Who Is That Actor: Celia Weston
Celia Weston started off her acting career on a hard road: her first real job was Jolene on the television sitcom Alice, replacing the popular Kiss-My-Grits character of Flo (who became a victim of spin-off flameout when her show tanked the second season after a timeslot swap). Actually Weston was the second replacement, as they tried to bring Diane Ladd on board (she played the original Flo in the film the show was based on), but that didn’t work out, so she was brought in as the relief pitcher. Despite Jolene being a carbon-copy of Flo’s sassy southern snapping, Celia Weston, a native of South Carolina, used the opportunity to show us her own warmth and edges as an actor.
In the 90s she starred in a laundry list of indie mainstream hits: Little Man Tate, Unstrung Heroes, Flirting with Disaster, and in Dead Man Walking, one of her most often remembered roles as the mother whose child is murdered by Sean Penn’s death row character. You may also remember her from such Oscar-gold bonded films as In the Bedroom, The Talented Mr. Ripley, or Far From Heaven. Her Southern background and expertise is always mentioned by reviewers, but she is a master of twisting cliché into pathos. With the help of this Tony-nominated actor, many terrible and mediocre films have been made tolerable by her presence (K-Pax, Observe and Report, The Village, Ride with the Devil, The Box), but if you want a quintessential Celia Weston performance in a great film that depicts the American South in nuanced (read: realistic) ways, go put Junebug at the top of your Netflix queue right now. She’s also great in the underrated Runaway Jury and The Invasion, the remake of the body snatchers movie that most people slept on but is actually pretty good.
Celia Watson is currently making bank on a new TNT drama, Memphis Beat, but despite loving both her and Alfre Woodard, I couldn’t make it through a second episode. She’s also set to guest-star this fall on Emmy-award winning Modern Family. I can’t believe I just typed that phrase. That’s okay, Ms Celia, I still get excited whenever your name appears in the opening credits of whatever I’m watching.