New Hugo Weaving Interview on Nurse Noakes, More Cloud Atlas Coverage

Note: This is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

Keeping up with all the Cloud Atlas coverage continues to be a full time job. 😉 I apologize for any redundancies in these posts, but I’m trying very hard not to miss anything. By my count we’ve had ten new videos featuring Hugo (counting the press conference and film intro– not counting the various trailers before TIFF) and about a hundred new photos. Duplication in photos usually occurs because I’ve found a larger or higher-quality version of an image previously posted. But it is challenging keeping up with all the new stuff coming it and at the same time keeping a record of everything I’ve already posted. So, again, my apologies for any sloppiness. 😉

The most interesting new item today is an interview Hugo gave to the Sydney Morning Herald family of newspapers discussing his most talked-about Cloud Atlas character, Nurse Noakes. Since it’s relatively short, I’ll share the full text here:

Weaving’s back in drag, but it’s no Priscilla

Date September 13, 2012

Ed Gibbs

Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon speak onstage at the <i>Cloud Atlas</i> press conference n Toronto.

Cloud Atlas stars Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon, pictured at the Toronto International Film Festival. Photo: Getty Images

The world premiere of Cloud Atlas met with a mixed reception, but its star Hugo Weaving isn’t fazed.

IT WAS greeted with a lengthy standing ovation, then just as quickly slammed by critics, following its world premiere at the Toronto International Festival on Sunday night.

Cloud Atlas – the Booker-shortlisted, multi-layered novel that many believed impossible to turn into a film – even has Hugo Weaving donning a women’s fat suit.

Yet the controversial film – a sprawling, multi-story tale of karmic repercussions throughout time and space – also offers its all-star cast, including Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, the chance to have fun and ”play dress-ups”, as actor Jim Broadbent puts it, with its cast playing multiple characters that bizarrely jump gender, race and age.

For Hugo Weaving, Cloud Atlas offered the chance to re-team with two of the film’s three directors, the Wachowski brothers: the duo responsible for The Matrix movies that made him a star. Ten years on, much has changed, though – notably Larry Wachowski, who has since become Lana.

”I don’t think it’s ironic at all,” Weaving says, of the gender-swapping roles the film’s cast has to perform. ”I think there are certain things that Larry – now Lana – is interested in. A lot of them connect up with his – now her – journey. This feeling of being trapped inside a body since the age of nine, feeling like, ‘I’m not this person, I’m actually that person’, I guess whoever we are, there are certain things that we want to express.

”When I first worked with them, in The Matrix days, they’d finish each other’s sentences, or talk together. They’re incredibly tight-knit. Now, they’re more individual, I guess.”

Their new film, co-directed with Run Lola Run‘s Tom Tykwer, takes the viewer on a lengthy, troubled journey, from the South Pacific of the 18th century through to a post-apocalyptic future rife with warring factions and cannibalism. Weaving’s other characters in the film include a Machiavellian figure named Georgie and Bill Smoke, an authority figure reminiscent of his Agent Smith character in The Matrix. Playing a nurse, though, was more extreme than even he could have imagined.

”The prosthetics came in at a very late stage, so I spent a lot of time in my fat suit just trying to get used to it,” Weaving says of Nurse Noakes, a fearsomely full figure far removed from Mitzi Del Bra, his drag persona in Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert. ”Whenever I look at it, I’m still uneasy about it.”

Weaving joins a substantial number of Australians in Toronto, where local cinema has been enjoying its biggest showing in years. … Cloud Atlas, meanwhile, will have a release in Australia early next year, and joins a string of films that have generated Oscar buzz at the festival – an event that provides early indicators for award favourites. “

CJ again… actually, after a spate of early, negative reviews, Cloud Atlas has settled into a healthy mid-70s Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Obviously a film this ambitious and heart-on-sleeve will always have its detractors, but they’re now a minority.

There’s also an interesting profile of Philip Lee, one of the film’s producers, at The Wall Street Journal. He discusses the filmmakers’ goals and the independent financing of the project.

Speaking of which, I’m don’t want to re-address the specious Identity Politics/PC tirades against the film– mostly by pseudointellectual grad school cranks who haven’t seen it. I’ve already said my peace on that issue. And my piece. 😉 But I will note that the film was funded in large part by Asian companies and that it’s most revolutionary, inspiring characters are played by Asian actresses. It’s not a “Hollywood” film and was not cast the way it was for commercial reasons. None of the cross-racial acting is stereotypical or demeaning and– duh, people– the film’s entire message is about interconnectedness and an appeal against oppression, racism and intolerance. Jim Sturgess plays a Korean character in one story while Bae Doona plays a (white) American in another– in both, their characters are lovers. This is in complete opposition to early Hollywood casting which used white actors as Asians, etc to avoid inter-racial romance. No one seems to be complaining about the Asian and African American actors playing cross-racial roles– more evidence the larger point is being missed.

And I’ll direct your attention to the Press Conference video, in which pretty much every actor (of every race) said their favorite character was one of a different race than his/her own. See, that’s why it’s called acting. Empathy and imagination is required. Intentions do matter and deserve respect. And Hugo Weaving’s Korean character (a thusfar unnamed executioner/government figure) figures in the plot for about two minutes. So stop slagging on him and Jim Sturgess over this issue. In doing so, you betray the very intolerance you accuse others of. Also, your ad hominem attacks and bad insult comedy are the sort of tactics right-wing hatemongers routinely resort to. One thing the identity politics and right-wing extremists share is an overweening self-righteousness combined with an utter lack of a sense of humor. The response to Sturgess’s whimsical, non-inflammatory tweets (themselves responses to the PC crowd’s venomous personal attacks and use of inappropriate, loaded terms like “yellowface”) demonstrate this.

But enough of that. I have confidence the voices of negativity will soon be drowned out. 😉 There are many places to see red carpet/press conference photos, including The Torontoist,, IMDb, Toronto Life and The Grid… I’ll add all those of Hugo I find amid the press links and review quotes as per usual.

Higher-res version of George Pimentel/Getty Images photo, via IMDb

Finally Hugo made one of the posters! Alas, only the German version so far. The US and novel tie-in artwork features Susan Sarandon’s Abbess instead.

Cloud Atlas wil have its US premiere at the New Yorker Festival on 6 October. The directors will be in attendance, but probably not the full cast. More details at the New York Times Artsbeat… tickets go on sale this Friday, and aren’t cheap, but I’m still trying to fiure out a way to go. 😉

HitFix weighs the film’s chances for Oscar nominations… I’m skeptical it will attract more than technical nominations because truly audacious, challenging films are rarely rewarded in this way when they first come out. The Academy prefers to play it safe. I do think numerous technical nods are possible and would love to watch the negative critics and PC snark-mongers get their knickers in a twist if it’s nominated for Best Makeup. 😉 Speaking of makeup, Vulture highlights their picks for the most effective/surprising character transformations.

Sean, Film Junk: “The one creative decision that will probably be the most divisive among viewers is the choice to have the same actors playing a different role in each storyline, often with very extreme forms of make-up and special effects applied to make them blend in… I think the thematic value justifies these peculiarities, but others might not agree…. That being said, the ensemble cast is up to the task of playing multiple roles and seem to be having a lot of fun with it. Hugo Weaving is called upon to play a villain in almost every time period as per usual, even if it means dressing in drag as Nurse Noakes. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry are both solid in the film, and they manage to sell some of the more outlandish concepts such as the weird language of the post-apocalyptic time period. Overall, I can’t think of a single weak link in the cast…. Viewers looking for a single moment to tie everything together will be left scratching their heads, but the good news is that at no point is it overwhelming or incoherent. The various spiritual and religious themes are also never explicitly stated although they are certainly there if you care to delve into them. It helps that the movie has its fair share of humour, which keeps it from feeling too stuffy and pretentious… [I]f you’re a serious fan of cinema, this is a movie that you need to see. You may not love it, but the pure ambition and storytelling skill on display is simply incredible and will not soon be forgotten.” (Four Stars)

Sean O’Connell, CinemaBlend: “While I’m not whole-heartedly in love with Atlas (though the sentimental chords finally struck in the sprawling film’s closing minutes did touch me, deeply), I am in love with the creative effort and bravura filmmaking that infuses every single scene. It is an ambitious work of art, and one that should be appreciated outside of the festival circuit, when audiences have time to digest a meal such as this and not wash it down with a swig of water before dashing to the next screening.”

Tim Robey, The Telegraph: “Complaints that it’s all just one big congested barrel-load of kitschy genre clichés may come at the picture thick and fast – just wait – but Mitchell’s whole project was pastiching literary formulae to play with the hand-me-down nature of storytelling, so the Wachowskis and Tykwer surely deserve a pass on this. There’s plenty to argue with, more to scoff at, and some uninitiated viewers may well choose to check out of engagement early. But it’s also a dizzily generous ride, scored with real grandeur, and even its silliest elements are guilty pleasures.”

Hugo at the TIFF Red Carpet Premiere of Cloud Atlas, 8 September 2012. Photos (2) Walter McBride/

Cloud Atlas cast photo call 9 September 2012  Photo: The Grid

Thom Ernst, Toro Magazine: “Cloud Atlas is all over the map that probably doesn’t make as much sense as its makers intended. But never mind trying to catch a thread to link the multiple, century-spanning stories together – Cloud Atlas is a visual pleasure with great performances in multiple roles (most notably an unrecognizable Tom Hanks as, among others, a volatile mobster-punk author)…”

Kaleem Aftab, The Independent: “A bold, ambitious and fun attempt to adapt David Mitchell’s time-jumping novel, Cloud Atlas is a return to form for the Wachowskis. The novel contains the same big idea that commonly crops up in the Wachowski oeuvre, whether as director or producers, that humans should look beyond the physical realm and understand that space and time are malleable…. The common theme is that each tale is about a search for liberty and truth. The big difference from the novel is in the structure. While the book tells each story consecutively and then as stories within stories, the movie crisscrosses the tales jumping through space and time at will…. Part of the fun of this movie adaptation is trying to work out what star name is under the make-up… Ultimately, this is a film about ideas rather than plot. It’s a tricky marriage between blockbuster action and textbook philosophy….Although the space opera is occasionally bumpy and disorientating, the end result is intoxicating.”

Fred Topel, Crave Online: “The filmmakers (Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer) do a brilliant job introducing each of the stories. It may seem like a series of vignettes at first, but once each story is established, there’s real momentum to each one and it’s relentless. The editing balances each one with a fine pace, so I even liked the cross cutting, a technique I usually hate but it serves this one. I was just as wrapped up in the server’s futuristic breakout as the reporter’s escape from modern danger as the editor’s escape from a retirement home as the climb up the devil’s mountain. It’s breathless… I don’t know if it matters that the same actors appear in each story, but it’s awesome. Why not have fun with this sprawling a story?… Perhaps most revealing is that there can be so little connection between the same actor in a different role, rather than providing a throughline. Hanks’ author character seems a lark to reward him for being so serious in the other stories. Hugh Grant is really only recognizable once as the corrupt nuclear exec in the 1979 story. I couldn’t believe who he played in the tribal future story. Hugo Weaving seems to end up a villain in most of the stories, but he’s awesome. Sturridge, Wishaw and Broadbent often show up in funny supporting roles, and Bae changes ethnicities in one role…. It’s beautifully filmed, no surprise. It’s just so uncommercial, I think we should be grateful that Warner Brothers let this movie exist.”

Roger Friedman, Showbiz 411: “The movie spectacle will be nominated for Best Make Up and Costume Design next winter just for its audiaciousness… “Cloud Atlas” has a lot of dots to connect and may take a while to figure it all out. But it’s beautifully made. And its separate pieces are invidiually well told, with lots of character development and beginnings, middles and ends. So it’s quite possible to enjoy the pieces even if you can’t quite grasp the whole… Of course, the basic notion of David Mitchell’s novel, and now the Wachowskis’ movie, is that we are all connected, through time, generations, karma, and space. It’s very new-agey, but not in a precisely preachy way. Even when the concrete connections between the stories is unclear, the vibe is always right. And it’s never boring. The Ws keep the action moving briskly. Trust me, you can’t fall asleep in this movie even if you wanted to.”

Karen Liu/ The Grid

Toronto Online (Hugo with James D’Arcy… amazing how well they got on after certain incidents in the film) 😉

Thom Ernst, Saturday Night at The Movies: “Tom Hanks is everywhere in ‘Cloud Atlas’. So is Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant. The trick is to recognize them in their multi-character, heavily disguised roles. It’s a gimmick, but it’s also a great deal of fun. …Enjoy the film for it’s endless creativity and visual surprises.  Don’t worry if you can’t follow the plot – if you need to know what just happened, read the book. Tykwer and the Wachowskis won’t mind.”

Katey Rich, CinemaBlend: “I’m having a hard time getting anything done until I get Cloud Atlas– my most anticipated film of the festival by far– out of my brain. So here we go…. This big, ambitious, gorgeous, glorious film demands that its audience walk in as open-hearted as it is; it’s going to take you to some hippy-dippy, love-is-all-around-you places, and skeptics who choose to reject that will be in for a long two and a half hours. But directors Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer also make the choice to run along with it an easy one, filling the screen with gorgeous locations and effects, casting a huge slate of fantastic actors in some almost absurdly challenging parts, and even expanding and reshaping David Mitchell’s original novel into a tale that’s about, well, nearly everything. Some of it is the dreamy philosophy you might be expecting– love is the most important thing, we are all connected– but much of it is surprisingly incisive and even radical. By abandoning the nested structure of Mitchell’s novel, in which each story was told in two individual sections, and layering them on top of each other instead, the Wachowskis and Tykwer have created a moving synchronicity between all of them, powerfully making the case for common pursuits and motivations and desires among humans over time… They also accomplish this, as you might have heard, by casting all the actors in multiple roles.. It makes for a fun kind of Where’s Waldo? game, as you scrutinize each new character’s face to figure out which actor has returned, but it resonates with the many themes of how humanity both improves and repeats its own mistakes across the centuries… I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of what there is to say about Cloud Atlas, about the ideas and emotions it inspired in me, about the best scenes, or even about how Korean actress Doona Bae runs rings around every famous person in the movie with her performance as the defiant clone Sonmi-451… Cloud Atlas and its ambition and its enormous heart are still jangling through my veins, almost too close to quite understand just yet. I can’t wait for you all to see it so we can talk about it some more.”

Trevor Hogg, Flickering Myth: “Unlike with their previous films, the Wachowskis collaborated with another filmmaker, Tom Tykwer (Perfume) and to their credit a uniformed look is achieved. The boundaries of production design and visual effects are pushed to create fully realized worlds whether in the past, present or the future… Sound effects and dialogue combined with brisk crosscutting result in seamless transitions from scenes and storylines adding to the sense of interconnection. The sheer ambition and scope of the cinematic adaptation is impressive and completely realized on the big screen. Working against Cloud Atlas at the box office is that it requires multiple viewings to understand as well as includes some gruesome subject matter; however, over time the epic may well grow in popularity.”

Owen Gleibman, Entertainment Weekly: “I can honestly say that virtually everything I heard about the movie made me think that I wouldn’t like it at all… It sounded like a pile-up of pretension, a hyper-mystical jumble — and, frankly, coming from the Wachowskis, it sounded like the worst “cosmic” aspects of the two Matrix sequels compounded and inflated… So the first thing I want to say about Cloud Atlas is that it’s a nimbly entertaining and light-on-its-feet movie. Adapting the 2004 novel by British author David Mitchell, the Wachowskis tell half a dozen stories at once, but that doesn’t mean the film is a mish-mash. It’s more like a gonzo mini-series made with a sophisticated channel-zapper consciousness — an invitation to go wherever the Wachowskis want to take you, with the trust that they know just what they’re doing. Each of the stories writes its own rules and unfolds in its own madly detailed and organic world. And as the movie goes on, the worlds fuse across time. Cloud Atlas isn’t a chaos; it’s more like the history of movies crammed into a single, emotionally transporting parable of freedom and authoritarian control… The multiple-role casting, and the bravura makeup that makes it possible (it includes not just flipped genders but switched racial roles), is so clever and imaginative that it’s more than a gimmick — it’s closer to a burlesque of identity… Cloud Atlas is an original vision, but in a funny way it’s also a wildly overstuffed smorgasbord that seems to be wearing the entire history of Hollywood genre movies on its sleeve.”

Chris Spicer, Fanboy Comics: “The acting is uniformly good across the board. Hanks hasn’t been this good in a long time, and I was especially entertained by his brief turn in the fourth story as a loutish street thug whose tell-all memoir gets savagely reviewed. Hanks seems to be having a ball subverting his Jimmy Stewart-esque persona. I’m a Broadbent fan from way back, and he’s especially good in the fourth story, which allows him to take center stage. Halle Berry’s big story is the third one, and she does sturdy, reliable work here. Hugo Weaving plays a riff on Nurse Ratched and also turns up in the last story as a Satan-like creature that looks a lot like the villain from The Princess and the Frog, who was voiced by Keith David, who also turns up in Cloud Atlas in multiple roles. Hugh Grant, James D’Arcy, Susan Sarandon, and Ben Whishaw (the once and future Q) round out the great cast… Cloud Atlas has its flaws, but I liked it a lot and it’s an extremely ambitious movie. And, for those of us who are film fans, a big movie with big ideas swinging for the fences is very much worth your time.”

Hugo Weaving as Bill Smoke, on the Cloud Atlas Glagow set 18 September 2011

Brian Owens, Naff Insights: “It’s a movie I fell in love with in spite of its self. And it honestly just keeps getting better in my head (the emotional response I had to the trailer just now being proof). As far as plot goes, it would be nearly impossible to describe, but the line from Susan Sarandon in the trailer sums it up nicely: Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime, and every kindness, we birth our future… Cloud Atlas has something that is lacking in many Hollywood films (although Germany is the lead producing nation on this pic) – ambition. The Wachowski Siblings and Tykwer are aiming higher than most would ever attempt to in epic storytelling, philosophy, and they reach for a science fiction that does what science fiction should do: tell us about who we are as a species today…It’s all a little too self-serious and the framing device should be excised completely (at 2 hours and 43 minutes, they could stand to chop a bit and this does nothing for the story), but I’ll be damned if Cloud Atlas isn’t just a great old-fashioned let’s go to the movies good time.”

Sean Minogue: “The film is not perfect – there are lots of instances of the filmmakers being “cute” that I didn’t appreciate, the makeup is clunky at times, and the thematic messaging is heavy-handed for American audiences. And yes, the book is better. The success of Cloud Atlasthe film is in the editing and (most of) the performances. Co-editors Alexander Berner and Claus Wehlisch are operating on Inception levels here. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get nominated for their work. The action sequences a la Wachowski are pretty decent as well. But most importantly, the film has got some heart and doesn’t take itself so seriously that the human quality of Mitchell’s characters is wiped out.”

Barbara Vancheri, “Overheard: “I have no idea what it was about, but I loved it” – a man talking about “Cloud Atlas,” the 163-minute movie from Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski… I saw “Cloud Atlas” this morning (starting at 8:45 a.m.) and it is the most ambitious, risky, grand project I’ve seen in years. Several of the actors, notably Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, and Jim Sturgess, play a half-dozen roles each and the makeup is easily Oscar-worthy with changes in gender and race along with noses, teeth, hair and skin color and texture…I haven’t read the 2004 David Mitchell source novel which was a complex structure of six narratives written in different styles, which meant I was a bit lost in space at times, but it ultimately didn’t seem to matter. It’s dazzling although not necessarily as satisfying as some other movies but its themes are universal and big, including the desire for freedom and notion that ‘from womb to tomb, we are bound to others,’ past and present.”

Atlantic City Weekly: “I was surprised how much I enjoyed Cloud Atlas, the amazing new trippy science-fiction epic from directors Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix). I was concerned since the Wachowski siblings hadn’t really made a good film since The Matrix. Based on the novel of the same name, the film stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant. In the tradition of the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, the actors play multiple characters in elaborate makeup in six different story lines that travel back and forth in time. The deeper we go, the more these different threads wind together into a tale of humanity’s flaws and the search for meaning in the universe. It is a lot funnier (in a good way) then the summation suggests. Funniest movie moment of 2012 to date involves a sexual liaison and a cat. Cloud Atlas joins Silver Linings Playbook as my two favorite films at the festival.”

Marshall Fine, Huffington Post: “You can have The Master — give me something as multi-layered and chewy as Cloud Atlas any day. As the stories break in on each other, the trio of directors create a variety of resonances that echo forward and backward in time, finding themes of questioning authority, seeking personal freedom and the constant struggle to outlive the kind of greedy human errors we seem to make over and over throughout history… It is bound to be as controversial as The Master — but is more accessible and more involving. Hanks, along with Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant and a handful of other actors, bring each of these stories to vigorous life. The directors put the various pieces of the puzzle into play, then bring it all home in the final hour of the film’s 165-minute running time… Is it challenging? Absolutely. And yet it pays off emotionally and intellectually in ways that few movies with this much ambition ever do. It’s easy to mock the feelings it evokes, but that’s a shallow reading of a much deeper film. Cloud Atlas is one of the best films I’ve seen this year and one of the most satisfying.”

I have a feeling this isn’t remotely the end of it either. 😉 More soon…


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