Hugo Confirmed to Star in Cloud Atlas; Dances With Hobbits

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.

There have been a lot of Hugo Weaving tidbits in the press in the past couple of days… first, the last stragglers among the movie/entertainment websites are finally convinced that Hugo will indeed return to portray Elrond in The Hobbit, because Sir Ian McKellen mentioned Hugo in his charming blog post on May 11. Of course, Hugo was already confirmed last week by a production spokesman, and most of us understood that Peter Jackson’s cheeky posting of a pic of him and and Hugo on the Hobbit set was his own way of confirming the news. But if this misunderstanding that only celebrities can confirm casting news has the side effect of luring more fans to McKellen’s blog, then it’s all good.

What McKellen was really trying to do was not confirm any news, but merely describe what he and his castmates will be doing over their “summer vacations”, ie when they take a production break from The Hobbit over the next few months: Hugo and Cate Blanchett will costar in Uncle Vanya at the Kennedy Center (tickets already on sale for subscribers; members can buy them 1 June, everyone else 10 June… I’ve already made my feelings known about this arrangement 😉 but do think fans should make an effort to see this production if at all possible.) Sir Ian himself will be costarring in The Syndicate, which will tour the UK this July- September.  Martin Freeman has already left the set to reprise his role as Dr Watson in the BBC’s ongoing modern-day take on Sherlock Holmes. McKellen also mentions his enjoyment at working with Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords, aka “Figwit” in LOTR) and Sylvester McCoy (Dr Who, and  McKellen’s costar in King Lear a few years ago.)

McKellen’s post implied that Hugo will shoot/or is shooting his scenes as Elrond before he starts rehearsals for Uncle Vanya, but that Cate Blanchett will do Galadriel’s scenes afterward; Hugo won’t be available then because he’ll be filming Cloud Atlas with the Wachowskis (more on that shortly).

The Dominion Post, which should be getting the real credit for confirming Hugo’s Hobbit casting, posted this amusing little item yesterday about an outing Hugo recently attended in Wellington, NZ with Martin Freeman (before his departure) and other castmates:

The Diary

Spotted: cutting some extremely energetic shapes on the dance floor at Havana on Friday night (May 6), none other than Hobbit star Martin Freeman. The actor, who is playing Bilbo Baggins in Sir Peter Jackson’s upcoming film, was executing some frighteningly Gollum-like dance moves, much to the entertainment of watching punters and our diarist. Also spied was James Nesbitt, attempting to dance the robot, and Hugo ‘‘Elrond’’ Weaving,  who was mixing with some of the Hobbit crew. Asked what he thought of Wellington, Weaving said he liked the geography, and the way it was possible to walk from city to sea. He may have said something else, but our diarist was far too starstruck to listen at that point. The next thing she remembered was glares from the gaggle of Hobbit-lovers next to her as Weaving walked away. “You ruined our Hugo Weaving moment,” one of them complained.

I’m not sure what that last bit was about… of course the theoretical ruining of someone’s “Hugo Weaving moment” might be a grave offense, but asking him a few harmless questions shouldn’t be. I’ve found that Hugo always patiently listens to/answers questions from anyone who asks if they politely wait their turn. If these fans just wanted to silently bask in his aura/proximity… well, he might have found that a strange request, but he’s always good-natured to a fault with fans. I know this from personal experience. I read several enthusiastic Twitter comments about sightings at the Havana club; none complained about any perceived slights.  No pictures have emerged, alas.

Finally, The Hollywood Reporter has semi-confirmed the rumor that Hugo will indeed costar in the Wachowskis’ film adaptation of Cloud Atlas, along with Halle Berry, Ben Whishaw and previously-confirmed Tom Hanks. There hasn’t been an official press release or studio statement on the casting, but apparently the news has leaked because investors and distributors at the Cannes Film Festival have been let in on the casting news so their intererst may be piqued– and it’s working. While it’s cynical to assume that “the money men” are a bona fide primary official source, in the case of a film this ambitious,  strong financial backing and wide distribution will be essential. This issue nearly killed The Hobbit (along with the rights issue) so it has to be taken seriously. In this case, everything seems to be on a solid footing so far. Also of interest: the note that “each actor in the film will be playing multiple roles” in the film’s five diverse, cosmically interconnected storylines. No specifics so far about which actors will handle which roles, but it’s great to finally see Hugo given meaty, challenging work in a major US film which stands a good chance of being widely distributed. Hopefully this will finally break all the stereotypical misapprehensions about his career outside Australia.

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