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{THE OSCARS} | BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

A `Constant' dig to land the role

March 06, 2006|Maria Elena Fernandez

Rachel Weisz got an early birthday present this year. The British actress turns 35 on Tuesday and can celebrate with her first Oscar.

Weisz won the best supporting actress nod for her turn as the idealistic, infuriating -- and dead -- Tessa Quayle, whom she brings to life during the course of the political thriller "The Constant Gardener." Best known for playing the beautiful archeologist love interest in "The Mummy," Weisz fought to play Tessa, flying at her own expense to meet with director Fernando Meirelles and later writing him letters to persuade him to give her the part.

Her effort paid off.

"I wish I knew how to quit you" may be the year's most popular line of dialogue, delivered by best supporting actor nominee Jake Gyllenhaal in "Brokeback Mountain." But Weisz's delivery of "You can learn me," delivered to her costar Ralph Fiennes,certainly caught the attention of critics.

In accepting the award, Weisz paid tribute to the real-life equivalents of Tessa, noting that the John le Carre novel on which it is based "paid tribute to the people who are willing to risk their own lives to fight injustice, and they're greater men and women than I."

Later, the very pregnant Weisz was asked backstage if she would name her baby Oscar.

"We don't know if it's a boy or girl, but Oscar isn't among them," she said. Whatever the name, the baby was up and kicking during the show.

"Poor baby, it was kicking around, but once I went onto the stage

-- Maria Elena Fernandez

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