New Hugo Weaving Interview, More Cloud Atlas News, Elves Strutting Their Stuff

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.

Today, something wonderful, nay, near-miraculous occurred, and has temporarily restored my faith in humanity: an interviewer talked to Hugo Weaving and actually managed to stay on topic about the project Hugo was there to promote (and his collaborations with the Wachowskis), and didn't ask him more pointless questions about Transformers and Marvel. As Andy Wachowski might say… "Behold!"

Q&A with 'Cloud Atlas' star Hugo Weaving

METRO WORLD NEWS IN HOLLYWOOD
Published: October 17, 2012 12:00 p.m.
Last modified: October 17, 2012 2:02 p.m.
Australian actor Hugo Weaving is probably best known as one of pop culture's most dastardly villains, thanks to "The Matrix." Despite being a perfectly nice guy in real life, he's re-teaming with directors the Wachowskis — along with co-director Tom Tykwer — in "Cloud Atlas" to double-down on his bad-guy image, playing not one but six antagonists. We quizzed the Australian actor on taking jobs away from other actors, why the Wachowskis think he's so good at being bad and what it's like becoming the face of Anonymous.

What was your reaction to the repertory nature of the production, taking on six different characters yourself?

Very excited, I think. I thought it was a great idea. Because in the book there's this sense of certain characters having this common birthmark and this idea that souls may be reborn through time, so that's sort of odd. I mean, now it might seem obvious. "Well, obviously then we can cast actors in each one of the stories." But actually it's kind of brilliant piece of thought of a way of expanding the themes without knocking them on the head too much.

But do you feel at least a little bad about taking up so many roles in one movie? There are a lot of out-of-work actors, after all.

This does happen. I remember when I was doing, as a kind of experiment, a production of "Hamlet" as the Elizabethans would've done it. The only problem with this idea was that it actually robbed all women of the roles, so it was kind of like this. You think, well these are six characters here and I'm playing all of them. Ah! There's five actors out of work. It was like, yeah, just because Elizabethan theater didn't have women onstage, it meant that I was playing Queen Gertrude in a production of "Hamlet," and it's a fantastic role for a woman but they didn't get the gig. So it's happened to me before. (laughs)

Between the "The Matrix" trilogy and the six villains you play in "Cloud Atlas," do you worry about what the Wachowskis really think of you?

Yeah, but then there's the other character I played for them, V in "V for Vendetta." I mean, he would exist very comfortably alongside a lot of [the protagonists] in this film. No, but ever since I first met Lana and Andy, we've laughed a lot and enjoyed each other's company enormously. So I know what they think of me (laughs), and I'm not concerned that they think I'm like these characters. I mean, Lana did say to me the other night, "Maybe we should find you a more sympathetic character to play next time."

What's your opinion on Anonymous appropriating the Guy Fawkes mask from "V for Vendetta"?

Yeah, that's extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary to see that film have an effect with a certain generation of people. In the film, all the people wearing masks — the "We are Spartacus" bit, that one — It's that sort of idea. Who's Spartacus? I'm Spartacus. We're all Spartacus. It's the same sort of idea, and it's similarly linked to the ideas in this film. What is an ocean but a multitude of drops? You can see yourself as an insignificant drop in an ocean, but if you're with like-minded people, then that drop becomes an ocean and swells and becomes a tsunami for change. And I think that was embodied in "V for Vendetta," that use of the masks. That Guy Fawkes figure has become a mask, and that mask — and it's absolutely straight out of the film "V for Vendetta" — that mask has become a uniting symbol for people who would desire change in society, and I think it's pretty extraordinary.

Now I feel bad about chastising the Wachowskis for typecasting Hugo in Cloud Atlas… well, a little. 😉 His roles are pretty limited in it, though he does the best he can. Hugh Grant got all the "fun villain" roles this time.  And V for Vendetta and The Matrix had such a huge impact on my life over the past dozen or so years… whatever these directors want to do, I'll show up for it. And I hope they find a way to balance privacy and visibility, because it's been so thrilling having them participate in promoting this film, which is a passion project for so many. The interviewer also manages to keep things on-point and witty.

I was beginning to despair of there being any real journalists left out there… too many entertainment/comic websites have been lazily taking one or two sentences (from the Collider piece, mostly) out of context and willfully misinterpreting them and amping up controversy in a way Hugo never intended. There's such a chasm between Hugo's real personality and mannerisms in interviews and the creature that irate fanboys are now constructing based on one or two characters and one or two decontextualized quotes that it's almost funny. I really hope Collider will be good enough to post full video or audio of Hugo's interview with them, because posting only the controversial stuff out of context, and in an edited way that doesn't convey Hugo's tone or intentions, does him a real disservice.  Meanwhile in all of his Cloud Atlas video interviews he's been quiet, thoughtful and amusing as always, usually letting Susan Sarandon dominate the conversation even though she has far less screentime in Cloud Atlas than he does. (To be fair, she makes the most of it, and her zeal for the project is infectious.)

Other Cloud Atlas News: There's another interesting article describing the adaptation process which brought David Mitchell's book to the screen, featuring coments from Mitchell, the Wachowskis and several cast members (though not Hugo) at Newsday. It's been intriguing to note both the similarities and differences in how the actors interpret the film, its message and their roles. (Hanks doesn't think his characters are literal reincarnations of one another, but symbolic– and the birthmark progression hints he may be right; Berry, meanwhile, sees a literal and spiritual progression in her characters that isn't obvious to viewers, because some only have a few seconds of screentime. Susan Sarandon also reads more into her roles than I interpreted… only the Abbess is a prominent character in the final edit. But I fully embrace Sarandon's approach; I think that the more actors see in their characters, even if they're adding elements not in the script, the more they're able to economically convey. ) There's a compilation of Trailer Addict "Generic interview"s on YouTube (via AP). Must've been edited by a pissed-off fanboy, because no Hugo footage is included, but the other actors make some inspired comments.

There's a new Wachowski interview up at Canada.com in which the writer/directors humorously describe the lengthy, often Byzantine process of financing the film. "“Our house is up on the screen,” jokes Lana at one point, to illustrate how much of their own money was spent; "I hope you like it.” (There's also an unexpected nod to thrifty b-movie maestro Roger Corman.) An Associated Press piece on the film quoting several actors and the directors has been posted, in various forms, everywhere from The Huffington Post to The Jakarta Post.  This is the interview in which Tom Hanks says "There are going to be people out there who are going to say, 'Who do they think they are to make this movie like this?' That's been the case with every great film. They said the same thing about 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' in the silent days… I think every audience is yearning to be surprised. I am bored when I walk into the theater expecting A, B and C, and a movie delivers A, B and C. I want to see something brand new that I never anticipated coming a hundred million miles away. And my God, that happens before the words 'Cloud Atlas' appear up on the screen on this one." I wanted to be more surprised by Cloud Atlas than I was, but when you get this number of talented people saying this sort of thing… the world needs more movies– large or small– that have the ambition and audacity Hanks cites.  And the three or four of us who swoon at the mere mention of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari salute you. 😉 Also, an enthusiastic new review at My Life As A Geek. (I'll post another collection of review quotes as more come in.)

Though decent-quality, unwatermarked photos from the October 12-14 press junket in Los Angeles are still hard to come by at this stage (hopefully that will change soon), I did find a few nice pics at Corbis that I hadn't seen before; The first five were taken by Walter McBride, the second two by Warren Toda, and the rest by Hubert Boesl. The group shots were taken at the Cloud Atlas photo call/press conference on September 9, the solo pics the night before at the film's TIFF premiere.


OK, deep breath. from L to R, back row: Keith David, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, James D'Arcy, Jim Sturgess, David Gyasi, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant. Front row: Susan Sarandon, Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Bae Doona, Zhou Xun.


 And yes, there are solo shots of most of the other actors at the same site, not always brilliantly organized. But then, neither am I. 😉  

More soon! (Including more TIFF press conference photos, because I won't stop until every microexpression from that event has been duly documented here.) 😉

I know I've been giving The Hobbit not as much attention lately… that will probably change early next month once Cloud Atlas is released (well, in the US). But there are interesting articles covering new merchandise and artwork at Movies.com, Movies.BroadwayWorld, The Hollywood Reporter, and of course TheOneRing.net. Recent Elrond sightings include the stamps and coins previously noted here, as well as a pictorial with Thranduil (Lee Pace) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) at what looks like Elf Fashion Week:

(Images above originally posted at Herr-Der-Ringe-Film.de)

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