“I’m so weird,” Sigourney Weaver laughs at the press conference for Political Animals, the USA Network’s six-part series that will be the veteran film actress’ first regular TV role. And it’s not a small one. Starting Sunday night, Weaver will take on the lead role of Elaine Barrish Hammond, a former first lady whose unsuccessful bid for the presidency leads to a wildly popular run as Secretary of State, all while her family faces trials from a philandering husband to a drug and alcohol addicted, suicidal son.
While one can’t help but draw a stark character resemblance between Elaine and current Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Weaver says she didn’t base the character off the former presidential candidate and first lady, instead taking inspiration closer to home in the form of her former headmistress. In her command of the role it helps that Weaver isn’t a stranger to politics.
“My father was Governor (Nelson) Rockefeller’s campaign manager,” Weaver explained. “I actually worked on Capitol Hill and campaigned for Rocky to get the nomination as opposed to Nixon. That summer in Washington made me feel cynical about the system and that was the 1970s. Actually, I’ve always been one to do very cause-related things. For me, it’s not so much about candidates, but about issues.”
But as much as Weaver may have a political passion on par with Elaine, that’s where the similarities end.
“And Elaine is so… You know how people in school are elected to office,” said Weaver. “I was never that person. Elaine was always that person. I’m the freak looking at her. If it was The Parent Trap, she’d be the girl scout and I’d be the goblin. That’s how I look at Elaine, but I love putting on her clothes and playing her.”
Political Animals premieres Sunday at 10/9c on USA Networks.