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Watch: Sigourney Weaver's 'Political Animals'
Watch: Sigourney Weaver's 'Political Animals': Sigourney Weaver plays a former first lady and current Secretary of State navigating the shark-filled waters of D.C. in the six-part USA drama Political Animals, and we've got a trio of clips from the
Sigourney Weaver stars as Elaine Barrish in Political Animals a new TV series. / USA Network/Andrew Eccles/USA Network


In her new drama series, Political Animals, premiering July 15 on USA Network, Sigourney Weaver plays a former first lady who becomes secretary of state. The actress, 62, who is married to theater director Jim Simpson and whose daughter, Charlotte, is a new college grad, excels at playing empowered women, whether in Alien movies or Avatar. Here, she talks about strong women and more.

Have you met Hillary Clinton?

No, but I hope she knows that weíre doing all of this with the utmost respect for what she does. Our story is about a man who was a great president and a wife who is equally capable. She had her chance and failed and has now become an extraordinary secretary of state. All those facts were so delicious ... but our characters have nothing to do with the Clintons. Itís a scintillating show about a political family that was in the White House and wants to get back in. To me itís also very much about how women lead differently. Weíre team builders. We donít intimidate or command.

Are you a political animal?

I canvass and try to get the vote out. I donít understand why people donít vote. We worked so hard, especially women, to get the vote, and then we donít use it? Our grandmothers are rolling over in their graves.

Do you feel like an icon?

People always say, ďOh, you play such strong women.Ē Yes, itís true, but women are strong. Most women do not have someone to depend on ó no extended family, no help from the community, maybe no partner ó and they have to deal with it. All the single mothers ó I donít know how they do it.

Has being 5-foot-11 helped or hurt your career?

A lot of producers have looked at me and [gasped]. I never thought being tall was bad. Itís been a tremendous asset thatís kept me away from playing more conventional roles. But you do have to live up to your height. I was this tall when I was 11 and very uncoordinated.

Who is your role model?

Iím very influenced by both my parents. [Her father was president of NBC in the 1950s.] He loved this business. He was always a gentleman. He was filled with joy. [My mother] shouldnít have been a mother. She should have been an explorer. She had such drive. and discipline and energy. She devoted herself to my father, allowing him to be as brilliant as he was. She was an actress and very charming and very lovely. And then the whole world changed, and she wasnít able to catch that (feminist) wave. It was probably a sore point her whole life. She didnít want to spend her time running a home, although she did it and did it well.

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How do you feel about motherhood?

Itís the absolute high point of my life. My daughter would be horrified to hear this. Itís a little more mothering than she wants. Iíd have loved to have had a bigger family, but I was very lucky to have the person I had.

Why have you avoided TV?

I resolutely stayed away from TV early on because I wasnít interested in security.I was interested in adventure; I didnít think a series would give me that. This series does. We have long dialogue scenes and no 3-D or special effects.

What's on your bucket list?

Down the road Iíd love to travel. My husband grew up in Hawaii, so I think weíd like to go out to the Pacific Rim and get lost for a while. But I have no time this year, and next year Iím doing Avatar 2 and 3, plus, hopefully, this series and another movie.

What do you wish you knew at 21 that you know now?

Itís all going to work out. Donít waste any time worrying. Just embrace life and enjoy it all.

Online Only Extras:

Could you be a politician?

I donít know how tactful Iíd be. if I were in the thick of it.

What do you have in common with this character?

We all know that itís often easier to go to work than to stay home and deal with the family.

If your oven blew up, could you take control?

I am 62, and Iím going to try and get it done. Iíd also call my wonderful husband and say, ďCome and help me!Ē And he would.

Worst advice you ever got?

I never wanted my fatherís help in this business. Finally, because I wasnít getting anywhere, I asked him, ďCould I call one friend?Ē He gave me the name of a guy at NBC. I called and said, ďHi. I just graduated from Yale, and Iím looking for jobs as an actor.Ē He said [putting on a gruff New York accent], ďDo yourself a favor, kid. Get a job at Bloomingdaleís.Ē And he hung up.

Is there still an age barrier for women in Hollywood?

Itís still very strong in this country for both men and women. Yet older people are such an incredible resource. At our theater we have these very young actors and directors coming up. They need more seasoned veterans like myself knocking around so they can see I work just as hard as they do.

You've described yourself as "silly."

I am silly. We were just shooting this scene in the middle of the night in Philadelphia. At 3 a.m. a man who worked for the wonderful complex where we were shooting invited us to come in and ride the carousel, so we did.

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