Though she’ll always be best known as Ripley, the Alien franchise extraterrestrial ass-kicker and one of film’s most iconic female protagonists, Sigourney Weaver has had a prolific career in film. She now stars in her first television mini-series Political Animals as Elaine Barrish, the current U.S. Secretary of State and ex-wife of a former president.
In an interview with NBC News, Weaver speaks about her new role, its obvious connection to Hillary Clinton, and how fortunate she has been in her career.
Weaver admits that her main attraction to the role was the fact that it isn’t something she is usually offered. She explains, “The writing was wonderful. It was the kind of story I’m not often offered. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was offered, you know, ‘mountain woman in Alaska’ or something, but to be offered this sort of mainstream matriarch who was a first lady, is now Secretary of State, who has this problematic family — two sons, an ex-husband, a foul-mouthed mother — it was just really like after eating salad for a couple of years, I was offered a big juicy steak. And I just took out my fork and knife and went, ‘All right, I’m going for it.’”
Of course, the “former First Lady becomes Secretary of State” certainly draws parallels to current United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. But Weaver is quick to point out that the similarities are only superficial, saying, “I love the fact that our creator, Greg Berlanti, couldn’t resist some of the salient facts of the Clintons. But I always felt, from the moment I started reading it, that Elaine was her own person. I wouldn’t dream of trying to imitate or impersonate Hillary Clinton, whom I admire very, very much, and I think she’s done an awesome job in every job she’s had. But I would need months to prepare for that. But this, I just sort of turned the page and I was in the world of the Hammonds and in the world of Washington, D.C., which is so fascinating. And I just sort of jumped off the cliff.”
Ultimately, Weaver is surprised by her success in film, and she never imagined doing as well as she has done, particularly her iconic role in Alien. She says, “I’m still surprised by it. I sort of went to school thinking I’d do a little Shakespeare… I was very fortunate. That was really my first film. So I mean I was, who knows; that’s just fortune, that’s the gods. But this role, Elaine, is one of the most challenging I’ve ever had because she doesn’t have a flamethrower. Her flamethrower is her ideals.”
Political Animals airs Sunday nights on the USA Network.