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Sigourney Weaver's Biography
American actress, noted as a pioneer of action heroines in science fiction films, and thus dubbed the “Queen of Sci-Fi.” Weaver is primarily known for her role as Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise. The role earned her an Academy Award nomination in 1986 and is often regarded as one of the most significant female protagonists in all of cinema.
A seven-time Golden Globe Award nominee, in 1988 she won both Best Actress in Drama and Best Supporting Actress for her work in the films Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl, becoming the first person to win two acting Golden Globes in the same year. She also received Academy Award nominations for both films. For her role in the film The Ice Storm (1997), she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Weaver also received a Tony Award nomination for her work in the 1984 Broadway play Hurlyburly.
Weaver’s other popular film work includes Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II (1989), Galaxy Quest (1999), Holes (2003), WALL-E (2008), Avatar (2009), Prayers for Bobby (2009), Paul (2011), The Cabin in the Woods (2012), A Monster Calls (2016), and The Defenders (2017). She has also appeared in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions and on the television soap opera Somerset.
Sigourney was born Susan Weaver to Sylvester (Pat) Weaver, former head of NBC and founder of cable television, and Elizabeth Inglis, former British actress. She has a brother, Trajan, four years older. She learned her healthy eating habits and lifestyle from her mother, who was always a health fiend and athlete. Susan renamed herself Sigourney after a character mentioned in The Great Gatsby.
Sigourney grew up in New York, leading a privileged life, going to private schools and taking dance lessons. As an adolescent, she was already very tall, almost her adult height of 5 feet 11 ½ inches (182 cm), and was self-conscious about her height. She says she was a klutz and clowned to get along. When she was 13, her family moved to California. She felt even more alienated there, as the west coast girls were “way ahead” of the east coast girls.
Sigourney went to college in California at Stanford University. During that time she traveled to Israel and lived in a kibbutz. She considered becoming Jewish. She graduated from Stanford in 1971 with a degree in English. She knew she wanted to act and moved back east for graduate work at Yale for three years at its excellent drama school. There she appeared in stage productions with Meryl Streep and befriended playwright Christopher Durang. Weaver described her experience at Yale as “joyless and negative.”
When she left Yale, she went to New York and got her first real job working for director Sir John Gielgud on Broadway. Her career began to move quickly with Off-Broadway shows in which she earned critical praise. In 1974, she made her Off-Broadway debut in The Nature and Purpose of the Universe, written by Durang. In the mid-1970s she appeared on the television soap opera Somerset.
Weaver’s major film debut came in 1977 with her very brief appearance in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Two years later, her career skyrocketed with her role as Ripley in the sci-fi thriller Alien. She brought a dimension of intelligence to the role, broadening the film’s appeal. The sequel Aliens in 1986 earned her an Academy Award nomination. She went on to make Alien3 in 1992 and Alien Resurrection in 1997. (In 2014, Weaver reprised the role of Ripley for the first time in 17 years by voicing the character in the video game Alien: Isolation.)
Her popular Alien series and roles in the Ghostbuster films allowed her to command high salaries and gave her the freedom to explore smaller films. In 1988 she earned two Oscar nominations for very different performances – one for her supporting role in Working Girl and the other as scientist Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist. In 1997 she starred with Kevin Kline in The Ice Storm which received a Golden Globe award nomination. In 1999 she starred in two films, A Map of the World and a space spoof, Galaxy Quest.
Weaver’s patrician upbringing, bearing and intelligence often give the impression of an “Ice Queen.” But, she has a warmth and impish humor that shows through in interviews. She is known for throwing great, though infrequent, parties with fun and strange activities, like asking guests to bring “pocket costumes” (something that fits in your pocket and jumps, for example) or going to a belly dancing club.
Weaver met her husband, director Jim Simpson, six years her junior, in 1983 while doing a summer theatre festival in Winstown, Massachusetts. They married after a very brief courtship. They have a daughter, Charlotte, and live in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Weaver has a phobia of elevators; whenever she is forced to ride “one of those death traps,” she always checks the inspection card and makes sure that the emergency phone is working.
Link to Wikipedia biography