Jacqueline Ruth Weaver, most commonly known as Jacki Weaver, was born on 25th May, 1947, in Hurstville, Sydney, Australia. Her mother, Edith, was a Northern England immigrant who married Arthur Weaver, a solicitor. From a young age their daughter showed a desire and almost a need to act. There are a number of carrying stories how Jacki found her way to into the industry. One is about her winning a cruise ship talent contest at the age of 2 1/2. Another is about her being kicked out of Brownies for sneaking off to watch an Esther Williams festival and lastly an elocution teacher she had at the age of nine simply stated that she was born to act.
After finishing school at Hornsby Girls’ High School she desired to be a pop star releasing a cover of ‘Something’s Got a Hold on Me’ which was disastrous, selling a mere 159 copies. But her talents would shine on stage and her fame would be increased not just from her skill as an actress but from her numerous and often capricious relationships as well.
Jacki Weaver’s career is an interesting one not for the roles she has played but for when she was playing them. Her first role was in Stork (1971), one of the first commercially successful films of the Australian cinema revival, or New Wave films. She then was in Alvin Purple (1973), the most successful Australian film at the time, taking the box office record from They’re a Weird Mob (1966). In Alvin Purple she had the casting title of ‘Second Sugar Girl’, a role where she appeared in the nude when persuaded with $500 by director Tim Burstell. She was also in Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), which was one of the first Australian films to gain an international audience, and Caddie (1976) again with Jack Thompson after they played opposite each other in Petersen (1974). She did few other films before she left the screen for 15 years which was Cosi (1996). She returned to film for the acclaimed movie Animal Kingdom (2010), by David Michôd, playing the psychotic matriarch of a Melbourne crime family. She would earn an Oscar nomination in 2011 for her role and squarely put herself back in Hollywood’s mind after 48 years in the business. What is interesting about her film career is that it has seemed to follow the rise of creative Australian film talents, with the likes of Peter Weir, Tim Burstell and George Miller in the 1970’s and in the 80’s. She again gives her skill to the emerging Australian scene now which sees the likes of David Michôd, Joel and Nash Edgerton and others from Blue Tongue Films and Australia.
As noted as she was on-screen and stage, her private life has often made the headlines. Before Paris Hilton was famous for being famous, Jacki Weaver could have claimed that title. Her first stage appearance was in Cinderella at age 15. From there she started a relationship with Bryan Davies, a TV star and pop singer. Following that she met David Price whom she married after one date when she was only 18. She even did a spread in Women’s Weekly where in the same edition she talked about her relationship with Bryan Davies and her up-coming marriage to David Price in separate articles. The marriage ended after two years when she had an affair with an English fellow, John Walters, who was 30 years her senior, her resultant son, Dylan, made headlines for being born out of wed lock in 1970. Her marriage was one filled with amphetamines, so much so that she fell asleep next to ex-PM Gough Whitlam at a black tie event. She swore off drugs after finding herself on a cliff face believing she could fly. Her son saved her with the words, “don’t be ridiculous, there’s no way you can fly.” He was four.
Her most lasting relationship was with Richard Wherrett, a theatre director. Although he was a homosexual they had a relationship that lasted until his death in 2001 from hepatitis C, it was one filled with love on both sides and one could argue of kindred spirits. The relationship did end at one point in the early days; she then was with boom operator Max Hessener whom she met on the set of The Removalists (1975). She left Max while he was away in England for producer Phil Davies. Four years after that break up she met media personality Derryn Hinch and they had a marriage that lasted 12 years. He won her over when she was performing in Adelaide with a $5,000 ad declaring his love for the play and for her. She was called to the bedside of Richard Wherrett – leaving a boyfriend in Paddington to do so – as he lay dying, she stayed with him for weeks and through his death. She met South African actor Sean Taylor in 2002 on the ironic named theatre production Soul Mates and have married since.
She was sexually abused from the ages of 7 to 11 by a family friend who baby-sat for the family. She then claims that she was sexually active at 12. Although a number of people would look at that abuse and connect it to her long list of sexual partners/relationships, she doesn’t, these days, worry about that part of her past. Although it did affect her during her 20’s, where she thought about physically harming him, he is now dead. She, meanwhile, is about to start a revival of her film career… much like the Australian film industry around her.
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