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Who Is That Actor: Celia Weston

September 15, 2010

Young Celia getting scoped hard by Erik Estrada

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.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2010 8:50 am

    Wow, this is someone I’ve seen so many times and never really associated with a body of work… I guess that’s what a good character actor is supposed to do?

  2. lil anie permalink
    September 15, 2010 8:50 am

    Great post – Memphis Beat is aburrido (boringgggg).

    I love her lots too, and now I know her name, thank you!

  3. September 15, 2010 10:24 am

    @redlami: it’s true! I love when you finally look an actor up on IMDB and it turns out you’ve been loving them all along, just anonymously.

    @lil anie: I’m glad I’m not the only one not into Memphis Beat — I wanted to like it, but just, no.

  4. September 15, 2010 10:46 am

    She’s one of the actors I say “Hey! It’s….her!” about. She has such a distinct look about her, too, so I never confuse her with another actor.

    Re: Memphis Beat–I love Jason Lee (he’s on my list of “Future Husbands”), and I was excited to see him moustache-less (even though I loved My Name Is Earl), but I never gave Memphis Beat a shot. My partner’s parents love it, and constantly tell me that I should “hulu it” because I’d enjoy it. I may eventually follow up on at least watching one episode, but I’m not gonna go out of my way for it.

  5. September 15, 2010 11:30 am

    Celia is my girl. She delivered the oh-snap-moneyshot from Runway Jury. I still gasp every time I think about it.

  6. KikiNYC permalink
    September 23, 2010 11:25 am

    I had to look her up because I pass her on the street so many times. I thought she was “Mary Hartman” the first time I saw her but I knew that wasn’t correct. I passed her yesterday on 3rd Avenue and then “In the Bedroom” was on this morning so I had to look her up. I never would have guessed her name! Thanks for the info.

  7. September 23, 2010 1:56 pm

    Wow. That’s pretty awesome that you get to run into her a lot. I used to see Jeffrey Tambor all the time and this other character actor whose name escapes me but was in Total Recall and bunch of other things.

  8. evmaroon permalink
    September 23, 2010 2:48 pm

    And that’s just another example of what a fantastic service Snarky brings to people’s lives! 🙂

  9. September 23, 2010 2:50 pm

    I do love Louise Lasser too! Kiki, I’m jealous you get to see Ms. Weston all the time. I would be tempted to ask for a photo with her that I could then make into a new FryButter icon of myself!

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