Hugo Weaving Australian Press Interviews (Oranges & Sunshine)

Note: This is an archived entry that’s several years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material. Some entries may not be up to my current standards as far as photo source and other credits are concerned; if you are a photographer or writer of a piece that lacks appropriate acknowledgement, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add source info.

Although Hugo Weaving remains in New Zealand this week, presumably involved in preparation/script meetings for The Hobbit, the Australian press has begun posting his publicity interviews for Oranges and Sunshine, which opens early next month in Australia. (The film will also be showcased at the Dungog Film Festival on 26 May.) Hugo’s comments on Oranges and Sunshine were included in a lengthy preview in The Australian… the online version can be read here, the print version here (page 1, page 2). The piece also includes interviews with director Jim Loach, screenwriter Rona Munro and castmate David Wenham.

Today Inside Film posted an excerpt of a longer Hugo Weaving interview. He discusses his recent past work, and why he often prefers small Australian films to big-budget Hollywood productions… though he makes an exception for The Matrix. (He’ll probably be working with the Wachowskis again on Cloud Atlas in the fall.) I’ll include excerpts below… no new photos yet, alas, but Inside Film is promising more of their interview when Oranges and Sunshine premieres.

The Australian: (contains minor plot spoilers)

…”I was instantly grabbed by the script, so moving and beautifully written,” [Hugo] Weaving says. He plays Jack, a gentle, vulnerable soul who had attempted suicide, is reunited with his sister, but whose search for his mother ends when he discovers she has recently died. “The film depicts the journey that Margaret takes to attempt to heal them, [to] give them some sense of identity, acceptance and recognition,” Weaving explains. “We all loved Hugo Weaving’s work: his capacity for gentleness, compassion and vulnerability,” [Jim] Loach says. “And we hugely admired David [Wenham’s]’s sense of anarchy and the way he brings his own kind of rebellion and undermines situations in a very positive way.”

Yet the film’s remarkable feat is its restraint, with Loach and [Rona] Munro refusing to indulge Hollywood’s penchant for redemptive catharsis.

“We wanted to avoid a pornography of suffering,” Munro says. “While we attempted to convey the child migrants’ reality and bear witness to a story faithfully told, we didn’t intend to wallow in it” ….

The movie has certainly acted as catalyst for official acknowledgment.The day Weaving flew out to shoot in Britain, in November 2009, a tearful Kevin Rudd made an apology to the “forgotten Australians”, those children mistreated in Australian orphanages and institutional care. The formal apology specifically included the child migrants, describing their experience as “an ugly chapter of colonial history”.

“This caused quite a buzz with the British press,” Weaving recalls. “All of a sudden there was pressure on [then British prime minister] Gordon Brown to follow. In fact both apologies took place while we were shooting the film.”

Brown’s historic apology was witnessed by 60 child migrant survivors and families, flown to London for the ceremony.

Hugo and Emily Watson in Oranges and Sunshine

Inside Film:

Of all the great characters versatile actor Hugo Weaving has portrayed, it was one in an Aussie film that he got the most out of – Lionel in 2005’s Little Fish.

“There are some roles you do so far from yourself that there’s a lot of work to do to understand the character and there’s always a major challenge to understanding someone’s psychology, so for me as an actor that’s always the most interesting thing,” Weaving explains to IF.

“And then the attempt to get there is always a struggle and always difficult so I suppose anything that challenges me to really stretch out of my comfort zone is something that is both daunting and stimulating.

“So something like Lionel in Little Fish would probably be the character I would say would be the thing I have sort of gained the most from in a way.”

Lionel is a former rugby star who is addicted to heroin. The film won several IF and AFI Awards and Weaving netted the Best Actor award at both.

That doesn’t say he didn’t love the other characters he has played in his near 40-year career. The Matrix trilogy’s Agent Smith – probably the character Weaving is most famous for – was right up there.

“I enjoyed working on those films enormously because of the Wachowski siblings – they directed and wrote them – and I loved working with them,” Weaving says.

“I enjoyed that character immensely. During the making of the film we had a lot of laughs.”

Hugo as Lionel in Little Fish (2005)

ALSO: I’ve just noticed, with some distress, that tickets for the Kennedy Center reprisal of Uncle Vanya, costarring Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh et al are already “Limited Availability”, despite the fact they haven’t yet gone on sale to the public. The reason? The Kennedy Center has been selling the tickets for some time already as part of subscription packages. This means wealthy people who live near DC and can afford to cough up $700 or more for eight plays (or buy the full subscription just to see one play and then give away or sell the other tickets) have an advantage over the rest of us. I’m also upset the website made no mention of subscriptions up front on Vanya’s page, implying no tickets went on sale until June 1 (for members, June 10 for everyone else– if any tickets are left by then.)

I guess if you’re a fan and want to see the play, you have two options: buy the subscription and guarantee a ticket (subscribers can also buy single tix for any performance of Vanya– once they have already bought the subscription and become a member)… or wait until single tix go on sale and take your chances, either buying rear balcony seats from The Kennedy Center or something better on eBay or from a ticket broker. (FYI: my front orchestra seats for Hedda Gabler in 2006 at BAM were $500 on eBay… I don’t think they’ll be so cheap this time.) I know this is deeply frustrating, but I thought fans would want to know.  Also, if anyone is interested in any of the musicals coming in The Kennedy Center’s 2011-12 season, let me know. 😉

In Happier News: The UK DVD for Oranges and Sunshine will be released 25 July; some retailers, like Amazon UK, are already taking pre-orders. Note: this will be a region 2 DVD… but if you’re uncertain if the film will screen in your country, or simply can’t wait for the fall US/European release, it may be an option. There will almost certainly be a Region 1 (and 4) DVD later following the film’s international release.

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