New Hugo Weaving Interview; Cloud Atlas Press Junket Continues; New Video

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.

New Cloud Atlas cast interviews are just starting to appear online… and I’m still finding great stuff from TIFF as well. I’ll get right down to it and start posting a new interview with Hugo that’s just gone live at Collider. As is unfortunately common in cases of American movie sites, they asked a bunch of questions about franchises Hugo has already, repeatedly said aren’t that important to him. He’s given the same answers as before, perhaps more elaborately… he has no interest in Transformers or Captain America sequels. He’s tired of playing genre villains. I really hope this gets through to the fanboys, but (sigh…) probably not. Fortunately there’s some clarification about Hugo’s role in the Hobbit trilogy, the first time he’s spoken about that project since it formally became a trilogy. He has yet to complete filming scenes for Peter Jackson, and doesn’t yet know if he’ll appear in the third film. (I’ll probably see the third film regardless… probably. );) Full text is under the cut… and they promise to post the material about the film Hugo is actually here to promote soon.  No new pics, alas…

Hugo Weaving is fascinating, as both an actor and a human being.  Whether it’s in memorable roles in bigger features (i.e. The Matrix trilogy, V for Vendetta and The Lord of the Rings trilogy), in smaller character studies or on the stage, he definitely makes an impression.  While at the press day for the filmmaking masterpiece Cloud Atlas, where he plays six characters over races, genders and periods of time, Collider was fortunate enough to get to speak to him about his work during an exclusive interview.
While we will run what he had to say about the epic experience of making Cloud Atlas closer to the film’s October 26th theatrical release, we did want to share what he had to say about three other films he’s been involved with – The Hobbit, Transformers and Captain America.  During the interview, Weaving said that he only found out that The Hobbit movies would be a trilogy quite recently, that not only has he not been called to voice Megatron for another Transformers movie, but that he’s never actually even met Michael Bay, and that even though he signed a multi-picture contract with Marvel, he doesn’t see Red Skull returning.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Collider:  When did you find out that The Hobbit movies would be a trilogy, and what were your thoughts about that?
HUGO WEAVING:  I found out The Hobbit was going to be a trilogy quite recently, when everyone else found out about it.  Originally, when I said goodbye to Pete [Jackson] in L.A., I said, “I’ll see you on The Hobbit,” and he said, “Well, I’m not doing The Hobbit.”  And then, it was, “We are doing The Hobbit, but I’m not going to direct it.”  And then, it was, “Well, I am directing it now.”  And then, it was, “Actually, we’re doing The Hobbit in two films.”  So, when I went to shoot it out there, there were two scripts and two films.  Now, I’ve just found out, not that long ago, when it was announced.  He said, “Well, we’ve got all this fabulous material and these wonderful people.”  They hadn’t filmed the final battle sequence yet, which would have been at the end of 2.  For a number of reasons, they decided that there are three films in there.  I hope there are.  I don’t know.  I was truly there for four or five weeks and enjoyed myself, and went home again.  My knowledge of the workings of Middle Earth, at the moment, are very minimal.


As the voice of Megatron, has Michael Bay called about the next Transformers movie yet?

WEAVING:  No.  That’s a weird job for me because it honestly was a two-hour voice job, initially.  I was doing a play and I actually didn’t have time, anyway.  It was one of the only things I’ve ever done where I had no knowledge of it, I didn’t care about it, I didn’t think about it.  They wanted me to do it.  In one way, I regret that bit.  I don’t regret doing it, but I very rarely do something if it’s meaningless.  It was meaningless to me, honestly.  I don’t mean that in any nasty way.  I did it.  It was a two-hour voice job, while I was doing other things.  Of course, it’s a massive film that’s made masses of money.  I just happened to be the voice of one of the iconic villainess characters.  But, my link to that and to Michael Bay is so minimal.  I have never met him.  I was never on set.  I’ve seen his face on Skype.  I know nothing about him, really.  I just went in and did it.  I never read the script.  I just have my lines, and I don’t know what they mean.  That sounds absolutely pathetic!  I’ve never done anything like that, in my life.  It’s hard to say any more about it than that, really.
Since Marvel makes everyone sign multi-picture deals, did you have to sign one when you did Captain America?  Could they ask you to do Captain America 2 or The Avengers 2?
WEAVING:  I did that for Captain America.  I think the tendency, with those films, would be to probably not bring a villain back.  They might for The Avengers, but I didn’t think I’d be in Captain America 2 or 3.  I don’t think Red Skull will be there. And it’s not something I would want to do again.  I’m glad I did it.  I did sign up for a number of pictures and I suppose, contractually, I would be obliged to, if they forced me to, but they wouldn’t want to force someone to do it, if they didn’t want to.  I think I’ve done my dash with that sort of film.  It was good to do it and try it out, but to be honest, it’s not the sort of film I seek out and really am excited by.  As an actor, to do all sorts of different films is great.  It stretches you in different ways.  But, I increasingly like to go back to what I used to always do, which is to get involved with projects that I really have a personal affiliation with.

Here’s a great extended cast interview clip from Movie Networks Channel… you can tell it’s Australian media because, in addition to Alicia Malone’s presence, Hugo appears twice, along with Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon:

Here’s a wildly entertaining new Tom Hanks and Halle Berry interview courtesy Black Tree TV:

There’s also an Indian-press interview with Halle Berry at NDTV Movies. Hope they don’t mind that the role where she’s wearing the sari is a tiny one. 😉

There’s some evocative Cloud Atlas-themed artwork here, and a lengthy discussion of the film (featured one of the more sophisticated 14-year-olds I’ve ever heard from) at Oscar Podcast. (The Cloud Atlas chat begins 45 minutes in.) IMO they should add Emma’s comments to the movie posters. 😉 I agree the film is perhaps best aimed at the younger generation, though it’s not for kids. (It’s rated R in the US and features a few disturbing deaths, but not nearly the level of brutality that’s in the book. 14 and up should be fine… that’s the age I started seeing R rated films in theaters too.) I’ve been contemplating whether or not the film has a happy ending myself. (It’s slightly different than that of the book). In the end, I think there’s a powerful sadness to it, for reasons I won’t reveal.

Here’s a new collage of images from yesterday’s press conference/SAG preview screening in LA, posted to Twitter by Joby Harte :

Actors include from top, left clockwise: Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon; Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Bae Doona; Tom Hanks, Berry; Berry, Sturgess, Bae, Weaving, Sarandon, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy

Here’s another collage image from yesterday’s press conference, featuring most of the same actors. Thanks to the James D’Arcy fans and Hiddleston-Addicted Tumblr for spotting it:

Clockwise from left: Halle Berry and Tom Hanks; Berry and author David Mitchell; Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon; James D’Arcy and Ben Whishaw; Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer; David Mitchell

Here’s the extended Entertainment Tonight preview that aired last week and includes a lot of behind the scenes footage; there are interviews with Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon, but alas, not much Hugo content:

Though Hugo is ostensibly here to promote Cloud Atlas, he’s still being forced to answer a lot of questions about the same tedious genre villain roles he’s already answered many times. There’s another piece in Cinema Blend which nearly overlooks Hugo’s insistence that he’s not interested in Marvel sequels in order to fixate on how the character might be reprised. And the shit is still hitting the fanboys (so to speak) over the Collider interview (posted above) which quotes Hugo more directly, and thus is harder to obfuscate. Hugo has been as nice as possible about the whole issue, (and he says he had fun on the project and loved working with Joe Johnston, etc) but if he really wanted to be asked endless questions about Captain America, one thinks he’d have participated in post-release press junkets for that movie. He did not, nor did he appear at any premieres. So fanboys are now ambushing him whenever he tries to promote other projects that obviously mean more to him. To be fair, not all of the response from fans of these movies has been negative or delusional… many applaud Hugo’s artistic integrity and desire not to want to drive any character into the ground through pointless repetition. All supervillains are reprised eventually, but few are continuously played by the same actor over and over again. And if fans can handle three different actors playing The Hulk within ten years… honestly, why keep picking on Hugo?

I’m fine if people like any Hugo Weaving film or are grateful he did it; obviously I think the two particular franchises at the heart of this controversy were mistakes, because I knew exactly what sort of image distortion and expectations they’d engender. If fans could be grateful for what he’s already done, and be willing to support his more substantive films, I’d have no issue with them. I personally loved The Wolfman, though I’m under no illusions that it’s a great film or even a particularly good one; Hugo steals it from everyone else, and I enjoyed the whole story, cheesy Goth melodrama and all. But if I heard Hugo was expected to do sequels for it, or if he kept being asked questions about it at every press conference he did for the rest of his career, I’d die inside. That’s the sort of thing that’s fun to do once, but some fans seem to want to turn him into the scifi/fantasy equivalent of Boris Karloff. Me, I don’t think Karloff got the career he deserved. 😉

I know Hugo was probably persuaded by Joe Johnston and others in the Marvel hierarchy that he wouldn’t be expected to do sequels, or he wouldn’t have signed on for the first one. (Remember how many months that contract negotiation took? I think this issue was a major sticking point.) But he seems a bit naive about how the Hollywood blockbuster system works. He’s worked so often with exceptions to the rule like Peter Jackson and the Wachowskis– who came from indies and still have that flair for originality, and film far from Los Angeles– that he’s been luckier than most to have a certain level of success without selling out.   While it’s true that no villains have been repeated in the individual Marvel superhero stories, the whole franchise is based on repetition of formula. All the films follow a very predictable plot trajectory, and the more money each installment earns, the more formulaic the next one ends up being. Inevitably they’ll run out of villains (and are averse to creating anything not established in the comics decades ago) and will start recycling old ones because of fan demand. Thus I would advise any actor not interested in wasting a decade of his/her career being on call for this sort of thing– and having to field inane questions about it– to not get involved in the first place.

Finally, it’s categorically impossible for Hugo to be involved with the Captain America sequel now in production. He’s slated to film Healing early next year, and might still have to film scenes for the second and third Hobbit films. There might also be postproduction work on Mystery Road. More to the point, there’s a different villain mentioned in all the early publicity for the film, as well as for The Avengers 2.

Really hope I don’t have to bring that subject up again. But the good stuff has started rolling in, so I’ll shut up about that. Cloud Atlas should please both varieties of Hugo fan anyhow. 😉

Here are two Access Hollywood clips of Hugo and Susan Sarandon:

On makeup/becoming their characters

“Describe your character in 15 Seconds Or Less” These two and Hugh Grant would have the easiest time of that. 😉 But I love that Hugo still goes over. He sees more in these characters than is written. Also: approaching the script. I really hope we get to see more footage of Sarandon’s “Indian guy” on the eventual DVD, because he’s barely in the film. (All her roles are cameos apart from the Abbess.) The Indian character is briefly glimpsed in a video/orison Sonmi watches during her education process. I don’t remember him having any lines.

There are also clips of Tom Hanks and Halle Berry as well as Jim Sturgess and Bae Doona discussing the film in pairs (I like the format; also, all but Weaving and Sarandon play linked characters. Wait… did I miss something about Weaving and Sarandon’s characters on the first viewing?) 😉

More is sure to follow, but that’s enough for one entry. Want to emphasize that I have no problems with genre films or “nerds”, though the term is much more expansive now than when I was younger. (Is any film that makes a bazillion dollars really operating in a niche market for any demographic any longer? And is there any social stigma in watching blatantly populist multiplex Hollywood product? I seriously doubt it.) My issues with certain films lie in their lack of originality and self-perpetuating commercial impetus. I hate seeing great character actors typecast so relentlessly. (Hugo is far from the first, and I’m already seeing a younger crop of great actors in the process of being pigeonholed for these villain roles.) It’s fine if you loved any of Hugo’s films or peformances… I’m sure I love a few that aren’t his personal favorites too. But please, respect his statements and preferences on face value, stop the ad hominem attacks, let him follow the career path he finds rewarding. Sooner or later, he makes something for all of us, and we all grow as human beings– artists and fans alike– when we challenge ourselves with new things.


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