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
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.