Sigourney Weaver (born October 8, 1949) is an Academy Award-nominated
American actress, best known for her roles as Lt. Ellen Ripley in the Alien
film series and as Dana Barrett in the Ghostbusters movies.
Sigourney was born Susan Alexandra Sigourney in New York City, the daughter of Elizabeth Inglis (née Desiree Mary Lucy Hawkins) (d. 2007), a former English actress, and the NBC television executive Sylvester "Pat" L. Sigourney (d. 2002), an American of Scottish descent. Her uncle, Doodles Weaver, was a comedian and actor. Sigourney Weaver began using the name "Sigourney Weaver" in 1963, aged fourteen, after a minor character in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby.
Sigourney attended the Ethel Walker School, a prep school in Simsbury, Connecticut, and graduated from Stanford University (BA, English, 1972). She earned an MFA (1974) at Yale School of Drama, where she appeared in the chorus of a production of Aristophanes' The Frogs and as one of a mob of Roman soldiers in another production as well as, later, in original plays by friend and classmate Christopher Durang. She later appeared in the 1981 Off Broadway production of his comedy Beyond Therapy. She is fluent in French and in German.
Although Sigourney has played a number of critically acclaimed roles in movies such as Gorillas in the Mist, The Ice Storm, Dave, and The Year of Living Dangerously, she is best known for her appearances as Warrant Officer/Lieutenant Ellen Ripley in the blockbuster Alien movie franchise. She first appeared as Ripley in Ridley Scott's 1979 film Alien. She reprised the role in three sequels, Aliens, Alien³, and Alien Resurrection. She was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for portraying Ripley in Aliens. She also starred in two films in 1988, receiving Academy Award nominations for her roles as Katherine Parker in Working Girl and as naturalist Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist. She lost out to Geena Davis and Jodie Foster respectively, although she received Golden Globes for both roles.
Sigourney with her father Pat Sigourney in 1989Sigourney also appeared in Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II as Dana Barrett. She played the role of agoraphobic criminal psychologist Helen Hudson in the 1995 movie Copycat, and went on to become one of the most highly paid actress of the 1990s. In addition to her trademark role as Ripley, Sigourney has recently concentrated on smaller roles such as 1999's A Map of the World and 2006's Snow Cake. She has also appeared in comedic roles, such as Jeffrey (1994), Galaxy Quest (1999), and Heartbreakers (2001), in which she starred with Jennifer Love Hewitt.
In 1997, Sigourney won the BAFTA Award for her supporting role in Ang Lee's The Ice Storm. In 2003, she was voted 20th in Channel 4's countdown of the 100 greatest movie stars of all time. She was one of only two women in the top 20 (the other was Audrey Hepburn). That year, she also played The Warden in the movie Holes. In 2006, Sigourney returned to Rwanda for the BBC special Gorillas Revisited.
Sigourney was approached to star in the The Accused but felt the nature of the story was too violent. Jane Campion wanted a "Sigourney Weaver-type" for her film The Piano, but Weaver's agent turned the film down without consulting Weaver. Holly Hunter went on to win the Oscar for the role, and Sigourney fired her agent. Bryan Singer originally wanted Sigourney for the role of Emma Frost in X-Men: The Last Stand, but Singer (along with screenwriter Dan Harris, who had directed Sigourney in Imaginary Heroes) left the project, and the idea to include Frost was dropped. In 2009, Sigourney starred as Mary Griffith in her first made-for-TV movie, Prayers for Bobby. She also guest starred in the TV show Eli Stone in the fall of 2008.
Sigourney also has done voice work in television and film. She had a guest role in the Futurama episode "Love and Rocket" in February 2002, playing the female Planet Express Ship. In 2006, she was the narrator for the American version of the Emmy Award-winning series Planet Earth. In 2008, Sigourney was featured as the voice of the ship's computer in the Pixar and Disney release, WALL•E. She also voiced a narrating role in another computer-animated film, 2008's The Tale of Despereaux, based on the novel by Kate DiCamillo.
In addition to her Academy Awards nomination for Aliens, Sigourney has received two other nominations in her career. This makes Sigourney one of only eleven actors and actresses to have received two nominations in the same year. Sigourney received a Best Actress nomination for her role as gorilla conservationist Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist, and a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role as Katharine Parker in Working Girl, opposite Harrison Ford and Melanie Griffith. She won neither award – Jodie Foster won the former for her role in The Accused and the latter was won by Geena Davis for her role in The Accidental Tourist. She was awarded a Golden Globe for each role, however, becoming the first person to win two acting Golden Globes in the same year. In fact, Weaver's Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama was the only time there has ever been a three way tie in the history of a major awards ceremony as Sigourney was named joint winner along with Jodie Foster (The Accused) and Shirley MacLaine (Madame Sousatzka). By failing to win an Oscar in either category for 1988, she became the first person in history to lose twice in the same ceremony. Three people have been "double losers" since then – Emma Thompson in 1994, Julianne Moore in 2003, and Cate Blanchett in 2008. Though Emma Thompson won Oscars for Best Actress in 1992 and Best Adapted Screenplay in 1995 and Cate Blanchett won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2004, Julianne Moore, the very talented four-time Academy Award nominee, has yet to win an Oscar.
Sigourney has been married to filmmaker Jim Simpson since October 1, 1984. They have one daughter Charlotte Simpson, who was born April 13, 1990.
After making Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey, she became a supporter of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and is now the DFGFI's honorary chairperson. Sigourney is an environmentalist. In October 2006 she drew international attention through a news conference at the start of a United Nations General Assembly policy deliberation. She outlined the widespread threat to ocean habitats posed by deep-sea trawling, an industrial method for harvesting fish. She also narrated the American version of the BBC/Discovery Channel show Planet Earth. On April 8, 2008, she hosted the annual gala of the Trickle Up Program, a non-profit organization focusing on those in extreme poverty, mainly women and the disabled, in the Rainbow Room.
Sigourney has donated $5,800 to various Democratic politicians, including Senators Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer. She supported President Barack Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign.
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