Rachel Weisz: The Experience of Motherhood 'Can't Be Transferred'

01/16/2010 at 02:00 PM ET
Nick Sadler/Startraks

There was never a role that Rachel Weisz felt was out of her reach as an actress — that is, until she became a mother.

“I’ve placed myself in many hypothetical situations through acting, but motherhood is real life. It’s an experience that can’t be transferred,” she tells Reader’s Digest. “I can get a general idea of some things — losing a child, for instance. But being an actual mother? No, that’s impossible to imagine.”

Calling motherhood “a purely empirical experience,” Rachel is convinced that the only way to truly understand the bond between mother and child is to live through the journey. “It is one of the very few unimaginable experiences that you have to live to fully understand,” she explains.

“And I mean the entire process: the pregnancy, the delivery. Becoming a mother is a fantastic experience!”

Her life with fiancé Darren Aronofsky and their son Henry Chance, 3 ½, has enabled Rachel — who believes people must learn to “separate fiction from reality” — to create a safe haven once her working day is done. Her ability to do so was even more poignant in her latest film The Lovely Bones, in which Rachel takes on the role of a mother dealing with her child’s murder.

“Had I been offered the role of a mother whose child was murdered [when I was younger], I’d have ended up deeply depressed,” she admits. “At this point in my career…I’ve learned to focus on fiction and then return to reality.”

And while acting may have Rachel conjuring up emotions most would shy away from, the 39-year-old’s profession has provided her with “greater freedom” as a mother. Noting that the majority of working Americans “spend most of their time at work,” Rachel is grateful for her flexible schedule that includes ample time with Henry.

“Actors get longer breaks and when we do work, our children can visit us on the set. I have never lived any other life, but motherhood has been quite manageable for me.”

The Lovely Bones is in theaters now.

Source: Reader’s Digest

— Anya

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Jane on

I didn’t like the comment that the Journey of motherhood must include the pregnancy and delivery. The women who adopt are experiencing the same journey, also those who turned to surrogacy too.

Dasche Bledsoe on

I agree with Jane. I think that’s very inconsiderate for her to say when there are tons of women who can’t have children of their own and experience the birth and pregnancy because of this or that, it doesn’t make them any less of a mother when they adopt a child.

diana on

HUh??? what experience can be transferred? if you have never fallen in love can you imagine what it feels like? if your parents are alive can you know what it is to be an orphan? what about going blind? or being given a terminal diagnosis?

why is motherhood unique?

all this mystic motherhood carry-on is just ridiculous. all lives contain intense, wonderful, heartbreaking moments… that are essentially unknowable in the specifics yet universal at a much deeper level.

babyrama on

I knew readers would be upset about the pregnancy comment, and of course other kinds of moms feel just as strong a bond I am sure, but the experience of pregnancy and delivery is unique and it definitely adds something to the bond that you can’t just sweep under the rug and say is irrelevant. The body connection that takes place is truly unique. And she is right, motherhood is different–of course we can imagine ourselves in other places, but I can’t describe the change that takes place in you when you become a mom–your heart changes, opens, and your emotional reactions to so many different events are different from your pre-motherhood ones in a way that I just don’t think you can imagine or predict until you go through the experience.

erika on

“I can get a general idea of some things — losing a child, for instance.”

Ha! This may be the dumbest thing I have heard a celebrity utter in a LONG time. Until you have lost a child, you have NO IDEA what it is like to lose a child. I am sorry. You just can’t even imagine…

This interview is a landmine of things she should not have said. I understand why some are offended by her pregnancy and motherhood statements. I am offended that she could think that she could REMOTELY understand the pain of losing a child.

I have twins who died as babies, and let me just tell ya, Rachel…I doubt any kind of method acting could put you in my place…

Dasche Bledsoe on

I agree Erica. I’m sorry about your babies 😦

Elle on

Erika I agree, that was the most careless comment I have ever heard. Like losing a child could ever be something that one could imagine, c’mon. NO ONE and I mean no one can even remotely grasp losing a child until they lose one. period.
I lost my daughter as an infant and I can tell you no amount of sympathy/empathy can prepare a person to remotely understand the pain until you are personally subjected to it.

JMO on

I don’t think Rachel worded her comments very well.

I can see how they can come across arrogant. But I do kind of get what she’s saying. Pregnancy and giving birth is something that you have to experience to understand what it’s like to go through THAT particular process of motherhood but it doesn’t mean that if you adopt that you love or feel less connected to the child. The child just came to you in a different way.

And her comment about imaginging losing a child. Of course anyone could imagine the horror it must feel to lose a child but obviusly not one person knows the true heartache until it happens. But anyone of us could think about how unimaginable that must be and how awful it feels to even try and grasp that thought. As an actress she had to find a way to put herself in those shoes of women who sadly have lost their child.

CTBmom on

I agree….her responses bothered me a bit. I adopted my son, and while obviously I can’t comment on the whole bonding because of pregnancy and birth, I bristle a bit when I feel like someone is implying you have to give birth to a child to understand such a powerful bond. My son is the most important thing in the world to me. I have never been so emotionally connected to anyone before, I have never been able to understand someones way of thinking so well before….and never knew without a shadow of a doubt, that I would give my life for someone without a second thought before. I cringed more at her “I can get a general idea of some things — losing a child, for instance.” comment. I think that was a totally ignorant statement. I have never lost a child, and while I “know” I would be devestated, I would never say that that I could even fathom the sense of loss. To Erika and Elle, I am so sorry for the loss of your babies.

Valerie on

I am just repeating some of the reactions already stated– but that was such an insensitive comment she made. So wrong on so many levels. Why would she ever think that motherhood in general needs to be experienced in order to truly understand it but that losing a child does not. That is very ignorant.

Another Erika on

Well said, Valerie.

The pregnancy/birth thing I kind of get, because you can’t imagine what it’s like unless you’ve gone through it. Just like you can’t know what adopting a child is like, unless you’ve been through that. But the loss of a child thing is kind of rediculous and insensitive-And I’ve never had kids, so I’ve never been through any of this. And to the other Erika, I’m so sorry about your twins 😦

Anna on

I don’t see anything wrong with what she said. She didn’t say she could know exactly how it feels to loose a child, she can just imagine. And pregnancy and giving birth is a powerful experience, just because there are people that cannot have this does not mean we shouldn’t talk about it.

mimi on

This is the second comment that Rachel Weisz has made that has made me raise my eyebrow about her. Her first one was putting down female celebrities who get plastic surgery and botox by claiming she’d NEVER do that. Well, Rachel, we’ll see in a couple of years. But even if you don’t, why the public put down of colleagues? And now this. I don’t have any children, but I happen to feel that the worst thing that can happen is for a parent to lose a child. My heart simply bleeds when I hear about parents losing a child. Diana’s comments are so right on! And it’s shocking that a dramatic actress, an Academy Award winner doesn’t understand the deeper level of the universal human experience. And motherhood is not unique. I’ve always enjoyed Rachel’s acting, but methinks I’ll have second thoughts the next time a view a film she’s in. She’s seems a bit self-centered and arrogant.

Alee on

I get that Rachel was trying to say something unique… but I agree with Diana that this “mystic motherhood” (and motherhood being the ONLY thing that’s like that) is a little ridiculous.

Jane2 on

I really agree with Diana’s comment that all this mystic motherhood carry-on is just ridiculous and that it can only be known to those in the mom’s “club”!
I am not a mother yet, and I think that there are some aspects that I can understand without having gone through it and others that I can’t. For instance, it would be hard to fully understand the birthing or adopting process without going through it, or the juggling of work and childcare, or perhaps the worries. However, Rachel Weisz says that the mother-child bond and immense love that a parent has for a child needs to be experienced before understanding and that it is “unimaginable” without being a parent- I totally disagree. I can very much anticipate and imagine the deep love and bond that I would have with my future child. It’s not as if the level of love I would have for my child or bond I would feel would catch me off guard! Maybe it does have to be experienced for someone who anticipates it just being a run-of-the-mill kind of love or average kind of bond, but many people can understand this without having actually been a parent.

And her comment about understanding something such as losing a child without having gone through it was really insensitive- she should be more thoughtful with her comments.

Jen on

Well I may be the odd one out but before I became a mother if I really am being honest here, motherhood and all it stood for WAS indeed quite unimaginable to me. I mean sure, I guessed and wondered but never really knew how it was until I was right in the middle of it. I will never understand what it is to adopt and cannot fully honestly say I can even try to understand just simply because you don’t know until you are in the middle of it or have done it. I can guess and wonder but who knows, I may be wrong? Why can’t the same be said for going through the pregnancy and delivery process?

Mary-Helen on

I love her acting but most of Rachel Weisz’s comments are so pretentious, like her insults hurled @ other actresses or her North American audiences or the time she admitted that she consumed the occasional glass of red wine while pregnant and claimed that Europeans knew it was okay so it’s no big deal. This is no different. I’m sure she means well and what she’s saying is honest, but she just comes off so stuck up.

JMO on

I will agree her comments towards americans rub me the wrong way. She is engaged to an american and lives in nyc but somehow she comes off that she’s better then the rest.

Pat on

Excuse me but anybody with some reading comprehension( Which sadly not many people here have) would notice that Rachel is talking about acting as a mother on screen and being a mother in real life.

If anybody took that as an insult, you have deep problems.

Pat on

Hi mm, i fail to see why some of the people on this board would get offended over what Rachel said. She’s right, you can’t compare acting to motherhood and she’s right about not understanding the lost of a child unless you had it done to you. Its such a extreme experience.

Some of the people here need to get a grip on their lives and stop to read what was really said.

Pat on

Pardon but after reading many of the comments here, I get the sense that some of you don’t even know how to read. Where in Rachel’s comments that she’s insulting those who are adoptive parents? Where in Rachel’s comments that she is insulting American? Which I find strange considering that there are tons of articles that have her praising American and the fact that her son is American. The sheer ignorance I find in most of the comments baffles me and gives real mothers a bad name. Rachel’s stuck up because she does not like Botox? She’s not the only actors who said that And reality check, some mother’s do have a glass of wine while they are pregnant, it happens in Europe all the time. Sorry but the ones who come across as pretentious and stuck up are the ones who love to comment and pay holier than tho on this board.

Mary-Helen on

@Pat, last I checked, people can have differing opinions about various actors, it doesn’t mean we can’t read, just that we don’t agree with you. Let’s not be rude because someone finds Rachel Weisz to be a bit pretentious. Personally, I have found alot of her interviews since she won her Oscar to be very pretentious, especially a recent one where she belittled her costars Mark Wahlberg & Stanley Tucci, because unlike them, SHE wasn’t affected by the subject matter in the Lovely Bones as SHE knew how to seperate work from home. I can appreciate the candor but still be rubbed the wrong way, much like she did in this article. Please refrain from belittling other posters for expressing an opinion that you don’t like.

Pat on

If you knew what you were reading, you would have notice that Rachel was talking about switching her role off when the day was over because she did not want to take her role home with her. She was not belittling Mark Wahlberg & Stanley Tucci. Maybe if you knew what you were reading, you would have got what she said, other than try to put words in her mouth because you apparently have a personal problem with her.

The person who is coming across as pretentious is you.

Pat on

I got to agree with Pat here. Some of you really need to get a grip and just look at what Rachel had said. Acting like a mother on screen is nothing like being one in real life. That’s what she said, nothing more nothing less. And she’s also correct about the lost of a child being unthinkable, unless you lost a child, you can’t imagine the pain and lost that comes with that grief. Anybody who got offended over what she said needs to chill.

And Mary-Helen, You’re not only twisting what Rachel had said but making things up as well. I have never once read that Rachel attacked anyone or put down Americans and if you are trying to bring up a quote that came from “The Sun” ( A British tabloid that is notorious for making things up) then you don’t have a argument at all. Not only did Rachel speak out about Botox but Kate Winslet did as well and many actresses and actors are speaking out. She did not belittle Mark Wahlberg or Stanley Tucci and i know that because i have seen a good deal of press for the movie they are in (“The Lovely Bones”) and Rachel had nothing but praise for the both of them. Rachel was only talking about how she works as an actress and making sure that her personal life does not get caught up with her work. I don’t know where you got the ideal that she was belittling anyone but its not true at all, which only tells me that you’re just looking to bash her for no good reason.

diana on

beg to disagree pat. i’m with diana and the rest.

annie on

Diana summed up my thoughts perfectly. This “mystic motherhood” mantra is getting old.