adult humans and alien monsters, and ruthless enough to blow up her own ship or a planetary colony; in the third film, she destroys herself to prevent the xenomorph species from spreading. She also starred in two films in 1988, receiving Academy Award nominations for her roles as Katherine Parker in Working Girl and as naturalist Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist. She lost to Geena Davis and Jodie Foster, respectively.

Weaver also appeared in Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II as Dana Barrett. She played the role of the agoraphobic criminal psychologist Helen Hudson in the 1995 movie Copycat, and went on to become the most highly paid actress of the 1990s. In addition to her trademark role as Ripley, Weaver has recently concentrated on smaller, more challenging roles such as 1999's A Map of the World. Despite being fifty at the time, Weaver created a stir for appearing nude in that film. Other recent work includes 2006's Snow Cake. Critics have also noted her consistent performances in comedic roles, such as in Jeffrey (1994), Galaxy Quest (1999), and Heartbreakers (2001), in which she starred with Jennifer Love Hewitt.

In 1997, Weaver won the BAFTA Award for her supporting role in Ang Lee's The Ice Storm. In 2003, she was voted 20th in british television's Channel 4's countdown of the 100 greatest movie stars of all time. She was one of only two women in the top 20 (the other was Audrey Hepburn). That year, she also played The Warden in the movie Holes. In 2006, Weaver returned to Rwanda for the BBC special Gorillas Revisited.

Weaver was approached to star as the ADA in the The Accused but felt the nature of the story was too violent. Jane Campion wanted a 'Sigourney Weaver type' for her film The Piano but Weaver's agent turned the film down without consulting Weaver. Holly Hunter went on to win the Oscar for the role, and Weaver fired her agent. Bryan Singer originally wanted Sigourney for the role of Emma Frost in X-Men: The Last Stand but Singer (and screenwriter Dan Harris, who directed Weaver in Imaginary Heroes) left the project and the idea to include Frost was dropped. In 2008, Weaver plays the Mom in the TV film Prayers for Bobby, due to air February 2009. She will also guest-star in the TV show Eli Stone in the fall of 2008.

Weaver also has done voice work in television and film. She had a guest role in the Futurama episode "Love and Rocket" in February 2002, playing the female Planet Express Ship. In 2006 she was the narrator for the American version of the Emmy Award-winning series Planet Earth. In 2008 Weaver was featured as a voice in the Pixar Animation Studios and Disney release, WALL•E. She will also voice a narrating role in another computer animated film, The Tale of Despereaux based on the novel by Kate DiCamillo set for release December 2008.

Dual nominations

In addition to her Academy Awards nomination for Aliens, Weaver has received two other nominations in her career. This makes Weaver one of only eleven actors and actresses to have received two nominations in the same year. Weaver received a Best Actress nomination for her role as gorilla conservationist Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist and a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role as Katharine Parker in Working Girl opposite Harrison Ford and Melanie Griffith. She did not win either award, but was awarded a Golden Globe for each role. In fact, Weaver's Golden Globe for Best Leading Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama) was the only time there has ever been a three way tie in the history of a major awards ceremony as Weaver was named joint winner along with Jodie Foster (The Accused) and Shirley Maclaine (Madame Souzatska). By failing to win an Oscar in either category for 1988, she became the first person in history to lose twice in the same ceremony. Three people have been "double losers" since then - Emma Thompson in 1994, Julianne Moore in 2003 and Cate Blanchett in 2008.

Personal life

Weaver is notable for her stature, standing six feet tall.

After making Gorillas in the Mist, she became a supporter of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and is now the DFGFI's honorary chairperson. Weaver is an environmentalist. In October 2006 she drew international attention through a news conference at the start of a United Nations General Assembly policy deliberation. She outlined the widespread threat to ocean habitats posed by deep-sea trawling, an industrial method for harvesting fish. She also narrated the American version of the BBC/Discovery Channel show Planet Earth, which focuses on the wonders of our world. On April 8, 2008, she hosted the annual gala of the Trickle Up Program, a non-profit organization focusing on those in extreme poverty, mainly women and the disabled, in the Rainbow Room.

In popular culture

The Italian lesbian science-fiction comics character Legs Weaver is inspired by Weaver's role in Alien.

In the South Park episode "Quest for Ratings" a dead horse is mistaken for Sigourney Weaver.

In 2007, Weaver reprised her role of Ellen Ripley in a commercial for DirecTV. In the commercial Weaver in the power loader vehicle from the movie Aliens is battling the queen xenomorph while explaining to watchers how DirecTV is a better deal than cable.

The restaurant from the teen scifi drama TV show Roswell features a sandwich named after Weaver.

In a 2007 episode of Family Guy, there is a spoof of Aliens in which Ripley is running away from the Alien with Newt (played by Carrie Henn) in her arms.


Year Film Role Notes
1977 Annie Hall Alvy's Date Outside Theater
1978 Madman Not Specified
1979 Alien Ellen Ripley
1981 Eyewitness Tony Sokolow
1982 The Year of Living Dangerously Jilly Bryant
1983 Deal of the Century Catherine DeVoto
1984 Ghostbusters Dana Barrett
1985 Une Femme ou Deux Jessica Fitzgerald
1986 Half Moon Street Dr. Lauren Slaughter
Aliens Ellen Ripley Academy Award nomination for Best Actress
1988 Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey Dian Fossey
Working Girl Katharine Parker
1989 Ghostbusters II Dana Barrett
1992 Alien³ Ellen Ripley Co-Producer
1492: Conquest of Paradise Queen Isabella
1993 Dave Ellen Mitchell
1994 Death and the Maiden Paulina Escobar
1995 Copycat Helen Hudson
Jeffrey Debra Moorhouse
1997 The Ice Storm Janey Carver
Snow White: A Tale of Terror Claudia Hoffman
Alien: Resurrection Ellen Ripley Clone Co-Producer
1999 A Map of the World Alice Goodwin
Galaxy Quest Gwen DeMarco/Lieutenant Tawny Madison
2001 Heartbreakers Max Conners/Angela
2002 Tadpole Eve Grubman
The Guys Joan Directed by husband Jim Simpson, starring daughter Charlotte Simpson.
2003 Holes Warden Walker
2004 Imaginary Heroes Sandy Travis
The Village Alice Hunt
2006 Snow Cake Linda Freeman
The TV Set Lenny
Infamous Babe Paley
2007 Happily N'Ever After Frieda Voice only
''The Girl in the Park Julia Sandburg premiere at the Toronto Festival 2007
2008 Vantage Point Rex Brooks
Be Kind Rewind Ms. Lawson
Baby Mama Chaffee Bicknell
WALL•E Computer voice only
The Tale of Despereaux The Narrator post-production; voice only
2009 Avatar Dr. Grace Augustine post-production
Crazy on the Outside TBA post-production

Selected stage credits

  • Crazy Mary (2007, Playwright's Horizons) as Lydia
  • Mrs Farnsworth (2004, Flea Theater) as Mrs Farnsworth
  • The Mercy Seat (2002, Acorn Theater) as Abby
  • The Guys (2002, Flea Theater) as Joan
  • Sex and Longing (1996, Nederlander Theater) as Lulu
  • The Merchant of Venice (1986, Classic Stage Company) as Portia
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1986) as Stella
  • The Marriage of Bette and Boo (1985) as Soot
  • Hurlyburly (1984) as Darlene
  • Old Times (1983) as Anna
  • Beyond Therapy (1981, Marymount Manhattan Theatre) as Prudence
  • As You Like It (1981) as Rosalind
  • Lone Star (1980) as Elizabeth
  • New Jerusalem (1979)
  • Conjuring an Event (1978)
  • A Flea In Her Ear (1978)
  • Marco Polo Sings a Solo (1977) as Freydis
  • Das Lustania Songspiel (1976)
  • Gemini (1976, Playwright's Horizons)


External links

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