Weaver, Sigourney

Weaver, Sigourney , 1949- , American actress, b. New York, N.Y., as Susan Alexandra Weaver, Stanford Univ. (B.A., 1972), Yale Univ. (M.F.A., 1974). Weaver’s father was a well-known television executive, Sylvester “Pat” Weaver, her mother was an English actress, and her uncle, “Doodles” Weaver, was a character actor and comedian. While attending Yale Drama School, she befriended playwright Christopher Durang, and coauthored a two-person show with him; after graduation, she appeared in the Off-Broadway production of his Beyond Therapy (1991), and then starred in several of his subsequent plays. After acting in New York on stage and television, she made her breakthrough in the sci-fi/horror epic Alien (1979), playing the action-hero Ellen Ripley, among the first film portrayal that challenged traditional gender roles. She reprised the role in the film’s three sequels (Aliens, 1986; Alien 3, 1992; Alien Resurrection, 1997). Weaver became known for playing a wide variety of comic and serious roles, including portraying Bill Murray's love interest in Ghostbusters (1984; Ghostbusters II, 1989), primatologist Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist (for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, drama) the hard-driving boss in Working Girl (both 1988), and as the matriarch of the Carver family in The Ice Storm (1997). After a period of taking smaller roles, Weaver returned in another monster blockbuster, Avatar (2011).

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