Of all the Oscar acting nominees announced in the wee hours of the morning on January 10th, none surprised more than the Best Supporting Actress net for "Silver Linings Playbook" star Jacki Weaver. Making her feat even sweeter was the fact that her three co-stars in the film -- Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro -- all snagged nominations, marking the first time in 31 years that a film has managed that feat.
Indiewire caught up with the 65-year-old two time Oscar nominee (she was previously nominated in the same category for her terrifying performance in the 2010 Australian crime saga "Animal Kingdom") to discuss her whirlwind year, landing the part, and her upcoming move to television.
How has the ride been [with awards season] thus far?
Pretty busy. Now that I’ve got something to compare it with, last time, years ago. It’s pretty much the same. Lots of events, lots of people to meet, time to remember names, lots of press. It’s certainly a whirlwind.
With Harvey Weinstein at the helm of the "Silver" campaign, how would you compare your two Oscar experiences?
I think he’s a wonderful tactician, I think he’s so organized and so knowledgable, all that experience. But I have no complaints about Sony Pictures Classics [who handled "Animal Kingdom"] either; they seem to run like a very well-oiled machine as well. I’m a big Harvey fan now that I’ve come into his orbit. I find him amazing.
How did you first land on director David O. Russell’s radar for the role?
You have to get him to confirm it, but I’ve heard him say a few times that he kept goosing me on the red carpet two years ago when “The Fighter” was a contender and when I was nominated as well. He said he kept seeing me on the red carpet and thinking ‘I want to work with that woman.’ Then it just happened in the usual way: the script was sent to my agent and they said they had wanted to see me. And I thought the script was wonderful.
I was working in a play in Washington D.C at the time with Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving and David was in Philadelphia already scouting around. My husband was with me in D.C., so he and a friend and I drove to Philadelphia to see David and I had about a two hour interview with him that covered everything. He wanted to be convinced I could sound like not just an American but a Philadelphian, which is unique -- no one talks like a Philadelphian. And he also wanted to know if I would be comfortable with his model, which is he shoots stuff on script and then he shoots stuff off script. He likes actors to be prepared for just about anything. And because I’m a theater actress and I’ve been around for so long I can kind of cope with most ways of working. But it was pretty intense and it took so long, the interview, that I almost didn’t make it back to D.C. in time for the show and I was in a bit of trouble when I got back (laughs). Then he did want to talk to me one more time and we did that by Skype.
Both Dolores and the mother you play in “Animal Kingdom” are both extremely passionate about their family, but the two couldn’t be more different in many respects. Did you have to dig deeper to play one or were both equally challenging to tackle?
I guess just a lively imagination is the best effort an actor can have. I am a mother and I have been for decades so I understand what it’s like to be a mother. But you’re right they are diametrically opposed those two women. There’s this psychopathic, sociopathic, dreadful one in “Animal Kingdom” and then there’s the selfless, saintly one.
I think Dolores is an extraordinary woman. She adores her husband and she adores her son and she’s very aware of how they both have serious psychological issues. And she lives her life just making sure both of them are okay. Whereas the “Animal Kingdom” woman is, she thinks of her children I think as more of a tribe that she can use to keep her power. So I think from a vile, selfish woman to a sweet, unselfish woman.
I just take every character on it’s merit, you know. You try and discover as much about them from the text, and then you do as much research as is possible. And then you, as I said, use your imagination to flesh them out. You learn stuff from every character you play about the human condition that can be quite enlightening.
I was surprised to learn you signed on to play another sports loving mother in the upcoming single-camera TV pilot, “The McCarthys." What enticed you about entering the TV arena?
Well, I read the script and I laughed all the way through it because I do a lot of comedy believe it or not, on stage in Australia. I’ve done a few TV series in Australia, I’ve had four TV series written especially for me, two of which I’ve been I did not do and two of which I did do. I’m not inexperienced in the field of sitcom and I do find it quite enjoyable. It’s a lot harder than people would think. So with this one “The McCarthys,” I just thought this script was wonderful and I laughed from beginning to end. And then I met the creative and they were so adorable and in the space of half an hour I had fallen for all of them.
She’s the mother of a gay son, which I think is a very interesting sociological situation that is happening more and more. We’re becoming so much better at destigmatizing all sorts of things, including mental illness in “Silver Linings.”
I love gay mardi gras in Sydney, which is a big parade, a big march that thousands and thousands of people participate in. And there’s one little group... well it’s not little, it’s got hundreds of people marching, and they’re all very sweet, middle-aged and elderly people who are the parents of gay children who are out and proud. I think that’s the sign of the times, we are now accepting people who used to be outsiders and embracing it and celebrating it. And I particularly like the fact that this mom in "The McCarthy’s" is very much a... well she’s not so much a sports mom, well she is that too, but she's the mother of a gay son.
If this takes off will the show take you away from film work for a bit?
Well I’ve been assured that it won’t interfere that much, that the hiatus is usually long enough to squeeze in at least one or two movies if you’ve got something in the offering that is appealing. So all things being well, I can still manage to keep my hand in. In an ideal world that would be what would happen. I’ve already got a couple of film scripts I might be able to swing as well.
What's been your gameplan since netting your first Oscar nomination?
I think everything is hit and miss. I’ve had some fantastic scripts sent to me and I’ve had some great offers, a lot haven’t been able to get the money but that’s the way things go. I’ve had a really good time. I love reading scripts; I’ve read dozens and dozens. Some have been really wonderful and honestly none have been really appalling. I just think I’m so lucky. It wasn’t something I ever had on my agenda and I wasn’t expecting and I’m having such a good time doing what I like best, reading scripts and pretending to be other people and meeting lots of new interesting people.