My Interview With Sigourney Weaver
I don't know about you, but when I think about my top 10 favorite actresses, I have to say that Sigourney Weaver is pretty much at the top of my list. I can't think of another talented actor who has tackled so many diverse roles in her lifetime and has managed to make me cry ("Gorillas in the Mist" and "Avatar"), laugh ("Ghostbusters"), shriek ("Aliens") and sneer (my personal fave as Catherine, the tough as nails boss in "Working Girl"). While she is best known for her work in some of the biggest blockbusters of all time, in 2009 she accepted her first ever television role, starring in the Lifetime original movie, "Prayers for Bobby."
The film, which was recently released on DVD, premiered on the Lifetime network on January 24, 2009 and is based on Leroy F. Aarons' book, Prayers for Bobby: A Mother's Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son. "Prayers for Bobby" tells the true story of the life and legacy of Bobby Griffith, a young gay man who killed himself when his mother could not accept that her son had turned his back on God so that he could be a homosexual. The film stars Ryan Kelley as Bobby Griffith and Sigourney Weaver as his mother, Mary.
The role of Mary was a huge departure for Weaver, who says she was sent the script and book and had an instant connection to it since she has a daughter in her teens. She also liked the fact that the book and film was based on a true story and even got the chance to meet the real Mary. "I hadn’t done TV but this was the perfect medium for this story. Some stories cry out to be on TV. It was just like making an independent film. It was scary material but I felt so fortunate to have been a part of it."
In the film, Weaver plays a devout Christian woman who believes she can cure her son of his homosexuality through prayer. Sadly, she discovers that her methods to convince Bobby to give up his lifestyle, inevitably lead him to commit suicide. Wracked with guilt, Mary spends her time going through Bobby's personal effects and uncovers a journal where he shared his innermost thoughts. Determined to keep Bobby's memory alive, Mary finally comes to terms with her beliefs and joins a community group called PFLAG (Parents, Families, Friends of Lesbians and Gays) where she becomes a leader and activist in the gay rights movement.
While the story was set in the early 1980's, issues confronting gays and lesbians have become even more complicated now that online bullying has lead many teens to suicide. Weaver says that in order to combat this wave of online abuse, "parents and schools have to get involved." She continues, "Parents should talk to very young kids about bullying so that they don't ever let it get to the point where you kill yourself." She also believes that social networking sites like Facebook should make an effort to monitor the behavior of kids who are bullying online.
With the release "Prayers for Bobby" on DVD, Weaver hopes that the film will be made available in libraries and schools nationwide because she believes that parents should embrace their child no matter their sexuality or differences. In "Prayers for Bobby," Mary was frightened by her son's homosexuality and rather than embrace him, she lost her courage. "Children need the courage to trust their parents," says Weaver. "I'm hoping this film will help send that message. Mary's story absolutely hits home."