Sigourney Weaver

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Sigourney Weaver
Sigourney Weaver2.jpg
Sigourney Weaver in September 2011
Born Susan Alexandra Weaver
(1949-10-08) October 8, 1949 (age 65)
Manhattan, New York
New York, U.S.
Alma mater Stanford University (B.A., 1972)
Yale University (M.F.A., 1974)
Occupation Actress
Years active 1976–present
Spouse(s) Jim Simpson (m. 1984)
Children 1
Parent(s) Sylvester Weaver (deceased)
Elizabeth Inglis (deceased)
Relatives Doodles Weaver
(uncle, deceased)

Sigourney Weaver (born Susan Alexandra Weaver; October 8, 1949) is an American actress and film producer, known for playing Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise. Following her film debut as a minor character in Annie Hall, Weaver quickly came to prominence in 1979 with her first lead role as Ripley in Alien, subsequently reprising the role in its three sequels Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), and Alien: Resurrection (1997). Her 1986 Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for Aliens is considered a landmark in the recognition of science fiction, action, and horror genres, as well as a major step in challenging the gender role in cinema.

She also starred in the box-office hits Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II (1989), and Avatar (2009). A seven-time Golden Globe Award nominee, she won both Best Actress in Drama and Best Supporting Actress for her work in the 1988 films Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl, becoming the first person ever to have won two acting Golden Globe Awards in the same year.[1] For her role in the 1997 film The Ice Storm, she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Additionally, she has received three Academy Award nominations, three Emmy Award nominations, and two Saturn Awards.

On stage, she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for the 1980 Off-Broadway play Das Lusitania Songspiel and received a Tony Award nomination for the 1984 original Broadway production of Hurlyburly. In 2013, she returned to Broadway for the first time in over 15 years in the original production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which won the Tony Award for Best Play. Her other films include The Year of Living Dangerously (1983), Dave (1993), Death and the Maiden (1994), Copycat (1995), A Map of the World (1999), Galaxy Quest (1999), and Prayers for Bobby (2009).

Weaver progressively gained the nickname of "The Sci-Fi Queen" for her numerous contributions to science fiction film history, including minor roles in successful works such as Futurama (2002), WALL-E (2008), Paul (2011) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012)[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Weaver was born in Manhattan, New York City, the daughter of Elizabeth Inglis (née Desiree Mary Lucy Hawkins; 1913–2007), an actress, and the NBC television executive and television pioneer Sylvester "Pat" Weaver (1908–2002).[4][5][6] Her uncle, Doodles Weaver (1911–1983), was a comedian and actor. Her mother was English, from Colchester, Essex, and her father, who was American, had English, Scottish, and Ulster-Scots ancestry, including roots in New England.[7][8] Weaver began using the name "Sigourney Weaver" in 1963 after a minor character (Sigourney Howard) in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby.[9]

Weaver attended the Ethel Walker School, a girls' preparatory school in Simsbury, Connecticut. She also attended The Chapin School and The Brearley School. Sigourney was reportedly 5′ 10½″ (179 cm) tall by the age of 14, although she only grew another inch during her teens to her adult height of 5′ 11½″ (182 cm). In 1967, at the age of 18, Weaver visited Israel and volunteered on a kibbutz for several months.[10]

Weaver attended Sarah Lawrence College as well as Stanford University[11] where she first began her involvement in acting, by living in Stanford's co-ed Beta Chi Community for the Performing Arts.[12] Weaver earned her Master of Fine Arts degree at the Yale University School of Drama in 1974,[13] where one of her appearances was in the chorus in a production of Stephen Sondheim's musical version of The Frogs, and another was as one of a mob of Roman soldiers alongside Meryl Streep in another production.[14] Weaver later acted in original plays by her friend and classmate Christopher Durang. She later appeared in an "Off-Broadway" production of Durang's comedy Beyond Therapy in 1981, which was directed by the up-and-coming director Jerry Zaks.

Film career[edit]

Weaver with her father Pat Weaver in 1989

Weaver's first role is often said to be in Woody Allen's 1977 comedy Annie Hall playing a minor role opposite Allen.[15] Weaver appeared two years later as Warrant Officer/Lieutenant Ellen Ripley in Ridley Scott's blockbuster 1979 film Alien, in a role initially designated to co-star Veronica Cartwright, until a late change in casting. She reprised the role in the three sequels of the Alien movie franchise, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. Ty Burr of The Boston Globe states, "One of the real pleasures of "Alien" is to watch the emergence of both Ellen Ripley as a character and Sigourney Weaver as a star."[16]

In the sequel Aliens directed by James Cameron, critic Roger Ebert writes, "Weaver, who is onscreen almost all the time, comes through with a very strong, sympathetic performance: She's the thread that holds everything together."[17] Weaver followed the success of Alien appearing opposite Mel Gibson in The Year of Living Dangerously released to critical acclaim and as Dana Barrett in Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II.

Sigourney Weaver at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Baby Mama; she played a role in the film.

By the end of the decade, Weaver appeared in two of her most memorable and critically acclaimed performances in 1988 as Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist. The same year she appeared opposite Harrison Ford in a supporting role as Katharine Parker in the film Working Girl. Weaver won Golden Globe awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for her two roles that year. She received two Academy Award nominations in 1988, for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Working Girl and Best Actress for Gorillas in the Mist, making her one of the few actors nominated for two acting awards in the same year.

By the early 1990s, Weaver appeared in several films including Ang Lee's The Ice Storm, earning her another Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress and winning a BAFTA Award, followed by Dave opposite Kevin Kline and Frank Langella. She played the role of agoraphobic criminal psychologist Helen Hudson in the 1995 movie Copycat. Weaver also concentrated on smaller and supporting roles throughout the decade such as Jeffrey (1994), Galaxy Quest (1999), and A Map of the World (1999) earning her another Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.

In 2001, she appeared in the comedy Heartbreakers playing the lead role of a con artist alongside Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ray Liotta, Gene Hackman and Anne Bancroft. She appeared in several films throughout the decade including Holes (2003), the M. Night Shyamalan horror film The Village (2004), Vantage Point (2008), and Baby Mama (2008). Weaver also returned to Rwanda for the BBC special Gorillas Revisited. She was voted 20th in Channel 4's countdown of the 100 Greatest Movie Stars of All Time, being one of only two women in the Top 20 (the other was Audrey Hepburn).

In 2009, Weaver starred as Mary Griffith in her first made-for-TV movie, Prayers for Bobby, for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award,[18] Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award. She also guest starred in the TV show Eli Stone in the fall of 2008.[19] She reunited with Aliens director James Cameron for his 2009 film Avatar, with Weaver playing a major part as Dr. Grace Augustine, leader of the AVTR (avatar) program on the film's fictional moon Pandora.

Weaver in December 2009

Weaver has done voice work in television and film. She had a guest role in the Futurama episode "Love and Rocket" in February 2002, playing the female Planet Express Ship. In 2006, she was the narrator for the American version of the Emmy Award-winning series Planet Earth. Also in 2006, Weaver narrated "A Matter of Degrees", a short film that plays daily at The Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks (The Wild Center) in Tupper Lake, New York. In 2008, Weaver was featured as the voice of the ship's computer in the Pixar and Disney release, WALL•E. She also voiced a narrating role in another computer-animated film, 2008's The Tale of Despereaux, based on the novel by Kate DiCamillo.

Weaver has hosted two episodes of the long-running NBC sketch show Saturday Night Live: once on the 12th season premiere in 1986, and again, on a season 35 episode in January 2010. In March 2010, she was cast for the lead role as Queen of the Vampires in Amy Heckerling's Vamps.[20] She was honored at the 2010 Scream Awards earning The Heroine Award which honored her work in science fiction, horror and fantasy films.

In May 2010, there were reports that Weaver had been cast for the lead role Margaret Matheson in the Spanish thriller film Red Lights.[21]

In September 2011, it was confirmed that Weaver will be returning to Avatar 2, with James Cameron stating that "no one ever dies in science fiction."[22] In 2014, he revealed that she would be featured in all three sequels.[23]

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 character will appear in two DLCs set during the events of Alien, with most of the original cast voicing their respective characters.[24][25]

Weaver appeared in the 2014 film Exodus: Gods and Kings playing Tuya, directed by Ridley Scott, alongside Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, and Ben Kingsley.[26] In 2015, she co-starred in Neil Blomkamp's science-fiction film Chappie, and stated that she would agree to appear in an Alien sequel, provided that Blomkamp directs.[27] On February 18, 2015, it was officially announced that an Alien sequel will be made, with Blomkamp slated to direct.[28] On February 25, 2015, Weaver confirmed that she would reprise her role as Ellen Ripley in the new Alien film.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Weaver has been married to the stage director Jim Simpson since October 1, 1984.[30] They have one daughter, Charlotte Simpson, who was born on April 13, 1990.[31]

After making Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey, she became a supporter of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and is now the DFGFI's honorary chairwoman.[32] She was honored by the Explorers Club for this work. Weaver is considered to be an environmentalist.[33] In October 2006, she drew international attention through a news conference at the start of a United Nations General Assembly policy deliberation. She outlined the widespread threat to ocean habitats posed by deep-sea trawling, an industrial method for harvesting fish.

On April 8, 2008, she hosted the annual gala of the Trickle Up Program, a non-profit organization focusing on those in extreme poverty, mainly women and the disabled, in the Rainbow Room.[34]

She is a longtime friend of Jamie Lee Curtis. In her 2015 interview together, Curtis admitted to Weaver she never saw Alien entirely, because she was too scared.[15]


Weaver has been nominated three times for an Academy Award, three BAFTAs (one win) and seven Golden Globes (two wins). She has also earned Tony and Drama Desk nominations for her work on the stage.



Year Title Role Notes
1977 Annie Hall Alvy's Date Outside Theatre
1979 Alien Ripley
1981 Eyewitness Tony Sokolow Crew Members & TV equipment from WNYW (then known as WNEW) appeared in the film; Weaver co-hosted the news on WNYW for the film[citation needed]
1982 The Year of Living Dangerously Jilly Bryant
1983 Deal of the Century Catherine DeVoto
1984 Ghostbusters Dana Barrett
1985 Femme ou Deux, UneUne Femme ou Deux Jessica Fitzgerald English translation: One Woman or Two; almost entirely French-language production
1986 Half Moon Street Dr. Lauren Slaughter
1986 Aliens Ellen Ripley
1988 Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey Dian Fossey
1988 Working Girl Katharine Parker
1989 Ghostbusters II Dana Barrett
1992 The Snow Queen The Narrator (voice) Short film
1992 Alien 3 Ellen Ripley Also co-producer
1992 1492: Conquest of Paradise Queen Isabella
1993 Rabbit Ears: Peachboy The Narrator Short film
Voice only
1993 Dave Ellen Mitchell
1994 The Wild Swans The Narrator (voice) Short film
1994 Death and the Maiden Paulina Escobar
1995 Copycat Helen Hudson
1995 Jeffrey Debra Moorhouse
1997 Ice Storm, TheThe Ice Storm Janey Carver
1997 Alien: Resurrection Ellen Ripley Also co-producer
1999 Map of the World, AA Map of the World Alice Goodwin
1999 Galaxy Quest Gwen DeMarco/Lieutenant Tawny Madison
2000 Company Man Daisy Quimp
2001 Heartbreakers Angela Nardino / Max Conners / Olga Ivanova
2001 Big Bad Love Betti DeLoreo Voice only
2002 Tadpole Eve Grubman
2002 Guys, TheThe Guys Joan Directed by husband Jim Simpson, starring daughter Charlotte Simpson
2003 Holes Warden Walker
2004 Imaginary Heroes Sandy Travis
2004 Village, TheThe Village Alice Hunt
2006 Snow Cake Linda Freeman
2006 TV Set, TheThe TV Set Lenny
2006 Infamous Babe Paley
2007 Happily N'Ever After Frieda Voice only
2007 Girl in the Park, TheThe Girl in the Park Julia Sandburg
2008 Vantage Point Rex Brooks
2008 Be Kind Rewind Ms. Lawson
2008 Baby Mama Chaffee Bicknell
2008 WALL•E Computer Voice role
2008 Tale of Despereaux, TheThe Tale of Despereaux The Narrator Voice role
2009 Avatar Dr. Grace Augustine
2010 Crazy on the Outside Vicky Zelda
2010 You Again Ramona Clark
2011 Cedar Rapids Marcy Vanderhei
2011 Paul "The Big Guy"
2011 Abduction Dr. Geraldine "Geri" Bennett
2011 Rampart Joan Confrey
2012 The Cabin in the Woods The Director
2012 Red Lights Margaret Matheson
2012 The Cold Light of Day Jean Carrack
2012 Vamps Cisserus
2014 Exodus: Gods and Kings Tuya
2015 Chappie Michelle Bradley
2016 A Monster Calls Grandma In post-production
2017 Alien 5 (working title) Ellen Ripley In pre-production


Year Title Role Notes
1976 Somerset Avis Ryan
1977 The Best of Families Laura Wheeler Miniseries
1979 3 by Cheever: The Sorrows of Gin Marcia Lawton Miniseries; episodes 1 & 2
1997 Snow White: A Tale of Terror Lady Claudia Hoffman
2002 Futurama The Female Planet Express Ship Episode: "Love and Rocket"; voice role
2008 Eli Stone Therapist Episode: "The Path"
2009 Prayers for Bobby Mary Griffith TV movie
2012 Political Animals Elaine Barrish Miniseries (6 episodes)


Year Title Role Notes
1999 Why Dogs Smile & Chimpanzees Cry The Narrator – Herself Voice only
2001 The Roman Empire In The First Century The Narrator Voice only
2003 National Geographic Specials: The Lost Film of Dian Fossey The Narrator Voice only
2006 Planet Earth The Narrator Voice only
Gorillas Revisited Herself BBC production
2009 ACID TEST: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification The Narrator Voice and image

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2009 James Cameron's Avatar: The Game Dr. Grace Augustine Xbox 360/PS3/Wii version
2014 Alien: Isolation Ellen Ripley Cameo; lead role in "Crew Expendable" and "Last Survivor" DLCs

Stage credits[edit]

Soundtrack discography[edit]

Year Title Track
1993 Dave "Tomorrow"
2001 Heartbreakers "Back in the U.S.S.R."
2006 Snow Cake "Deep in the Heart of Texas"
2007 The Girl in the Park "Ooh Shoo Be Doo Be"


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  3. ^ "Article about Weaver". The Post and Courier. Retrieved October 2, 2011. 
  4. ^ He is related to Matthew Laflin who was an American Manufacturer of Gunpowder, Businessman, Philanthropist, and an early pioneer of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.
  5. ^ Chicago: its history and its ... January 14, 2008. Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
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  11. ^ Bio, TVGuide
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  21. ^ "Sigourney Weaver Flashes Red Lights for Rodrigo Cortés". May 25, 2010. Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
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  52. ^ The New York Times, February 16, 1979. Gussow, Mel. "An Evening in New Jerusalem; On the Trail of Kef"
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  66. ^ "Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Daniels Will Send Love Letters for Flea's One-Night Benefit". May 9, 2007. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  67. ^ " July 26, 2008. Gans, Andrew. "Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Daniels Send Love Letters July 26". Retrieved September 25, 2010. 

External links[edit]