The Transformation Of Rachel Weisz From Childhood To 51 Years Old

Rachel Weisz never rushed into her career. At age 15, the A-list actor turned down an early offer to appear on a film next to none other than Richard Gere in favor of having a normal teenage life, according to The Guardian. To this day, she tries to keep her distance; Weisz is not on social media and very little is exposed about her personal life. But the spotlight is just where she was meant to be. "I wasn't burning to act. It was something which came later on. It just came my way," Weisz told The Guardian.

The British actor did everything at her own pace, kicking off her career in independent films and theater until she had her big break in "The Mummy" (1999) when she was almost 30. The roles just kept piling on and it wouldn't be long until her skills earned her an Oscar and a Golden Globe, both for her portrayal of a passionate activist in "The Constant Gardner" (2005). Weisz has seemingly perfected the art of balancing box-office successes – like "The Bourne Legacy" (2012) — with critically acclaimed roles that allow her to explore the depth of her skills, including "Disobedience" (2017) and "The Favourite" (2018).

In the decades Weisz has been in the biz, she has kept us on our toes with her wide-range of characters and genres. She has also grown and evolved along with her career. Keep scrolling to check out her inspiring transformation over the years!

She is the daughter of Jewish refugees

Rachel Weisz was raised in the prestigious Hampstead Garden Suburb in London, but her origins trace back to Central Europe. According to The Jewish Chronicle, George Weisz hailed from Hungary while Edith Ruth Weisz was originally from Austria, both of whom were Jews whose families moved to the U.K. right before World War II broke out. Despite often being called an "English rose," Rachel always felt a bit different from her peers. "They come from somewhere else. They're bringing a different culture. Even though they were children, the food, the sensibilities were very middle/east European. So being at home, it was different than going round to the parents of [friends]. I felt they were different," she told the publication.

George was a medical inventor and Edith Ruth a psychotherapist who shared an interest in the arts. They encouraged Rachel and her sister, Minnie, to engage in family debates to sharpen their critical sense, per the Evening Standard. "They are very opinionated and they always encouraged debate at home. Other people might think it was arguing but we are always involved in some kind of discussion about everything, and were all very passionate," she said.

Rachel found some success as a young model, being featured in the British magazine Harpers & Queen by the time she was 14, The New York Times noted. But all in all, she lived a normal teenaged life!

Rachel Weisz earned an English degree from the University of Cambridge

Rachel Weisz's parents wanted her to pursue a career in law (remember those at-home debates?), but she opted for an English degree instead, as the Evening Standard pointed out. Weisz wasn't a particularly good student for most of her teenage years, which caused her to be expelled from the private school she attended, according to The New York Times. "I was absolutely not paying attention, and I was not deferent," Weisz said. Faced with the possibility of failing to be accepted into good colleges, she put in a lot of effort her senior year and got her grades up enough to snag a spot at the University of Cambridge, per NYT.

It was during her time as an English student at university that Weisz began to act, per the Trinity Hall Cambridge website. She co-founded a theatre company, Talking Tongues, to fuel her newfound passion. "I hadn't been the shining light, but I was still burning to pursue this profession. And then, with Talking Tongues, a plan was hatched," Weisz told The New York Times Magazine in 2006. After the group won the student award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Weisz began to get parts in TV, film, and theater. She had her film debut on the BBC "Dirty Something" in 1992 and in 1993 she shared the screen with Ewan McGregor in the BBC's period drama "Scarlet and Black." 

It wouldn't be long before she started getting recognition.

She won her first major award in 1994

1994 was a big year for Rachel Weisz. She starred in her first not-made-for-TV film, "Death Machine," and won a Critics' Circle Theatre Award for her role in the 1994 revival of Noël Coward's "Design for Living," putting her firmly on the map. Two years later, she was sharing the screen with Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman in the sci-fi thriller "Chain Reaction," and being directed by the iconic Bernardo Bertolucci in "Stealing Beauty," Liv Tyler's breakthrough film. 

Weisz shot to stardom, however, when she landed the role of English Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan opposite Brendan Fraser in "The Mummy" (1999). The film doesn't rank very high on critics' list of great movies, with Variety criticizing director Stephen Sommers for the actors' "broad, undisciplined performances." But "The Mummy" was a box-office treasure (pun intended) that grossed about $416 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo, more than five times its $80 million budget! The film's success led to a sequel, "The Mummy Returns," in 2001, which went on to gross $433 million worldwide, per Box Office Mojo.

2001 also marked the year Weisz met filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, igniting a relationship that prompted her to pack up her things and move to the U.S. in 2002, per The Telegraph. They welcomed a son, Henry, in 2006, one year after the couple announced their engagement, per BBC. They never tied the knot, though, and officially split in 2010, per People.

Earning A-list status

Rachel Weisz was already successful, but "The Constant Gardener" in 2005 earned her a definitive spot on Hollywood's A-list. She portrayed Tessa, the ill-fated wife of a British diplomat in Kenya, played by Ralph Fiennes. The Guardian deemed Weisz and Fiennes's performances to be "excellent, perhaps the very best of their careers." The BBC was similarly impressed with her portrayal of the passionate political activist. "Weisz is exceptional: film star charisma coupled with raw emotion in a performance to fall in love with." It is no wonder Weisz took home both the Oscar and the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress!

Weisz knew that this role could change the direction of her career. So much so that she went out of pocket to London to meet its director Fernando Meirelles in person and followed up their meeting with personal letters, according to The New York Times Magazine. "I was passionate about this project. Parts like Tessa don't come along very often. It was agony waiting to hear because it meant so much to me," Weisz told the magazine. She knew it was important! 

Weisz's subsequent projects became more complex and ambitious, including "The Fountain," a surreal feature written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, who was Weisz's fiancé then, and Alejandro Amenábar's award-winning historical drama "Agora" in 2009.

Balancing her acting career and her family with Daniel Craig

After her thunderous success with "The Constant Gardener," Rachel Weisz continued to hone her skills — while also starring in commercial successes. In 2011, she starred in "The Deep Blue Sea" opposite Tom Hiddleston, a film that ranked among the top 10 of the year by both The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. For her performance, Weisz won the New York Film Critics Circle Awards and Toronto Film Critics Association for best actress and was recognized with a Golden Globe nomination.

Weisz was also being recognized for her work on stage. In 2010, she won the Laurence Olivier Awards for best actress in a play for her interpretation of Blanche DuBois in Rob Ashford's revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire." That was also the year she met Daniel Craig, whom she married in a "secret ceremony" that included her son, his daughter, and two other guests in June 2011, as Huffington Post noted at the time. In 2011, Weisz also became a naturalized American citizen, while maintaining her British citizenship. Weisz and Craig welcomed their first child together, a daughter, in 2018, according to The Independent.

Despite her growing family, Weisz shows no sign of slowing down. In 2018, she starred in the iconic "The Favourite," which earned her Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. This July, she's also starring in Marvel's "Black Widow." She's mastered the art of balancing critical and commercial projects!