Sigourney Weaver (born Susan Alexandra Weaver; October 8, 1949) is an American actress and film producer. Following her film debut as a minor character in Annie Hall, she quickly came to prominence in 1979 with her first lead role as Ellen Ripley in Alien, subsequently reprising the role in its three sequels: Aliens (1986), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award Best Actress; Alien 3 (1992), and Alien: Resurrection (1997).
Weaver is also known for her starring roles 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 Globes in the same year. 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).
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). 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. Weaver began using the name "Sigourney Weaver" in 1963 after a minor character (Sigourney Howard) in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby.
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.
Weaver attended Sarah Lawrence College as well as Stanford University, where she first began her involvement in acting, by living in Stanford's co-ed Beta Chi Community for the Performing Arts. Weaver earned her Master of Fine Arts degree at the Yale University School of Drama in 1974, 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. 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.
Weaver's first role is often said to be in Woody Allen's 1977 comedy Annie Hall playing a minor role opposite Allen. 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."
In the sequel Aliens directed by James Cameron, critic Roger Ebert wrote, "Weaver, who is onscreen almost all the time, comes through with a very strong, sympathetic performance: She's the thread that holds everything together." 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.
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, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award. She also guest starred in the TV show Eli Stone in the fall of 2008. 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 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. 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.
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." In 2014, he revealed that she would be featured in all three sequels.
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.
Weaver appeared in the 2014 film Exodus: Gods and Kings playing Tuya, directed by Ridley Scott, alongside Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, and Ben Kingsley. 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. On February 18, 2015, it was officially announced that an Alien sequel will be made, with Blomkamp slated to direct. On February 25, 2015, Weaver confirmed that she would reprise her role as Ellen Ripley in the new Alien film.
Weaver has been married to the stage director Jim Simpson since October 1, 1984. They have one daughter, Charlotte Simpson, who was born on April 13, 1990.
After making Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey, she became a supporter of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and is now its honorary chairwoman. She was honored by the Explorers Club for this work. Weaver is considered to be an environmentalist. 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.
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.
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.
Alvy's Date Outside Theatre
Crew Members & TV equipment from WNYW (then known as WNEW) appeared in the film; Weaver co-hosted the news on WNYW for the film
The Year of Living Dangerously
Deal of the Century
Femme ou Deux, UneUne Femme ou Deux
English translation: One Woman or Two; almost entirely French-language production
Half Moon Street
Dr. Lauren Slaughter
Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey
The Snow Queen
The Narrator (voice)
1492: Conquest of Paradise
Rabbit Ears: Peachboy
The Wild Swans
The Narrator (voice)
Death and the Maiden
Ice Storm, TheThe Ice Storm
Map of the World, AA Map of the World
Gwen DeMarco/Lieutenant Tawny Madison
Angela Nardino / Max Conners / Olga Ivanova
Big Bad Love
Guys, TheThe Guys
Directed by husband Jim Simpson, starring daughter Charlotte Simpson
Village, TheThe Village
TV Set, TheThe TV Set
Happily N'Ever After
Girl in the Park, TheThe Girl in the Park
Be Kind Rewind
Tale of Despereaux, TheThe Tale of Despereaux
Dr. Grace Augustine
Crazy on the Outside
"The Big Guy"
Dr. Geraldine "Geri" Bennett
The Cabin in the Woods
The Cold Light of Day
Exodus: Gods and Kings
A Monster Calls
The Best of Families
3 by Cheever: The Sorrows of Gin
Miniseries; episodes 1 & 2
Saturday Night Live
Episode: "Sigourney Weaver/(none)"
Snow White: A Tale of Terror
Lady Claudia Hoffman
The Female Planet Express Ship
Episode: "Love and Rocket"; voice role
Episode: "The Path"
Prayers for Bobby
Miniseries (6 episodes)
Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero
Episode: "Lady Starblaster"; voice role
Why Dogs Smile & Chimpanzees Cry
The Narrator - Herself
The Roman Empire In The First Century
National Geographic Specials: The Lost Film of Dian Fossey
ACID TEST: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification
Voice and image
James Cameron's Avatar: The Game
Dr. Grace Augustine
Xbox 360/PS3/Wii version
Cameo; lead role in "Crew Expendable" and "Last Survivor" DLCs
1971: Better Dead Than Sorry (Yale Cabaret) as Jenny,
1972: Story Theatre (Williamstown Theatre Festival),
1972: Sarah B. Divine! (Williamstown Theatre Festival) as Anita, the Eternal Maid,
1972: The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Williamstown Theatre Festival) as Dockdaisy,
1972: The Rat Trap (Williamstown Theatre Festival) as Cynthia Muldoon,
1972: Once in a Lifetime (Williamstown Theatre Festival) as Florabel Leigh,
1972: The Elephant Calf (Williamstown Theatre Festival),
1973: The Tempest (Yale Repertory Theatre),
1973-74: Watergate Classics (Yale Repertory Theatre),
1974: Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Yale University Theatre),
1974: The Nature and Purpose of the Universe (Direct Theatre) as Eleanor (workshop production),
1974: The Frogs (Yale Repertory Theatre) as member of the Chorus,
1975: The Constant Wife (Shubert Theatre, understudy) as Marie-Louise Durham,
1976: Titanic (Direct Theatre) as Lidia/Annabella/Harriet,
1976: Das Lusitania Songspiel (Van Dam Theatre),
1976: Gemini (Playwright's Horizons) as Judith Hastings,
1977: Marco Polo Sings a Solo (Public/Newman Theatre) as Freydis,
1978: Conjuring an Event (American Place Theatre) as Annabella,
1978: A Flea in Her Ear (Hartford Stage),
1979: New Jerusalem (Public Theater),
1980: Das Lusitania Songspiel (new version) (Westside Theatre). Also co-authored the play with Christopher Durang.,
1981: Beyond Therapy (Phoenix Theatre) as Prudence,
1981: As You Like It (Dallas Festival of Shakespeare) as Rosalind,
1982: Animal Kingdom (Berkshire Festival) as Cecelia Henry,
1983: Old Times (Williamstown Theatre Festival) as Anna,
1984-85: Hurlyburly (Ethel Barrymore Theatre) as Darlene,
1986: A Streetcar Named Desire (Williamstown Theatre Festival) as Stella Kowalski,
1986-87 The Merchant of Venice (Classic Stage Company) as Portia,
1988: The Show-Off (Williamstown Theatre Festival) as Clara,
1996: Sex and Longing (Cort Theatre) as Lulu,
2001-02 The Guys (The Flea Theater) as Joan,
2002: The Mercy Seat (Acorn Theatre) as Abby Prescott,
2004: Mrs Farnsworth (The Flea Theater) as Marjorie Farnsworth,
2007: Crazy Mary (Playwright's Horizons) as Lydia,
2007: Love Letters (The Flea Theater, single benefit performance) as Melissa Gardner,
2008: Love Letters (The Detroit Film Theatre, single benefit performance) as Melissa Gardner,
"Back in the U.S.S.R."
"Deep in the Heart of Texas"
The Girl in the Park
"Ooh Shoo Be Doo Be"
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license