Rachel Hannah Weisz, born 7 March 1970 is an English film and theatre actress and fashion model. She started her acting career at Trinity Hall, Cambridge University, where she co-founded the theatrical group Cambridge Talking Tongues. The group was awarded the Student Drama Award for the improvised piece Slight Possession during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe by The Guardian.
Weisz started working in television, appearing in Inspector Morse, the British miniseries The Scarlet and the Black, and the television movie Advocates II. She made her film debut in the 1994 film Death Machine, but her breakthrough role came in the 1996 movie Chain Reaction, leading to a high-profile role as Evelyn Carnahan-O'Connell in the films The Mummy, in 1999, and The Mummy Returns in 2001. Other notable films featuring Weisz are Enemy at the Gates, About a Boy, Constantine, The Fountain and The Constant Gardener, for which she received an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award for her supporting role as Tessa Quayle.
Weisz also works in theatre. Her stage breakthrough was the 1994 revival of Noel Coward's play Design for Living, which earned her the 'London Critics' Circle Award for the most promising newcomer. Weisz's performances also include the 1999 Donmar Warehouse production of Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer, and their 2009 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. Her portrayal of Blanche DuBois in the latter play earned her the Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Actress of 2009.
Early life and background
Weisz was born in Westminster, London, England, and grew up in the Hampstead Garden Suburb. Her mother, Edith Ruth (née Teich), is a teacher turned psychotherapist who was born in Vienna, Austria. Her father, George Weisz, was a Hungarian-born inventor and engineer. Her parents fled to England during the Second World War. Weisz's father is Jewish and her mother is of Jewish, "Catholic Viennese", and Italian descent. Her maternal grandfather, Alexander Teich, was a secretary of the World Union of Jewish Students; whilst one of her maternal great-grandmothers was from Italy. She has a sister, Minnie, who is a photographer and curator.
Weisz's parents valued the arts, and encouraged her and her sister to form opinions of their own by introducing them to family debates. Weisz left North London Collegiate School and attended Benenden for one year before studying her A levels at St Pauls Girls School. Her parents ultimately divorced. Weisz eventually graduated from St Paul's Girls' School. Weisz claimed that she was a bad student until an English Literature teacher inspired her at the age of sixteen.
Weisz started modeling when she was fourteen. In 1984, she gained public attention when she turned down an offer to star in King David, along with Richard Gere. After school, she entered Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where she graduated with a 2:1 in English. During her university years, she appeared in various student productions, co-founding a student drama group called Cambridge Talking Tongues, which went on to win a Guardian Student Drama Award at the 1991 Edinburgh Fringe Festival for an improvised piece called Slight Possession. The group existed until 1993. Once she finished her college education, Weisz was offered a place at drama school, which she rejected in order to look for work. In those years, she started taking small television roles. Despite her rising career, she felt deeply unhappy at times, having days in which she could not drag herself out of bed because of her unhappiness. This situation led to her undergoing therapy three times a week for five years.
After her success in theater as a student, Weisz continued acting in television roles. She appeared on the 1992 television movie Advocates II, followed by roles in the Inspector Morse episode "Twilight of the Gods", and Scarlet and Black alongside Ewan McGregor.
Weisz started her film career with a minor role in the 1994 film Death Machine, but her first major role came in the 1996 film Chain Reaction, which also starred Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman. She next appeared as Miranda Fox in Stealing Beauty, directed by the Italian Academy Award-winner Bernardo Bertolucci.
Following this, Weisz found roles in the 1997 American drama Swept from the Sea, the 1998 television comedy-drama My Summer with Des, the Michael Winterbottom's crime movie I Want You, and David Leland's The Land Girls, based on Angela Huth's book of the same name.
In 1999 Weisz played Greta in the historical film Sunshine. The same year, her international breakthrough came with the 1999 adventure movie The Mummy, in which she played the female lead opposite Brendan Fraser. Her character was the English Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan, who undertook an expedition to the fictional ancient Egyptian city of Hamunaptra to discover an ancient book. Variety criticized the direction of the movie, writing: "(the actors) have been directed to broad, undisciplined performances Buffoonery hardly seems like Weisz's natural domain, as the actress strains for comic effects that she can't achieve".
In 2004, Weisz appeared in the comedy Envy, opposite Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Christopher Walken. The movie failed at the box office. Variety magazine opined that Weisz and co-star Amy Poehler "get fewer choice moments than they deserve." Her next role was alongside Keanu Reeves in Constantine, based on the comic book Hellblazer. Film Threat called her portrayal "effective at projecting skepticism and, eventually, dawning horror".
Her next appearance, in 2005, was in Fernando Meirelles's The Constant Gardener, a film adaptation of a John le Carré thriller set in the slums of Kibera and Loiyangalani, Kenya.Weisz played activist Tessa Quayle. The movie was critically acclaimed, earning Weisz the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. UK newspaper The Guardian noted that the film "established her in the front rank of British actors", while BBC wrote: "Weisz is exceptional: film star charisma coupled with raw emotion in a performance to fall in love with".
In 2006, she starred in Darren Aronofsky's romantic drama The Fountain.
Weisz's latest film, The Whistleblower, debuted at the Toronto Film Festival in 2010. The film was based on the true story of human trafficking by employees of contractor DynCorp. During its premiere, the intense depiction of the treatment meted out to victims by the kidnappers made a woman in the audience faint.Variety magazine wrote performance "Weisz's performance holds the viewer every step of the way.". That same year, she guest-starred in the animated series The Simpsons, in the 22nd season episode "How Munched is That Birdie in the Window?".
Weisz's upcoming roles include an adaptation of Terence Rattigan's play The Deep Blue Sea, the horror film Dream House alongside Daniel Craig, and an upcoming romantic drama written and directed by Terrence Malick, which would see her starring alongside Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Javier Bardem and Rachel McAdams.
On stage, Weisz's breakthrough role was that of Gilda in Sean Mathias's 1994 revival of Noel Coward's Design for Living at the Gielgud Theatre, for which she received the London Critics' Circle Award for the most promising newcomer. Her portrayal was described as "wonderful" by a contemporary review. In 1999, she played the role of Catherine in the Donmar Warehouse production of Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer, What's on Stage called her "captivating", stating that she brought "a degree of credibility to a difficult part". The same year, Weisz appeared in Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things at the Almeida Theatre, then temporarily located in London's Kings Cross. CurtainUp called her "a sophisticated, independent artist" with "great stage presence". In 2009, she appeared Blanche DuBois, in Rob Ashford's revival of the play A Streetcar Named Desire. Her performance in the play was praised by the critics, The Daily Telegraph noted that she "rises to the challenge magnificently".
Weisz began dating American filmmaker and producer Darren Aronofsky in the summer of 2001. They met backstage at London's Almeida Theatre, where she was starring in The Shape of Things. Weisz moved to New York City with Aronofsky the following year; in 2005, they were engaged. Their son, Henry Chance, was born on 31 May 2006 in New York City. The couple resided in the East Village in Manhattan. In November 2010, Weisz and Aronofsky announced that they had been apart for months, but remain close friends and are committed to raising their son together in New York. In March 2011, it was reported that Weisz and actor Daniel Craig had been dating since December 2010. Weisz and Craig married on June 22, 2011 in a private New York ceremony, with only four guests in attendance, including Weisz's son and Craig's daughter.
In 2009, Weisz express her views on Botox to Harper's Bazaar - "It should be banned for actors, as steroids are for sportsmen. Acting is all about expression; why would you want to iron out a frown?.
Weisz is represented by Creative Artists Agency. In 2001 she was involved in a traffic accident, while traveling in a cab that was hit by a truck, Weisz was unharmed. On 7 July 2007, she presented at the American leg of Live Earth, along with Alec Baldwin and Kevin Bacon.
During her career she has been featured on the covers of magazines such as Vogue and Esquire. She serves as a muse to fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez, and was named L’Oréal's global ambassador in 2010. Weisz has admitted being an avid Elvis Presley fan, and visited Graceland mansion in 2001.
Awards and honours
Weisz gained honours for her work in The Constant Gardener, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture. She was also nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Furthermore, the role also led to her receiving the London Critics Circle Film Award for British Actress of the Year, the British Independent Film Award for Best Actress, and the San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress. Additionally, she was nominated for the Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress.
In 1991 Weisz received the Student Drama Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, for her part in the play Slight Possession. In 1994 she was awarded with the London Critics' Circle Award for Most Promising Newcomer, for the play Design for Living. In January 2010, the Critics' Circle Theatre Awards in London named her Best Actress of 2009, for her performance as Blanche Dubois in the Donmar revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. She also won the coveted 2010 Olivier Award for Best Actress for the same role.
Year Title Role Notes
2004 Envy Debbie Dingman
2005 Constantine Angela Dodson/Isabel Dodson Nominated — Teen Choice: Movie Scream Scene
2005 The Constant Gardener Tessa Quayle Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
British Independent Film Award for Best Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
Iowa Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
London Film Critics' Circle Award for British Actress of the Year
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Utah Film Critics Association Award for Supporting Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
2006 The Fountain Izzi/Isabella I of Castile
2006 Eragon Saphira
2007 Fred Claus Wanda
2007 My Blueberry Nights Sue Lynn
2008 Definitely, Maybe Summer Hartley (Natasha)
2009 The Brothers Bloom Penelope
2009 The Lovely Bones Abigail Salmon
2009 Agora Hypatia Nominated — Goya Award for Best Actress
2010 The Whistleblower Kathryn Bolkovac
2011 Page Eight Nancy
2011 Dream House Libby Attenton Post-production
2011 The Deep Blue Sea Hester Collyer Post-production
2012 Untitled Terrence Malick project Dinah Post-production
2012 360 Rose Post-production