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.
Some completely unexpected by welcome Hugo Weaving news to report: Hugo attended the Beijing premiere of Cloud Atlas yesterday, along with directors Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer and costar Zhou Xun, who finally gets some proper attention on her home turf. (She portrayed Yoona 939, Zachry's sister Rose, and the male hotel clerk who helps Luisa Rey break into Sixsmith's room.)
There's a 20 minute press conference video available here (unfortunately, I haven't been able to convince LJ to accept the embed code…). Hugo speaks at 8.26 and 17.00 but the whole thing is well worth a look; you can infer most of the questions through the answers, though one reporter asks Hugo a particularly challenging question in English. 😉 I'll try to transcribe Hugo's comments soon. Lana Wachowski makes an impassioned defense of the film's cross-gender and -racial casting… and I'll have to add once again that anyone hung up on this point doesn't understand the film and is blinkered by misguided identity politics.
I've also found a few photos and will add more as they become available; there's a bit of a language barrier, but I have figured out Hugo's name in Chinese 雨果·维文, so that should point me in the right direction. I can't translate anything written in Chinese with any degree of nuance, so I'll apologize for that up front. 😉
Cloud Atlas was edited by some 30 minutes in its Chinese release, mostly to excise sexual scenes, and violence (which must make the Neo Seoul segment about five minutes long.) 😉 However, the Chinese trailer (which is much more spoiler-filled than the previous versions) has its share of shocking moments, including several deaths, so the film hasn't been completely censored. I'd be interested in knowing what specifically was changed, if anyone's seen both versions.
Hugo Weaving as Boardman Mephi: Chinese promo stills from sina.com.cn
Hugo Weaving as Haskell Moore
Hugo Weaving as Nurse Noakes and Gotz Otto as Withers
Hugo has given other interviews to the Chinese media as well; he told xinmin.cn "I don't feel that [my] characters perceive themselves as the so-called" villain; instead I focused on their individual motives and drives." The movie's theme is one of karma, Hugo believes, "…[that] everything one does will have a certain impact on others and the world." About the actors' performances in the film, Hugo Weaving says, "The film is not a competition between one actor and another, but each their own roles to strenthen the entire team. In addition, Hugo said, the stunning martial arts fisticuffs [of his past roles] won't be as much of factor in future roles: "[The physical aspect of] 'The Matrix' was very hard", he said with a smile that [now that he's older, he probably should allow for certain concessions to age]"
Again, the translation is rough, so apologies for any imprecision… if you can read Chinese, the original text is here.
Zhou Xun and Hugo Weaving at the Beijing press conference Photo: xinmin.cn
An article at hinews.cn quotes Hugo briefly about the film's themes: "The sense partnership [with the Wachowskis] has remained strong and I was intrigued by the the reincarnation concept in the stories, [Lana Wachhowski] has particularly strong feelings on the subject [of transformation of identity]. I can't speak for her but I can feel it in her passion for this project." They also pointlessly rehash Transformers-gate, but I suspect everyone's already read those quotes in the original English. (So far as I can tell, they just quoted the Collider piece rather than asking Hugo directly.) Needless to say, I still don't understand the fuss over this issue, and I'm fairly certain Hugo doesn't either. He shouldn't be permanently tethered to an unsubstantial voice role which rendered him unrecognizable in the first place. Hugo's six roles are noted at people.com.cn (and there's a film still of Hugo as Bill Smoke); no quotes from him, but some nice comments from author David Mitchell at that site.
HHugo Weaving interviewed by Beijing media for Cloud Atlas; Photos: sina.com.cn via hinews.com.ca
Yes, I'm looking for video of that interview, but you can read the text at hinews.com.ca; rough tranlation follows:
Q: "Cloud Atlas" feels like a dream in which of all the actors in the movie plays multiple roles, including different genders and different identities, what did it feel like for you the first time you read the scrip? Did you know what kind of trip/journey you were getting involved with?
Again., that's a very loose translation, though it helps that Hugo's answered similar questions about the film in previous press junkets.
Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, Hugo Weaving and Zhou Xun and Zhu Zhu at the Cloud Atlas Beijing press conference. Photo: Yangtze Evening News via China Daily Online
I'll keep a lookout for other photos and articles from the Beijing Cloud Atlas premiere… great to see Hugo still doing all he can for the film, and I know the Chinese fans will appreciate it. (Is this Hugo's first time in China? I've often suspected he chooses premieres selectively based on which cities he can visit.) 😉
In non-Beijing Hugo News, Jeremy Ratnam has just announced via Twitter that he'll be interviewing Hugo on Kiss FM 91.3 tomorrow at 2pm (Singapore time, ie 13 hours ahead of EST and nine ahead of GMT) and is taking potential questions. I always ask something obscure like "Will we ever get to see The Key Man", so my questions never get passed along. Actually, I might also implore this reporter and any others to not refer to Hugo as "The Matrix Man", which probably makes him wince internally. 😉 Cloud Atlas also recently opened in Singapore, so questions will probably focus on that film… which is fine with me.
Recent Cloud Atlas Reviews/Articles: Straits Times, Kyle Garvey, Poached Mag, Finally Surfacing (great, incendiary essay on Hollywood and the American media's utter incomprehension of the film), Cool Awesome Movies, IZ Reloaded, F Movie Mag, Alex's East Asian Studies, Twisted Samuelle, SG New Wave, Dan Martin (Italian), Positifcinema (Italian), Cinefatti (Italian), Subash Movie Reviews, Also: Asia One reprinted a selection of quotes from previous press conferences (including some comments from Hugo about Nurse Noakes) in advance of the Beijing premiere. Cloud Atlas is nominated for Outstanding Wide-Release Film by the GLAAD Awards. And STV promotes the film's Glasgow Film Festival screening February 17, in advance of the UK opening the next day.
Hugo Weaving as Bill Smoke in Cloud Atlas. Chinese promo stills: sina.com.cn
Hugo Weaving as Old Georgie
Hugo Weaving, Tom Tykwer, Lana and Andy Wachowski. Photo (plus next three): Hinews.cn
Alongside these photos from Hinews.cn were additional interview comments from the directors and Hugo; I'll print a translation of Hugo's remarks below:
Hugo Weaving: The beginning of the film was shot in two places: I spent three weeks in the United Kingdom [Glasgow, Scotland]. [Then] the Wachowskis' Neo Seoul Korean segment took three weeks. We all regrouped in Germany [at Studio Babelsberg] , but there they are also divided the directing tasks. The locations were separated very close, within walking distance. We had preparatory work to do before the shooting; the directors were very helpful and cooperative during this process, very generous, selfless. Preparatory work [on this kind of project] is essential, so when it came time to film the actors between the two groups [of directors and crews] there were very convenient transitions. If not not for this careful preparation, we couldn't have completed the film.
Hugo Weaving: [The Asian actors in Cloud Atlas] had a strong work ethic, and were accustomed to working at a faster pace [than most Western actors]. I think the trend of internationalization [in filmmaking] is not the only way [of doing it], but one which will become increasingly common. Films and audiences will become more international in scope, and this is a very exciting thing. Cloud Atlas is such a work.
[After one of the Chinese announcers says that he finds Cloud Atlas "more international [in scope] than a typical superhero film"]
Hugo Weaving : I very much agree with you…[the creative team] jumped from familiar territory to uncharted territory, to feel the surprise of the unknown. All those involved in the movie are very brave.
Hugo Weaving : The movie is like a multi-part canvas of multiple voices, expressing a common theme for me, very creative; [the] novel and screenplay movie have this feeling, I believe the Chinese audience will be pleasantly surprised.
Frustrating news: there's a 35 minute video of one of the Beijing interviews here, but my access is being blocked. I can't translate the popup explaining why, but international viewing restrictions are often to blame. If anyone can get ahold of this footage: please let us know!
Zhou Xun and Hugo Weaving at the Beijing press conference. Photo: xinmin.cn
All photos in this section: xinmin.cn
Here's a variation from The Yangzte Daily via News 163
From Wuham Morning:
…And Henan Business Daily
…And a few more from xinmin.cn (next four)
Hugo Weaving: "[Cloud Atlas's themes] can be about kinds of reincarnation or the butterfly effect, a little thing [in one person's life] that may eventually affect the whole world." He also said "You have to learn to laugh at yourself" when asked how he felt about the Wachowskis calling him "their evil Muse". (I personally wish they'd quit it…)
More on why his Matrix days are behind him (via Wuhan Morning): "I think [that if one is serious about Kung Fu] one should be training begins from the age of 6, rather than the 36-year-old I was when I began 'The Matrix'. I trained very hard, but now I'm older, and probably shouldn't try it."
Getty Images' pics of the event now available:
Hugo Weaving at the Beijing Cloud Atlas press conference; ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images (plus next 8)
I'm now thinking I could make an entire 12 month calendar featuring these Rockettes photos of the cast. 😉
L to R: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, Hugo Weaving, Zhou Xun, Zhu Zhu
Hugo arrives at the Beijing premiere
…looking like the proverbial cat who swallowed the canary. 😉
Hugo greets costar Zhou Xun at the press conference
OK, that should tide you over for… a few hours anyhow. 😉 Back soon if I find more… again, if anyone has good-quality video of any of these interviews, Hugo's international fans would love to see it!