In this week’s issue of TIME, I wrote a piece about actress Rachel Weisz, framed around her role in the new Terence Davies’ film The Deep Blue Sea. The film is the second adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s 1952 play about heartbroken Hester Collyer, a 1950s woman who left her husband for a man-child who loves her about a tenth as much as she loves him (Vivien Leigh starred in the first version, in 1955. Davies told me she was terrible in it and clips on YouTube seem to confirm that.) The movie is not easy, but Weisz is divine and the film is gorgeous in that uniquely Terry Davies way. If you’re not currently in a relationship, it will make you feel good about your uninvolved status.
We met at Ippudo in the East Village, a very noisy ramen joint I’d be happy to return to when I could actually relax and eat my lunch without wanting to tell everyone around me to shush so I’d be able to hear my recording later. Celebrity interviews are hard; in a very finite amount of time you have to attempt to engage like a human being while taking notes and watching your taping device like a hawk, because if it doesn’t work, there’s no way you can call and ask the same questions again. (Once I lost an entire digital recording of Spike Lee. You live in terror after a thing like that.)
I’d interviewed Weisz once before, when she starred in Neil LaBute’s 2003 film The Shape of Things, and at that point she had just recently started dating the director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), who she went on to make a very weird movie (The Fountain) with and have a child with. He was was sitting next to her when she won an Academy Award for The Constant Gardener (the best part of my research was rewatching that movie, which she is great in). I remember complimenting her then on her choice of men and how cutely she’d blushed before being chatty and so sweet about him.
This time around, Weisz and Aronofsky were through and she’d gone and married Daniel Craig, her co-star in the dopey Dream House. Mum’s been the word for both of them on the marriage, and I was sure it would continue to be, but I was going to have to bring it up anyway, because when the elephant in the room is James Bond, you can’t ignore it. Not when the movie you’re talking about features a heroine swooning over love “in the big Capital L sense of the word” as Weisz put it. And she’d been shooting the aforementioned movie right around the first time the couple was photographed walking in the English countryside together.
When someone looks like Rachel Weisz, and has just come from a photo shoot where there is hair and makeup, it is a little hard to parse the degree of glow, but she seemed extremely glowy. “I would say that is true,” her friend of nearly two decades, the novelist Susan Minot, told me, but cautiously, because clearly the topic (see story) is off limits. Then she hastened to add Weisz “had a glow when I [first] met her.” That was back in the mid 90s, when Weisz was shooting Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty, which Minot had written the screenplay for. “It is a glow that appears on film. It is something in her. Obviously when she’s happy in life there is more opportunity for glowing.”
Minot’s quotes didn’t end up in the story for space reasons, but I loved discovering out that the two women are good friends, especially in the context of having just seen The Deep Blue Sea, which stylistically fits in well with some of Minot’s novels about conflicted women, like Evening and Rapture. My favorite Minot quote was one about what it was like to see a good friend acting, specifically Weisz’s portrayal of Blanche Dubois in a 2009 London stage performance. The reviews were strikingly good, from the critics and the friend. “When you know someone well and you see them in a part, there are a lot of layers that you have to ignore, particularly in a play,” Minot said. “But she so disappeared as herself and emerged as this Blanche that I hadn’t seen before…it was unbelievable. It wasn’t a wan dreaminess, it was almost like a fierce upholding of unreality.” Doesn’t it break your heart when you hear about a fantastic play and can’t go see it?
In other news, I’m so lame I almost forgot to look at Weisz’s ring. Not a precious stone in sight. Just a slender metal band of what looks like braided brass and copper, like a classy twist tie. I admired its subtlety, just as I admire the class and tact that kept her from dishing about Daniel Craig.