Rachel Weisz wouldn’t mind playing a spy who is invincible, yet lonely, despite a ‘large sexual appetite’.
The Oscar-winning actress, who knows all about screen spies – she’s married to Bond star Daniel Craig, after all – sips water and asks why this character shouldn’t be sexually vociferous ‘just because she’s a woman’?
Would she have a cocktail of choice, I wonder? ‘I actually really like vodka Martinis,’ says Rachel, with a twinkle.
Neck it: Although admitting that she ‘actually really like vodka Martinis,’ Rachel Weisz’s choice of drink(if she played a spy) would be a shot of tequila
But in the case of her hypothetical spy, the tipple should really be something inelegant, because obviously we’re not talking about a female Bond. ‘A Tequila Slammer!’ she says, eyes lighting up.
Rachel says she liked Angelina Jolie when she played a CIA operative in Salt — a part originally written for a man.
I comment that although she has powerful roles in two films just screened at the BFI London Film Festival — Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster and Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth (she plays Michael Caine’s daughter: a woman with ‘daddy issues’), and despite Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara’s performances in Carol, and Carey Mulligan’s in Suffragette, there is still a lack of strong roles for women.
She takes immediate issue with the word strong. ‘To me strong means you lift dumbbells,’ she says. ‘I don’t think you’d say Tom Hardy, or George Clooney’s found a strong role. Well, you wouldn’t! It’s slightly weird, isn’t it?
‘If I play a body-builder one day — which I might!’ she says laughing, ‘then maybe that might be strong.’
I’m not disagreeing. She’s right — and I quite enjoyed being slapped down by one of our best screen actresses, within the elegant confines of the Soho Hotel.
Rachel takes another sip of water and says there’s too much chatter about roles for women. ‘I think we all have to get on with it.’
The actress is the personification of that view. With The Lobster out today, Youth released January 29, and three other pictures completed (plus several others in pre-production), she’s certainly getting on with things.
In The Lobster, guests — including recently single David, played by Colin Farrell — check into a hotel run by Olivia Colman (not strong, but fantastic). The movie’s mythology dictates that any guest still single 45 days later checks out . . . as an animal.
‘It’s very brave, very dangerous and edgy,’ Rachel says.
Without giving too much away, her character turns up midway through the film, and goes off with Farrell. She says when she arrived at the location, halfway through shooting, Farrell looked at her and said: ‘I just can’t explain to you what this was like but . . . good luck.’
He told her it was the ‘wildest, strangest, funniest’ acting job he could recall.
And though she agrees it was ‘unchartered territory’, she says she would work with Lanthimos again, in a heartbeat.
P arts of the movie annoyed me, I confess. But I have sat through it twice — and argued with people about what it means.
One insisted it’s all connected in some odd way to Greek mythology. I have no clue about that, but I’ll go along with Robert Altman’s dictum that ‘great art divides’.
Rachel did all of her scenes with Farrell who, she says, looked less hunky than usual, and more chunky. ‘He had to eat a lot of ice cream for the role. To me he’s always going to be chunky Dave (after his character). He’s got this incredible sweetness in the film, because you’re not distracted by the Adonis. You can see his soul.’
I know she’s a Presley fan and I say that chunky Colin reminded me of Elvis in his roly-poly years. ‘Yes, the Las Vegas era. Colin’s like chunky Elvis,’ she says, giggling.
She’ll be in London for a while working on future projects and, of course, she’ll attend the Spectre premiere with Daniel on October 26.
I reckon she’ll probably have a Tequila Slammer afterwards.
Watch out for…
Genius: Trevor Dion Nicholas as the Genie in the Disney musical production of Aladdin
Trevor Dion Nicholas, the Genie in the Disney musical production of Aladdin, which runs at the Prince Edward Theatre from May 27 with a grand opening night set for June 9.
Mr Nicholas was understudy on Broadway to chief Genie James Monroe Iglehart and is now making his West End debut. He’s the first actor to be cast in Aladdin, though others — mostly British — will be named soon.
When I saw it on Broadway I was amused to see grown men and women in the audience, some dressed in Aladdin costumes, singing along to the songs written by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin. How absurd, I thought. But what have I been humming as I write this? A Whole New World.
Get back in the lamp!
Ms Burt has appeared in shows such as Company and Into The Woods at the Donmar, and London Road at the National. Daniel Evans will direct the production, created by Richard Taylor and Rachel Wagstaff, at the Crucible in Sheffield from May 18.
Martin Kemp, who will play the Child Catcher in a tour of the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which starts at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton on February 10. Kemp (right) will join Jason Manford, who plays Caractacus Potts (both will leave the show on April 24.) Lee Mead will assume the part of Potts from May 4. Phill Jupitus and Michelle Collins also star.
Chitty will first have a nine-week run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse (from December 10), with James Brining and Stephen Mear directing and choreographing.
Alan Cox, who will portray controversial psychiatrist R.D. Laing in a new play by Patrick Marmion called The Divided Laing, which runs at the Arcola in East London from November 18. Laing wrote about and discussed the ‘politics of madness’ and Marmion’s play focuses on comic incidents in 1970. Oscar Pearce, Ameira Darwish, Laura-Kate Gordon, Kevin McMonagle, James Russell and Michael Kingsbury are also in the production.
Ashley Zhangazha and Llewella Gideon, who star in a revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s classic play A Raisin In The Sun, about a mother, her feckless son, her daughter and daughter-in-law, all dreaming of having enough money to move to a better neighbourhood. It will run at Sheffield Theatres Studio from January 28 until February 13.
Joanne Froggatt, so good as Lady Mary’s maid Anna in Downton Abbey, has joined the cast of A Street Cat Named Bob. The film, which starts shooting this month, is based on James Bowen’s memoir about his life on the streets as a heroin addict and how a stray cat helped him wean himself off drugs.
Joanne will play Val, Bowen’s counsellor. Anthony Head has been contracted to play his father, and Luke Treadaway is set to portray Bowen, who will make a cameo appearance with Bob. Joanne has just finished filming the ITV murder drama Dark Angel.
Her involvement in the new film means she will delay plans to work in the U.S. until next year.
Samantha Spiro, who will join Jim Broadbent (as Scrooge) in an interpretation of A Christmas Carol by Patrick Barlow. Phelim McDermott, of the Improbable Theatre Company, will direct the show at the Noel Coward from November 30. Adeel Akhtar, Amelia Bullmore and Keir Charles are also in the cast, where they will take on a variety of roles.