One of the most acclaimed and notorious entertainment figures in Australian entertainment history, actress Jacki Weaver earned numerous awards for her gutsy turns in films like "Animal Kingdom" (2010), "Stork" (1971) and "Caddie" (1976), while dominating the Down Under gossip pages with stories of affairs, children born out of wedlock and substance abuse. She reflected a headstrong attitude towards romance and sex both onscreen and off, winning her first Australian Film Institute award for her portrait of a young unwed mother who decided to defy tradition and keep her child in "Stork." Weaver would continue to vacillate between scandal and screen success until the late 1990s, when a stockpile of personal tragedies pushed her into depression and alcoholism. In 2010, she mounted a stellar comeback as the malevolent head of a criminal family in "Animal Kingdom," which brought her near-universal acclaim and overdue praise for a life led in pursuit of high drama on both professional and personal levels. That led to more supporting turns in higher-profile movies like "The Five-Year Engagement" (2012) and "Silver Linings Playbook" (2012), assuring fans that Weaver's comeback was destined to last.
Born May 25, 1947 in the Sydney suburb of Hurstville, her father, Arthur Weaver, flew bombers for the RAAF in World War II before settling into a career as a lawyer, while her British-born mother, Edy, raised Weaver and her brother. Elocution lessons at six and a steady diet of American television ignited a passion for performance in the teenager, who overcame a painful shyness to audition for local plays. At 15, she was cast as Cinderella opposite popular teen idol Bryan Davies, who became the first of Weaver's many famous paramours. In fact, it would not be long before her romantic exploits soon became as newsworthy as her film and stage work. By her late teens, she was appearing on Australian television but netting headlines for marrying television director David Price when she was only 18. Four years later, Weaver was plastered across national tabloids for bearing a son, Dylan, with another man while still married to Price. Things only grew more heated after launching a torrid affair with Sydney Theatre Company head Richard Wherrett less than a month after her son's birth; to make matters more complicated, Wherrett was openly gay.
Weaver might have been dismissed as yet another scandal-prone starlet were her screen performances not so skillful. She garnered the first of three Australian Film Institute Awards for 1971's "Stork," a comedy about a headstrong young woman who discovers she is pregnant by one of four possible men, including Bruce Spence's eccentric title character. Director Tim Burstall subsequently cast her in two equally daring and acclaimed features - the sex comedy "Alvin Purple" (1973), which was one of the highest grossing features in Australian movie history, and the drama "Petersen" (1974), with Jack Thompson as a wayward husband and Weaver as his patient wife. The latter was a particular favorite of director Stanley Kubrick. Weaver subsequently appeared as one of the schoolgirls in Peter Weir's "Picnic At Hanging Rock" (1975) before winning a second Australian Film Institute Award as a tragic Depression-era barmaid in "Caddie" (1976).
Weaver's romantic relationship with Wherrett untangled after a mid-1970s miscarriage, and she quickly married sound engineer Max Rensser. However, her personal life was soon immersed in more scandal; journalist Derryn Hinch fell madly in love with her after seeing her in a production of Neil Simon's "They're Playing Our Song," and after publicly courting her via advertisements in an Adelaide newspaper, the couple married in 1982. Their union was marked with remarkable upswings, most notably acclaimed performances on stage in "Born Yesterday," as well as periods of deep trauma. An investigation into a priest accused of child abuse led to Hinch being jailed for contempt of court and death threats lobbed at Weaver. The death of both parents and a health scare involving her son exacerbated a growing dependency on alcohol; by 1998, Weaver had left Hinch for South African actor Sean Taylor. In 2001, she nursed Wherrett as he succumbed to AIDS-related complications. During this whirlwind period, she remained active in films and on television and stage, most notably as a mental patient in the musical drama "Cosi" (1996), but the alcohol and depression that set in after Wherrett's death had taken much of her indomitable spirit. In 2005, she published her autobiography, Much Love, Jac, which took a no-prisoners attitude towards her life and loves.
Director David Michod brought Weaver back into the public eye with "Animal Kingdom," a powerful drama about a vicious underworld family in Melbourne headed by its matriarch, Smurf, who rules her thuggish sons by force of will and a signature kiss on the lips that bears as much threat as unwholesome affection. Critics lined up to praise Weaver, who received the strongest international reviews of the year, as well as the lion's share of prizes, including the National Board of Review, awards from the Los Angeles and San Francisco Film Critics Circles, and her third Australian Film Institute Award. In December 2010, she was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actress in a Drama and a month later, an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Following her triumphant comeback role, Weaver found new life breathed into her career and began landing roles in Hollywood with more frequency. After co-starring opposite Jason Segal and Emily Blunt in the Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy "The Five-Year Engagement" (2012), Weaver appeared in David O. Russell's critically acclaimed bittersweet comedy, "Silver Linings Playbook" (2012), where she played mother to bipolar Bradley Cooper, who engages in an unusual friendship with a young widow (Jennifer Lawrence) while dealing with his Philadelphia Eagles-obsessed father (Robert De Niro). For her nuanced work in the film, Weaver received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Cast (Feature Film)
Made television acting debut on Australians series "Wandjina!"
Played small role in Australian TV movie "The Schoolmistress"
First film appearance, Australian documentary "The Naked Bunyip"
Joined cast of Australian series "Matlock Police"
Made feature film acting debut in Tim Burstall's comedy "Stork"
Again collaborated with director Tim Burstall for sex comedy "Alvin Purple"
Co-starred with Jack Thompson in Tim Burstall's drama "Petersen"
Appeared as one of the schoolgirls in Peter Weir¿s "Picnic At Hanging Rock"
Re-teamed with Jack Thompson for "Caddie"
Starred in Neil Simon¿s "They¿re Playing Our Song" at Sydney's Theatre Royal
Co-starred in Australian drama "Squizzy Taylor," based on life of the Melbourne gangster
Gave acclaimed performance in "Born Yesterday" at Sydney Theatre Company
Played a mental patient in musical drama "Cosi"
Published autobiography Much Love, Jac
Appeared in Sydney stage production of Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" alongside Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh
Portrayed the matriarch of a dysfunctional crime family in David Michôd's "Animal Kingdom"
Made U.S. film debut in "The Five-Year Engagement," starring Emily Blunt and Jason Segel
Played the long-suffering mother of Bradley Cooper's character in David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook"
Cast opposite Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska in drama thriller "Stoker"