Hugo Weaving in Talks For STC’s Waiting for Godot; Cloud Atlas Updates

Note: This is an archived entry that’s over two 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.

First some exciting breaking news: Hugo mentioned that he was in talks to return to Sydney Theatre Company next year in his recent Elissa Blake interview, but was coy about naming the play he had his eye on. Now the STC’s codirectors Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton have let the cat out of the bag: they’re planning a new production of Samuel Beckett’s classic existential farce/tragedy Waiting For Godot, to costar Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh as Vladimir and Estragon. The two will first reprise their roles in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, coming to New York City’s Lincoln Center in July. (Tickets are still available!)  Blanchett and Upton disclosed the exciting news in a promotional interview for Uncle Vanya in Gotham Magazine. Though they’re planning on leaving their roles as STC’s co-artistic directors after next season, it sounds like they want to exit on a high note after four years of superlative work and a greater commitment to touring STC’s productions abroad. The new production of Godot would be directed by Tamás Ascher, who did such revelatory work on Vanya. Here’s an excerpt from the Gotham piece:

Andrew Upton: Because I am in and out of the rehearsal room, I started to have this fantasy of Hugo [Weaving] and Richard [Roxburgh] playing [Waiting for Godot’s] Vladimir and Estragon because there was something about the way Tamás, particularly in the fourth act, was creating this atmosphere between Vanya and Astrov that really reminded me of a Beckett-ian situation. At the same time, Tamás was saying to both of them that one day they should play Vladimir and Estragon together because they would be perfect in those roles. We put those twos and twos together, and we are in talks to invite Tamás back next year to direct both Hugo and Richard as Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot, which I think will be a really beautiful culmination of the relationship that those three have formed artistically.

Cate Blanchett: The wonderful thing about Hugo and Richard—and this often doesn’t happen in Uncle Vanya—is that Richard is an actor who has played Hamlet. He is a hero, a leading man, and often Vanya is cast as a misanthropic, no-hope kind of figure. To have two heroes, men who could have walked the same path but made slightly different choices and somehow ended up in the same place, is fascinating. Initially when speaking to them about Vanya, we discovered that they had been talking years ago about playing it and swapping roles each night because, really, even though I think Richard is perfect casting as Vanya, there is a sense that he could also play Astrov. That is something that Tamás really worked with in the way he built the relationship between the two men.”

Of course, Hugo is currently finishing up his run in STC’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses, costarring Pamela Rabe and Justine Clarke. It runs through June 12, at which point Hugo will probably transition immediately into rehearsals for Vanya‘s New York run. The “independent Australian film” to possibly follow– also teased in the Blake interview— remains a mystery for now. 😉


Hugo Weaving and Pamela Rabe in Les Liaisons Dangereuses; photo by Brett Boardman

Hugo’s next-released film project is, of course, Cloud Atlas. The film has received several test screenings, including a buzzed-about preview at the Cannes Film Festival which secured the film some international distribution and a December 6 release date in the US. (Yes, one week before The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey bows. December will be a gonzo month for Hugo fans.) 😉 You can read more details (and speculation) at IndieWire, /Film, FirstShowing.net, Film Thrasher and PNN.de. The film (shown in an unfinished, pre-SFX rough cut) was approved for release in its current 2 hour 44 minute edit… that and the Oscar Bait release date suggest Warner Bros. has a great deal of confidence in the film’s prospects. No new details about Hugo’s characters have slipped out, nor have any specific comments or reviews from people who attended these screenings emerged– probably a good thing at this stage. Hugo has has been generally very enthusiastic about the project, and does plan to attend premieres when it’s released… something he hasn’t done for every high-profile film he’s appeared in lately.

Hugo has praised the work of German character actors who’ve been given supporting roles in the mammoth production, which was mostly filmed at Berlin’s famed Studio Babelsberg… one of these actors, Götz Otto, has now returned the compliment in this interview with Matt J Horn… alas, he doesn’t give us any juicy new intel on the film. 😉


Hugo Weaving and Halle Berry filming Cloud Atlas in Glasgow last September; Pacific Coast News photo

Finally, Hugo fans of an academic bent will want to check out two recent podcasts which discuss his work. The first, is Sydney Theatre’s “Tomcast” featuring  STC Associate Director Tom Wright discussing the current production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The second is ABC Radio’s recent “Sunday School” podcast about Hugo’s 2004 film The Old Man Who Read Love Stories, costarring Richard Dreyfuss and Timothy Spall. (Hugo played the deliciously decadent dentist Rubicondo– one of his great unsung performances, in my opinion.) The film’s director Rolf de Heer is among those interviewed. Neither podcast features Hugo himself commenting, but they both provide in-depth, unique insights into some of his more intriguing roles.

And don’t forget that Hugo’s award-winning 2011 film Oranges and Sunshine, costarring Emily Watson and David Wenham, will finally be available on DVD (and Netflix) in the US on June 26!

Photo by Mark Rodgers, 2009
…And I couldn’t resist sharing this great Last Ride promo photo, taken for the cover of Inside Film.

UPDATE: The print version of Sydney Morning Herald’s article about Hugo and Cate Blanchett’s Helen Hayes Awards for Uncle Vanya has now been added to my Flickr Archive; text is the same as the online version, but the photo of Hugo is a little bigger. 😉

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