Iconic Roles is a look at some of the best performances in film and television by actors and actresses.
If 2009’s Avatar was as successful as it was, part of the merit is due to some memorable performances by the actors, including Sigourney Weaver. Now, she is back in Avatar: The Way of Water, where she will portray a brand-new character. Throughout her career, the three-time Oscar-nominated actress landed several iconic roles and took part in some of the most appreciated and successful franchises in history, including Alien and Ghostbusters. The New York City artist made her long-feature film debut in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977) and gained worldwide popularity thanks to working in one of the first sci-fi franchises with a woman as the leading character.
Here’s the list of the best Sigourney Weaver movies to rewatch.
Dana Barrett in Ghostbusters (1984)
After getting fired from their job at Columbia University, three bizarre parapsychology professors team up with a new associate to eliminate paranormal activity. Their first job involves saving the lovely Dana (Weaver) and New York City from Gozer the Gozerian, an ancient god of destruction. Directed by the late Ivan Reitman, the iconic story starred Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis. Ghostbusters was 1984’s second-highest-grossing movie after Beverly Hills Cop, picking more than $295 million at the box office. Weaver reprised her role in all four installments of the franchise.
Ellen Ripley in Aliens (1986)
Ridley Scott’s original 1979 story featured an alien entity attaching itself to a crew member of the spaceship Nostromo, giving birth to a deadly creature. The sequel featured even more Xenomorphs pretty upset about a new spaceship’s arrival on their planet. In the second Alien installment, Weaver put on her best performance as the former Nostromo warrant officer Ripley, who showcased vulnerable invincibility as she took care of the little Newt. Her efforts were rewarded with an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Alien spawned a successful franchise that counts eight films and other media.
Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist (1988)
1988 was a critically successful year for Weaver, who scored two Oscar nominations as Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. In what is considered one of the best Sigourney Weaver movies, she portrayed the visionary naturalist who dedicated her life to studying and protecting mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Gorillas in the Mist also featured Bryan Brown as Bob Campbell and Julie Harris as Roz Carr, among others. In addition to one for Weaver, Michael Apted’s drama picked up four more Academy Awards nominations. The movie grossed more than $61 million at the box office.
Katharine Parker in Working Girl (1988)
It was pretty surprising to see Weaver transform into a thankless girl in Mike Nichols’ movie after establishing her image as a tough but essentially good-hearted woman. Weaver worked side-by-side with Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith, and Joan Cusack, among others. Working Girl piled up five Oscar nominations, including Best Actress for Griffith and Best Supporting Actress for both Weaver and Cusack, but ultimately took home just the Best Original Song one for “Let the River Run” by Carly Simon. While it might not be the most known, Working Girl still ranks among the best Weaver movies.
Dr. Grace Augustine in Avatar (2009)
If the first collaboration between Weaver and Cameron resulted in what is arguably the actress’ best performance ever (Aliens), the second time the pair joined forces turned into one of the most successful blockbusters in history. In 2009’s epic sci-fi, Weaver portrayed an exobiologist who wanted to study the relationship between the Na’vi and their planet. Dr. Augustine sought to establish a pacific way to interact with Pandora natives, but not everyone shared the same vision, and the situation quickly collapsed. Weaver’s performance was so impactful that she will return to the franchise, even though her character died. The Avatar ensemble cast also featured Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Stephen Lang, and Michelle Rodriguez, among others.