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.
Note: I got a bit carried away with commentary here, so if you just want to skip to Hugo’s latest interview go directly to the red bits. 🙂
It’s becoming apparent that Hugo Weaving has done several new interviews this week with the specific purpose of promoting the American release of Last Ride… and even more apparent that a lot of entertainment websites are more interested in any minor scoops he can offer on The Hobbit and Cloud Atlas. Collider did things the right way, posting a lengthy interview covering all of Hugo’s film projects that will be released this year. (I posted some excerpts here yesterday, but fans will want to read the full piece here.) Within hours, several less-thorough sites which I won’t name 😉 reposted excerpts that surgically excised all mention of Last Ride and breathlessly recounted Hugo’s few comments about The Hobbit and (of all things) 3D technology out of context. Without Hugo’s wry, measured comparison of how The Hobbit might benefit from 3D and why Last Ride doesn’t need it, what’s left sounds like a meaningless soundbite.
Now The Hollywood Reporter is jumping on the scoops-before-content bandwagon, posting the few things Hugo was able to say about Cloud Atlas in the context of a Last Ride promotional interview, then failing to post anything Hugo said about Last Ride online. (I’m assuming they saved the rest of the interview for the print magazine, but even that may be assuming too much.) While THR is characterising Hugo’s brief remarks as a major revelation, he didn’t really provide any “key new details” or character reveals, and some of his comments are very similar to what he told Collider. Obviously he’s being very careful about what he says this far in advance. This doesn’t mean his remarks aren’t interesting– quite the contrary– just that the entertainment media often fails to grasp what’s interesting in pursuing non-existent “exclusives”. 😉 The one tantalizing clue/confirmation of fan suspicions he could provide was that all of his characters have a thematic similarity or a similar role to play within the context of their stories, despite obvious superficial differences. He also confirmed earlier reports from other cast members that David Mitchell’s “nesting doll” structure has been abandoned for a more “mosaic” approach with stories more tightly interconnected. Anyhow, here’s the full text of what Hugo said… and if THR deigns to publish his comments about Last Ride anywhere, I’ll bring you those too as soon as I find them. 😉 We still have that IFC piece to go, which we already know will focus on Cloud Atlas. I titled this post in anticipation of including that later.
Hugo Weaving on the Glasgow set of Cloud Atlas, September 2011
When asked if Lana Wachowski’s gender reassignment was a thematic inspiration in the Wachowskis’ choice of this material: “I can’t speak for Lana, but it’s something that’s always interested her, and obviously at a very profound level…But it was a real treat to work with such an extraordinary cast, and sometimes in any one week you might be working on three or four characters. So it’s a slightly dangerous adventure we embarked on, because to be honest you don’t know where it’s all heading, despite the wonderful preparation. But yeah, it was certainly very exciting.”
On the film’s themes and logistical challenges: “[The movie explores] the idea of being reborn and souls being reborn through time… What’s fascinating about the adaptation of the book was that sense that you get in the book about souls being reborn, a particular soul, and then they thought, ‘What if we bring back actors to multiple roles in these stories?’ So to take that idea and run with it actually kind of became one of the key propellers for the project…Because the film’s told in a sort of mosaic way, where all six stories are told at once, at the beginning of the shoot you’d move from one character to another. But as the shoot progressed and it got towards the end, you were seeing more links between the characters. And indeed, there might be a cut from one of your characters to another character, so there’s a link between them. [Though there’s not a specific throughline connecting the various characters, but] you’re fulfilling a particular role, so the six characters I play have a similar thematic arc, similar role to play, and as the film progresses, you get a strong sense of playing one [character] rather than six separate ones. So initially you’re feeling the separateness of the characters but increasingly feeling like they’re facets of the same being.”
If you want to subject yourself to more of my thoughts on Hugo’s recent work, speculation about Cloud Atlas and frustration about media coverage, go here.
I also want to clarify some comments in my previous post: Hugo has mentioned to reporters that he recently revisited New Zealand for “post production work” on The Hobbit, not “reshoots”. The fact that he’s kept his beard should have clued me in that I was using the wrong word. 😉 Peter Jackson is famous for his reshoots, and for entirely re-conceiving scenes in the months leading to his films’ releases, as happened with the Elrond/Arwen storyline in The Two Towers and The Return of The King. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hugo did indeed participate in reshoots or new footage for the second Hobbit film sometime next year, but this visit obviously didn’t involve any time on camera. Unless they’re seriously altering Elrond’s appearance. 😉 (BTW, Entertainment Weekly has a cover story on The Hobbit next week including a “set visit”… no word yet on whether Hugo was on hand at the time.)
And there’s more! Here’s some new Hobbity goodness from Noticine.com.ar:
This is apparently one of ten new stills from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey which will be showcased in that aforementioned EW issue. I’ll have scans as soon as my copy arrives, but you can preview the rest at TheOneRing.net. (Follow-up note: No, alas, there were no interview comments from Hugo in EW’s piece, though it will be of general interest to LOTR fans. This is actually a larger version of their one Elrond photo than what appeared in the magazine, which was heavily cropped and much smaller.)
UPDATE: Part One of Hugo’s IFC interview has been posted. (Part Two is probably about Last Ride, the film Hugo is actually giving the current round of interviews to promote. Hopefully that will be available soon.) Excerpts below the cut, or follow this link.
Again, somewhat irritatingly, the reporter is obsessed with getting a scoop on Cloud Atlas and, even more preposterously, the Wachwskis’ next film Jupiter Ascending, which so far Hugo isn’t signed to act in. I guess people who only know Hugo from a handful of high-profile films simply assume he will drop everything to appear in everything the Wachowskis do. I must have missed him in Speed Racer in that case– was he playing the chimp? 😉 Also, it’s important to note that Hugo initially turned down the title role in V for Vendetta in order to make the Australian film Eucalyptus, and only stepped in after Eucalyptus was cancelled and James Purefoy abandoned the role of V. So unless production on Jupiter Ascending is delayed until the end of the year, Hugo will be busy on other projects… and then he’ll be doing a play next year. Hugo hasn’t hinted or teased a single thing about Jupiter Ascending anywhere previously, so I think this is a case of a reporter jumping to conclusions. He does enjoy working with The Wachowskis periodically, but he’s not Johnny Depp to their Tim Burton. 😉
But Hugo does have some interesting anecdotes about the challenges, confusion and inspiration of working on the Cloud Atlas set:
On his characters’ ‘arc’: “All six [stories] have a similar sort of tone, I suppose. Most of them seem to be, in some way, [obsessed] with self-control or repression or status quo or power, and so there’s a link with all those characters… Initially, at the beginning of the shoot, jumping from one character to another, you felt the difference between the characters. As the shoot wore on, increasingly you’re seeing an arc for those six characters, like a six-faced character if you like. [Hugo also confirmed, indirectly, that he plays a notorious female character in one of the six stories. Fans of the novel will know what I’m referring to, but I won’t spoil it for everyone else.]
On differences from the book: “The story’s told like a mosaic. In the book, you’re getting half of each story and then the second half of each story, and the film’s not told in that way, so the certain characters you play towards the pointy end of the film start to fulfill the same function. That was a really fascinating adventure for everyone working on that. And as the film progresses and the script progresses, you get a sense of those actors and those characters coming together and fulfilling a similar function or a similar role if you like in the story.”
On the cast’s being ‘discombobutlated’ by frequent set and character changes: ““I remember there was one day with Tom Hanks, we were working on a shoot in Saxony, we were working in an amazing forest, and it was my first day on set with Tom. We were having a chat and we’d been working for about three hours and he suddenly realized that one of the other characters in the scene he’d been working with in New York for two weeks prior to that, and he didn’t recognize him. It was really different make-up. That’s what it was like.”
On the Jupiter Ascending rumors and seeing the Wachowskis again: ““We haven’t actually talked about that one but there’ve been sort of muted hints and things about it, to be honest, so I’m not sure what’s happening with that. I last talked to [the Wachowskis] while we were doing ADR for ‘Cloud Atlas,’ so it’s just lovely to have a chat again, but I’m hoping to see them in a month and a half and there’ll be a screening of ‘Cloud Atlas’ in Chicago, and I’m hoping to get over to that.”
I think Hugo is saying that he’s excited to see Cloud Atlas in its finished form and talk to people he enjoyed working with again, not that he’s hotly anticipating being handed another role. Usually if Hugo already knows he’ll be working with someone, he brings it up himself. He doesn’t engage in the sort of coy teasing a lot of actors (and their agents) do. Yes, there’s always a chance he’ll work with the Wachowskis again… there’s the same chance he’d work with Craig Monahan (The Interview, Peaches), Glendyn Ivin (Last Ride), Peter Jackson or the STC again. Or a new up-and-coming director like Ivan Sen. It all depends on where the next great role is. 😉 And please, IFC, follow through and post Hugo’s comments on Last Ride. You too, THR. You owe him.