Clad in corsets and elaborate gowns, Golden Globe winner Rachel Weisz plays the scheming Lady Marlborough in Yorgos Lanthimos’ historical farce The Favourite. In the film, the conniving aristocrat has her own agenda and is – in essence – running the country as well as circles around her male counterparts. She manipulates the ailing, depressed Queen Anne and dictates policy. The actress equates the theme of her storyline to a very famous film: “The equivalent would be All About Eve. The only thing I would try to get is a part. So, nothing as important as running a country. In this story, the stakes are as high as they get and she is governing England, and she is like the Prime Minister, my character.”
This is not Rachel Weisz’ first go around with her Greek director, having previously starred in The Lobster. She is, therefore, familiar with his unique style of shooting by using anamorphic lenses to create a picture as distorted as the characters and the story. And she very much appreciated Lanthimos’ unusual preparations before rehearsals: “He would give us exercises to do like a game, where you have to say the lines from the scene very fast and jump backward across the room whilst holding hands and trying to make a human pretzel, so you have someone’s bottom in your face, properly ridiculous games, but I think the idea was to break the ice so we wouldn’t feel embarrassed. Yorgos likes the absurd and the ridiculous, so he got us to feel ridiculous a little bit.”
The actress who grew up in London to a Hungarian Father and a Viennese mother has never shied away from unique parts, unconventional filming styles, and uncommon stories. She knew early on that she wanted to be an actress and – while studying at Cambridge – she started a theater company which she named “Talking Tongues”. Shortly after she was a working actress on the London stage and won Most Promising Newcomer from the London Critics’ Cycle for her role in Noel Coward’s “Design For Living”. After a few film roles, she decided to split her time between her hometown and New York, where she now mostly resides.
Her body of work is diverse, having starred in popcorn fare like The Mummy, arthouse cinema pieces like The Fountain, thrillers like Enemy at the Gates, comedies like About A Boy and the drama for which she has won her Golden Globe, The Constant Gardner.
It did not take her long to accept the offer for The Favourite. And as a great lover of history, she threw herself into the research, because despite having grown up in Great Britain, she did not know much about that particular era. What she found out astonished her: “There were a lot of love letters written between Lady Marlborough and the Queen which exist, and they are very passionate and very intense love letters since they were children. Whether or not they actually were physical lovers, we don’t know. But they were very passionate in the way that women can have teenage friendships. It went on throughout their whole life so those letters are really worth reading.”