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Rachel Weisz Biography

A British actress whose name and dark looks effortlessly conjure up associations with Eastern European exoticism, Rachel Weisz first earned the attention of an international audience with her role as the spoiled daughter of a sculptor in Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty (1996).

The daughter of a Jewish Hungarian inventor and an Austrian psychoanalyst (both sides of the family fled Fascist Europe during the 1930s), Weisz was born in London on March 7, 1971. Much of her adolescence was spent modeling, and after attending Cambridge to study English, she broke into acting with a role in Sean Matthias' West End revival of Noel Coward's Design for Living. Weisz's performance in the play won her the Critics' Circle Best Newcomer Award, and she subsequently took advantage of this recognition with a starring role in the BBC's TV adaptation of Scarlet and Black (1993), and then, in 1996, with her aforementioned part in Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty.

Although most attention was paid to Liv Tyler in her role as the film's protagonist, Weisz managed to garner notice of her own, and this recognition was furthered by her top billing opposite Keanu Reeves in Chain Reaction that same year.

Unfortunately, the big-budget thriller was an unmitigated turkey; Weisz followed it with leads in smaller films such as The Land Girls (1997), a WWII drama that cast her as a young socialite sent to work on a farm; and Going All the Way (1997), a post-war coming-of-age drama starring Ben Affleck and Jeremy Davies that saw Weisz play Wasp Affleck's Jewish girlfriend.

After returning to Britain to star as a hairdresser in the noirish drama, I Want You (1998), Weisz reappeared on the Hollywood radar as Brendan Fraser's damsel in distress in the 1999 summer blockbuster, The Mummy. That same year, she played yet another love interest, that of a womanizing Ralph Fiennes in Sunshine, István Szabó's epic drama about three generations of a family of Hungarian Jews.

Weisz' subsequent turn in the period drama Enemy at the Gates (2000) saw her play the inamorata of yet another Fiennes brother, Joseph. As a Russian American sniper caught between the affections of a Russian party official (Fiennes) and a legendary sniper (Jude Law), the actress again returned to the early part of the 20th century (this time the Battle of Stalingrad) and to the deep end of the Fiennes family gene pool.

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"I'm not one for parties and stuff like that. I get a bit nervous around lots of people. Being invisible is what I really enjoy. That I find quite entertaining."
"I have absolutely no empathy for camels. I didn't care for being abused in the Middle East by those horrible, horrible, horrible creatures. They don't like people. It's not at all like the relationship between horses and humans."

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