LOS ANGELES—Palawan remains on the mind of Rachel Weisz, more than a year after she shot “The Bourne Legacy” there. She and Jeremy Renner filmed the movie’s breathtakingly beautiful ending scene in the province’s El Nido Resorts.
Our chat about Palawan began when we asked Rachel how challenging it was for her to have been shuttling between the sets of two movies she was filming at the time, “The Bourne Legacy” in the Philippines and New York, and “Oz The Great and Powerful” in Detroit, Michigan.
“I racked up a lot of air miles,” said the actress with a smile during our interview at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, California. “It was really interesting doing two different things. The Philippines was just different. We were on the other side of the planet.” But the distance did not deter Rachel’s husband, Daniel Craig, aka James Bond, from visiting her on the set in Manila.
Then Rachel suddenly brought up Palawan, likening the province to the capital city of the fictional Land of Oz in L. Frank Baum’s books because of its enchanting quality. “Palawan is like a paradise island,” said the Oscar and Golden Globe best supporting actress winner for “The Constant Gardener.” “Palawan is more like the Emerald City. It’s like a fantasy. Maybe it’s real to you but to me, it looked like a fantasy place.”
Whether she was playing Evanora, the wicked witch who rules over the Emerald City in “Oz…” or a scientist on the run in “Bourne,” the University of Cambridge alumna claimed she aimed for the same goal: “Be truthful.”
She explained, “So even if I’m Evanora in the Emerald City, I’m still trying to be truthful. I was filming ‘The Bourne Legacy’ at the same time as ‘Oz.’ So I did a month in New York on ‘Bourne,’ a month in Detroit on ‘Oz,’ a month in New York, a month in Detroit and then a month in the Philippines. So I was going ‘Oz’-‘Bourne,’ Oz’-‘Bourne,’ ‘Oz-‘Bourne.’ They’re very different. In ‘Bourne,’ I had no makeup and I was in jeans and T-shirt. In ‘Oz,’ I was in a corset, and had lashes and sequins. But you have to be truthful in both, even though they’re different genres.”
Rachel is joined by James Franco (as the predestined Wizard), Mila Kunis (tormented young witch Theodora) and Michelle Williams (Glinda, the Good Witch) in director Sam Raimi’s “Oz,” which narrates the origins of the wizard first brought to life in Baum’s book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” (in turn the basis of the classic Judy Garland film, “The Wizard of Oz”).
We asked Rachel if there’s any word on a sequel to “Bourne Legacy,” a hit with more than $270 million in worldwide earnings. “I honestly don’t know,” replied the recent Golden Globe best actress—drama nominee for her portrayal of a wife entangled in an affair with a Royal Air Force pilot in “The Deep Blue Sea.” “I haven’t heard a peep out of anyone. I hope so (there’s a sequel) but I haven’t heard anything. We’ll have to keep our ears tuned.”
The actress, blessed with one of the sweetest, gentlest personalities, once told us—way before she went to shoot in the Philippines—that she loved Filipino food. So we inquired if Rachel continues to indulge her craving for Pinoy food in New York, where she lives because Henry, her son with ex-partner director Darren Aronofsky, “is at school there.”
“There was this place called Cendrillon in SoHo that had great chicken adobo,” Rachel pointed out. “And they moved. So I’m going to have to Google it and see where they moved to. I love chicken adobo.” We told her the owners (Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan) opened a new Filipino restaurant in Brooklyn, Purple Yam.
On being married to a “cool guy,” Rachel laughed and quipped, “Yeah, I’ve got no complaints.”
“I’m very happy,” she said. “I have a wonderful family and the career seems to be going well. Touch wood, touch wood. I’m superstitious so I don’t want to say too many good things about it.” Laughing again, she remarked, “Otherwise, I might jinx it.”
Rachel claimed that she’s not experiencing the career slowdown that hit some actresses once they reach a certain age. “I turned 40 and I did ‘Bourne,’ ” she pointed out. “Then I made this movie so I’ve been incredibly busy. I haven’t been having problems with it.”
On what she would do if she had wizardry powers, Rachel answered, “I would have to end world poverty. If I had only one wish, that’s my choice. Feed the world. Bob Geldof has been singing about it for a decade so I’d do that. It’s possible—there’s a lot of food on the planet. End global warming.”
Chuckling now, she dished, “I feel like Miss World.” Not a Bond Girl? “No, I’ve never felt like a Bond Girl. No.”
(E-mail the columnist at [email protected] Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.)