Wednesday, November 29

‘We pick up where we left off’: Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline on working together again | Sigourney Weaver

For the third time on screen, Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline are playing a couple in an unconventional situation.

In 1993’s cameo-packed political comedy Dave, Kline played a lookalike to the president hired to take over during an emergency, hoping to fool Weaver’s first lady along the way both in public and in private (a contemporary re-examination might label the ruse “ problematic” on reflection). In 1997’s 70s-set family drama The Ice Storm, Kline’s mid-life crisis leads him to embark on an affair with Weaver’s sharp-tongued neighbour, attempting sexual liberation despite the restrictions of the time. And now in 2022’s small-town comedy drama The Good House, Weaver plays an alcoholic realtor edging towards romance with an old flame, played by Kline, despite a complicated history.

Earlier this week, I saw them on screen together yet again, this time on Zoom, where they spoke about a shared history, a “mean” hoax once pulled on-set and the importance of embracing horniness over 70.

Going back to the first time you ever met each other, which I believe was when you had to host together at the Obie awards in 1981, what were your first impressions?

Sigourney Weaver: Well tall, handsome…

Kevin Klin: Tall, that’s the first thing I noticed. And then the wit. We just laughed a lot and we were actually having to write some, what would you call that…

Sigourney Weaver: Silly dialogue… banter.

Kevin Klin: So we worked together as writers, as presenters, before we ever had to act together.

Sigourney Weaver: I remember that what I liked about Kevin right away is that even though we were supposed to be very light-hearted and relaxed, he didn’t assume we could just improvise our way through this so he wanted to work as hard as I did. You can’t just ego your way through those shows.

Kevin Klin: I’ve always been sort of anti-awards anyway as they have been towards me occasionally.

There’s this throwback feel to The Good House, tapping into that robustly made, mid-budget adult type of movie that we just don’t get as much these days, films where grown-ups just get to live without some fantastical element involved. Has it become harder to find these scripts and do you as consumers also miss them?

Sigourney Weaver: I consider The Good House one of those smaller but very well-made films. We shot it very quickly in Nova Scotia and it was so amazing to be doing a script that was written from a woman’s point of view, an older woman who has a lot to say about what’s going on in her life so I think that even though I know what you mean about these bigger, more reassuring films, I do feel like I can’t live my life expecting those. It’s great when they happen but it’s much more Avatar and then [something smaller like] The GoodHouse.

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It’s also a film that allows older people to be sexual and messy and flawed. Do you find you’re both still getting offered too many characters, with age, that don’t have such nuance? Is there an abundance of thankless parent or grandparent roles?

Kevin Klin: Aren’t we always looking for movies that don’t repeat the same old tired tropes that have been passed down just out of laziness? It was the first thing that leapt off the page at me was to see that oh, instead of always having old people depicted as having somehow receded into oblivion or irrelevance, that they’re still quite horny among other things. Oh, I’m being glib.

Sigourney Weaver: They have… appetites.

Kevin Klin: they have appetite, yes, and they’re not to be disregarded as ageists tend to do so that’s a nice thing with the movie that you can take away subliminally or otherwise.

Sigourney Weaver: I think audiences have also changed, maybe during Covid, watching all this long-form TV that really has the time to get into different characters and a lot of them are older characters so we’ve changed our appetites as well and I think there’s less ageism with scripts, in my opinion, there are a lot of great scripts, a lot of great women characters around of all ages. I haven’t been looking at it from the male point of view but do you think that’s true or does Anthony Hopkins get all the good roles?

Kevin Klin: And it is. I’m sorry I wasn’t listening. Yes, Anthony Hopkins gets all the good roles but he’s gotta have a vacation every now and then so they do trickle down to others of us.

I read an interview with Ivan Reitman where he said on the set of Dave, Sigourney you would ridicule Kevin’s actorliness. What sort of things was he doing?

Sigourney Weaver: I’m afraid it refers quite specifically to the fact that Kevin was about to do a show, a benefit of Shakespearean monologues and sonnets, and he was always rehearsing these as we were setting up so I started to go around and ask the crew in the background to look like they were falling asleep. So at the end of the film, I’m afraid that Gary Ross, the writer, and I gave Kevin this huge book called Kevin Kline Reads Shakespeare in very good medieval writing and you open it up and it’s just one picture after another of Kevin trying to do his work and the whole crew behind him just going like this [mimics sleeping]. So it was a very mean thing and to his credit, lasting credit, he looked at this thing, there was this long pause and then there’s this little smile.

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Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver in Dave. Photograph: Warner Bros/Allstar

Kevin Klin: Que? I cherish that book! I thought it was one of the most generous, kindest, funniest and elaborate things. It was an elaborate hoax.

Sigourney Weaver: We had a lot of pictures to choose from.

Kevin Klin: I wasn’t walking around spouting Shakespeare!

Sigourney Weaver: Well, he was actually. You were.

Kevin Klin: Was I?

Sigourney Weaver: You were, I’m afraid. You might have had your lines hidden somewhere but you knew a lot of it and you were just running through it. We should have actually just listened very respectfully.

Kevin Klin: You might have learned something but that’s okay.

Kevin, there was to quote recently about you not being a very sociable person …

Kevin Klin: What I was saying was that in defense of Sigourney and I not seeing that much of each other when we are not working together, we pick up where we left off whenever we do. I’m fine with solitude or being social but especially during Covid, I was perfectly content to be completely sequestered from the hurly burly or the whirlygig of society. I’m fine but I’m not antisocial.

Sigourney Weaver: He plays a lot of music and he also paints beautifully so he has other ways to express himself and his talents which I certainly don’t have. I don’t even knit!

As actors who both live in New York, how have you managed the scene in Los Angeles?

Kevin Klin: I go to LA to shoot movies occasionally, I always find the weather very salubrious and the people are very nice. But I haven’t been there in years. I don’t follow show business either in New York or LA. People ask me “do you think there’s a trend in…” and I have no idea.

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Sigourney Weaver: I think there’s a big influence in Hollywood about how you look and even when I went there when I was very young, I felt I needed to get a facelift. They have different priorities or they used to in the old days. It’s also so dominated by the business and what I love about New York is that everyone thinks what they’re doing is the most interesting thing, And they could care less if we’re walking down the street, people really leave you alone here whereas there spotting a celebrity is kind of an industry I think, which I take my hat off to people who can live with that but I would find it, having grown up in New York and being used to a certain kind of privacy you get in a big city, I’d find it really difficult.

Sigourney Weaver in Alien.
Sigourney Weaver in Alien. Photograph: Cinetext/20th Century Fo/Allstar

Sigourney, you mentioned being in Hollywood when you were young and feeling like it was too image-focused. Were you finding feedback from agents or directors then that was targeted toward how you looked?

Sigourney Weaver: You know, I’d walk into a room and I’m so tall that the producers would just sit down, they didn’t know what to do with me and in a way, it worked for me because I ended up working with more unconventional people. But there was a long time where people were really looking for blonde, blue-eyed tiny creatures and that was never me so I never expected much from those kind of situations and I think it actually helped me play a lot of interesting women because I wasn’t ‘t being put in these rom-coms. I’m delighted to be doing kind of a rom-com with Kevin now because I haven’t done enough and I think they’re so much fun.

You both obviously leapt at the chance to work again but do you have an internal list of actors who, if you were asked to star alongside them again, you’d run a mile?

Kevin Klin: [in a British accent] Oh certainly!

Sigourney Weaver: [in a British accent] Yes probably but it will stay internal though Ben if that’s alright with you?

Kevin Klin: [in a British accent] I’m afraid yes, one mustn’t.

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