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Rachel Weisz Interviews

Why did you do Enemy at the Gates?

It had everything. It's a cliché when female actors say they can't find strong roles, but it is very hard to find challenging roles that are different and difficult. It's also a story I didn't know anything about and that was interesting on an intellectual level. I thought it was a great role for a young woman.

What preparation did you do?

We read lots of history books and saw documentaries, reportage. And lots of photographs. There was one incredible image of a woman, a Russian soldier who was lying asleep on her rifle. Her face is covered in mud and dirt and she had such a serene expression on her face. It's such an incredible image. I had it pinned up on my wall. I didn't know there would be women fighting.

Were you comfortable using a gun?

Not immediately, but I had to learn to be comfortable. I felt my biggest responsibility on this film was to be believable as a soldier. I'd never picked up a gun. It's strange at first. In England, the police don't have guns, so we live in a culture where I don't see guns. We were trained by a military officer and had to load, unload, clean, fire, pick-up. They're very heavy. I developed big muscles from carrying it around for five months. It didn't make me feel very macho.

Were you good at using a gun?

I didn't have to be as good as Jude Law, but apparently--according to the ex-SAS officer who trained us both--I was a natural. Very bizarre thing to discover that you're good at, and not something I'm necessarily proud of. Normally actors are not very coordinated with guns, I don't know why. I just took to it quickly. Jude then became better than me, but I was faster.

---Interviewed by James Mottram for BBC Online



Weisz, whose sultry good looks are quickening pulses across the nation, is currently flirting with Brendan Fraser and running from the hideous title creature in The Mummy. As Evelyn, an English librarian living in Egypt, Weisz stumbles onto a great adventure that includes flesh-eating scarabs, ancient curses and--naturally--unbelievable treasure. Now safely back home in London, she has eschewed big-time Hollywood work to star in the West End revival of Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer, which got us to wondering:

Having Come from Theater, Was It a Huge Leap to a Big Studio Movie Like The Mummy?

"Yeah. The fellows in my theater company were just disgusted by me. They said I was selling out in such a major way."

Still, You Often Opt for the Intimate Projects Like the Upcoming Art-House Film The Taste of Sunshine. What's Different About Working on Those?

"There's not a huge difference. You're still just playing a part. Although, in The Mummy, there were thousands of extras and all of that blue screen and computer-generated stuff."

"Blue Screen" Work Must Be Tough. Is It Difficult to Act Like There's Something There When There Isn't?

"I'd love to say it's really taxing, but it's not. It's sort of like being a child. The director says, 'Imagine there's a great, big dripping putrefying mummy walking toward you.' But it's a little tiring, because with an actor you get something back. With blue screen, you get nothing."

Even So, Working with Nothing's Gotta Be Better Than Working with Notoriously Stinky Camels...

"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."

Horses Look a Lot Easier to Ride, Too!

"Yeah. The galloping scene was tough. It hurts progressively more every time. You get really bad sores on your arse, like welts."

Ouch. Was Learning Egyptian Any Less Painful of a Process?

"Well, it's ancient Egyptian, and since nobody knows what ancient Egyptian really sounded like, we took the Hollywood liberty of making it up."

Had Us Fooled. Was It a Stretch to Play Evelyn As Such a Klutz?

"I'm quite fumbly. She was actually incredibly close to home in lots of ways."

Really? Ever Get Really Drunk and Make a Fool of Yourself Like She Does?

"I'm better with the liquor. Let's just say we're alike, except that I've been kissed before and I can hold my liquor."

Did You Get to Kiss Keanu in Chain Reaction?

"I think we had a little tiny kiss at the end. Or did we? I can't recall. It was obviously very memorable."

Well, Then, the Question Is, Who's a Better Kisser--Keanu or Brendan?

"Actually, I don't think I did kiss Keanu. So, Brendan--it has to be."

--Jeffrey Epstein

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" I just love it. More than anything in the world. I wake up totally excited about work. It's more or less all I think about. I'm obsessed with it, really obsessed. Acting for theatre is particularly exciting. It's like a drug that fills your veins."
"I'd never picked up a gun. It's strange at first. In England, the police don't have guns so we live in a culture where I don't see guns."

Rachel smokes Marlboro Lights.

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