In her latest film The Mercy, Rachel Weisz stars as Clare Crowhurst, the wife of an amateur sailor and part-time inventor, Donald Crowhurst [played by Colin Firth], who attempts to become the first person to circumnavigate the word, single-handedly, without stopping. It's a film she felt compelled to do, but she also concedes she'd never be such an intrepid adventurer herself.
"It's an extraordinary achievement, if you can do it, or if you attempt to do it. But I certainly wouldn't even try because I have no desire to circumnavigate the world, climb a mountain or trek across Antarctica," she says, shaking her head animatedly.
"That's the last thing I'd like to do. It would be my idea of hell!"
If such an epic adventure is Rachel's idea of travel hell, then her idea of travel heaven is something that Kiwis can relate to.
"New Zealand is pretty heavenly! I was there not that long ago. We were based for a lot of time in Dunedin and stayed on the Otago Peninsula, which was just sublime. We also went to Queenstown for a few days, which was lovely. On the way to Queenstown, there's that incredible road – Skippers Canyon, I think it's called – which was just extraordinary."
While on her Kiwi jaunt to film scenes for the 2016 film The Light Between Oceans, Rachel (48) sampled some of the finer things New Zealand has to offer, including local delicacies and bottles of our best wine – but admits that the adrenaline capital of the world didn't tempt her to try out any extreme activities.
"No, I didn't do any of the things that Queenstown's renowned for, like paragliding or bungee jumping! I'm just not into that kind of thing. I'm more into going for a walk – but not a hike – doing a bit of yoga and Pilates to keep fit. You have to do that if you're an actor, just like if you're an athlete because your body is your tool and you can't paint with anything else, apart from your body. So I like to do that to stay in shape.
"I like skiing too – and I discovered New Zealand has some great mountains for skiing. I also discovered New Zealand has some great wines," she adds, smiling.
"I love going out for dinner with friends, sharing a nice bottle of wine and just having a good chat."
Her stay in Aotearoa was far too brief, Rachel concedes, sighing. But while she would have loved to have stayed longer and seen more, she insists that she doesn't usually spend more than a few weeks away on holiday, because of work and family commitments, and wouldn't condone her hubby, Bond star Daniel Craig (50), disappearing for a few months, like her onscreen partner Colin Firth does in The Mercy.
"No, I definitely wouldn't let him disappear like that," she asserts.
"But also it's completely different for us because we're both actors so we often go off for a few months to work. But it's not life-threatening or dangerous when we do. There's nothing about my life or marriage that I can compare to the Crowhursts' – it's nothing like sailing round the world, single-handedly, when you've never sailed properly before!"
She reveals that although she has great respect and admiration for anyone attempting such epic adventures, citing Ernest Shackleton and Sir Edmund Hillary's endeavours alongside those of Donald Crowhurst, she doesn't feel compelled to follow in their footsteps in order to prove a point or make her son Henry (11) proud of her.
"As a parent, I just can't relate to that so much. My son just wants me to be his mum. And I don't need to be a hero for him – well, I already am because I'm his mum and that's just how he sees me. But I certainly don't need to go off travelling for months or leave him behind to prove anything," she asserts passionately.
"That's not something I feel the need to do, to prove anything to him! Sorry, but I do get very excited about things," she adds, hurriedly composing herself. "It's because I'm ruled by my heart, not my head – when it comes to roles and life, in general, that's pretty much true, for better or worse!
"That's why I prefer parts where I'm front and centre, rather than in the background, because then you can be heard, rather than just be wallpaper, hidden in the background."
With 2018 marking the centenary of women finally getting the vote in Britain, Rachel says she'd probably be front and centre if she had been a suffragette back in 1918.
"I'd like to hope I would have been because I'm quite strong- willed! Those women were so brave, standing up to be counted. They risked their lives! I'd like to imagine I would too."
Somehow, you get the feeling that Rachel Weisz would.
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