Monthly Archives: April 2014

New Healing Reviews and Hugo Weaving/Don Hany Interviews; Strangerland Wraps Filming

First off, I want to thank everyone who’s been so kind and patient as I’ve “set up shop” in the new LJ Hugonuts location and our brand new WordPress location. I’m still ironing out the kinks (particularly at WordPress, where I’m still figuring out the basics) but I now have all of this years posts at both locations. And in case anyone was wondering, content is the same at both locations. WordPress is a failsafe against further LJ outtages/problems, though I’ve noticed it provides a new set of readers and experiences, which is both exciting and terrifying. I do hope to tinker further with the WordPress layout as I find time, including the addition of a sidebar with links to other character actor sites. Over the years I’ve found that, just as Hugo Weaving’s career has been enhanced by collaboration with other talented character actors/actresses like Cate Blanchett, David Wenham, Geoffrey Rush and many others, so their fandoms are enhanced by similar cross-pollination and information-sharing. Also, since the subject has come up, I want to again note that when I quote from news articles or share photos here, I always link back to the site of origin. Hyperlinks are red at WordPress and usually blue at LJ. Often full reviews or additional information is available at those sites, and it’s my strict policy to credit all original sources.

Healing

The preliminaries being dispensed with, it’s been an exciting week as promotion for Hugo’s new film Healing is now in full swing. Several new, positive reviews have appeared, and audience response to preview screenings (which have featured actor Don Hany, director Craig Monahan and– in Sydney– Hugo himself) are nearly universally positive. Hugo definitely seems to be letting his costar Hany handle most of the promotional duties, probably because the film’s plot pivots around Hany’s character. (Also, Hugo usually prefers give other actors– particularly those in attention-getting or career-enhancing roles– the lion’s share of the spotlight when appropriate.) Hugo has participated in at least two interviews, though, and I know that a third has been conducted though not yet posted online. So far Hany has spoken to ABC Radio (RN Drive), Newstalk 4BC 1116 Brisbane, the Sydney Morning Herald (and associated online papers) –in a piece which also featured a video interview and film footage, and Brisbane News (article scan). The two radio interviews are both over ten minutes long and provide a lot of intriguing detail about Hany’s process creating the character Viktor, and of course the challenges and joys of working with raptors like Jess the eagle, his spotlight-stealing costar in the film.

Hugo and Don spoke jointly to SBS/AAP about the film; here is an excerpt with Hugo’s comments:

‘Weaving says watching Hany work with the eagles was incredible, particularly on the last day of the shoot.

In fading light, Hany had to call down one of the birds, which lined him up from 75 metres out, before swooping in to land on his arm.

“It’s an absolutely fantastic piece of work from Don, who really worked a lot with them. I just pretended I knew all about them,” he says, adding he just dealt with the eagles’ smaller cousins.

“I got the fluffy, little chirpy, little Boobook owls – the ones I could handle.”

While the birds play a big part in Healing, writer and director Craig Monahan also shows how the prisoners and Weaving’s character Matt form an offbeat surrogate family at Won Wron Correctional Centre.

Hany says their relationships are a vehicle to explore the pain men experience expressing feelings like love and loss.

So thematically, despite the fact it’s set in a jail and it’s blokes and it’s about loyalty and brotherhood and there’s a strong father-son theme, it’s actually like a bromance,” he says.

“In the landscape of films and genres, I think this one fits into warm, runny, feel-good chick flick, which runs at odds to the way it’s been marketed as a prison film, with the expectation you’re going to see some mano-a-mano, hard and fast violence.”…

Weaving says unlike a classic prison film this doesn’t take place in maximum security.

“This is a really very different world,” he says.

“There are no boundary fences. If they want to run away they can, but they’ll be picked up and put back into medium-security so they don’t.”

He says low-security jails try and get prisoners to take responsibility for themselves.

It was one of the reasons Healing caught his attention.

“(And) the whole thing comes from a true story and that really interested me,” he says.

“The sense of healing, of getting wounded inmates to heal wounded raptors and release them before they’re being released themselves.”  ‘

I personally wish Hany would refrain from using cringe-inducing terms like “bromance” and “chick-flick”, though I understand he’s trying to widen the film’s potential audience. Both actors want the audience to know that Healing isn’t a standard issue “prison movie” replete with shivvings, jailbreaks and snitches. But it’s also not a soft-focus soap opera. As Hany told Newstalk 4BC, “There aren’t many chicks in the film [Healing], but there are plenty of birds.” 😉 Critics and the media need to stop stereotyping audiences by gender anyhow– I’d much rather watch Tarantino films than sit through The Notebook. Healing should appeal to both genders and deserves to be taken seriously– most reviewers (including Variety and ) insist it steers clear of potential genre cliches.

Hugo Weaving also called in a brief interview with Radio NOVA FM on their Sunday evening Confidential program. Though NOVA has posted audio or podcasts (sometimes even video) of past interviews, including past Hugo Weaving interviews, they have inexplicably failed to do so this time around.  Since there was virtually no notice for the interview, I wasn’t on hand to roll tape (and I’ve been spoiled by ABC and other Australian stations generously archiving their interviews, even offering downloads.) Liten at Random Scribblings did grab the audio and has it archived at her site. In most cases I prefer to link directly to original sources for material, because doing otherwise could potentially get myself and any other fans I link to into trouble. (I’ve dealt with this many times over the years, which is why I’ve learned to employ such strict standards, though frankly in many cases other fans do a better job at sharing or archiving information, and would probably conduct more interesting interviews.) I am including links back to the NOVA site in hopes that they’ll eventually post the interview there, but if you don’t want to wait around for that, check it out over at RS. It is rather cursory, as pop radio interviews tend to be.  I do credit the host for bringing up Healing for a question or two after rushing headlong into The Hobbit (which any fan could tell you Hugo has no current gossip about anyhow– he filmed for a month in April 2011, was back later that year for post-production VO work, and that’s it. He wasn’t involved in last year’s pick-up shoots.) Also, I admire their restraint in not asking about Star Wars. ; ) Strangerland is also mentioned in passing.Here’s a repost of the best photo from April 24’s Sydney preview screening and Q&A, the only one Hugo has attended:


L to R:  Journalist Giles Hardie who ran the Sydney Q and A session, Don, co-writer-director Craig Monahan and Hugo Weaving.

The Don Hany Facebook page, which shared the above photo,  had correspondents at this preview screening; you can read their impressions and reactions at the event– which one called  “A mesmerising movie followed by a very enjoyable Q and A session which along with insightful information on the production of this wonderful movie, included tears, hugs and laughter”– here.

So far the only interview Xavier Samuel has done for the film appeared in the Canvas section of the Courier-Mail’s print edition on April 26. I’ll include my scan of the piece below.

Note to WordPress readers: Right-click on image then click “open in a new tab/window” for full-sized image

Apart from the odd gripe from critics like David Stratton, who seems to have wanted more prison movie cliches (and who didn’t give the film an entirely negative review) Healing has won over the critics. Here are some excerpts from reviews posted since my last entry. Some reviews share minor plot spoilers.

Margaret Pomeranz, At The Movies: “This is possibly the most sentimental prison movie I’ve ever seen. And I was so grateful. It’s really lovely. The performances are fabulous, Don Hany who’s established such a fine credibility on television productions like East West 101 and The Broken Shore, is ravaged and old here, as well as fine. Hugo Weaving has to be the most stoic and solid performer in this country, he’s just always great. He plays a man with his own issues in this. But all the performances are solid, Jane Menelaus as the wildlife expert, Tony Martin as Matt’s colleague, Justine Clark as a social worker and Anthony Hayes as a controlling inmate. But the real kudos here goes to Andrew Payne who was the bird handler on the film. He’s a star and so are the birds.”

(Note: You can see a few full scenes from the film, along with its trailer, at the At The Movies website. They do contain plot spoilers, but aren’t “shocking developments” one couldn’t infer from the trailer or interviews, which establish certain plot and character points. One clip in particular had me welling up and very eager to see the rest of the movie.)
*

Prison Movies: “Healing contains none of the high-octane drama of the traditional prison movie. In its place it provides an authentic picture of the minimum-security environment where there are no riots and stabbings, but where prisoners struggle to sort themselves out before returning to the community and prison officers wrestle with the competing demands of their role. It is at its most impactful when Viktor is forced to deal with inevitable setbacks, such as when he falteringly tries to reconnect with his grown-up son with whom he has had no contact for 18 years. Themes of honour and shame, family reconciliation, rehabilitation, relapse and being given a second chance are constantly woven throughout the narrative…IIt is a spectacularly shot film, with the birds competing with Viktor, Matt and Shane for centre stage, and often winning. But more importantly, it is a refreshingly different prison story, told with gentle humour and compassion, and firm in its declaration of support for second chances.”
*

Jason King, Salty Popcorn: “HEALING is a superb Australian film, as good as any Hollywood film, and as equal as most art house films. It is a cinematography masterpiece for its cinematography of birds, and the plot is admirable. But it is not listed on the website as getting a commercial release in the big guy’s cinemas – my mind is currently boggling?? …WEBSITE has it listed only in art house cinemas. Why why why? Shame shame shame. I loved this film…

This is a film about redemption, freedom, healing, taming and bonding. It is beautifully told and Craig Monahan weaves a tale told with an Australian heart. Characters slowly develop and they are all more than one dimension deep. It is a prison film, like no other, it does not have fences and prisoners are only locked in at night. It is more of a half way house for damaged inmates, who like their newly acquired feathery inmates, need some TLC and rehabilitation before being allowed back into the real world. Most stereotypes are missing, excluding Anthony Hayes as Warren, the wanna be bully of the prison, but his character was needed to bond the others and give darkness to the light…

The acting is all top notch. I can only remember Hany from OFFSPRING but he has had many roles, all of them apparently my mother worships. His performance is strong and he holds the camera, with one exception, no offence, but his accent did my head in. His character is Iranian/Australian but I could only hear it as a fake accent, I did not fully buy him as the Iranian he was playing. While this was mildly distracting his performance and the character allowed me to overcome it. Weaving is just Weaving, a master at all he does, but it was great seeing him so relaxed and “outback” in Australia. I really loved his character, Matt Perry. He was overcoming as many issues as the inmates and the birds and his past tragedy really allowed him to be more like the residents, feathered or not, of the prison…

I also have to mention Xavier Samuel… I am a fan….It was very different seeing him as the scared, humble and emotional wreck that he is in this role, he was nowhere near as dominant in the role but a great addition and he is the character you feel nurturing towards, he also adds some damn fine looks to the movie.  Stand out for me was Mark Leonard Winter as Shane. The young, screwed up, emotionally destroyed character who has given up on life. Winter’s portrayal of Shane is an AFI coming, it is remarkable… The cinematography by Andrew Lesnie is worth the cost of a ticket alone. His use of ‘magic hour’ is beauty inspiring and the way he films the birds, just stunning.”
*

There continue to be preview screenings and ticket giveaways for Healing in advance of its 8 May Australian opening; my Twitter feed (sidebar at WordPress), the Don Hany Facebook fan page and Pinnacle Films‘ Twiiter will keep you up to date on those. Don Hany and Craig Monahan are scheduled to attend Q&A’s at most of these preview shows.

Mark Leonard Winter is drawing raves for his performance in Healing, and he has another trait in common with Hugo Weaving: both will be featured in stage productions for the Sydney Theatre company later this spring. Hugo will star in Macbeth at The Sydney Theatre this July through September and Winter is featured in The Effect at The Wharf Theatre in July. Winter noted his eagerness to meet up with Hugo at that time– and threw in a plug for their film  in an STC blog profile/interview: “I’ve actually got a film coming out soon with Hugo Weaving and he’ll be working on Macbeth at the same time as I’m at STC so I’m really excited to see him again. Working with Hugo was a really important moment for me. The film’s called Healing and it comes out in May. It’s a true story about a minimum security prison and this rehabilitation program that Hugo’s character starts there. I play a scummy little prison rat. It’s a beautiful cast: Hugo, Don Hany and Xavier Samuel, who I went to high school with. Hugo says ‘STC is the best urban working environment in Australia’. That’s a quote from Hugo. You can use that.”  Winter’s comments about the soul-killing effects of trying to jump-start one’s film career in Los Angeles show he has something else in common with Hugo. 😉 As an American constantly exposed to American entertainment, I would tell both of them to keep working in Australia.

UPDATE: AAP/IB Times has just posted this lovely video featurette which includes new film footage, interviews with Hugo Weaving, Don Hany and Craig Monahan. And Hugo waxing poetic about the animals on set. 😉

Sky News shared a second video, obviously filmed at the same time as the AAP/IB Times version.  Both were shot the day the lovely AAP portraits were taken as well… seems they did a lot of advance promotion at once. Unfortunately there’s not an embed option at the moment;  I’ll see what I can do on that front when I have more time. But meanwhile fans of any of the four lead actors will want to check it out at Sky News. (Only Hany and Weaving are interviewed, but Mark Winter and Xavier Samuel get a humorous mention.  Also, Hugo shares a heartwearming and somewhat deranged Budgie Rescue story I’d never heard before.)

Strangerland

As I mentioned in updates of my prior entry, Strangerland seems to have wrapped initial production after a brisk month or so of filming in Broken Hill, Canowindra and Sydney. According to The Herald Sun, (Advertiser in print edition) the film’s final or climactic scene was recently shot in Broken Hill.  I have a scan of the print version of that story (below) but here are the paragraphs added to later online versions:

‘Strangerland producer Macdara Kelleher said filming the last leg of the story was particularly draining.

“It’s very intense, it’s about two kids that go missing and the effect it has on the parents who are Nicole and Joseph (Fiennes),” Kelleher said.

Kelleher said having Kidman in the role was a dream come true, given the Oscar winning actor has not filmed an Australian role using her own accent since Dead Calm in 1989.

“It’s amazing, we couldn’t ask for anyone better in terms of your ideal casting,” he said. “If you’re making an Australian movie and it has Nicole in it, it’s pretty special” ‘

In Other Hugo News

Hugo’s downplayed participation in Healing promotion suggests he’s taking a break before heading into Macbeth preparation; he told The Australian (while promoting STC’s Waiting For Godot back in November) that he planned to take a month off this May, and it’s about that time. One thing he definitely won’t be doing is costarring in the Star Wars sequel, as was finally confirmed by the official casting announcement today, though Hugo’s fans who actually pay attention have known this since February, and were skeptical about such rumors to begin with.  (Here’s another embed of Hugo and David Wenham’s video interview addressing the subject back at February’s Berlinale, where they promoted The Turning. I never get sick of watching it.)   This also includes Hugo’s most recent comments on The Hobbit, which were repeated almost verbatim for NOVA Radio, suggesting THAT REALLY IS ALL HE KNOWS. 😉


Getty Entertainment Video, via YouTube

Speaking of The Hobbit, while we wait for Peter Jackson— who keeps tight control over any REAL intel on the film– to share new production diaries or other glimpses of the final installment, Inside Film has the full text of the press release about its title change. I wish Healing was getting the same kind of press that this semantic alteration and the never-plausible Star Wars rumors have gotten. 😉

Again, thanks to everyone who’s been supportive during the site relocation. I do plan to keep adding older Hugonuts entries (in correct date order) to the WordPress blog; I will probably compile them at the LJ site too, but they’e still available to read at the old location.  And again, I apologize for any technical difficulties or delays in replying to comments or messages while trying to compile new information during this very busy time.

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Healing: Premiere Screenings, Interviews, Cast Portraits; Strangerland; Harding Godot Exhibit; Rare Hugo Narration Clips

Hugo Weaving has taken a brief break from filming Strangerland to help promote his next-released film Healing. Though he missed the World Premiere screening in Camberwell, Victoria on 23 April (Don Hany, Craig Monahan and the film’s avian stars Jess the eagle and Millie the barking owl engaged the crowds) he did attend the Sydney premiere and a Q&A session last night. So far only one fan photo has emerged from that event (no video or audio as of yet) but there may be more to come.

Though Hugo will definitely be doing at least some publicity for the film, Don Hany seems to be handling a lot of press publicity as well. (Which is probably fine with Hugo.) Since Hany has what is probably the breakout role in the film (no pun intended) it would make sense that he take the lead in promoting it, as there’s a lot of curiosity about his character. Hany spoke to Bmag/Your Brisbane last week, and a new 13-minute audio interview (which can be streamed or downloaded) was posted by ABC Radio National after Hany appeared on their RN Drive program. Though the focus of both interviews is understandably Hany’s creative process in portraying Viktor– and working with an eagle that “made my heart race”– he has complimentary words for his human costar as well: “It was an amazing experience to work with Hugo; he is truly an asset to the Australian film industry. He gives so much in every scene.”

L to R: Don Hany, Craig Monahan, Hugo Weaving at last night’s Healing Q&A, Dendy Cinemas Sydney  Photo: Ellen Becker via Twitter/Instagram

UPDATE: Don Hany also gave interesting interviews to Sydney Morning Herald and Brisbane News. He’s also steadily promoted Healing and its series of preview screenings on Facebook.

ANOTHER UPDATE: My bad… this is actually a fan page, not the actor himself.  somehow I doubt Hany would be so comprehensive.  But they did attend the Sydney Q& A and got a great photo:


L-R Australian film critic, entertainment journalist Giles Hardie who ran the Q and A session, Don, co-writer-director Craig Monahan and Hugo Weaving.  Photo: Don Hany Facebook Page

Perhaps the most exciting bit of Healing publicity to emerge this week (so far) has been a series of beautiful cast portraits by Dan Himbrechts (who’s taken a lot of iconic shots of Hugo over the years, including publicity pics for The Turning.) Hugo sat with Don Hany and director Craig Monahan for nine pictures, which have originally appeared on AAP.

Don Hany, Craig Monahan and Hugo Weaving in Sydney, 24 April 2014 Photo: Dan Himbrechts/AAP (plus next eight)

NOTE TO WORDPRESS READERS:  This site automatically resizes all photos to browser-friendly dimensions. To see the full-sized versions, just right-click and then click “open in a new tab/window”.  In some cases, high-res images and scans will have additional magnification options.

Would love to be in on that joke 😉

A thirty-second TV spot for Healing (presumably only showing on Australian TV at this point) also debuted this week:

Pinnacle Film Sales, via YouTube

I’ll update with any additional interviews, photos, etc as Healing promotion continues through the end of this month and up through the 8 May Australian wide release. Hany and Monahan are slated to attend several more promotional screenings during that period. Hugo Weaving may be less involved due to Strangerland’s ongoing shoot, but is scheduled for at least one interview, probably more. Since Monahan is a favorite collaborator of his, he will likely do all he can for this film.

Strangerland

Speaking of Strangerland, the filming in Broken Hill hasn’t been as widely covered as that in Canowindra, but a new article featuring pictures of Hugo Weaving and Nicole Kidman appeared in The Herald Sun (and related online publications) today. Though Kidman has kept mostly to herself during the shoot, Hugo has spent time with locals near the set and his hotel:

“The actor has managed to keep a low profile in Broken Hill since arriving in the Outback town to film the $32 million production, but Weaving was spotted several times in a cafe and at The Palace Hotel, where he shared a beer with resident Jon Hanrahan.

“I had Monday off because the hotel was closed, and I sort of went up and checked the balcony, and a few of the film crew were there and Hugo was there having a drink, so I had a few drinks with them,” Mr Hanrahan said.

“A friend of mine has his own distillery so he tried some of his rum, and he met my dog and had a play with him for about an hour.”

The friendly encounter led to Mr Hanrahan’s dog Lupo securing a role in the new film.

“(The scene) is called dingo walking in bush, I think,” he said.

Barrier Daily Truth journalist Erica Visser also saw Weaving at the hotel.

A colleague and Ms Visser managed to get a quick photo with the actor.

“We waited til Hugo ate dinner then we caught him as he was trying to slick out the little back exit, and got the photo there,” she said.

The crew are in Broken Hill for about three weeks.”

— Sally Brooks and Penelope Debelle, The Advertiser, via The Herald Sun

It’s a bit distressing they’re actually pushing the dingo allusion (A Cry in the Dark/Evil Angels)… unless Mr Hanrahan is having a bit of fun with the press. 😉

Hugo Weaving with Emily Roberts (left) and Erica Visser (right) at Broken Hill’s famed Palace Hotel Photo: Erica Visser, via The Advertiser

 

If the name Palace Hotel, Broken Hill or the decor in the above photo seem strangely familiar to you, that’s because Hugo’s been here before. Key scenes of his 1994 classic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert were filmed here, inspiring the critique, “Tackorama!” (The “baby bottles of booze” scene and its aftermath were filmed at The Palace, which was infamous/beloved even before the film.)

Nicholas Harding

Fans may remember artist Nicholas Harding’s previous collaborations with longtime friend Hugo Weaving: in 2011, Harding painted Weaving’s portrait (entitled Hugo at Home) for that year’s Archibald Prizes. Last year, Harding’s wonderfully expressive drawings of Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh in character as Vladimir and Estragon were included in STC’s programme and promotion for their production of Waiting for Godot. (You can see the full programme here.)

Apparently Godot so inspired the artist that he’s created a new, full-color series of etchings of its characters for an exhibit called Drawing Godot, to run at the Olsen Irwin Gallery in Woollahra NSW, 7-25 May. I would love to see a book or catalog of the exhibit if one is published; these are richly-observed portraits and I’d love to see more. Olsen Irwin’s website posted a fascinating interview with Harding about his creative process, and how the exhibit came to be. Turns out Hugo was directly involved in commissioning the Godot sketches: “While I was artist-in-residence at the Cité des Internationales in Paris last year there was a ‘pop-up’ Globe theatre outside my studio window and I drew the actors while they waited for their cues and paced around outside. Hugo Weaving saw some of these drawings on Instagram and invited me to draw during STC’s rehearsals for ‘Waiting for Godot’ later in the year.” Harding also expresses an interest in drawing future STC productions depending on his schedule and theirs… I really hope that bears fruit.

 

 

Some of Nicholas Harding’s Godot sketches and etchings   Photo: OlsenIrwin.com

Rare Hugo Audio/Narration

Throughout his career, Hugo Weaving has had a secondary career as a voiceover artist. While most fans are familiar with his voice acting gigs in films like Babe, Happy Feet, etc, he’s also contributed narration to many interesting documentaries for the ABC and other organizations. While more recent documentaries like I, Spry and Darwin’s Lost Paradise are available on DVD, some of Hugo’s earlier narration gigs have proved harder to track down, as they were broadcast before home-release options became routine. I remember past discussions with hardcore fans about their “holy grail” Hugo wish lists; some of these projects do eventually surface if you’re willing to keep digging, though. Most of the Hugo Weaving projects I haven’t seen (apart from those which are by definition ephemeral, like stage performances) are these documentaries and a few short films. A few days ago a chat with another fan spurred me to run a new search for the hell of it, and I was amazed to find one of Hugo’s full-length (30 minute) documentaries from ABC’s Wild Relations series posted online. It’s called Bobby and the Banded Stilts, and it’s about the unique breeding cycle of the titular birds, and how 1995’s Cyclone Bobby impacted this. It’s been hiding in plain sight on Hulu for several months. Though the film will probably never attain the viewership of, say, Lord of the Rings, I do think view counts might go up if they bothered listing their narrator. Just my opinion. 😉

Hulu has cross-posted the program to Dailymotion (which I’m attempting to embed here), and TV.com; I found the feed from Hulu itself slightly glitchy (and DailyMotion most stable), but am putting all three links up, so viewers should use what works best for them. The film is basically safe for all audiences, but does contain mating behavior (some of it comically inept) and a young stilt being treated roughly by other birds. Unfortunately there are several commercial breaks and you can’t download. But, tantalizingly, Hulu does have a page for the full-four episode Wild Relations series, though only this episode is now posted. Hugo did narrate three additional segments entitled Natural Born Cheats, With Wings on Their Fingers and Mother’s Little Helpers (all in 1997); perhaps comments from fans might encourage Hulu to make the rest of this series available. I found the first segment riveting above and beyond its narration, as well as a nice coincidental link to Healing. I’d also gladly pay for a DVD set of the full series if one is made available.

Unfortunately, my second rare Hugo audio find is more of a dead end, though what’s available is intriguing. In around 1998 Hugo narrated a feature-length documentary called Beneath the Blue: Sydney Harbor which played festivals and had TV airings (and possibly a brief VHS/DVD release, though I’ve never been able to confirm that.) Learn Media of America obtained a copy and posted two minutes of footage to YouTube, but all links from this post seem to be dead or appropriated by unrelated entities. I’m not certain if LMOA has/had legal rights to share or distribute the documentary, but a lot of us would love to see or purchase it legitimately if anyone out there DOES have distribution rights or any other info.

NOTE: Will update/fine tune this entry very soon, but I’m running on fumes at this point with some work obligations remaining. But had to get these up!

UPDATES/In Other Hugo Weaving News

Peter Jackson has confirmed via Facebook that the final Hobbit film (out this December) has been renamed The Battle of Five Armies. I have to say I prefer the understated nuance (and humor) of There And Back Again… and of course its canonical importance as Tolkien’s choice for Bilbo’s own title for his adventure. Jackson insists the original title may be retained for a subtitle for the full Hobbit trilogy (no doubt for some future box set/DVD/Blu-Ray release) but I have to wonder if someone at Warner didn’t encourage him to change the title to something more box-office friendly to goose the film’s commercial chances. As if we weren’t all going to see it no matter what it was called. 😉

UPDATE 27 APRIL

An addendum to the Advertiser/Herald Sun article about Strangerland filming in Broken Hill suggests that the film may have wrapped. (Most movies are filmed out of sequence, so the new paragraphs might simply be a reference to the final/climactic scene being shot.) If filming is indeed finished, Hugo Weaving might be more available for Healing promotion… we’ll have to wait and see.

The Sydney Morning Herald Don Hany interview now features a video segment including Hany discussing the film along with new film footage, including glimpses of Hugo’s character. No spoilers in the footage, though Hany divulges a few details about both his and Hugo’s characters’ backgrounds that absolute spoiler-phobes might want to tread carefully around. (Though the trailers give these same plot hints away, and they’re probably not big plot surprises in context.)

And fans of Last Ride (or its director Glendyn Ivin’s award-winning work on the Australian TV series Puberty Blues) might be interested in the news that Ivin is currently working with Hugo’s son Harry Greenwood on an ambitious miniseries about the WWI battle at Gallipoli.You can read about this project and several other war dramas in the works at news.com.au. Last summer Ivin confirmed he has a second feature film in the works– an adaptation of the novel One Foot Wrong, which would feature Harry’s dad– but so far that doesn’t seem to be past the planning stages.

Strangerland Wraps Canowindra Filming, Moves To Broken Hill; Healing Previews & Promos

After a week of heavily-covered filming in Canowindra, Hugo Weaving’s current project Strangerland (which also stars Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes) has moved to Broken Hill, which so far appears to be affording more privacy (that or the paparazzi got bored once they secured that shot of Nicole in her underwear.) 😉 Hugo has posed for a few pics with journalists and locals in the new location but we’re not getting the potentially spoiler-y details of what specifically is being filmed that we got during the Canowindra shoot. Which is probably a good thing. (And I will warn everyone up front that some images under the cut and descriptions of filming (here and in articles linked to) that follow might constitute spoilers, though since I have to idea how or where the scenes fit into the film as a whole, I have no idea if they’re minor or major.)

You can read banket press coverage of the Canowindra shoot at Canowindra News (They have pieces on the film’s rain delays, a general preview, ) There are also articles in The Central Western Daily (including this piece on how Hugo celebrated his birthday and this one about the filming of a dust storm Nicole’s character gets caught in), The Daily Telegraph (two articles focusing on Kidman, the second covering the dust storm shoot), The Grenfel Record covered the positive effects on local economies, and Cowra Guardian posted a gallery of images from he set. the Illawara Mercury filed a brief report on their celebrity gossip page, and The Sydney Morning Herald did an overview featuring some images of Nicole Kidman on the set, while a second article noted Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes’ break to go hot-air ballooning. The Daily Mail featured a bit more context on the dust storm shoot, noting that the event in the film transpires as Kidman’s character is distributing posters offering a reward for information on her missing children.

The Canowindra Phoenix had the most fun, posting a Facebook Gallery of “Selfies With The Stars Of Strangerland“, including several of the images of Hugo below. They also posted a gallery of the town redressed as “Nathgari”, the film’s fictional setting.


L to R: Michelle Fisher, Hugo Weaving, Adelaide Duncan and Zac Drayson at the Royal Canowindra Hotel  Photo: The Canowindra Phoenix (Facebook)


Hugo Weaving with ambulance driver Gary Murphy   Photo: The Canowindra Phoenix


Ronnie Lawrence, Kerby Lawrence and Hugo on Canowindra’s Main Street (Michelle Fisher photobombing in rear)  Photo: The Canowindra Phoenix


Hugo with unnamed locals at the Royal Canowindra Hotel   Photo: Canowindra Phoenix


“Hugo Weaving just taking a casual stroll past our office!”  Photo: The Canowindra Phoenix


Hugo Weaving with Michelle Fisher and Adelaide Duncan at the Royal Canowindra Hotel   Photo: The Canowindra Phoenix

Several of these images were taken on Hugo’s birthday (April 4);area local Anna Ross told Central Western DailyApparently it was his birthday so people were buying him beers, but then he bought everyone else a beer…He’s really good, he’s just like another bloke at the pub.” Finn Store, a coffee shop, served all of the cast except Nicole Kidman, according to owner Geoff Yeo: ““Hugo’s been a regular,” he said.


Hugo with Tommy Jeffs of the Deli Lama  Photo: The Canowindra Phoenix


Photo: Splash News
Very few actual scenes from the film have appeared in the media, and most of those seem to be of dust storm sequence. Possible Spoilers:  Nicole Kidman’s character apparently gets caught in a dust storm while posting photos of her missing children, as documented in The Daily Telegraph and Central West Libraries… Kidman is fully clothed in the Telegraph’s report, initially leading me to think the more revealing photos were simply of Kidman cleaning off after filming. (Some of them show her waiting in and beside a car in a dressing gown). I initially declined to share such photos, as they seemed intrusive. But the appearance of Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving in this image suggests it’s a scene from the film, so the issue becomes one of spoilers instead. Nicole Kidman has generally been fearless about “getting dirty” (or naked) for her art, but I can’t imagine why the character would be in a dust storm in her underwear. Were her clothes literally blown off? We’ll have to wait and see the film. Again, apologies if this image seems intrusive or too revealing (of plot or actress). It’s perhaps the most disseminated photo from the film shoot so far, and at least, unlike some YouTube videos, I’m using the most-discreet-distance version and not panning over Kidmans body. 😉


Hugo Weaving with ABC Broken Hill personalities Sarah J McConnell and Jenia Ratcliffe in Broken Hill   Photo: ABC Broken Hill, via Facebook and Twitter


“#hugoweaving#havinapout#palace”  (Specific location unspecified)  Photo: @__jacintaa via Instagram

Ten News and Prime 7 News apparently both filed TV news reports from the Canowindra set, but, frustratingly, neither has appeared online (at least in a format I can view; the Ten News item leads to a non-functioning video link.) If anyone has footage of either, or knows if they’ve been posted online, do let us know.

Hugo was able to take enough of a break from filming to visit frequent hangout The Local Bar in Sydney, where he proved once and for all that he and Sam Neill are not the same person, and in fact don’t really look that much alike. 😉


“For God’s sake , who let Hugo Weaving out again ? Was it you George ?”   Photo: Sam Neill (@TwoPaddocks) via Twitter
(Neill co-owns The Local Bar with David Wenham, rugby star George Gregan and others.)

Healing

Promotion for Hugo’s next film to see theatrical release has swung into high gear, with many preview screenings (and “special screenings” after the film’s 8 May Australian release) already announced. The most potentially exciting of these will take place 24 April at Dendy Cinemas Opera Quays in Sydney, as Hugo Weaving will attend with costar Don Hany and director Craig Monahan, and all three will participate in a post-screening Q & A. Tickets are still available. Other screening will be held 29 April at Palace Barracks in Brisbane (with Don Hany in attendance), Cinema Nova in Carlton 30 April (Don Hany and Craig Monahan will attend), and 8 May at Luna Leederille (featuring Craig Monahan.). The film will headline the Big Screen Film Festival in South Burnett, QLD on 16 May; the classic comedy The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert will also be featured.  And Modmove is currently (through 7 May) holding a competition awarding five pairs of tickets to see Healing.

Meanwhile here’s a promotional flyer for the film:

And here’s a different sort of promotional flyer:  a barking owl from Healesville sanctuary, where some sequences of Healing were filmed:


Photo: Zoos Victoria via Twitter

No word if this is the same owl who posed with Hugo, but they look similar:


Photo: Pinnacle Films

In Other Hugo Weaving News

No word yet on a release schedule for The Mule (which generated quite a buzz at last month’s SXSW screenings) but you can add it to your Netflix Saved queue (in the US). I have heard this informs the site that demand is there for a given feature, making them more likely to stock/stream it when it is formally released.

Mystery Road continues to secure festival screenings in a wide variety of locations worldwide; there will be a free morning screening of the film at the Guringai Festival (in the Northern Sydney region) on 18 June. FlixChatter posted a largely positive review after it played the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival.

Strangerland Begins Filming (Set Pics); Hedda Gabler Programme Scans; Happy Birthday Hugo!

I had a couple of little surprises I intended to post here in honor of Hugo Weaving’s birthday… unfortunately, one has been slightly delayed in shipping and will have to wait for the next entry, but fortunately one did arrive in the nick of time. (It’s a long-sought copy of the programme for the original 2004 Sydney production of STC’s Hedda Gabler; scans will be embedded below). Fortunately there’s also a big bunch of new pics from the Strangerland set to make up the difference.

Strangerland Begins Filming In Sydney

Due to the celebrity wattage of costar Nicole Kidman, Hugo’s current project has attracted more attention than most of his Australian indie films tend to. This is a bit of mixed blessing, however, as most of the attention seems to be fixated on Kidman dyeing her hair brown for the role rather than on the content of the film. (A lot of celebrity-spotting sites seem laughably unaware that actors do tend to change their appearances for roles. and that this isn’t motivated to win fan approval or “try out a new look”. Kidman is portraying an ordinary housewife whose children have just disappeared, not walking the red carpet or primping in shoe ads.) Fortunately none of the set photos include any plot spoilers, and the actors seem to have charmed the locals with periodic posing for fan photos. (Kidman in particular has posed for several fan photos; several of these were posted in The Daily Telegraph.)

Some of these photos do fall into a grey area in that they were taken surreptitiously, and without explicit permission. It’s hard to tell if Hugo is glating disapprovingly in some of these, or was simply caught in mid-speech to someone off camera. Most of the photos of Hugo do seem to have been taken in quick succession. I always feel conflicted about sharing such photos, so I’ll again note my apologies if anyone finds them inappropriate. I hope that once the novelty of having famous actors in the area wears off, people will only take pictures with permission.   The best of the Hugo photos was taken by a fan rather than a paparazzo. I’ll share that one above the cut, the rest below.


Photo: Jessicalea17 via Instagram


Photo: (plus next 11) INF Photo/JustJared


Nicole Kidman with Hugo Weaving

Yes, I realize some of these photos are nearly identical, but decided to err on the side of completeness. 😉 Also, I initially suspected Hugo was recycling his “wardrobe” from Healing… but this uniform is slightly different. Very slightly.

You can read more about the start of Strangerland filming at FilmInk, The Daily Telegraph, Cowra Guardian, (There’s a second article from this paper here, about local extras… and a third here), Studio System News, WA Today, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Sydney Morning Herald, Yahoo Movies, Radio Times, The Australian, ABC and SBS. Most of these reports simply repeat a press release from the production company (Transmission Films) and none contain spoilers. Nicole Kidman is briefly quoted on what drew her to the project: “”I am always looking for the right script to bring me home to Australia.  The moment I read Strangerland I knew this was a film I couldn’t say no to. I’m looking forward to working on a film in Australia and I’m very excited to be working with Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving.”

As the set pics demonstrate, Hugo Weaving is in fact playing “the cop who leads the investigation” as most reports have suggested from the beginning (sorry, Moviehole) while Joseph Fiennes plays Kidman’s husband. Inside Films provides the detail that Hugo’s character has a romance plot (or, perhaps, sordid-entanglement plot) with “an Indigenous woman” portrayed by Lisa Flanagan. Screen Daily has some intel on the film’s international financing, which involves US and Irish backers as well as Australian.

Hedda Gabler Programme Scans

As some of you know, I’ve been collecting theatre programmes/Playbills from Hugo Weaving’s theatrical career for over ten years now; the full lot has been scanned as posted in chronological order at my Flickr Archive. This week I added a new set of scans from a new acquisition, the programme from the original 2004 Wharf Theatre production of Hedda Gabler, which also starred Cate Blanchett, Aden Young and Justine Clarke. I’ll post the new scans here under a cut. I also have the 2006 Brooklyn Academy of Music program, which is different and, alas, represents the only time STC sold programs for a US touring production. (The Sydney productions continue to inspire some of the most magnificent theatre programmes I’ve seen; Sydney Correspondent Yvette was kind enough to send me a copy of the most recent one, for the Hugo Weaving/Richard Roxburgh Waiting For Godot, last Christmas.)

HeddaGablerSTC2004_Cover

HeddaGablerSTC2004_1

The next Sydney Theatre Company production to cross the pond will be Jean Genet’s The Maids, starring Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert. I do have tickets for that… no word yet on whether the rumored international tour of the Weaving/Roxburgh Godot will happen, but obviously I’ll post news as soon as I know anything.

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Margaret Pomeranz wrote a flattering review of Healing for The Medical Observer. (I did add that to the previous entry, but here’s the link in case anyone missed it.) The film opens 8 May in Australia with a preview screening in Melbourne on 30 April.

The latest DVD/Blu-Ray review for Tim Winton’s The Turning is available at Film Freak Reviews…  Madman Films posted a tease of the lavish extras in this “Directors on Locations” featurette, featuring a few of the directors and Hugo discussing location filming.

The latest competitions to win copies of the film are open at Madman NZ and The Turning’s Facebook page (the latter including a Hugo Weaving-autographed copy of the DVD along with Tim Winton’s book). Some national restrictions may apply.

The Hobbit: There And Back Again was briefly previewed for the crowds at CinemaCon in Las Vegas last week; alas, Peter Jackson’s video hasn’t appeared online in any form, but you can read breathless descriptions of its content (including ” gold-clad Elrond (Hugo Weaving) drawing his sword and charging”) at HitFix, TheOneRing.net, and News.com.au. The New York Daily News recently re-posted their 2012 interview with Hugo about playing Elrond. And I recently found five great pics of Hugo at the 2012 Wellington premiere of An Unexpected Journey in Bernard Golder’s Flickr account.

Another mostly-positive review for The Mule’s SXSW screening (noting Hugo weaving’s “devilishly delightful turn as a corrupt cop “) can be read at Next Projection.

And, in case anyone missed it or wants to see it again, here’s the link to Cambodian Childrens’ Trust’s charity appeal video, featuring Hugo Weaving’s narration.

Hope everyone out there has a happy Hugo Weaving’s Birthday… though it’s likely the man himself will be more focused on his current film than on showy celebration. 😉