Before any gal raided any tomb. Before any gal cocked any shotgun with one arm. Before any gal killed Bill or Lycans or resident zombies, there was Ellen Ripley kicking serious alien ass in space. Sigourney Weaver is the original action heroine. All others that follow owe her a debt of gratitude and continued respect for the trail she blazed, flame thrower in hand, right down the middle of the macho male landscapes of action and adventure. We trusted Ripley, all razor cheekbones and determined jaw, to save us from fates worse than simple death. This year marks the 30th anniversary of that first “Alien” bursting though its first chest and straight into the pop culture vernacular.
While Sigourney made starred in four “Alien” films over the span of 18 years – which have gone on to gross more than $550 million worldwide – she never let those films alone define her. Instead she chose a career of variation with the one consistent being her striking ability to convey competence, strength and calm. In fact, I think the only thing she can’t play is a ditz (unless she is spoofing one à la “Galaxy Quest”). While it’s easy to linger on her dramatic roles – from “Gorillas in the Mist,” “The Ice Storm,” “The Year of Living Dangerously” – let’s not forget that she can be very, very funny. From Dana/Zuul in “Ghostbusters” to the corporate ice queen in “Working Girl” and the First Lady in “Dave,” Sigourney can deliver a one liner with pinpoint precision. (Oh, oh, and let’s also not forget the crazy adoption agency lady in “Baby Mama” and the ship’s computer in “WALL-E” either.)
Now, having just turned 60 this fall, Sigourney’s career comes full circle as she returns to space, this time in the enormous (big doesn’t cut it at $300 million and counting) budget film “Avatar.” Which seems only fair; talent like hers was made to share with the universe. Happy weekend, all.
p.s. That shot in “Alien Resurrection?” That was nothing but net.