Talk of Retirement Is Alien to Sigourney; Real Women Hard-Working Actress Weaver Plans to Make the Most of Her Daughter Going to College by Stepping Up Her Film Schedule

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), August 5, 2008 | Go to article overview

Talk of Retirement Is Alien to Sigourney; Real Women Hard-Working Actress Weaver Plans to Make the Most of Her Daughter Going to College by Stepping Up Her Film Schedule


THE image of 58-year-old Sigourney Weaver as a vulnerable daughter or a wistful mother seems impossible when you recall her playing powerful women like Ripley in the Alien series.

But when Susan Weaver was a lanky red-headed child, she was insecure and convinced she was ugly - because her British mother told her so.

"When I was eight, I asked my mother if I was pretty," Sigourney said.

Her mother, actress Elizabeth Inglis, gave a surprisingly brutal reply. "No, dear," she told her. "You're just plain."

Those words haunted her for years. She admitted: "I thought, if my mother doesn't think I'm pretty, no one else will."

But when she became a mother herself, Sigourney realised there may have been another reason for the apparently heartless remark.

"I think she was saying that so I wouldn't get conceited," she said. "She probably thought, as I was her daughter, I was pretty, but she wouldn't tell me.

"That's very British. I was in therapy for years trying to figure out the answers to some of these things."

Sigourney pulled herself together at 16. Experimenting with her mother's lipstick in a mirror, she peered at herself, and decided she wasn't so bad.

"There was a glimmer of hope. I thought, 'Oh, maybe things are going to be all right.'"

The daughter of a TV executive, Susan Alexandra Weaver had "a privileged childhood," she says. At 14, she dubbed herself Sigourney after a character in The Great Gatsby, telling pals Susan "wasn't interesting enough."

At university, she told her parents she wanted to act.

They were horrified.

"They thought I'd be eaten alive," she said. And unfortunately she studied drama at the same time as another acting talent who swiped all the best roles.

Even in her teens, the actress who would become Meryl Streep was a force to be reckoned with. Shy Sigourney was finally pushed into realising she had talent by her loyal pals, who helped her overcome her low self-esteem.

"I was very shy and self-conscious. I didn't even decide to be an actress until my friends kept hiring me in New York. I kind of backed into it," she laughed.

"You never quite get over it. My daughter seems quite confident and well adjusted in comparison to me."

Mother and daughter finally made up their differences five years ago, and Sigourney was by her mum's side when she passed away last year "She'd had a tough few years," said Sigourney "She was 94 and, luckily, I had been able to spend a bit of time with her.

She had a peaceful end, I was holding her hand. She had really lived her life. I miss her but I feel she is still with me."

This autumn, Sigourney faces another tough new role - empty-nester, as her only child, Charlotte Simpson, is going to college.

Married to Scots-born theatre director Jim Simpson, who is six years her junior, Sigourney came late to motherhood, and says giving birth at 41 was "the best thing I ever did."

"I love being a mum, Charlotte is a funny girl," she smiled "Anyone who can crack a few jokes is good in her books.

"I'd have loved more children but I realised I was lucky to have just the one, because I had left it until I was 40. Also if I wanted to have a career, I don't think I'd have been able to have more kids.

"Being a mother is such a demanding job I would have broken in half."

For a long while she was raising Charlotte, she would only work in New York. Now she's hoping to spread her wings a little further.

She said: "When you're a working mother, the guilt is enormous. And to not have that, to actually be able to work and not feel that tug all the time, would be great." But wherever she is, student Charlotte will never be far from Sigourney's mind - or her laptop.

"Luckily, there's email. I can kind of haunt her without haunting her," she grinned. …

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