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February 2005
Constantine: An Interview with Rachel Weisz

Constantine: An Interview with Rachel Weisz

By Wilson Morales

"Constantine" does not mark Rachel Weisz' first collaboration with Keanu Reeves; they previously starred together with Morgan Freeman in the nuclear-nightmare action movie "Chain Reaction". But as she recently told blackfilm.com, working with him again was one of the easier challenges she's faced in her varied and eclectic career. Weisz sat down and told us how she felt looking at herself-much less dead- and in person (so to speak), creating chemistry with Keanu, and moving on to Darren Aronofksy's next film, "The Fountain".

Was it split screen when we saw you and your twin sister in the morgue?

Rachel Weisz: They made a dead me.

What was it like seeing that?

RW: It's really strange, because it's really, the technology, the craftsmanship, it looked real to me. It was me, but dead. It was slightly paler. I went to a morgue as part of my research for the character. I'd never seen dead bodies before, but that's how they look. They get slightly sunken and grey. So yeah, it was not your average, everyday experience.

Are you going to have some fun with that on April Fool's Day?

RW: (Laughs) I could drive in the car pool lane. Wouldn't that be great.

You could do Weekend at Rachel's.

RW: I've never seen Weekend at Bernie's, but I love the trailer. What a great premise. Is it fun? There are two? I'm going to rent that movie.

You and Keanu have great chemistry. How did you work on that with him?

RW: (Laughs) How did we practice our chemistry? You've either got it or you ain't, that's all there is to it. Chemistry is, you know, you may be feeling it but it may not be all in the script, you know? If it's there, then It's not very hard to have chemistry with Keanu. I'm sure you can imagine that. You can't work on it or create. Either there's a little zing or there's not.

You play Americans a lot lately. Do you like that?

RW: My favorite thing. I love being American.

Something about Martin Henderson and losing the accent?

RW: No, you don't. No. When I'm playing a character, I use the American accent. But when I go back to England, I just glide right back into Englishness immediately.

Do you use a coach?

RW: Every actor uses a dialect coach. Every actor, and if they say they don't, they're lying. Everybody does, yeah. You don't want to worry about it. You have someone listening out to check that you're not straying.

Is there a variation on your American accent from film to film, in your mind?

RW: Most movies I'm just going for what they call general American, it means it's from kind of nowhere. Unless you are doing something where it's, you know, obviously you're from Brooklyn or you're from Philly or you're from the South, it's just playing an actor that's just general American. Who knows what that means really.

Until I saw the dialect coach credit, I actually thought you were American.

RW: Thank you. No. English through and through.

I don't know what your religious background is, but how do you feel about how this film works and all these theological things?

RW: What do I think about the theology. Well, it's definitely fantastical, supernatural, entertaining movie, but it's housed within a very traditional, I guessed you'd say kind of Judaic Christian mythology or theology I should say. And I thought that grounded it in something very interesting and I thought it asked some very interesting questions about morality, good and evil and free will and pre-destination and how much is up to us and how much is up to us and how much is God's plan and the struggle between man trying to make a choice to do good and evil and fate intervening. You know, big unanswerable questions which people have been asking for thousands of years, since religion was begotten. I guess it will carry on after, but they're big old questions.

Does this make it more interesting for you as an actress than something like The Mummy sequels?

RW: You know. This and the Mummy are just completely different planets, apples and oranges. I loved the tone of The Mummy. It reminded me of Saturday morning tv and b movies. It was itself very comedic. This is more-grown up, darker, I guess a little more intellectual. I guess it asks more challenging questions. What was your question, I was sort of rambling? Okay, yeah, just that there is a lot more theory.

How hard was that scene where Keanu was holding you down and how long did you have to hold your breath?

RW: Gosh, I really long time. I wasn't really timing it, but I guess like a minute and a half. The director said that he wanted Keanu not to go easy on me, for it to look real. So he was really holding me down. It was scary.

What was the safe signal?

RW: The safe signal was something like, Pat me three times on the arm' (Laughs) I was thrashing around so much that he couldn't tell. I mean I was really trying to get out of there. There was a moment there in which I was really not acting any more. I was just trying to get out of the bath, but Keanu's a sensitive guy and we were pretty in-tune, so you know when somebody's had enough.

Are you shooting the Fountain right now?

RW: Yes. It's a little bit secret. I'll tell you as much as I can. It's an original screenplay. It's written by Darren Aronofsky, it's also directed by Darren. It's a great love story, a huge love story that kind of goes through time. It has a science fiction kind of thing to it. It's very original, that's why it's [hard] to explain. It's not like anything anybody's ever seen before. Thank God! It's about the search for the fountain of youth, hence the title. And it's Hugh Jackman, I'm starring opposite Hugh.

Are you shooting in LA?

RW: I go back to Montreal tomorrow. We finish at the end of February.

Is that for release this year?

RW: I think they want to release it this year, yeah.

What is working with Aronofsky like?

RW: Incredible. I'm blown away by his directing. I've never come across anything like it You probably know from his movies, he gets very, very raw [and] very emotional performances from his actors. The way in which he does that is incredible. Hugh said to me on the first day of filming, I've never felt this safe before.' I don't know how he does it, he makes you feel totally safe and then he pushes you further than you ever thought you could possibly go.

Does he shoot a lot of takes?

RW: Yes. He shoots a lot of film. He keeps the camera rolling. He doesn't cut, he just keeps it rolling and throws something at you. He really kind of off-balances you, he just throws stuff at you. He loves to be on set. He's one of the happiest directors I've ever worked with, even though the subject-matter is very raw, he's very, sort of overjoyed to be filming. He seems to love the process.

Will this be another screw the ratings board like Requiem?

RW: Oh yeah, no. It hasn't got That was because of, like, pornographic content? This is not that. It's very raw, but it doesn't involve drugs or sex, so there are no taboos. I'm not sure about the rating. It's about love, it's all about love at this point. There's no taboo subject-matter, there's nothing, as far as I can think of. I think it's emotionally difficult. It's not offensive to certain members of society.

Is it the hardest role you've played so far?

RW: It's definitely the most emotionally challenging, so yes.

Flying through the building?

RW: No, that was me, but they made a chair, in which I was strapped into, and then they built a track, a really long track and then they pulled the lever and the chair was shot back incredibly fast. Very, very, very fast. And then they computer generate the office block around me. So I was moving through the studio and then they painted the office block around me. [Incomprehensible]

Was it like an amusement park ride?

RW: I suppose, yeah. It was more scary than any amusement. I was scared. I suppose rollercoasters can be

Which was more difficult?

RW: People always want to know what was the most difficult thing. I don't know why? Which was more difficult. Probably the bathtub, that was more difficult.

What was the most fun?

RW: It's pretty intense all the way through. I really like shooting that long scene on the rooftop. It just, like, had a little noir feeling to it. I thought that finally I was going to get kissed, but it was not to be.

Did you do a version with a kiss?

RW: No, we didn't. Because we thought if we did, they would use it. You know, someone would get their hands on it, so we made sure, we didn't want there to be a kiss.

How was the set, being such an intense movie?

RW: All actors are different. Personally, when things are intense, I need to be really silly to let off steam between

Were you the only one being silly?

RW: Yeah, probably. Probably, yeah.

Are you interested in or contracted for sequels?

RW: Am I interested in it? There's no contract for the sequel. It would depend on the script.

How about playing triplets.

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