The irrepressible and outspoken Jacki Weaver, 68, star of the new hit TV series in the U.S., Blunt Talk, opposite Sir Patrick Stewart, chats with MiNDFOOD about life in Los Angeles, her career, and why you can usually find her in a gay bar.
Some might be of the view that your character, a woman in her 60s, does pretty well for herself.
Yes, a woman in her 60s who is happily married to a gorgeous husband but is having an affair with a 24 year old! (laughs) That doesn’t reflect my own happy home life. I thought sex scenes were behind me, but apparently not.
Ellen Barkin has been talking lately about taking on your role from Animal Kingdom, giving you lots of praise. What do you think of it being a TV series?
Yeah, it’s been seven years since I made Animal Kingdom, so it’s a very distant memory. And I think it is probably a good idea they made a TV series, and I am very glad I am not involved. I loved working with David Michôd but I have only seen the film three times and the third time I found it profoundly disturbing and I think to do a series of it would have been even more so. A friend of mine who knows Ellen Barkin told me she watched the film ten times, which is seven times more than I have. But I think she will be brilliant. She is a brilliant actress and I am quite flattered frankly that she got my role.
It looks like you have such a busy schedule. What do you do in your down time?
I spend my downtime learning lines and going to the movies, actually. Cause one of my greatest perks, that started six years ago when I started my adventure in Hollywood, is that I became a member of The Academy, which I take very seriously. I think there were 305 eligible films last year and I saw 86 of them. Which I think is pretty impressive. And you know what that is like, you probably see a lot of films yourself. But yeah, I spend most of my downtime at the movies or in some gay bar. (laughs)
Why a gar bar?
All my best friends are gay, except for my husband. My mother used to say that my husband, my brother, my father, my son, were the only straight men I knew.
What has made you the woman you are today?
That would take several hours. (laughter)
What would you have done if your acting career hadn’t worked out?
Well my father is a lawyer and my brother is a lawyer, and I think they would have liked me in the family business. When I did enrol in university, after finishing school, I enrolled in social work. But my father, who apart from being a lawyer was also a qualified social worker, said I would have been hopeless, I would have taken everybody home and had a house full of lame ducks.
Were you destined to become an actress?
Well I think it was a foregone conclusion at the age of three when I was putting on accents and pretending to be other people… I think they always expected it. So when I got my first professional job at 15, it sort of passed by without hardly a ripple.
You moved to LA a few years ago – what was it like moving countries so late in life?
Well, because my son is grown up now and he has children, there was no problem there. I miss them and I miss my friends but my husband just came with me. And so I think if I had been by myself I don’t think I would have coped nearly as well. But it just seemed foolish to turn down all the work I was being offered in America. I am very grateful.
What kind of life have you created for yourself in LA?
Oh it’s lovely. This climate is not unlike Sydney, although we do pretend it doesn’t rain as much as it does in Sydney and it’s not quite as bad as Seattle, but it’s getting close. But here, it’s a very similar climate, just a bit more humid. I am a great walker, and that is why New York has always been my favourite city until now. Now I love LA! I wish it was more pedestrian friendly. But it’s just not. (laughs)
Can you see yourself returning to Australia?
Well I would like to work for at least another five or six years, hopefully ten. I still wouldn’t be as old as Betty White by then. (laughs) But as long as I can remember the lines and hit my mark, and as long as people are offering me interesting work, I think I should probably stick around. I think if I had only been in my 30s or 40s, I would have had a goal. But, no, I am happy to drift where the wind pushes me.
It’s interesting that women over 40 are usually complaining that their work is drying up. Yet, you don’t seem to have that problem.
Yeah, it’s incredible isn’t it?
And you’re no spring chicken!
No, I am an old woman! (laughter) Yeah, I am very lucky. But I do have to say, when I was in my 30s, I was still playing children and teenagers and virgins, (laughs) when I had been married three times. So when I got to 50 and I was still getting roles of women in their mid 30s, I thought ‘this is pay-back’ and now that I am 68, I am playing a woman soon who is 55! I will need a bit of lighting and a thumbprint on the lens possibly… but yeah, I think it’s as a result of playing children for so long.