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Twenty-two months after giving birth to her first baby, Oscar winner and self-professed tomboy Rachel Weisz is back full swing as an actress, juggling motherhood with roles ranging from boozy vixen to ancient philosopher.
The 37-year-old British beauty recently wrapped production on “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the best-selling novel “The Lovely Bones,” due next year, and is currently appearing in “My Blueberry Nights.”
Later this year, Weisz will be seen opposite another Oscar winner, Adrien Brody, and Mark Ruffalo in con-artist comedy “The Brothers Bloom.”
Weisz began her postpartum return to acting in the summer of 2006, only weeks after giving birth to son Henry Chance, fathered by her filmmaker fiance Darren Aronofsky (“Pi,” “Requiem for a Dream.”)
The result was a juicy supporting role in the art-house film “Blueberry Nights,” featuring Grammy-winning singer Norah Jones in her movie debut as a lovelorn woman on a journey of self-discovery.
Weisz portrays a character Jones encounters along the way — the seductive, hard-drinking estranged wife of an alcoholic cop, who is played by “Good Night, and Good Luck” star David Strathairn.
The film marked the English-language debut of Hong Kong-based filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai, who Weisz counts as one of her favorite directors, and afforded her an ideal chance to ease back to work after a brief maternity leave.
“It was 2 1/2 months after I’d had a baby, so it was kind of perfect,” Weisz said in a phone interview from Malta, where she is now shooting the historical epic “Agora.” “It was five, six days in Memphis (where her ‘Blueberry’ scenes were shot) and working with one of my all-time heroes.”
Muddling through on MaltaWeisz said she brings her son with her on location but has had to adjust to demands of balancing diapers and directors.
“You muddle through and figure it out and get exhausted and keep muddling through,” she said. “I just joined the ranks of millions of working mums out there and I have great respect for them because there is a lot of juggling to do.”
“Blueberry Nights” is one of numerous plum jobs Weisz said have come her way since she won the Academy Award as best supporting actress for her 2005 portrait of a determined social activist and diplomat’s wife in “The Constant Gardener,” based on the John le Carre novel.
“I’ve been offered more interesting roles with incredibly interesting directors and I’m sure the Oscar has a lot to do with that,” said the actress, who first gained wide notice in the 1999 blockbuster remake of “The Mummy.”
In “Agora,” from Chilean director Alejandro Amenabar, she is cast as the astrologer-philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria, who fights to save the collected wisdom of the ancient world amid the rise of Christianity around 300 A.D.
For “The Lovely Bones,” adapted from the Alice Sebold novel, Weisz and Mark Wahlberg co-star as parents devastated by the murder of their young daughter, who continues to watch over her family from heaven.
Weisz plays a lighter role, that of a wealthy but sheltered heiress who turns the tables on a pair of sibling con artists in “The Brothers Bloom,” due for release in October.
Weisz, the London-born daughter of Jewish parents who fled Nazi-occupied Hungary and Austria, has come a long way since performing in her own Cambridge University stage troupe.
But she said she remains a tomboy at heart — not too far removed from the willful young girl who enjoyed climbing trees and resisted wearing dresses or combing her hair.
“Hollywood’s about dressing up and that’s fun,” Weisz said. “I kind of enjoy dressing up ... (But) right now I’m in jeans and sneakers and ready to scale a tree. I don’t think that ever goes away. The tomboy doesn’t go away.”
Neither will her passion for her acting. “I feel like I just started and hopefully I’m going to be acting when I’m an old lady,” she said.