IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Jacki Weaver Talks 'Haunt' and 'Magic in the Moonlight'

Thursday, 13 March 2014 10:01 Written by  iamrogue
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Jacki Weaver Talks 'Haunt' and 'Magic in the Moonlight'

It's the rare actress who becomes an international sensation four decades into an illustrious career.

And indeed Jacki Weaver is a rare actress. 

The Australian thespian made her screen debut down under at the dawn of the 1970s, going on to great acclaim and sex symbol status throughout the decade before opting to spend more time acting in the theater. 

In 2010, though, she emerged onto the global stage thanks to her masterful performance in the Australian crime thriller Animal Kingdom, which scored Weaver her first Academy Award nomination.  Her second wasn't far behind thanks to her supporting turn in David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, which foudn her making a big impression as wife to Robert De Niro and mother to Bradley Cooper.

The new thriller Haunt, currently playing in selected theaters, allows Weaver to cut loose in a haunted house tale not quite like any other.  She plays Janet Morello, the lone survivor a familial massacre that took place in a spooky home, one that has finally obtained new occupants, the Asher family.  Middle child Evan Asher (Harrison Gilbertson, Need for Speed) and his new friend Sam (Liana Liberato, Stuck in Love) investigate the house's past, principally via an old radio that seems to be transmitting through the ages.

The one and only Jacki Weaver recently talked to IAR Managing Editor Jami Phibrick for an exclusive interview in which she discussed horror as a genre, her approach to the craft, what makes a good director, and her role in Woody Allen's next, Magic in the Moonlight.

Though she's synonymous with straightforward drama, Weaver was eager to appear in a spooktacular thriller like Haunt.  "I've always liked the idea of being in a horror film. But I'm not really a horror fan. I get very frightened very easily so it's not something I go to for fun," she said. "However, I did think it would be fun to be in one and it was. It was great fun. Since then I've done another sort of horror film called The Voices with Ryan Reynolds and that was equally frightening."

"I try to make the character as multilayered as possible and as truthful as possible. If there is a chosen style if there is a concept to try and fit into whatever the vision of the director is. But to a degree I approach every character the same whether it's comedy or a tragedy," she told Jami. "Just make them truthful."

Regardless of genre, she said, the key is, "you mustn't make moral judgement on characters you play. You've just got to try and make them truthful and work out what makes them tick and why they do what they do."

Roles like Janet could be emotionally burdensome for any actor, since the character carries the weight of horrific trauma, but Weaver was undaunted by the intensity, saying, "When I was a younger actor I did kind of live the role twenty-four hours a day. Especially if I was doing theater and doing eight shows a week it's very difficult to shake the character sometimes when you're young, but as I got older I learned to do that. I think it's pretty important that you learn to do that for self preservation actually. You'd wear yourself out and you just gotta learn to let go of the character when you come off the set."

Haunt marks the feature directorial debut of Mac Carter, for whom the two-time Oscar nominee had nothing but praise.  "I loved Mac. I thought he was terrific. He's got a great sense of storytelling," she said. "And he gives you different choices to make. I thought he was terrific. I had a great time with Mac."

Over the course of a career as storied as Weaver's, an actress learns a lot about different directorial styles. 

"I think the thing that makes it the director is a willingness to collaborate. I think it's possible sometimes to work with directors (who have) an idea of exactly what they want. And when they want to leave from it they don't want to take suggestions," she explained. "All of the good directors very happy to listen to an alternative choice or I think collaboration is the best way to working in any field and making movies is no exception. You all want to tell a good story and well the director is a guiding light. You've got to be guided by his vision and try and fulfill his vision, but if he's a good director he'll be open to suggestions that he might not have thought of."

Magic in the Moonlight, expected to arrive in theaters this summer, is a comedy-drama that takes place in the south of France during the 1920s and stars Colin Firth (The King's Speech), Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), and Marcia Gay Harden (Pollack)

The film paired Weaver with a living legend in writer-director Woody Allen. "He is very quiet, but he certainly if he doesn't like the way something is going he'll tell you how to change it," the actress explained. "But when he does like something that's going he's very generous. I didn't mind the way he worked at all.  It's all in the writing really. The writing was fantastic. It doesn't need to say that much."

"It was absolutely magic. I couldn't believe my good fortune. Like most people in my generation I've had him on a pedestal as a director and an actor for forty years I guess. When he told me he wanted me in his next movie I couldn't believe my incredible good luck. I did have a wonderful time. I worked with some terrific people. It was a great experience, it really was and we were shooting in the south of France for six weeks so it was idyllic," she concluded. "It was a great experience and I'm really looking forward seeing the finished product because it's there again it was a great story and great characters."

Haunt is currently playing in select theaters and is also available to view via Video On Demand.

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