Jacki has animal magnetism
US President Barack Obama is a fan of Aussie actor Jacki Weaver, writes
ACKI Weaver doesn’t like to namedrop, but when US President Barack Obama says he’s a fan, let’s face it, the pint-sized Aussie actress has every right to.
Having enjoyed a successful career in Australia for more than four decades, 64-year-old Weaver is now in demand in the US, following her Oscar-nominated performance in 2010’s Animal Kingdom.
She’s spent the past 18 months in the US – with 11 return trips home – and is loving it over there, saying she never thought she would meet so many amazing people.
Pressing her for names, she admits director Pedro Almodovar has spoken to her, while director Quentin Tarantino ‘‘told me he thought I was pretty hot’’.
‘‘He didn’t mean ‘hot’,’’ she laughs, explaining that he was referring to her performances, instead of her looks.
‘‘(But) the best one I think is probably when I was making The Silver Linings Playbook playing Robert De Niro’s wife and Bradley Cooper’s mother – there’s a name drop – and the producer, Bruce Cohen, had made a charity documentary for the (US) President’s wife, Michelle Obama.’’
Weaver says Cohen was invited to dinner at The White House as a thankyou and was seated next to the US president. When Obama asked what Cohen was working on, he replied he was making a film with De Niro, Cooper and Weaver.
‘‘And Obama said, ‘I love Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom’,’’ Weaver says.
‘‘I don’t tell that story, but somebody told it on the radio the other day, so now I feel I can tell it. It’s a pretty good brag, isn’t it?’’
Weaver’s other current brag is that she’s starring in Jason Segel’s new comedy, The Five-year Engagement, in which she plays Emily Blunt’s posh English mother.
She says she didn’t base her character on anyone in particular, but has met a lot of ‘‘snooty old Pommie women’’ in her time. I’ve met a lot of toffy tossers,’’ she says, giggling.
Weaver admits she wanted to do a comedy because after Animal Kingdom there was a worry she would be typecast into roles like the crime family matriarch, Janine ‘‘Smurf’’ Cody.
‘‘There were quite a few offers of really nasty women like in Animal Kingdom and I was tempted by them,’’ she says. ‘‘But when it came down to making a choice, we thought a comedy – I think they say screwball – would be an interesting way to go, to show that I can do more than one thing.’’
As fate would have it, Weaver was sent a script of The Five-year Engagement to read (‘‘it was hilarious’’), met director and co-writer Nicholas Stoller for a chat and got the part.
Her role in The Five-year Engagement may also dispel some of the erroneous assumptions in the US that she’s similar to her Animal Kingdom character.
‘‘Some Americans I meet are really nervous,’’ she says, laughing.
‘‘Isn’t that good? And I think even if they don’t think I’m a murdering cow, they still expect me to have some kind of formidable personality.
‘‘And, of course, I haven’t.’’
Australian actress Jacki Weaver (left) and her
co-stars Emily Blunt and Jason Segel.