10 Roles That Made Us Really Love Rachel Weisz: From 'The Constant Gardener' to 'The Favourite'
Rachel Weisz celebrates her 51st birthday Sunday (March 7), so we're wishing her many happy returns with this guide to some of her most memorable roles. Before we see her again in the Black Widow movie — due May 7 — here are 10 Weisz career highlights to check out.
The Mummy (1999)
Weisz's movie breakthrough came in this romp of a blockbuster that grossed an impressive $416 million globally. She supplies light relief as Evelyn Carnahan, a talented but accident-prone Egyptologist who accompanies adventurer Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) and her older brother Jonathan (John Hannah) on an expedition to Hamunaptra, the City of the Dead. Once there, they accidentally awaken Imhotep, a cursed high priest from 1290 B.C., who brings the Ten Plagues back to Egypt. It's all a bit silly, but such a fun watch that you can't blame Weisz for returning for a 2001 sequel, The Mummy Returns.
About a Boy (2002)
Hugh Grant leads this charming comedy-drama as Will Freeman, a wealthy but directionless middle-aged man who forms an unexpected friendship with Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), a 12-year-old boy he meets through a woman he's briefly dating. Weisz has a key supporting role as Rachel, a successful career woman who comes between the duo when she begins a relationship with Will. Some 16 years later, Weisz and a grown-up Hoult would share the screen again in a very different movie, The Favourite.
The Constant Gardener (2005)
Weisz won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her excellent performance in this classy John le Carré adaptation from City of God director Fernando Meirelles. In a succession of revealing flashback scenes, she plays Tessa Abbott-Quayle, the murdered wife of horticulture-loving Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), an initially rather uninspired British diplomat. But as Justin searches for the truth behind Tessa's death, he uncovers both a global drug conspiracy and hard-to-swallow secrets about his wife. It's an intricate, gripping watch.
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
This rather underrated comedy flick gives Weisz a chance to show her playful side. She plays Penelope Stamp, an eccentric millionairess who is targeted by a couple of highly skilled conmen, brothers Stephen and Bloom Bloom (Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody). It's a funny and inventive movie which Weisz really threw herself into: she spent a month perfecting her character's signature card trick, which director Rian Johnson shot in a single continuous take.
The Deep Blue Sea (2011)
Weisz earned a Golden Globe nomination for her powerful performance in this romantic drama film based on a 1952 play by Sir Terence Rattigan. She stars as Hester Collyer, a middle-aged woman who attempts suicide after leaving her husband, wealthy judge Sir William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale), for exciting but unreliable RAF pilot Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston). It's an emotionally charged role which the likes of Vivien Leigh, Dame Sheila Hancock, Dame Harriet Walter, and Blythe Danner have played on stage and screen, but Weisz really makes it her own.
Directed by The Young Pope creator Paolo Sorrentino, this melancholy comedy-drama film is stuffed with fine performances. Sir Michael Caine stars as Fred Ballinger, a retired composer of classical music vacationing in the Swiss Alps with his movie director friend Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel). Weisz is on point as Fred's daughter, Lena, who has recently been dumped by Mick's son and becomes increasingly exasperated as Fred refuses to perform his most popular song for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. It's a poignant, unusual movie that's well worth seeking out.
The Lobster (2015)
The first English-language film from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is an extremely surreal dystopian gem. It takes place in a hotel where the overbearing manager (Olivia Colman) informs an arriving guest known only as 101 (Colin Farrell) that he has 45 days to find a mate or he'll be turned into an animal of his choice. Weisz serves as the narrator and also appears in the closing stretch as a short-sighted woman whom 101 falls for. It's a touching performance which injects some warmth into a fascinating and confounding film.
This classy courtroom drama tells the somewhat shocking true story of the Irving v Penguin Books Ltd case. Weisz plays Deborah Lipstadt, a highly respected American historian who is sued for libel in the British High Court by Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall). With smart legal advice from her lawyers Richard Rampton and Anthony Julius (Tom Wilkinson and Andrew Scott), Lipstadt sets about proving that Irving has deliberately distorted evidence to support his outrageous theories. It’s a fearsome face-off driven by lots of fine performances.
Weisz produced and starred in this romantic drama film based on the novel of the same name by Naomi Alderman. She plays Ronit, a New York City photographer who returns to the strict Orthodox Jewish community in north London where she grew up following her father's death. Once there, she rekindles an illicit relationship with Esti (Rachel McAdams), a childhood friend who is now married to her late father's protégé, Dovid (Alessandro Nivola). Weisz, who has a Jewish father, clearly relates to the clash between tradition and self-actualization at the heart of the story, and duly turns in a very moving performance.
The Favourite (2018)
Weisz reunited with Lanthimos for this bracingly strange and tremendously entertaining period movie. She plays the formidable Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, a courtier who shows her teeth when her lower-ranked cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) threatens to replace her as the favorite of Queen Anne (an Oscar-winning Olivia Colman). All three actresses are fantastic, and Weisz deservedly won a BAFTA (plus Oscar and Golden Globe nominations) for her full-throttle performance as a woman fighting for her position in the Royal household.
Have we missed out one of your favorite Rachel Weisz roles?