Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sigourney Weaver stars in movie about Autism Spctrum Disorder

It has been a decade since Sigourney Weaver appeared in her final incarnation as Ellen Ripley in Alien: Resurrection. During that suspenseful series, the tall, composed actress displayed natural authority as she battled hordes of aliens. That self-assuredness came in handy with her portrayal of high-functioning autistic Linda in Snow Cake.
Not since Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man has a character with autism been so endearing. In fact, can we remember another Hollywood film about the subject?
"I don't think there has been," says Weaver, who researched intensely for the role. "If anything, I think there's an avoidance of the issue. Rain Man was 20 years ago. One of the things that I've heard constantly from people on the autism spectrum is they're so tired of people referring to Rain Man - as if one movie would define the disorder for decades to come.
"As good as that movie was I think people have so many misconceptions.
You see someone with autism and you see all that physical behaviour but you don't realise that on their own terms some of them can be as high functioning as you or I."
Weaver was determined to make Linda funny.
"I'm much more comfortable in comedy," she says, "but what I've come to discover is that like life, a good script is both funny and dramatic. You don't have to be serious about the movie, it's OK to laugh. There are so many things that are funny in the script and it's certainly funny when you're with someone with autism."
The snow of the title refers to that wonderful white stuff Linda rolls around in at home in her small Canadian town. She has a wild and woolly young adult daughter who appreciates her mother's eccentricities and we meet her just before she is killed in a car crash with a man who has picked her up hitchhiking.
That man, played by Alan Rickman, has his own set of troubles. He feels compelled to visit Linda to tell her what happened - only she seems hardly upset at the news and invites him to stay. She has a new playmate.
Weaver was invited to be in the film by Rickman, her co-star in the underrated Galaxy Quest. She says she doesn't think she was an "obvious choice" but Rickman's backing gave her confidence.
Weaver is married to theatre director Jim Simpson, who is six years her junior, and they have a 17-year-old daughter, Charlotte, who is a constant consideration as to the jobs she accepts. For a long while she would only work in New York and she greatly enjoyed her recent stint as Babe Paley in Infamous.
However, there will be no more Alien for the actress. "You know, they wanted to do parts four and five together like The Lord of the Rings, but I didn't want to do that ... Of course, then they did Alien v. Predator, which sort of killed the whole thing.''
Director Marc EvansStarring Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Carrie-Anne Moss