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Australian Story -

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BARRY OTTO, PRESENTER: Hello, I'm Barry Otto. For the past 30 years Jacki Weaver has been a
colleague and a very dear friend. She is one of Australia's best loved and most endearing actors.
But as she revealed in a rare and candid interview with Australian Story a few years ago, the
passion and tragedy on screen have sometimes been eclipsed by the dramas in her private life. Now
at 63 she is playing out a remarkable third act, having been nominated for best supporting actress
at the Oscars next week. This is Jacki Weaver's story.

AWARD ANNOUNCER: The 2010 nominees for best performance by an actress in a supporting role are...
Jacki Weaver.

NEWSREADER: Actress Jacki Weaver is one of five Australians in the running for an Academy Award
this year with her first Oscar nomination.

NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: To see Jacki Weaver, who I grew up watching, I think it says it doesn't
matter what age you are you can suddenly have a big break, you know, where you can suddenly have
international fame.

JACKI WEAVER, ACTRESS: It's very exciting for me because it's something that was totally unexpected
and not on my agenda at all and it feels fantastic.

NEWSREADER: Weaver's up for best supporting actress as a crime family matriarch in the acclaimed
Australian film Animal Kingdom.

JACKI WEAVER (At award ceremony): I've been saying I thought it's the twilight of my career but it
seems it's only the mid-afternoon of it.

ROD WEAVER, BROTHER: Well Jacki's done about 15 films I think but she's done over 100 stage roles
doing everything from the classics to the most serious of roles to great comedic roles as well.
Animal Kingdom, well it's just an amazing icing on the cake after 48 years of slogging it away.

JACKI WEAVER: It's lovely to know that a lot of people think I'm still relevant. It's lovely to
know that I chose the right career (Laughs).

JEREMY SIMS, DIRECTOR: I really like actors to be proactive, quick thinking, and I just thought,
god, wouldn't it be amazing if we could get Jacki Weaver? I really didn't think she would be
interested and she said yes on the spot, you know? Jacki creates a character in about a second, I
think, in her head - incredibly intelligent, incredibly imaginative. And Jacki has a classic clown
face, which means when she smiles, her whole face lights up. You have someone who can make you cry
or laugh in two seconds flat and that's a gift she has.

JACKI WEAVER: Elocution lessons are what started it off when I was about six or seven. My first
professional job, for 30 pounds a week, was Cinderella, opposite Brian Davies. I was still at
school, and he was the prince, Prince Charming, and he was a big heart-throb at the time. I love my
work but love comes first. I think I've always been a bit like a man when it comes to matters of
the heart. I just... take what I want. I married a lovely man when I was a teenager. David Price,
his name was. We split up and I took up with a man nearly 30 years older than I - John Walters. And
then I got pregnant when I was 22 with my son Dylan. And I wasn't married to John Walters, and so
there were headlines saying "Jacki's love baby".

(Excerpt from interview, ABC TV, 1970)

REPORTER: Can I first ask you about your attitude to love outside of marriage?

JACKI WEAVER: It's the same as love inside a marriage, surely. Marriage is just a formality that we
go through. In fact, I'm getting more and more against marriage since my so-called "situation".

(End of excerpt)

JACKI WEAVER: And I never did marry Dylan's father. And when Dylan was about two is when I fell in
love with Richard Wherrett. In fact, I met Richard when Dylan was three-weeks-old and was
immediately attracted to him. A lot of people used to say he was aloof, but I never found that. We
struck a rapport straight away. But it wasn't until about 18 months later that we fell in love and
ran away to London together. He was one of those people who could laugh till they cried. I think
all love relationships, you have to share the same sense of laughter - laugh at the same things.
And apart from that, he was so beautiful, Richard Wherrett. He was so physically, heart-stoppingly
attractive.

ROD WEAVER, BROTHER: When Jacki met Richard, I suppose it was a nice, happy circumstance that there
was this new vital explosion of Australian drama. And Richard was at the forefront of it. His
ability as a director was very early apparent.

RICHARD WHERRETT, FORMER PARTNER (Archival footage): We wanted a theatre that would be primarily
concerned with mounting Australian works and a theatre that would be informal...

ROD WEAVER, BROTHER: Richard, and of course John Bell, I suppose, were the two main names in those
days. And I think that Jacki helped Richard as much as Richard helped Jacki. And I think that that
was the great thing too, for Jacki's career, is that because of, not only her relationship with
Richard, but her relationship with this burgeoning new Australian theatre, she became a serious
actress. I can remember her being in the very first production, the first Sydney production that
is, of The Removalists, which was of course the seminal Williamson play. It was a very exciting
time to be around because there was such good stuff being done. And it was also challenging the
social mores of Australia at the time. So there was a political aspect to it.

JACKI WEAVER: I knew Richard was homosexual from the very beginning, but it didn't affect my
falling in love with him. It didn't affect any aspect of our relationship.

ROD WEAVER, BROTHER: Of course there were those who drew on this who wanted to portray it as some
sort of a sham relationship, whether to get at Richard or Jacki or both. I know that hurt them. I
know it hurt Richard very, very deeply.

JACKI WEAVER: As soon as I fell in love with him I read everything I could about homosexuality. And
we would discuss it and he would say, don't you see that there's something about you, too, that's
needy that you fall in love with a man who is homosexual? My guilt about taking Dylan from his
father was enormous and I've never gotten over it to this day. It's one of my greatest regrets.
But, yes, it was a grand passion with Richard Wherrett. I was very much in love with him and he was
with me.

ROD WEAVER, BROTHER: Well, Richard loved Jacki desperately. I think what it gave Richard was a
terrific sense of family, I suppose, in a way, because he, he very much adored Dylan.

JACKI WEAVER: Richard became Dylan's second dad and he was a terrific father. I did want children
with Richard and I actually had a miscarriage with him. I've never been a good breeder,
unfortunately. When I lost the baby we began to have problems in the relationship. And when Richard
finally left I had become friends with Max, my second husband, and began to see him. Richard says
in his book that he and I could never agree on exactly why we broke up. He physically left and
Dylan and I were heartbroken. I think even with the best of intentions, making a heterosexual
relationship work when one of the partners is homosexual is really difficult. And one could nitpick
here and say, well, he must have been bisexual, but it's always been my feeling that... a person is
more one thing than the other. I think I've always come as a package that was in love with Richard
Wherrett. And I think it's a wise man who can accept that. His picture is always on my dressing
table in the theatre or by my bed, and I've been lucky enough to be involved with men since Richard
who've understood that. I met Derryn Hinch when he was editor of the Sydney Sun, and I thought he
was a little bumptious. But I met him again when I was doing a show in Melbourne and he'd lived in
New York for 11 years, so he was full of feminist ideals that you just didn't get with Australian
men back then in the late 70s. And I fell in love with him straight away. I thought he was
adorable, sweet-natured, funny, strong sense of social justice, and a feminist (Laughs). He was
very romantic; lots of flowers and champagne and grand gestures. I went back to Sydney and he
started seeing lots of other women, so I broke off with him.

DERRYN HINCH, FORMER HUSBAND: She got engaged to somebody else and she moved to Adelaide for
They're Playing Our Song. So I bought a full-page ad in the local paper and put the headline "Jacki
Weaver Superstar" and literally I just said, look, I love the play, I love the show and I love
Jacki Weaver. Signed, Derryn Hinch. And that suddenly caused all hell to, all hell broke loose. We
were sitting in a restaurant in Adelaide when she opened the paper and read it. And, as is her wont
when she's nervous, she immediately put a napkin on her head, looking a bit like Mother Teresa,
and, and we were married a month later. Oh, her friends hated it. I used to call them the
greasepaint mafia. They hated me, they really did. And even Richard Wherrett - the late, great - he
was very cautious. And in the end, we had champagne with him once in Sydney one night after a show
and we ended up getting on very well together. But in the early days, nah it was... she was the bit
of porcelain that I wasn't allowed to break. She can play pathos, she can play tragedy, she can
play comedy. She at times can be riddled with self-doubt. A lot would be surprised by it, but the
one word I'd use to describe Jacki Weaver more than anything else, is shy. When I was twice her
size and we started to go out together, she'd almost physically hide behind me at cocktail parties.
We both had good careers. We were earning obscene amounts of money and we lived well, we spent
well, made some bad investment. In the end, lost all of it. But the good thing was we never fought
about it. Her loyalty's amazing. She's painfully loyal. That time, when I was jailed for contempt
of court, was actually tougher on her than on me.

(Excerpt from ABC TV news, 1987)

NEWS READER: Melbourne broadcaster Derryn Hinch has been sentenced to six weeks jail for contempt
of court. Hinch revealed the prior convictions of a former Catholic priest who's still to face
charges of child molesting...

JACKI WEAVER: Nothing's going to be achieved by him going to jail. He's a good, decent man. I mean,
the people that go free, it's a laugh.

(End of excerpt)

JACKI WEAVER: It was an awful time. There were a lot of death threats went with it towards me.

DERRYN HINCH, FORMER HUSBAND: And she actually had police sitting in the audience for her plays.
After one death threat, she was performing in Sydney and I was in Melbourne, and she was escorted
home by police. So, she did it tougher than I did.

JACKI WEAVER: It's uncanny how when you're an actor your life and your work do reflect each other.
I have a tendency to drink too much. There was a period of a few months back in the early 90s when
alcohol really had a grip on me. I am what I would classify, and I know many people would, as an
alcoholic. Most of the time I deal with it. Other times in my life it's been, it's reached crisis
point and I do something about it. When I knew I had a problem was when I was using it to dull the
pain of sadness. I played a dying woman just after my own mother died. That was Shadowlands with
John Bell. And I went on stage and did the whole show drunk. The audience didn't know. I was so
determined that they didn't know, and I stood in the wings and I said, if I can just get through
this show, I will not drink again.

DERRYN HINCH, FORMER HUSBAND: If I had a regret in our time together it would be that I didn't pay
more attention to how depressed she could get. And I didn't realise the depths of it and should
have.

ROD WEAVER, BROTHER: There's a certain openness that she has which in some ways is almost too
vulnerable. Sure, she drinks too much on occasion, but she also stops when she needs to. The early
1990s were difficult. My mother died in 1991 and Dylan had some difficulties. He had a benign
tumour that required a lot of operations. So that was a worry for Jacki, too. Subsequently, my
father died. It was a tough time and I think that it gave Jack a different perspective. I think it
made her decide that she had to find something a little more, if you like, than the glamour of a
sort of a moneyed lifestyle and sort of a shallow, witty approach to life.

JACKI WEAVER: After 12 years, Derryn and I broke up because I ran away with another man.

DERRYN HINCH, FORMER HUSBAND: People say "marriage breakdown". Our relationship was wonderful,
lasted a long, long time. Neither of us believe that it failed. She's an amazing woman. We're dear
friends, still are, we still talk virtually every day. And we just went different ways and yet
still, she stays at my house if she comes to Melbourne etc, etc, and we just, we'll be mates
forever.

(Excerpt from ABC 702 radio program)

JEREMY SIMS: No, no she'll just look downcast and give you a sad face until you give her what she
wants and then she'll give you the biggest smile in the world and the whole room lights up.

RICHARD GLOVER, RADIO PRESENTER: Is this what you used in your long succession of blokes Jacki?

(End of excerpt)

JACKI WEAVER: There's a lot of emphasis on how I've been married a lot and I've had a lot of
boyfriends. But yeah, I still love all my husbands, and most of my ex-boyfriends I'm still very
fond of. Richard and I stayed friends for life.

(Excerpt from ABC 702 radio program)

RICHARD GLOVER: You're such a sport. Isn't she a sport?

(End of excerpt)

BRETT SHEEHY, 2003 SYDNEY FESTIVAL DIRECTOR: I first met Jacki in the early 80s when Richard was
director of Sydney Theatre Company and he introduced her to me as his enduring soul mate. And
certainly when Jacki was around Richard, he was a very different person from how he was in other
milieu. He would completely relax. You could tell instantly that the love between them was
unconditional, especially from Jacki to Richard. I mean, she just kind of loved him unconditionally
and he loved being loved like that, too.

JACKI WEAVER: I found out that Richard was HIV-positive as soon as he did. And it was way back, it
was in the early 80s. And we all thought anyone who was diagnosed would die within a year, and I
was absolutely devastated.

ROD WEAVER, BROTHER: Jacki was always worried about Richard and was constantly in his company. And
Richard, too, doted on Jacki. He dedicated his book to her, and he'd carry around emails and faxes
and what have you. And even his apartment to the end had so much memorabilia reminding him of their
relationship, and Dylan, as well, of course. The thing about Jacki and Richard's relationship was
that it wasn't just like being friends after a relationship has ended. They were still very, very
much in love.

JACKI WEAVER: He told me about a year before he died that things weren't good because his liver was
packing up 'cause he had hepatitis C. And he asked me if I'd look after him and I said, well, you
don't even have to ask, well obviously, I will. And the last time he was admitted to hospital and
the doctor said that this was it, it was going to happen in the next six weeks or so, I just moved
out of the house I was sharing with Peter, my boyfriend, in Paddington, and moved into Richard's
flat. There were dozens of volunteers helping and we had nurses. And he could be pretty unruly, as
a patient - very wilful and naughty sometimes. And he would not go to sleep at night until I'd
gotten home from the theatre, usually around 11:00 - 11:30. And I'd have to get into the bed with
him and stay in the bed with him until he fell asleep. One night I fell out of the bed and the
nurse was very cross 'cause he's a big man and he got quite big as he was dying. He still, he
stayed very handsome. He didn't sort of fade away to a little shadow. He kept his beautiful face.
He asked me to marry him several times over the years and I always said no. But a few months before
he died he wanted to get married and I very nearly acquiesced.

BRETT SHEEHY, 2003 SYDNEY FESTIVAL DIRECTOR: The promise of marrying Jacki, I think gave him
enormous comfort and hope, and he'd have tears streaming down his face, crying as he'd be saying
this, he was just so happy. I think that he actually thought love was more important than anything
he'd done in his life, career, achievements, an AM, whatever. I think what he wanted to say to the
world was, if I die, I'm going to die as a loved man. And I think that, you know, the easiest way
for him to do that was to seal his relationship with the person he had loved longest and deepest in
his life.

JACKI WEAVER: I think to protect Richard, in a way, I didn't, I thought it would look a bit too
bizarre and... it's all very well to say it doesn't matter what people think, but when it comes
down to it we all care what people think.

ROD WEAVER, BROTHER: Maybe it was just the, that fine last ember of romance. It was very, very sad
to watch in the end. But the fact that he still had that burning emotion right to the very end is
also something to rejoice in.

JACKI WEAVER: He planned his death down to the last detail. He wanted to be on the blue couch. He
said all the people he wanted there with him. And we were there with him, holding his hand and
talking him through it. He still had such a strong heart... but... and he died too young, 60 is too
young to die. He didn't want to die... but the dying was hard.

(Excerpt from eulogy)

JACKI WEAVER: Many years ago his mother Lyell said to me, "I know you'll always love Rich," and she
was right, I always have.

(End of excerpt)

JACKI WEAVER: Well, I was relieved that he wasn't suffering anymore. But it was also a monumental
finish to something.

(Excerpt continued)

JACKI WEAVER: As for me it's unbearable to have lost him. I thought he would last forever, I was
wrong, I adore you Richie and miss you so very much.

(End of excerpt)

JACKI WEAVER: Richard was the great love of my life. I think everyone would acknowledge that.
That's not to diminish what I feel for the other men that I love. Jumping into work and working
hard is pretty good therapy for grief. It's ironic, isn't it? I was in a play called Soul Mates and
I'd just lost a soul mate. And I did enjoy doing that. It gave me a focus not to wallow and be
miserable about Richard being dead. There's a new man in my life now and he's a South African actor
of some note. And his name is Sean Taylor and things are good. We get along very well. He's very
good to me.

ROD WEAVER, BROTHER: In a personal sense I think the last eight years for Jacki have been very
rewarding. She's been settled. She married Sean in 2003. And her son Dylan and his lovely wife Maki
have made her a grandmother twice over, two gorgeous children. As far as her professional career is
concerned, well she's been in constant work, and now here we are, a burgeoning new career with
international representation and what have you with Animal Kingdom. I think Richard is always in
Jacki's thoughts and particularly with this success he would have been extraordinarily proud, he
would have been very, very happy for her. But I also think that the lovely thing is that Richard
would also be just as excited with what's happened in her personal life.

JACKI WEAVER: Love is all that matters. That's what I believe. I think that I look more to the
future than the past. I regret that my parents aren't still around and Richard, but, otherwise,
I've got a lot to be grateful for. I'm a very lucky woman.

END CAPTIONS:

Jacki Weaver has already received several major international awards for her role in Animal
Kingdom.

The Academy Award winners will be announced next week.