Interview By: Christian Ghigliotty
When Rachel Weisz steps into a room, she seems to have a glow that pushes everything around her into the background. For someone who is only 5’7″ this would seem like a daunting task but the thirty four-year old actress does it with formidable poise and looks so classic, she could give any of the goddesses on Mt. Olympus a run for their money. And yet despite the impressive room presence, when musing over Tessaâ€”her volatile character in The Constant Gardnerâ€”she recedes into a stream of consciousness that transmogrifies our rendezvous into an open mic, my ears welcoming her accented lyrical balladry.
Even with a resume that has had her play a number of dynamic characters, she seems more at home when describing Tessa, talking as if she were a close friend, someone we should all know and perhaps even aspire to be. “I’ve always been fascinated by people who will devote their life to help other people, you know people who go to India or Africa and work in the fields and help people, putting their own lives in danger to do what they believe is rightâ€¦ I mean what makes them tick, what makes them so driven? That I had to put myself in the skin of somebody who was like that is what really appealed to me about her, she is someone who believes that one person can make a difference or that her helping one person can make a difference and I think that’s a very optimistic and useful outlook.”
The political thriller takes aim at unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies, at a time where they arguably are on par with most arms dealers. Weisz plays Tessa Quayle, wife to British diplomat Justin Quayle (Fiennes), who finds that a corrupt pharmaceutical company is using helpless Africans as guinea pigs to test experimental tuberculosis remedy with fatal side affects. And even with an acclaimed director and a
With leads Weisz and Fiennes locked and Brazil’s most acclaimed director threading a visceral patchwork narrative, production shifted into high gear, with the chic aura of London giving way to the squalid slums of Africa. Here, Weisz is quick to cite that her experiences in Africa helped her to really flesh out Tessa, giving her the inspiration to crawl into the skin of someone that is really different from herself in many ways. “I was introduced to a lot of activist people who worked in the field and they told me their stories, it’s like your jobs, asking questions, and you start to absorb things but the real work and the real inspiration came in Africa. When I met the people in Africa, that’s when my heart become really full of this character. Also there was this woman in particular who was a Kenyan activist who had been living with AIDS for twelve years and she went around the slum, counseling woman who were HIV sufferers, and she allowed me to go with her on these visits and that was a tremendous privilege because I really thought the experience was the kind of thing my character would experience.”
The results are