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Sigourney Weaver Political Animals Interview

Written by Alexander Tucker   // 07/13/2012

DAVID GREGORY INTERVIEWS SIGOURNEY WEAVER

MEET THE PRESS “PRESS PASS” Excerpts and Video of Full Interview

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 13, 2012 – via PRESS RELEASE – In this week’s “Meet the Press” mid-week “PRESS Pass” conversation, David Gregory sat down with actress Sigourney Weaver to discuss her role on the USA Network’s mini-series, “Political Animals.”

Weaver plays Elaine Barrish Hammond, a former First Lady who ran for president, lost, and was appointed by her rival to be Secretary of State. Weaver argues that Elaine is her own woman and says that the character was inspired by “not only the Clintons, but by a lot of the families who’ve been in the White House.”

‘Political Animals’ Reviews

Weaver’s hope that her role will inspire more women to run:

WEAVER: One of the reasons I wanted to do this show was to show a woman politician who is so herself and so direct and who brings the kind of female energy to politics that I’ve seen as a mother. … So I wanted to sort of demonstrate that, because I do think it might actually encourage more women to run. We’d be very good. We’d certainly do as good a job if not better.

On potential for another Clinton candidacy:

DAVID GREGORY: Would you like to see Secretary Clinton run for the presidency again?

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: I think that would be amazing. In four years maybe we’ll be ready for her. She’s certainly ready for us.

On hope that Obama will “just go for it” if re-elected:

DAVID GREGORY: What about President Obama? You’ve been supportive of him. You say you’ll be supportive again. And I noted that you told Politico that once a president gets a second term, the gloves come off, and that a lot of us have sort of been waiting for that.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: Yes. It’s interesting because we were talking today about the importance of being a political animal as a politician, and how much of a political animal Obama is. Because a lot of that is relishing the game of politics, and it’s been a very difficult game in the last four years, and I don’t know how much one could relish it. But I do think that we need – I do think that if he gets four more years, it’s been so frustrating for him and for a lot of his supporters that I think he’ll just go for it. That’s my hope.

On the appetite for political drama with a personal dimension:

DAVID GREGORY: To what do you attribute what has become a voracious appetite, among television viewers and others, for sort of political drama? You know, it’s what your character represents, it’s the drama of political life, but it’s also this window into how politics operates and how poorly political institutions operate today.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: Well, I’d like to know your answer to that question, frankly, because I do think that’s — especially this summer, during an election year, we seem to have so many.

DAVID GREGORY: Well, it seems to me people have so much invested in politics, and there’s interest in it, the sport of it. But then you have this personal dimension that seems to creep into everything, and there’s such the entertainment value of the dramas of these families that take over.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: And certainly in the case of our show, Political Animals, it’s quite heady to go from the situation room into Elaine’s kitchen, where there’s even more fur flying. Because, like every family in America, it’s actually much easier to be effective and lucid, and clear, and in control at work than it is at home, because things in the family seem to spiral out of control

 

Full transcript: PRESS Pass with Sigourney Weaver

Actress, “Political Animals”

Credit: NBC News

DAVID GREGORY:

I’m David Gregory and this is PRESS Pass, your all-access pass to an extra Meet the Press conversation. And this week I’m so pleased to be joined by Sigourney Weaver, a Hollywood legend of course, transitioning to television this week with the new USA miniseries Political Animals, a political drama that’s making headlines with its look at the private struggles of a famous American political family. It’s great to have you here.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

It’s great to be here, a great honor.

DAVID GREGORY:

There are so many examples now of art imitating political life. And here, with Political Animals, you’re taking on such an interesting role, Elaine, who’s somebody that you would actually support politically?

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

Oh yes I definitely would support Elaine. She speaks from – you know, she shoots straight, she’s got a strong moral compass; I think we need many more Elaines in Washington.

DAVID GREGORY:

And so what drew you to the role?

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

You know, the writing was wonderful. It was the kind of story I’m not often offered. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was offered, you know, ‘mountain woman in Alaska’ or something, but to be offered this sort of mainstream matriarch who was a first lady, is now Secretary of State, who has this problematic family — two sons, an ex-husband, a foul-mouthed mother — it was just really like after eating salad for a couple of years, I was offered a big juicy steak. And I just took out my fork and knife and went, ‘All right, I’m going for it.’

DAVID GREGORY:

So let’s talk a little bit about the character and some similarities with a certain somebody. Let’s see: Former first lady who had to deal with the public acknowledgment that her husband had cheated on her, runs for president, concedes, becomes Secretary of State. Even the former president is involved on the campaign trail. I mean this is –

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

It does sounds familiar.

DAVID GREGORY:

I mean this is very much the Clinton family story it appears. We even looked and the campaign poster –

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

Oh really?

DAVID GREGORY:

– In the show is exactly Hillary’s campaign placard –

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

My goodness.

DAVID GREGORY:

We have time on our hands, so we check into these things.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

Yes. Well, you know much more about it than I do. I must say that I love the idea that it is inspired by, not only Clintons, but by a lot of the families who’ve been in the White House — that seems to leave an imprint on these families, for better or worse. And the families often try to get back in the White House. And that’s sort of what our story is about. Who will make it, of all of us, who knows. But I think that I love the fact that our creator, Greg Berlanti, couldn’t resist some of the salient facts of the Clintons. But I always felt, from the moment I started reading it, that Elaine was her own person. I wouldn’t dream of trying to imitate or impersonate Hillary Clinton, whom I admire very, very much, and I think she’s done an awesome job in every job she’s had. But I would need months to prepare for that. But this, I just sort of turned the page and I was in the world of the Hammonds and in the world of Washington, D.C., which is so fascinating. And I just sort of jumped off the cliff.

DAVID GREGORY:

We have a clip, actually, of your character Elaine in the concession speech, says that she certainly plans on living to see the first woman president.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

Yes. Hear, hear.

DAVID GREGORY:

Do you believe that’s possible? Do you think you’ll see that?

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

Gosh, I certainly hope so. I do notice that our country’s lagging behind a lot of other countries around the world. And we do, for a population of almost 51% of Americans, we have terrible representation in Washington. And one of the reasons I wanted to do this show was to show a woman politician who is so herself, and so direct, and who brings the kind of female energy to politics that — I’ve seen, as a mother, if you need something done in your school or in your community, you ask other mothers to help you. And mother energy is very powerful. So I wanted to sort of demonstrate that, because I do think it might actually, you know, encourage more women to run. We’d be very good; we’d certainly do as good a job, if not better.

DAVID GREGORY:

The dynamic here — of female leadership versus male leadership. Do you think this — I mean I’m not trying to set up some sort of battle of the sexes here, but do you, as you’re a politically active person and think a lot about this, is that a part of it that you think is lacking in our national leadership?

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

I think women are, we are — I think if you look at women’s DNA, apparently our DNA is quite different from male DNA. Male DNA is much more about going to getting the, killing the animal and bringing it back to the cave, whereas women’s DNA is all about keeping the child from falling into the hearth fire. And I just feel like right now, with things the way they are, we need more female DNA keeping our children from falling into the fire. But I do feel that women – you know, there’s a wonderful documentary called 14 Women about the women senators, Republican and Democrat, and they all get together every week. They listen to each other, they support each other’s bills. I think that women’s leadership — I travel around the world quite a bit listening to other women talk about different issues. And I do think, not that men don’t do this, but women apparently do listen; we are much more about team-building, our leadership structure is much more linear rather than hierarchical. And we don’t sort of intimidate; we kind of invite. So I just think it’s great to have that kind of energy in Washington as well.

DAVID GREGORY:

Would you like to see Secretary Clinton run for the presidency again?

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

I think that would be amazing. In four years maybe we’ll be ready for her. She’s certainly ready for us.

DAVID GREGORY:

What about President Obama? You’ve been supportive of him. You say you’ll be supportive again. And I noted that you told Politico that once a president gets a second term, the gloves come off, and that a lot of us have sort of been waiting for that.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

Yes. It’s interesting because we were talking today about the importance of being a political animal as a politician, and how much of a political animal Obama is. Because a lot of that is relishing the game of politics, and it’s been a very difficult game in the last four years, and I don’t know how much one could relish it. But I do think that we need – I do think that if he gets four more years, it’s been so frustrating for him and for a lot of his supporters that I think he’ll just go for it. That’s my hope.

DAVID GREGORY:

What would you like to see him go for –

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

Well, I think –

DAVID GREGORY:

– In a second term?

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

Well, I certainly think that he has ideas about education that he can — there are a lot of things to that the Democrats — and I’m not a professional politician, so forgive me if it’s very simplistic — but to me, the Democrats are always going to be about what the people need. And the Republicans are much more serving big business. And I don’t think we can afford to serve big business for another four years, with Mr. Romney. So I mean I think that there are many things on his agenda that he would probably like to do that we haven’t even begun to see yet, because his hands have been tied. Not that that’s an excuse, but I think that he has to — in four more years everyone’s gonna go, ‘All right, we’re stuck. Let’s get some things done that we need to get done.’

DAVID GREGORY:

To what do you attribute what has become a voracious appetite, among television viewers and others, for sort of political drama. You know, it’s what your character represents, it’s the drama of political life, but it’s also this window into how politics operates and how poorly political institutions operate today.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

Well, I’d like to know your answer to that question, frankly, because I do think that’s — especially this summer, during an election year, we seem to have so many.

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, it seems to me people have so much invested in politics, and there’s interest in it, the sport of it. But then you have this personal dimension that seems to creep into everything, and there’s such the entertainment value of the dramas of these families –

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

Well, for sure.

DAVID GREGORY:

– That take over.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

And certainly in the case of our show, Political Animals, it’s quite heady to go from the situation room into Elaine’s kitchen, where there’s even more fur flying. Because, like every family in America, it’s actually much easier to be effective and lucid, and clear, and in control at work than it is at home, because things in the family seem to spiral out of control.

DAVID GREGORY:

But it’s interesting, I mean could this family exist in the real political world, with the kind of spotlight that there is today? If it is loosely based on the Clintons, then that’s one model. Is there more tolerance for the average dysfunctional family in political life, or would it be too difficult to pull that off?

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

No I think that this family — actually, I can definitely see them, within the circumference of our story, getting back in the White House. Because, actually, whatever you may think about our fictional family, the Hammonds, they have a true commitment to serving the public that is much greater than any sort of political goal. They are, both Bud and Elaine Hammond — and for all I know the sons too, eventually — they have that in their DNA, that they are going to continue to try to make things better for the country and for the citizens. And that is completely sincere; you may disagree with how they do it, or who their citizenry is, but I think that that’s completely sincere. I think Elaine’s passion is very inspiring to me; she always shoots from the hip, she’s not afraid to ask questions, she’s direct and practical, and always sees the big picture, which I think must be very hard to do in Capitol Hill sometimes.

DAVID GREGORY:

Just to end on a different note, I was struck by something you seemed when we started: Were you surprised along the way in your acting career that part of what gives you this iconic status as the beautiful woman who’s taking down the aliens, as you describe it, you know, the mountain woman in Alaska — was that surprising that that sort of developed along the way?

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

I’m still surprised by it. I sort of went to school thinking I’d do a little Shakespeare and you know, maybe –

DAVID GREGORY:

But you have done, you’ve done all of that, and people, they know that range. But obviously there’re some things that break through like none other, right?

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

Well, I was very fortunate. That was really my first film. So I mean I was, who knows; that’s just fortune, that’s the gods. But this role, Elaine, is one of the most challenging I’ve ever had because she doesn’t have a flamethrower. Her flamethrower is her ideals.

DAVID GREGORY:

I think that there’s a few people in Washington who could use one of those –

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

Yes, maybe that would be a good introduction.

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, best of luck with it and thank you very much.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER:

Well, thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

DAVID GREGORY:

Appreciate it.

 

Sigourney Weaver Political Animals Interview:

 


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