×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Rachel Weisz on Her ‘Favourite’ Moments of Fun and Mystery

Fox Searchlight’s “The Favourite” is nominated for 10 Oscars, including best picture and best director for Yorgos Lanthimos. Supporting actress contender Rachel Weisz says working with the filmmaker was similar to the audience’s experience with the film: “There is a high level of the unknown and mystery in his process, but there is a lot of fun.”

The film earned a rare three acting nominations: Weisz and Emma Stone as supporting, and Olivia Colman as lead. Weisz says Lanthimos’ attention to the actors and to the script (by nominees Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara) was clear even before production began.

During three weeks of rehearsal, “there never was any camera blocking. He didn’t dictate things from the camera. On the day of filming, we’d just do it, and he’d adapt the cameras to how we were playing the scene.” And while he always emphasized the script, “there was nothing discussed or analyzed” during rehearsals.

So with no camera blocking and no analysis, what did they do for three weeks?

“It was all about playing,” she laughs. “Anyone who’s done theater would find it normal: theater games, trust games, games that made you laugh and broke down barriers.

“We would play games like Twister — but not Twister — while saying our lines very fast, or saying someone else’s lines. It was about familiarizing us with the text, to know the script really well, so it became second nature, so we were freed to act spontaneously.”

Weisz was first mentioned in Variety in 1994, when she starred in Noel Coward’s “Design for Living” at London’s Donmar Warehouse, which then transferred to the West End. Since then, she has done a wide range of roles onstage and onscreen (including her Oscar-winning “The Constant Gardener”).

And 2018 was particularly gratifying, personally and professionally. Aside from giving birth to a daughter with husband Daniel Craig, she starred in two very different films about triangles: Bleecker Street’s “Disobedience” (directed by Sebastian Lelio) and “The Favourite.”

Writer Tony McNamara has spoken about the “casual cruelty” of the characters in the latter, but Weisz isn’t sure she agrees. “Sarah can be defensively aggressive, but she’s not cruel. With cruelty, there’s a pleasure in administering nastiness to others. I see her as practical. I think she’s a lioness. In nature, females can be quite aggressive. Sarah is definitely alpha, very territorial; she’s working to protect her patch of land, which happens to be the whole of Britain. It’s a big patch,” she deadpans.

A character this complex can be exhausting. Weisz was asked the secret of keeping her energy up during production.

“Tea, cups of tea! And then playing with incredible performers like Olivia and Emma; their energy is very invigorating. It was an unusual experience. To work with all those actors, including those two extraordinary performers — it’s something I’ll never forget.”

Weisz had collaborated with Lanthimos on the 2015 “The Lobster,” so his methods and style weren’t new — though “The Favourite” still held plenty of happy discoveries.

“Everything surprised me! On the page, the script was excellent, but nothing prepared me for the way Yorgos moves from the text to framing a story — the way he shot it, the tonal shifts from the absurd to the tragic, to a love story, to a political thriller. The mastery of tone still surprises me.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • THE-CURSE-OF-THE-HANDSOME-MAN-photo2

    Filmax Acquires International on ‘The Curse of the Handsome Man’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Barcelona-based boutique studio Filmax has acquired international rights to Argentine producer-director Beda Docampo’s “The Curse of the Handsome Man,” produced by Ibón Cormenzana’s Arcadia Motion Pictures alongside Cados Producciones and Damned Besso –based in Spain—in co-production with Cecilia Díez’s Zarlek Producciones (“Medianeras”) in Argentina. The film is backed by Spanish public broadcaster [...]

  • La-mala-familia

    Javi Tasio Talks ECAM Incubator Title ‘La Mala Familia’

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Via their BRBR collective, filmmakers Nacho A. Villar and Luis Rojo have directed award winning music videos, and commercias. Now they’ll make the leap to features with “La Mala Familia,” a gritty urban drama set in the outskirts of Madrid. Variety spoke with the film’s producer, Javi Tasio, who developed this project at ECAM’s [...]

  • Submerged

    Outsider Takes World Sales on ‘Submerged’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Paul Hudson’s Outsider Pictures has acquired world sales rights to“Submergible” (Submerged) a narco capsule-sub-set drama thriller from Ecuador’s Alfredo León León who debuted with an original prisoner-of-war drama, “Open Wound.” Written by Daniela Granja Nuñez and Alfredo León León, “Submerged” is produced out of Ecuador by León León’s Boom en Cuadro and [...]

  • Charlie-Chaplin-and-Horse-Roy-Export-Co

    Carmen Chaplin to Direct ‘Charlie Chaplin, a Man of the World’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Director-producer-actress Carmen Chaplin is set to direct “Charlie Chaplin, a Man of the World,” a theatrical documentary feature which will add a hardly-explored new facet to the creator of the Tramp, one of the most iconic cinema characters in popular consciousness, plumbing Chaplin’s Romani roots and heritage. Marking the first time that [...]

  • Incitement

    'Incitement' Wins Ophir Award for Best Picture, Becomes Israel's Oscar Submission

    “Incitement” was the best-picture winner at Israel’s Ophir Awards on Sunday night, automatically becoming the country’s choice to vie for the international feature film Oscar. The winning film, a drama about the period leading up to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist in 1995, had its global premiere at [...]

  • LargoAI

    LargoAI Wins Inaugural San Sebastian Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Swiss artificial intelligence and data analytics company LargoAI won Sunday’s first-ever San Sebastian Film Festival Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge. LargoAI’s software provides data-driven filmmaking strategies, similar to those used by major VOD platforms which aggregate and often horde their own user-driven data. From early in the screenwriting process through development and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content