The Academy Award-nominated Rachel Weisz has turned in some exceptional work over the years.
In wake of the success of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite, we’re all in awe – once again – at the talents of British actress Rachel Weisz. Although boasting a phenomenal ensemble, Weisz positively shined alongside the likes of Emma Stone (La La Land) and Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur).
She is undoubtedly a very charismatic performer, but perhaps one that we don’t see on our screens often enough. Taking this into consideration, we took it upon ourselves to reflect upon her varied body of work and select some particularly wonderful highlights. She’s led a varied career and these choices aim to highlight the scope of her abilities. So, here goes:
The Mummy (dir. Stephen Sommers, 1999)
Rachel Weisz’s portrayal of Evelyn Carnahan in Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy is arguably her most iconic role. She went on to star in the sequel – The Mummy Returns – in 2001 but then departed from the franchise; perhaps at the best time. The two sequels often tend to attract criticism but the first film remains so nostalgic for many audiences.
One of the film’s highlights is Weisz’s performance. She has great chemistry with Brendan Fraser, both of whom can be considered as lead. Her character is intelligent, funny, charming and keeps us engaged with the film’s goofy premise. The Mummy remains one of the more memorable adventure movies of the nineties and hearkens back to the time of a very different – albeit successful – blockbuster venture. Weisz would go on to sculpt greater characters, but the role of Evelyn remains a gem in her filmography.
The Fountain (dir. Darren Aronofsky, 2006)
Director Darren Aronofsky has given audiences a lot to think about over the course of his career. His diverse body of work features the likes of Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, Black Swan, Noah, Mother! and of course, The Fountain.
His often prove divisive and The Fountain was no exception on its release in 2006. It may be his most ambitious effort in relation to the scope and imagery – many sadly feel that it was a pretentious misfire. However, often overlooked are the two astonishing performances at its core from Hugh Jackman (Logan, Prisoners) and Rachel Weisz. It deals with the theme of mortality beautifully and the performers really draw the audience into the heartbreaking narrative. It’s certainly one of Weisz’s finest roles.
The Lobster (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015)
Before Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos worked with Weisz on The Favourite, she was cast in his English language debut, The Lobster. The narrative centres on David (Colin Farrell), who, at a mysterious hotel, is given forty-five days to find a partner; if he doesn’t, he’ll be transformed into an animal of his choice.
Rachel Weisz shares his situation and arguably steals the show completely. Lanthimos’ dialogue often feels as though it were written by aliens trying to capture human behaviour and emotion but Weisz appears to understand this better than any of her onscreen counterparts. Her delivery is perfect, capturing the humour and absurdity of the script without ever conveying her character’s awareness of just how strange it all is. Whenever she’s on screen, The Lobster works best.
Youth (dir. Paolo Sorrentino, 2015)
You could argue that Youth would have attracted much more praise if it was released before director Paolo Sorrentino‘s previous film, The Great Beauty. Some argued that they were too similar, with Youth being the weaker effort. However, what makes Youth so special – apart from Sorrentino’s cinematic style – is the characters.
Rachel Weisz plays Lena Ballinger, the daughter and assistant to Michale Caine‘s protagonist, Fred Ballinger. Their relationship is complex and Weisz is given many opportunities to shine. This may be a personal favourite, as she displays inner torment and crisis so powerfully; it’s the kind of performance which leaves the theatre with you afterwards – a character that sticks.
My Cousin Rachel (dir. Roger Michell, 2017)
So far we have had a blockbuster adventure, absurd comedy, heartfelt sci-fi and comedy-drama. Now, we have a costume drama and adaptation of Daphne du Maurier‘s 1951 novel My Cousin Rachel. It’s a varied selection and one which highlights Weisz’s ability to take on a multitude of challenges.
In Roger Michell‘s 2017 film, a young man seeks revenge, believing that his cousin’s widow (Weisz) is responsible for his death. However, upon meeting her he gradually becomes enchanted. She’s fantastic in the role and we never doubt why Sam Claflin‘s Philip is so ensnared by her charms. We begin to care dearly for her, but a niggling suspicion is also nurtured by her methodical and authoritative performance.
You may have noticed that Rachel Weisz has arguably turned in increasingly great work over the last five years. So, it looks like – along with the success of The Favourite – we can expect to see so much more of the actress; gladly.