Robin Weigert on playing the lesbian housewife with a double life in “Concussion”

Robin Weigert may not be a household name yet, but she should be. The actress has had roles in many of your favorite shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Chicago Fire, Sons of Anarchy, and many more.  She even received an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Calamity Jane in Deadwood.

However, it is her role in the soon to be released film Concussion, that will propel her into the spotlight like never before. Weigert plays Abby, a suburban lesbian housewife who steps outside her marriage and into a whole new world of awakenings, sexually and otherwise. Weigert plays the role masterfully. She is a true actor’s actor, with an absolute dedication to the craft and to story.  I had the pleasure of speaking with her recently about the film, and she blew me away with her thoughtful, powerfully insightful responses.

NewFest 2013 Opening Night Screening Of "Concussion" I saw Concussion and I thought it was incredible. It just works in some many ways. Your wonderful portrayal of Abby/Eleanor, the powerful script, the ensemble.  What initially drew you to the film?

Robin Weigert: God, just her incredible arc. There’s an amazing journey there. From the very disassociated state at the beginning to this full return into her body, and then whatever the grappling with the consequences would be. I love how that is left as an open-ended thing. And I love how far outside the box she goes in a way but also how she’s seemingly she’s just putting one foot in front of the other.

There’s a kind of language: all she’s doing is trying to walk. And she walks into all that trouble. I mean she’s just trying to find her way and I think it’s wonderful when a script can kind of accomplish something where you almost don’t even know what’s happening and suddenly you’re deep, deep in. I was drawn to the idea that there’s this hunger, that’s super, super tamped down, but then inevitably rises up to claim her. She can’t really do anything but track it, follow it, let it lead her.

It’s almost like a mid-life, adolescent moment where as much as you might wish to be the good daughter or the good son, this thing that’s risen up within you is claiming you anyway.  It’s kind of what’s happening to her in the middle of her life.

I think that’s what happens to a lot of people in the middle of their lives, especially when they are entrenched in a marriage that deeply doesn’t fulfill them in some way but they think they love. That’s pretty much any marriage [laughs] along the way. It’s very rare indeed that two people can meet each other’s deepest needs for the whole long haul, of a long, long marriage. Especially when there are children in the mix. I love that it’s a story about—well it’s a character study in a way—but it’s also a story about marriage that’s told through a same-sex vehicle.

You don’t, as an audience member, have the luxury of being able to apply gender stereotypes to different roles.  You don’t say, well of course a man hits middle age and he always wants to run off with the secretary because how can a wife possibly be there for him sexually. Or a woman hits middle age and her husband isn’t paying enough attention to her, so she goes off and finds a man because she needs validation. You can’t apply those old tropes to this story because it’s a woman and a woman. You have to look at it as a human story and I think that’s why it speaks to a broader audience. It really doesn’t let you off the hook about the complexity of managing a marriage. Period. Full stop, you know?