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Jacki Weaver, Looking For Oscar Gold With 'Silver Linings'

Feb 17, 2013
Originally published on February 19, 2013 3:44 pm

To put it simply, Silver Linings Playbook, which is nominated for a handful of Oscars, is a romantic comedy about mental illness.

We peer into the life of one Philadelphia family with a son whose bipolar disorder has led him to some very troublesome outbursts — and a father, meanwhile, who lives in denial of his own untreated obsessive-compulsive disorder and gambling addiction. And when arguments break out, the mother, Dolores, has to keep things together.

Australian-born actress Jacki Weaver plays Dolores — with a convincing Philly accent — in the film, and she's earned herself a nomination for Best Supporting Actress in this year's Oscars.

Weaver spoke with NPR's Rachel Martin about finding her inner Dolores, working with Robert De Niro and how it felt to film one of the film's most intense scenes.


Interview Highlights

On how she imagined Dolores

"Dolores looked to me exactly like I looked. She looked like a buxom, cuddly redhead who still cared about the way she looked, but had had her share of cares and worries."

On filming a critical scene involving a high-stakes bet

"I remember that my adrenaline was pumping so hard and my heart was pounding in my chest. It was important [for] the scene that there was a lot at stake. Because the meaning is that, if the parlay is taken on, and if they lose, they're gonna lose everything — they're gonna lose their house, their savings, everything.

"But that's the nature of compulsive gamblers, and she's desperate that they don't take the parlay. But of course the husband prevails, and they do, and then it makes the stakes even harder.

"They cleverly light the room so that the camera can go anywhere, and the camera was darting about the whole time, so we were in the moment, all of us, all the time. It was like being on stage in front of 2,000 people — you know, you just can't relax."

On acting opposite Robert De Niro

"It was wonderful. I was of course apprehensive at first, because to not just my generation but every generation, Robert De Niro is a giant. And of course to know that you're gonna play his wife is really something.

"[Director] David O. Russell kept saying to us, 'Now I want absolute familiarity between you. You are in love and have been in love for 30 years. You still make love twice a week.'...

"That was our back story. And I had to sit in my trailer the first morning and give myself a talking-to and say, 'Look, it's not Robert De Niro, it's your husband whom you love, that's who it is.'

"And luckily, Robert De Niro is such a generous actor and such a kind man, that it was no problem at all."

On what makes a second nomination so sweet

"[I was nominated] two years ago for Animal Kingdom, so I never thought I'd get a second one. But a lovely American journalist said to me, 'Your second Oscar nomination means that the first one was not a fluke.'"

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. It is Oscar season, and, predictably, there's a lot of hype and hoopla around all the big stars with nominations - names you hear a lot - Anne Hathaway, Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert De Niro. We'd like to introduce you to a name you may not have heard before: Jacki Weaver. She co-stars in the Oscar-nominated film, "Silver Linings Playbook." It's a complicated family portrait. A son with bipolar disorder...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK")

BRADLEY COOPER: (as Pat Jr.) I don't feel good when I'm on it, mom. I don't feel good. I'm so much clearer without it.

MARTIN: ...a father in denial of his own neuroses...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as character) That's OCD. That's crazy.

ROBERT DE NIRO: (as Pat) Love OCD. I want my son to watch the game with me, so sue me.

MARTIN: ...and a mother, played by Weaver, who's caught in the middle.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK")

NIRO: (as Pat) Come on. Sit, sit, sit.

JACKI WEAVER: (as Dolores) I'm making crabby snacks and homemades.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

MARTIN: They don't have crabby snacks or homemades in Australia, which is where Jacki Weaver is from, but she nails the Philly accent in this movie. Weaver is up for best supporting actress for her role as Dolores. And when we spoke, I asked her how she imagined the character when she first read the script.

WEAVER: Dolores looked to me exactly like I looked. She looked like a buxom, cuddly redhead, who still cared about the way she looked but had had her share of cares and worries.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as character) Patricio, I feel terrible, you know. You made the bet, I won a lot of money and now, look, your whole family's in turmoil.

MARTIN: I want to ask you about this penultimate scene. It's a scene where the bets are placed, where the idea of the parlay is introduced.

WEAVER: (as Dolores) Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK")

NIRO: (as Pat) My birds, Benjamin Franklin's team, favored by one-and-a-half points. I'll give you three more.

WEAVER: (as Dolores) Patricio, stop it. And, Randy, don't you take the bet.

NIRO: (as Pat) In fact, I'll give you 10 points.

COOPER: (as Pat Jr.) No, dad, dad, dad.

MARTIN: There were lots of people in the room. It was a complicated plot point. What do you remember about shooting that team? Did you find it challenging?

WEAVER: I remember that my adrenaline was pumping so hard that my heart was pounding in my chest. And it was important that the scene - that there was a lot at stake. Because if the parlay is taken on and they lose, they're going to lose everything. But that that's the nature of compulsive gamblers. She's desperate that they don't take the parlay, and they do. And then it makes the stakes even higher.

MARTIN: But you do remember the energy in the room, because there are at least a dozen actors in that scene, right?

WEAVER: Yes. They cleverly light the room so that the camera can go anywhere. And the camera was darting about the whole time. So, we were in the moment, all of us, all the time. It was like being on stage in front of 2,000 people. You know, you just can't relax.

MARTIN: Your co-star, Robert De Niro, was it just fun to be on that set and to be able to work with him?

WEAVER: It was. It was wonderful. I was, of course, apprehensive at first because to - not just my generation but every generation, Robert De Niro is a giant. And, of course, to know that you're going to play his wife is really something. And David O. Russell - I call him the actor whisperer, he can get the best out of these actors - and he kept saying to us, now, I want absolute familiarity between you. You are in love and have been in love for 30 years. You still make love twice a week.

MARTIN: Oh, wow. That's written into the backstory?

WEAVER: That was our backstory. And I had to sit in my trailer the first morning and give myself a talking to and say, look, it's not Robert De Niro; it's your husband whom you love. That's who it is. And luckily, Robert De Niro is such a generous actor and such a kind man that it was no problem at all.

MARTIN: You have been nominated for an Oscar before.

WEAVER: That was, yes, two years ago for "Animal Kingdom." So, I never thought I'd get a second one. But a lovely American journalist said to me: Your second Oscar nomination means that the first one was not a fluke.

(SOUNDBITE OF SOUNDBITE)

MARTIN: Jacki Weaver. She has been nominated for an Oscar for her role in the movie "Silver Linings Playbook." She joined us from Los Angeles. Jacki, thanks so much for talking with us.

WEAVER: Oh, thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.