New Hugo Weaving Interviews, Hobbit 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.

Apologies for my absence over the past week; I’ve been dealing with a tragedy involving my cats as well as other job and family responsibilities. I have kept a record of interesting new Hobbit material via my Twitter account when possible, and will try to compile some of the best new material that’s appeared since the last entry. Unfortunately, Hugo Weaving didn’t participate in any of the post-Wellington Hobbit premieres, including tonight’s Royal Premiere in London. I have no idea if this was a matter of personal choice or work commitment, but I’m not particularly surprised, as Hugo only attended one premiere each for the three Lord of the Rings films and has done more than his fair share of film promotion this fall, with Cloud Atlas and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opening in quick succession. Also, it should be remembered that Elrond is a relatively minor character in The Hobbit; Hugo probably thought the bulk of attention in publicizing the film should go to Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and the actors playing the Dwarves, as they’re much more central to the plot.

That said, Hugo has given several interviews for the film, solo and with other cast members. I’ll start with the Zealandia interview which ran on The Today Show last Friday, and featured Hugo alongside Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage and Elijah Wood. This is the only US TV interview to feature Hugo, probably because it was conducted in New Zealand just before the Wellington premiere rather than in New York last week. Hugo only gets about three sentences in, but they’re all great. 😉

(Note: Thanks to Richard Armitage Central for the YouTube version.)

Britain’s T4 featured interviews with the same groups of actors featured in earlier Australian media interviews, including Hugo Weaving/Cate Blanchett/Elijah Wood and Martin Freeman/Andy Serkis/Richard Armitage.

Hugo gave a solo text interview to the New York Daily News, and  Hugo and Cate Blanchett were jointly interviewed by Flicks and Bits; I’ll post the full text for both beneath the cut:

Hugo Weaving is back on familiar ground as Elrond in ‘The Hobbit’
Star from ‘The Matrix’ divides his time into big-budget films, art-house projects and theater work


Australian actor Hugo Weaving plays Elrond in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.’
WELLINGTON, N.Z. — Hugo Weaving comes across almost as mysterious as the ancient elf he portrays in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
In an interview with the Daily News a few hours before the movie’s world premiere in director Peter Jackson’s hometown, the 52-year-old actor seems reflective about returning as Elrond of Rivendell in the prequel trilogy to “The Lord of the Rings.”


“It feels like more than 10 years [since those movies], honestly,” says Weaving, sporting a grizzly beard that makes him look more like one of the film’s dwarves. “But it’s funny, in some ways it’s like slipping an old shoe on. … Certainly coming back here and seeing everyone again felt like no time had passed in some ways.”


Ask Weaving about having seen the film for the first time the previous evening, though, and he immediately reverts to the schoolboy who fell in love with J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.” “I felt like a little kid when I was watching it last night,” he says. “I thought this really takes you back to watching movies with big, wide eyes.”


Weaving has become one of the favorites to play the villain in blockbusters — such as Agent Smith in “The Matrix” movies, the voice of Megatron in “Transformers” or the Red Skull in last year’s “Captain America: The First Avenger.” But the Australian-based actor never intended to become a Hollywood staple.


It just sort of happened after the critical acclaim that came out of his breakthrough turn as a drag queen in 1994’s “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”
He felt uneasy signing on for what would become his signature role in “The Matrix” films, as the indomitable Agent Smith, until he read the now-famous interrogation speech in the script that felt like a scene from a play.


“Feels like I’ve run two or three different strands as an actor,” he says, devoting different parts of his year to national theater and art-house movies in his native Australia and big-budget international movies like this year’s “Cloud Atlas.”


“It’s really radically different worlds that I occupy at different times of the year, and I try to jump from one to another.”


He likes to meander in his career paths, but it’s no surprise Weaving ended up back in Rivendell.


“I always felt like when I left Wellington after ‘Lord of the Rings,’ I always knew I’d be back,” he said.

Note: The New York Daily News also interviewed Cate Blanchett and Elijah Wood; you can read that article here.


Cate Blanchett & Hugo Weaving Interview For ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’



‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum (Andy Serkis). Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities … A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.


From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson, ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ is the first of three films based on ‘The Hobbit’ novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. The trilogy of ‘Hobbit’ films are set in Middle-earth 60 years before Jackson’s ’The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.  The release schedule for the three ‘Hobbit’ films are as follows: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ is set for a December 13th release; ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ arrives in cinemas December 13th, 2013; and ’The Hobbit: There and Back Again’ concludes the trilogy on July 18th, 2014. My other interviews for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Jounrey’ can be found through the following links: Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman and Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman and James Nesbitt (more to come). In the films Cate Blanchett plays Galadriel, while Hugo Weaving plays Elrond.


Q: Over a decade has passed since the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, how was it for you diving back into this Middle-earth universe and these beloved characters?


Cate Blanchett: I had no expectation that there would be anything more after the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. I thought that was sort of the end of the journey – and my time on that trilogy was all too brief. I was there for three or four weeks, even though they shot for such a long time, I was only there for that amount of time. So when I heard that Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh (producer/screenwriter) and Philippa Boyens (screenwriter) were going to embark upon ‘The Hobbit,’ I became a stalker (laughs), and I literally called my agent – and I don’t really bother my agent that much (laughs), but I called her pretty much everyday to say, “Is there any word yet? Is Galadriel going to be in it?” I kept getting the answer that Peter doesn’t know yet, because of course Galadriel doesn’t appear much in ‘The Hobbit’ book, so I was hoping against hope. And then when I got word that, in fact, she was going to be in a small section of it I was over the moon. It was a little bit like returning to Summer camp (laughs), in that so many of the people that were a part of the first journey are a part of this journey. It’s an amazing thing to be able to return to something that begun 12 years ago.


Q: With the White Council – which is comprised of Gandalf, Saruman, Elrond and Galadriel, can you tell us a little bit about them and the role they play in this story? Aside from Galadriel, the other members of the Council aren’t best pleased with Gandalf’s quest?


Hugo Weaving: Yeah. My character Elrond, the Elf Lord of Rivendell, he’s one of the older souls in Middle-earth and therefore he has vast experience and wisdom. I think there’s a great deal of respect between Elrond and Gandalf. But Gandalf is doing something Elrond doesn’t approve of by protecting Thorin and the dwarves. Elrond feels that if they go to the Lonely Mountain and awaken Smaug, that will just stir things up. But there is Gandalf’s other agenda too, and that’s a whole other problem to contend with. The White Council is essentially working towards a peaceful world and is mindful of the fact that there are forces around them which could, at any time, reignite and threaten their way of life.


Q: Galadriel is a vital ally to Gandalf….


Cate Blanchett: Yes. I would hazard a guess that our part of the story – the fact that Gandalf and Galadriel sense that something’s wrong – will have particular resonance and prescience of what is to come. The White Council just doesn’t see it. And what is noble and heroic about Gandalf and Galadriel is that they are prepared, together, to look the future in the eye. That’s what makes Gandalf the most wonderful hero, the courage, against popular opinion, to move into the darkness that no one else is prepared to go into.

Q: While ‘The Hobbit’ is an incredibly human story with fundamental and universal themes, it’s very much set in a fantastical world with fantastical characters. As an actor, how is that to portray and delve into….?


Hugo Weaving: We’re all dressed up and pretending, creating this world – and that’s the wonderful thing about it. That’s why you do it, you try to illuminate another reality, or illuminate another internal reality for a particular person or a group of people, create a whole new world. And in this sense it’s a really fantastical world, which has repercussions for who we are as people, even though they’re elves and dwarves and hobbits, there’s obvious parallels between the world which we inhabit and in which these characters inhabit. That’s a delight, it’s why we do it. For me this Middle-earth world is so interesting.


Q: How was it working with Peter Jackson again after all these years?


Cate Blanchett: Peter Jackson was the reason that I was so excited about being part of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. And of course Galadriel is just a tiny, weeny piece of the puzzle, and it’s such an extraordinary puzzle! It’s a puzzle that I really don’t think anyone other than Peter could have pulled together. He’s got such an extraordinary sense of the sublimely beautiful and the grotesque. The way he combines those two things, that’s utterly unique.


Hugo Weaving: Peter Jackson is an incredible man because he’s dealing with so many issues and characters, but then the big picture, that’s his focus. But at ground level he’s making smaller pictures, focusing on the minutia of each character, the details of each locations that are set in this larger world. From day to day dealing with all of those details, these films really suit his fantastic character (laughs). It’s been really lovely to come back and see people throughout the cast and crew whom we haven’t seen for so many years.


Bonus: Hitherto undiscovered Cloud Atlas interview featuring Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon:

Talk 2SV with Sandra Varner

25 Oct. 2012
CLOUD ATLAS’ Susan Sarandon and Hugo Weaving
A sunny day at The Beverly Hilton Hotel, they entered the room as easy as anyone, absent of ego and pomposity, also to their credit, happy to talk about one of this year’s most anticipated films, CLOUD ATLAS. I am referring to Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking) and Nigerian born, British-influenced actor, Hugo Weaving (The Matrix movies).
Sitting across from them listening to the responses they give, you instantly recognize the love for their chosen craft, an appreciation for the life it affords them as well as the depth of character they bring to this cinematic journey that delves deliciously deep into the imagination.


In CLOUD ATLAS, Sarandon (Madame Horrox, Older Ursula, Yusouf Suleiman, Abbess) brings her own brand of fierce intelligence to every role she plays, from her acclaimed, fearless portrayal in “Bull Durham” to her Oscar®-nominated performances in “Atlantic City,” “Thelma & Louise,” “Lorenzo’s Oil” and “The Client,” to her Academy Award®-winning and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award®-winning work in “Dead Man Walking.”


Among her numerous accolades, she recently received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries for her role in the HBO film “Bernard and Doris,” as well as Golden Globe and SAG® Award nominations in the same category. In 2010, Sarandon received Emmy and SAG® nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role opposite Al Pacino in HBO’s “You Don’t Know Jack,” directed by Barry Levinson. Her other HBO miniseries include “Mussolini: The Decline and Fall of Il Duce,” opposite Bob Hoskins and Anthony Hopkins, and James Lapine’s “Earthly Possessions,” based on the Anne Tyler novel.


Her more recent performances include the films “Arbitrage,” “Jeff, Who Lives at Home”; “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps,”and Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones.” Sarandon also appeared on Broadway in 2009 in “Exit the King” and “An Evening with Richard Nixon.” She received critical acclaim for her Off-Broadway turn in “A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talkin’” and the thriller “Extremities,” and also appeared Off-Off-Broadway in the moving post-September 11th stage play “The Guys.”


Among Sarandon’s additional feature credits are the Wachowskis’ “Speed Racer,” “Enchanted,” Mr. Woodcock,” Paul Haggis’ “In the Valley of Elah,” Romance and Cigarettes,” Cameron Crowe’s “Elizabethtown,” “Alfie,” “Shall We Dance?,” “Moonlight Mile,” “The Banger Sisters,” “Igby Goes Down,” “Cradle Will Rock,” “Step Mom,” “Twilight,” “Safe Passage,” “Little Women,” “Bob Roberts,” “Light Sleeper,” “White Palace,” “A Dry White Season,” “The January Man,” “Sweet Hearts Dance,” “The Witches of Eastwick,” “Compromising Positions,” “The Buddy System,” “The Hunger” and “King of the Gypsies.”


CLOUD ATLAS casts Hugo Weaving as Haskell Moore, Tadeusz Kesselring, Bill Smoke, Nurse Noakes, Boardman Mephi, and Old Georgie. He is widely known for his role as Agent Smith in the Wachowskis’ highly acclaimed Matrix trilogy, for his starring role in “V for Vendetta,” and as Elrond in the award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy. He recently reprised the role of Elrond in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” in theatres in December. The film is the first of three movies Jackson will direct based on the book The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.


He previously starred as Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull in Joe Johnston’s “Captain America” and in Johnston’s “The Wolfman,” and “The Keyman.” Weaving’s numerous credits in voice work include the characters of Megatron in Michael Bay’s blockbuster “Transformers” and its sequels, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”; as well as Noctus/Grimble in Zack Snyder’s “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”; Noah the Elder in George Miller’s award winning “Happy Feet,” and “Happy Feet Two”; and Rex the Sheepdog in “Babe” and its sequel, “Babe: Pig in the City.”


Weaving is the recipient of four Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, receiving the first in 1991 for Best Actor for his portrayal of a blind photographer in “Proof.” He received a nomination in the same category in 1994 for the role of Mitzi Del Bra in “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” Weaving won his second AFI Award for Best Actor in 1998 for his role in “The Interview,” for which he also received the 1998 Best Actor Award at the World Film Festival in Montreal. In 2005, his role in the critically acclaimed “Little Fish,” opposite Cate Blanchett and Sam Neill, earned Weaving his third AFI Award for Best Actor. In 2012, he was honored with his fourth AFI Award, for Best Supporting actor in “Oranges and Sunshine,” which also received the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.


Excerpts from our conversation follow:


Talk2SV: There are rare times in an actor’s life when presented with material as imaginative as CLOUD ATLAS. And because of the creative storytelling, it is essential to have the right cast to pull off the very large scenes and sweeping themes in this movie that allow audiences to go along for the ride. How did you feel when you knew you were chosen for your roles in this film?


Sarandon: I said ‘yes’ before I even knew what the parts were because I just wanted the ride and I knew that it would be something special because of who they (the filmmakers) were. I read the book when I was making the movie, Speed Racer (in 2008, also a Wachowski film). I just thought that it’s an impossible task, you have these fabulous people and how great it would be to be part of Camp Cloud Atlas, to just go and jump and do it. We had a limited amount of time that I could give them and I just said, ‘I’m yours, whatever you can find for me, I’m happy to be there.’ Later, when I read the script, I was amazed that they’d managed to do it. Of course, they didn’t have to use the same actors in multiple roles but I think that’s the fluidity that makes it really special, it was so unusual. We all knew that something very special was happening no matter where it went. Just organizing it that way, these people had to have a certain spirit. You’re talking about Halle Berry and Tom Hanks who you know aren’t normally playing tiny parts; the spirit that they entered the project with was very, very special.


Weaving: If didn’t feel like everyone would be in the film for the ride of it, possibly it wouldn’t be. They very much needed people who were open souls and people whose work they liked. They had to be people who were open to possibilities, open to others, open to the journey that we were going to be making which is very much into a territory that filmmaking hasn’t really gone into before. So I think that spirit of inquiry and adventure, and the idea that it was a voyage, if the actors weren’t prepared to embrace that idea and not just embrace it but actually be eager to be part of that, then I don’t think Tom (Tykwer) or Lana or Andy would have the actors be there. That’s why we’ve got an incredibly harmonious and joyous group of people in this film. I mean, there are great names in this film, but it’s not just, well let’s get all these names and let’s do all this…let’s package this up and none of the people know each other or think alike or get on at all. This is a group that’s come together over time who has a similar sense of wonder and delight in exploring the world and trying new forms. That’s why this has been such a great experience for all of us and I think that desire and that joy translates onto the screen in a very physical way. That is the great thing that surprised me when I saw the film. I knew we had that, but the fact that it was somehow bubbling up in a very playful way, you don’t get that in film, and you don’t really get that sense of play …


Talk2SV: As you’ve alluded to, when you have a film that is huge and so different from what people know you for, sometimes actors are asked where did you go to detox as it were, where did you go to unwind? Given the rare experience CLOUD ATLAS presented, did you want to hold on to some aspect of your characters because in some aspects, they represent a sort of parallel life?


Sarandon: I wanted to hold on to the experience of ‘being there’ because as an actor, you can sometimes forget how much fun it is; you can forget that your characters are your way into learning something new and surprising you along with everything else. Occasionally, you work with people who are competitive and actually set out to make your job harder, I’ve run into that a little bit. But when you have this kind of very rare repertory company, I was sad to leave that experience. I hadn’t seen Lana and Andy in a long time, or Tom (Twyker). I hung out a little bit with Tom during Speed Racer and we’d keep in touch a little bit but I hadn’t seen them so I was really happy to be there. I felt very at home with the characters and was proud to be the bearer of those lines in this film, ‘our lives are now our own.’ It was nice to know those lines made it in the movie’s trailer. It felt really cool, I thought, ‘oh wow, I’m in the trailer,’ and I liked being the one who got to say that even if you don’t see me that much in the movie saying it. Then, the Wachowskis’ did the sweetest thing, when the film was finished; they flew the cast and crew to their home in Chicago so we could experience it (a screening of the movie) all together, privately. Just another example of how thoughtful they are.

Talk 2SV also featured a nice enlargement of one of Matt Carr’s TIFF portraits of Hugo:

Hugo is also quoted in the following cast interview compilations and Wellington premiere summaries:

Reuters: “You couldn’t not come back, you had to come back.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer/AP: “[On differences between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings]This one feels lighter, more buoyant, but it’s got quite profoundly moving sequences in it, too … I think it’s very different in many ways, and yet it’s absolutely the same filmmaker, and you are inhabiting the same world.”

Pics of Hugo from the November 28 Wellington, NZ Hobbit premiere continue to appear; here are some that have bee posted online since I posted the last batch. Some are enlarged versions of previously posted images.

Mark Coote/Reuters (plus next one)

HD Magazine



Briahna Patterson/BRI Photography via Twitter (plus next photo)

There’s a well-assembled compilation of all the official cast interviews (including Hugo’s) and appropriate behind the scenes footage here. Reviews on the Run features two Behind the Scenes previews (1, 2) which also include actor comments (though none from Hugo) and some unfortunate background music. 😉

Hugo Weaving and Ian McKellen in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

There are video interviews featuring cast members at the New York Premiere from Beyond The Trailer, and AP

Other Hobbit Articles: There are interviews with Andy Serkis at The Huffington Post, and Time Online,  with Peter Jackson at The Toronto Star, Entertainment Weekly and IBN Live, with Ian McKellen at The Guardian, with Martin Freeman at Flicks and Bits, still from the second film, The Desolation of Smaug, at Flickering Myth,  a behind-the-scenes overview from The Daily Mail, and a longer look at the Dwarves singing “The Misty Mountain” (aka “The Lonely Mountain”) at Slant Magazine highlights key scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And The Hollywood Reporter suggests the film will open at $70 million despite some jaded, been-there-done-that critical appraisals.

Hugo Weaving and Ian McKellen in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I’m not going to compile Hobbit reviews as thoroughly as I did Cloud Atlas reviews because a. there are far too many, and b. the criticism tends to be the same across the board, with negativity focused on the film’s pacing/being stretched out from the original novel as well as the HFR technology, which many find jarring or too photorealistic/unflattering of the film’s artifice in places. But I’ll share positive or well-written mixed reviews. Recent ones worth a look include The Telegraph, The Huffington Post (Mark Ryan), The Huffington Post (Marshall Fine), The Hollywood News, Ror Reviews, Middletown CT Patch, Wired,, Flickering Myth, TodayOnline, and The New York Post.

And more Cloud Atlas reviews (and rebuttals against some of the absurd critical and identity politics charges) can be read at CCD Blog, Saratoga Falcon, Yahoo Movies, Awards Daily, Mr Lee Curtis, and an article on the film’s makeup and its Oscar potential can be read at Variety.

DVD Talk posted another belated but flattering review of Last Ride.

I’m still planning to attend the local midnight screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey tomorrow night should no further crises occur. I’ll post my response afterward. My expectations aren’t as astronomical as some fans and critics’ seem to have been: I never saw making The Hobbit as essential, and always felt it was a less substantial novel than LOTR, if amusing. That said, if Hugo felt it merited his participation, I’m cautiously optimistic– if anything, Hugo has proved this year that he won’t tell people only what they want to hear if he doesn’t personally buy it. 😉 When asked about how his role might expand when it was announced The Hobbit would become three films, he said, “For a number of reasons, they decided that there are three films in there.  I hope there are.  I don’t know.”  That’s about how I feel.

Some critics have suggested maybe there aren’t three films in there… I reserve judgment. I had no issue with the expanded editions of LOTR, which added dialogue and character development which enhanced my experience of the story. But I have seen films– particularly sequels and prequels– which did pointlessly rehash material in earlier films in an attempt to recapture their glory or endear fans rather than because there was an organic reason for that material to exist. Nothing I’ve seen so far makes me especially worried. I’m slightly annoyed at the attempts at whimsy and knockabout comedy, but they’re true to the tone of Tolkien’s book, which was more of a children’s story than LOTR. If anything, Peter Jackson has omitted some of the more egregious bits of the original. (No singing Elves, thank God!) I know there’s enough Elrond material in Tolkien’s oeuvre to justify a lot more Hugo content, but am not sure how much of it PJ and co have the rights to. (The Silmarillion is off the table.)

Hugo has hinted he expects the Battle of Five Armies to figure in the second (or third?) film, and that he’ll probably have to film additional scenes in the coming year. The fact that a stunt double had to be enlisted for Hugo’s work in The Desoltation of Smaug (you can read stunt double/sword technician Steven McMichael’s interview in The Calgary Sun) suggests Elrond will have more to do that sit around reading star charts and doling out advice to ungrateful Dwarves the next time around. 😉

Hugo Weaving and Steven McMichael on the Hobbit set/Calgary Herald photo

On a personal note, I’d like to thank all my friends on Twitter and LJ who expressed support and condolences this week as certain events unfolded; I’m going to tell that story more fully on my personal LJ when I’m emotionally prepared to, but wanted everyone to know that their kindness has meant a lot during a very difficult time.


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