While Sigourney Weaver celebrates her 70th birthday in October, let's celebrate her career spanning four decades with a look at her most remarkable work.
Weaver is best known for her role as Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley in the Alien film franchise. When I watched the first movie, Alien, as a pre-teen, both fascinated and scared, little did I know she was making history. The film broke barriers, paving the way for female action heroes. In a role originally written for a male actor, Weaver brings a refreshing lack of sentimentality—although she did save the cat in the end! That first film went on to win an Academy Award for best visual effects and was added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry in 2002. It also produced one of the best taglines in history, "In space, no one can hear you scream."
Weaver—born Susan Alexandra Weaver on October 8, 1949 in New York City—enjoyed reading growing up, and she took her first name from a character in The Great Gatsby. After studying drama at Yale University, Weaver began her film career with a nonspeaking role in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Weaver has starred in dozens of other well-known films, showcasing her talents at both comedy and drama, and winning nominations for Golden Globes and Academy Awards. And in between film roles, she manages to go back to her first love, theater. Influenced by playing Dian Fossey in the biopic Gorillas in the Mist, Weaver is involved in environmental causes.
Weaver played the straight man to Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd in Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2. As Dana Barrett, she hires a kooky troop of scientists to rid her apartment of paranormal disturbances and to rescue her child from demon possession. Weaver recently filmed Ghostbusters 3, due out in 2020!
In another groundbreaking science fiction film, Avatar, Weaver plays Dr. Grace Augustine, a principled xenobotanist who struggles to save the Na'vi and their Hometrees from an unscrupulous mining company. The film broke box office records and was hailed for its innovative visual effects and cinematic technology. Weaver will join the cast and director James Cameron for sequels set to come out beginning in 2021.