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Rachel Weisz

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On Jan. 16, Rachel Weisz got lucky during her “fairytale time” – that is, being all dressed up and winning at the Golden Globes, where she took the prize for her role in The Constant Gardener as the activist wife of a British diplomat (Ralph Fiennes) posted to Kenya. Offscreen, the 34-year-old Brit’s life is a bit of a fairytale itself: She’s engaged to director Darren Aronofsky and expecting their first child. PEOPLE recently chatted with Weisz about getting glam and taking her character’s activism to heart.

Do you like getting dressed up for award shows, or is it more work than pleasure?
It’s totally fun. You get your hair and makeup done. You get a beautiful frock. All girls like that. It’s dressing-up, fairytale time.

Is it true that you didn’t wear any makeup in the movie?
Yes. It just would have been wrong if she had been an activist with lipstick on. She’s got vanity about her work, but not about her appearance.

You don’t get to play many characters with English accents. That must have been a welcome change.
It was very much easier. I’ve done American accents so often that it’s second nature, but it definitely was nice speaking in your native accent.

You also set up a fund to aid impoverished Kenyans?
The whole crew was very, very moved. None of us had seen poverty up close like that. People who had every reason to be not happy were some of the happiest, warmest people I’ve ever met. I also felt very ashamed to see poverty like that, so we set up a charity in the name of the film and we’re committed to it for at least five years. We’ve already built two schools and a bridge and some WC and shower facilities and fresh-water tanks. There’s no running water there. We just wanted to say thank you.

How are you funding it?
Through fund-raisers and through our Web site, A lot of people who see the movie say, “What can we do?” Well, if you send $1 to the Web site, it will help buy a schoolbook for a year. A very small amount of money is needed to make a difference. It’s shameful how little.

You were photographed nude in the movie, and pregnant, no less. It looked incredibly real.
I take my job very seriously (laughs). A lot of people thought it was real. No, it was a prosthetic that was stuck on every morning. It was painted to look like my flesh.

Did it help you practice for the real thing?
I can’t talk about that.

But you are engaged?
Yes, I have a beautiful ring.

Darren directed you in The Fountain, a sci-fi love story with Hugh Jackman due later this year. How did that go?
I got to meet the director and he got to meet the actress. At work we’re very different to how we are around the house. I got to see his professional side. I’ve got a lot of directors to compare him to, and he’s very talented. It’s sexy to see someone be good at something.