Rachel Weisz: Audiences are not used to seeing miscarriages portrayed on screen

Rachel Weisz has spoken about her own experience of having a miscarriage as she admitted she was surprised by some viewers’ averse reaction to the exploration of the topic in her TV series Dead Ringers.

The Oscar-winning actress, 53, portrays identical twin gynaecologists Elliot and Beverly Mantle, who aim to push the boundaries on medical ethics to challenge outdated practices and bring women’s healthcare to the forefront, in the Prime psychological thriller

The show, which is a modern take on David Cronenberg’s 1988 film of the same name, delves into female health and the challenges it brings including infertility and miscarriage.

Speaking on The News Agents podcast about what she thought of people’s reactions, she said: “I think I probably was surprised because I was just telling this story about the female experience, and it didn’t seem to have been like heightened or overdramatised.

“There isn’t music to make it more dramatic, it is quite simple and photographed in quite a straightforward way. So yes, I was surprised.

“Women have miscarriages, I’ve had a miscarriage, so you suddenly see blood coming out of your body and these are just all part of a female experience of being alive.

“So we’re not used to it. I think we’re not used to seeing any of those things being represented cinematically or fictionally. So maybe this is breaking some new ground, this show.”

Weisz has two children: a daughter with her husband, Bond star Daniel Craig, and a son with her former partner, US filmmaker Darren Aronofsky.

Reflecting on the criticism of the show’s portrayal of childbirth and loss, she added: “I think we’ve gotten very used to watching portrayals of men who tie up, strangle, dismember, rape women and that’s just a kind of ordinary TV show.

“You know, Silence of the Lambs in the 90s, a man who has thrown women into a pit and was fattening them up so he could then take off their skins and make a new body for himself.

“I think there’s a vast cinematic language in many different tones about violence, about death, about shooting, about legs coming off, blood spurting… In fictional representations, we’re just completely used to that.

“Murder, death, violence, gore, spurting blood, young women being tied up, raped, beaten – but seeing a baby’s head come out of a woman, either through a C-section through her belly, or from her vagina is… That’s just the female experience. I mean, for women that do have babies.”

Weisz went on to discuss US socio-political issues including gun laws and abortion.

“The right (wing) in America want to deregulate absolutely everything except for women’s bodies,” she said.

“It seems to be the only place that the government are totally interfering, and guns. Guns and uteruses – it sounds like the name of a really bad rock band.”

The Favourite Premiere – 62nd BFI London Film Festival
Rachel Weisz attending the UK premiere of The Favourite at the BFI Southbank (David Parry/PA)

Asked about the hypocrisy of anti-abortion activists who support the death penalty in the US, she added: “Both ends of life have different rules, it is very strange.

“Children… have to be born but there’s going to be no free health care for them… and now every day, there seems to be more and more of a chance that you might get shot by an assault rifle at school.

“You can take life at the end of life; the government can choose to say you deserve to die. But at the beginning of life a woman has no choice. How do you rationalise that?”

Weisz became a household name after starring opposite Brendan Fraser in blockbuster The Mummy, won an Oscar for her role in The Constant Gardener, and has starred in a string of acclaimed films including The Favourite, The Lobster, About A Boy and Black Widow.

Listen to the full interview with Rachel Weisz on The News Agents podcast on Global Player.