Strangerland Teaser Debuts; Way Too Much Mule Coverage, New Hugo Weaving Interviews

The Mule: Now Available on iTunes, On Demand and VOD in Australia, NZ, The US!

Apologies for the delay in getting some of this material posted, though I did my best to keep up on Twitter. We’ve had a sudden torrential outpouring of some of the best Hugo Weaving TV, radio and online/print interviews we’ve seen in a long time and it’s been challenging keeping up, and keeping everything straight. Unfortunately, most of the new interviews, while readily available worldwide at their sides of origin (and several are downloadable), most can’t be embedded to either blog. Since I really try hard not to provoke any sort of proprietary threats here, I’ll post links and caps for now (and the amazing behind-the-scenes images several media outlets have shared)… if you’re reading this several months after the fact and those interviews are no longer up (or for any reason you have trouble accessing them) do let me know. I have saved copies of the lot, and will send you one.

Some of these links were mentioned in previous entries, but I wanted to post the lot so that fans know what’s out there and i what order it appeared. Also, in a few cases media outlets have kindly added clips of Hugo’s interviews excerpted from the much-longer original shows/podcasts; in the case of the Simon Murado interview from Breakfast with Barr (taped 19 Nov) QuickFlix provided a longer version of that interview with previously-unheard material about Hugo’s collaboration with David Wenham on Tim Winton’s The Turning. Some interviews were Hugo solo, some with Angus Sampson.

Nov 18: Hugo Weaving and Angus Sampson appeared at a Q&A event/preview screening of The Mule in Merlbourne and sat for the following interviews:

Triple M Hot Breakfast (Nine minute Hugo Weaving solo interview as excerpted from original broadcast; embedded to WordPress version of this post)

Weaving and Sampson also appeared in a nice 10-minute interview on ABC News Breakfast, which is excerpted here.

Hugo Weaving and Angus Sampson on ABC News Breakfast (my screencap; more here).

Nov 19: Weaving and Sampson appeared at a Q&A/screening in Sydney and sat for several additional interviews, including;

TripleM Radio Melbourne (Excerpted Hugo Weaving/Angus Sampson interview,  full podcast here)

Sydney Dendy Cinemas Mule preview screening featuring (L to R) Dendy’s presenter, Geoff Morrell, Angus Samson and Hugo Weaving
Photo: Adelle Drover via Twitter/Instagram

Breakfast with Barr,  Simon Murado interview with Hugo Weaving; here’s the Quickflix extended version. (Full version 15 min long)

Sydney Dendy Cinemas Mule preview screening featuring (L to R) Dendy’s presenter, Geoff Morrell, Angus Samson and Hugo Weaving

Both above photos: KB Comedy via Twiter/Instagram

Hugo Weaving and Angus Sampson sat for a brief video interview on NineMSN Mornings (wish I could remove that annoying background music); only about 4 min long

My screencap; Hugo Weaving and Angus Sampson on NineMSN Mornings

The following interviews aired/appeared 20 Nov, some may have been taped earlier:

Triple J Mornings with Matt & Alex. Hugo Weaving interview 30 min into the podcast, includes one of the funniest stories I’ve heard Hugo tell, about losing his glasses. (Next time you make a silly mistake or lose an item, I promise this will make you feel better.)

Hugo Weaving with Triple J Mornings hosts Tim and Alex; Photo: Triple J Mornings via Twitter
“Such a pleasure to be joined by Hugo Weaving this morning too!…We tried to tease Agent Smith out of him, but he’s well and truly dead.”
CJ: At the end of the interview, they coax Hugo into reading the weather using the Smith voice: he tries to oblige but can’t summon it. 😉

The Grill on Triple M Radio (are also Aussie radio stations triple letters?) Angus Sampson and Hugo Weaving interview, starts 10 min into podcast (#1108). Interview is about 5 minutes long.

Hugo Weaving and Angus Sampson with The Grill’s team (Gus Worland,  Matty Johns and Mark Geyer)

Weaving and Sampson with The Grill’s Mark Geyer  Photo: Mark Geyer via Twitter/Instagram

Hugo Weaving and Angus Sampson ran into members of The Wiggles (Anthony Field, Lachy Gillespie, Simon Pryce and Kim Watkins) during the media blitz
Photo: Angus Sampson via Twitter

Photo: Anthony Field via Twitter He’s the one in the blue shirt, for those who aren’t parents of young kids 😉

Photo: The Grill Team via Twitter

And Weaving and Sampson gave  a nice extended online interview, which I’ll post in its entirety below;

Ego, empathy, and holding it in: Hugo Weaving & Angus Sampson on ‘The Mule’

Anthony Morris, 20 November 2014

It’s been a rough year for Australian films at the multiplex, with even well-reviewed films struggling to drag audiences away from big budget blockbusters. So Australian crime comedy The Mule is trying something different: aside from a series of “spotlight” screenings with cast and crew members in attendance, it’s going direct to Video On Demand, being available to purchase and download on all major digital platforms from November 21st.

By skipping cinemas it avoids the mandatory three month delay between a cinema release and becoming available at home which, according to some, kills any buzz a film may have generated in cinemas. This way all the promotion is focused in one short period: now you’ve heard  about it you can watch it without having to try and find a cinema showing or waiting 90 days before you can check it out at home.

As for the film itself… well, the year is 1983, the America’s Cup is in full swing, and Ray Jenkins (Angus Sampson, who also co-wrote and co-directed) is a shy, quiet guy forced into a life of crime. On an end-of-season footy trip to Thailand, Ray’s friends and family see the perfect opportunity for him to return home with a kilo of heroin stuck up his backside. When his return to Australia doesn’t go to plan, he ends up in a hotel room with detectives Croft (Hugo Weaving) and Paris (Ewen Leslie). Croft would rather pummel a confession out of him; Paris is inclined to sit back and wait. After all, they know where the drugs are: there’s only one way they’re leaving Ray, and they’ve got that exit guarded…

As for the film itself… well, the year is 1983, the America’s Cup is in full swing, and Ray Jenkins (Angus Sampson, who also co-wrote and co-directed) is a shy, quiet guy forced into a life of crime. On an end-of-season footy trip to Thailand, Ray’s friends and family see the perfect opportunity for him to return home with a kilo of heroin stuck up his backside. When his return to Australia doesn’t go to plan, he ends up in a hotel room with detectives Croft (Hugo Weaving) and Paris (Ewen Leslie). Croft would rather pummel a confession out of him; Paris is inclined to sit back and wait. After all, they know where the drugs are: there’s only one way they’re leaving Ray, and they’ve got that exit guarded…

TheVine: What drove you to make a movie about a guy holding in his shit for a week?

Hugo Weaving: [Looks at Angus] Well, you should answer that because you wrote it.

Angus Sampson: There’s a number of reasons, but first and foremost we were like ‘that’s a pretty unique premise’. I guess we were curious as to whether a) it had ever been done before and b) whether or not you could make a suspenseful film about whether someone was going to go to the bathroom or not.

I guess we walked that difficult route of ‘how do you set it up so that you empathise with someone who does something so morally… I don’t want to say reprehensible, but I guess it is. But we didn’t want to jump straight into ‘he’s muling and he’s been caught – now sympathise with him’, though that was certainly something on a creative level where we were going ‘I wonder if we could do that?’

But fundamentally there was just a perverse curiosity as to whether we could write a film where the human was the ticking timebomb and where the protagonist of the story had a very simple situation: had something lethal inside him where if he didn’t get them out, and if he did get them out, he’d be incarcerated.

HW:  There’s a great inbuilt tension in the film. It’s a great premise and a very simple idea – you’re wanting him to hold on, everyone else is waiting for it to come out, and there’s this fabulous ‘what’s going to happen?’ angle.

AS: Because you can’t stop your digestive system, as we found out.

How did you find the balance between the character moments and the bodily comedy. It does go pretty far in a few scenes, but you probably could have pushed it further…

HW: That would have been awful. We weren’t interested in that stuff, and it wasn’t what the script was – there was always that delicate balance between the two. Reading it, it was very funny, doing it was a lot of fun to do, but we all approached it as ‘this is what’s really happening, this is what’s going on’. I think finding that balance would have been hard if it was badly written, but it was very well written. Not crystal clear, because it can’t be, but it was always very delicate – it was just very clear tonally where we were. Establishing the tone in a film before shooting is very hard and I thought the tone in this script was just impeccably balanced.

Ego clip: eOne ANZ via YouTube

We spend a lot of time with Ray Jenkins before he gets busted at the airport; for a film with such a strong hook, was there ever any though about getting to the hotel room earlier?

AS: Absolutely – one version I edited in nine days and tested it in America and Australia just to see if people would watch a film where faeces was kind of… featured. And we did one version of the film that just started right away in Bangkok, but it’s difficult to find the line – I watch the film now and there’s bit’s of me that go ‘come on! Get to Hugo!’ Even watching it last night, I was like ‘how can we get to the action earlier?’ Like I said, there was one version where we just started in Bangkok, but we felt you needed to align yourself with the family and him. In short, the answer is yes.

HW: But I also think people align themselves with you pretty quickly as a character. That bit early on where the hapless Ray has to give a speech and is like [makes a strangled throat clearing sound] – what do you say? Hello? And then whoosh, titles come up – ‘The Mule’. [laughs]

AS: Hugo and Leslie come in around the 17-minute mark, which is maybe one fifth of the way into the film, and by that stage you’re already going ‘what is this film? Where is it going?’ Every scene, we wanted the audience to go ‘what is going to happen next?’ William Goldman, this great writer, says that is all you need: to have the audience go ‘what will happen next?’

We have this incredible ensemble of incredible humans. They’re interesting because they’re interested. And I don’t mean that on-screen, I mean that off-screen – they’re interested in things, so they’re interesting. And we very much approached this as a story that needs to be told by a community, we didn’t want to have professional extras, we didn’t want to say ‘this is the lead, and these are the satellite characters’. We didn’t want to have a hierarchy, I didn’t want to people to have 1,2,3,4,5 on the call sheet – but of course, it’s confusing if you don’t.

There’s a strong structure to the film, but it’s only visible in hindsight.

AS: I guess the thing that really thrills me is that when the police officers arrive, the audience at that point, we’ve got ‘em. I’ve sat in enough screenings now that they are never coming back after Croft walks in, slams the door – and it’s not even a slam – he just saunters in. There’s a shot where Croft is standing up and Detective Paris is sitting down and – I’m sorry, but I love this – there’s just this shot of Croft’s crotch. On a 40-foot screen there’s just this huge dick in frame and I love it so much, it makes me laugh so much. I guess when I watch the first act now I’m like ‘c’mon, get there’, but I wanted to over-compensate on justifying Ray’s actions than just by jumping straight in there.

It continually builds – constantly throwing new things into the mix, not sure where it’s going to go.

AS: There’s not a period where it’s just static, where we’re just going through the motions to hit an inciting incident. This is a film where information is constantly offered up-

HW: – and withheld. This is a movie where everybody’s got a secret. We talked about this before shooting – all these characters have secrets, they all think they can manage this situation according to their own rules of life, and everyone has something that they’re holding onto or sitting on. That’s a real key to the drama and the interaction between the characters. They’re quite densely human in that respect.

And yet the two characters you play are in some ways the most straightforward in the film.

HW: They’re both oddly admirable by the end. You come away thinking they’re morally bendy but they’re not as morally bankrupt as many of the other characters. It’s about getting caught up in something but then applying the brakes when you realise that you’re caught up, but you don’t really like what it’s doing to you. It’s sort of what happens to Ray, and it a way it happens to Crofty as well. They’re both going ‘what is this life that I’m leading, what the hell am I doing?’ I, Hugo, I feel like that a lot in this life, we’re all caught up in this thing ‘why are we living like that, what’s going on?’

Does that tie in to why you set in back in 1983? Did you see it as a more innocent time in a way?

AS: It certainly presented a lot more opportunities plot-wise in the narrative where things couldn’t be solved with a quick phone call – or legislation even. There’s a great scene with Croft and Paris where Paris says “Well well well, never had a mule refuse to shit before.” And Crofty says, “Well, how long can the bastard last?” There’s a justification there for just having the characters sit around and wait. It’s fascinating watching people not knowing what they’re doing, and as a young parent that happens to me every day. What are we doing? A situation is presented to us and somehow we navigate through it.

HW: As a parent you’re just minders, aren’t you, you’re navigating and minding this thing that is growing – just like Crofty and Paris are waiting for this… baby to be born. [laughs] What can you do while you’re waiting? Just play golf.

AS: That was a great thing that Hugo came up with, he said to me ‘so how are they spending their days while they’re waiting – what are they doing?’ Because it wasn’t in the script, in development I had all these things like they were taking bets on how long he’d last but it’s hard to film that. There’s this great scene that was completely Hugo’s suggestion of the guys playing chess against one another, and a silent one at that.

HW: It was nice where you put that as well, you’re developing the intrigue between those two characters.

AS: And he says “best of seven”, which is the same as the America’s Cup. We were originally going to set it in ‘82 but then we read about the America’s Cup and suddenly all these things made sense.

HW: There was this whole thing at the time about the hidden intentions of the Australians and these different sides playing off against each other and all this flag waving nationalism leading into who we are as a nation. Which ties in perfectly here.

AS: And then the Australians hid the design of their keel to get ahead! We were fascinated by the way Alan Bond was lauded as some kind of underdog yet it was the fourth time he’d tried, he was this multi-multi-millionaire and lo and behold, it later turned out he was a criminal. So when you see Crofty arrive and the door opens you can hear the commentary saying that America has just won race one, and every time America wins, Crofty and co get closer to their man. We just thought it was a really nice plot device that helped us write and navigate our way through. And the more we read the better it was, stuff like the commentator saying “Liberty has lost”-

HW: The great Bob Hawke line about any boss who won’t give their workers the day off is a bum take on a whole new connotation in this film.

HW: There’s a reason why we keep coming back to it, because in some way it expresses who we are very well I think. We understand it – since this country was settled by Europeans we understand that kind of inbuilt corruption and game playing very well. That kind of cops and robbers part of the culture is quite large, and there’s a very specific tone to it here that’s a point of difference between us and the States or anywhere else.

AS: We loved Chopper, we loved Animal Kingdom, there’s so many great Australian films that we loved. And there’s so many foreign films that we loved. But you know, we just set out to write a really entertaining piece with a lot of charismatic characters played by a lot of even more charismatic actors. I can’t tell you how encouraging Screen Australia were for us to make this film, how encouraging they were for us to bypass cinema – contractually I’m obliged to put it on in the cinemas through eOne, but Screen Australia have always been like ‘yep, we can see that working’. We’ve got the pick of the litter with our cast I reckon, to have Noni Halzehurst and Geoff Morell, two foxes at the top of their game – suddenly you’re making this dish with all these incredible ingredients and all I did was just say, “you jump in the dish together.”

The Mule is available on all major digital platforms from November 21st.

I’ve posted all of the promotional images/screencaps/fan photos etc from this past week of Mule promotional events and interviews to the Hugonuts Photo Archive.    And don’t forget Hugo’s wonderful FilmInk interview; I posted the full text in the previous entry, but here it is again in case anyone missed it.

Bloody Disgusting showcased an exclusive brief clip from the film which shows Angus Sampson’s character reluctantly downing the illicit cargo which gets him into so much trouble. (No embeds, alas)…

But here’s yet another new clip featuring John Noble and Leigh Whannell:

Film Festivals and Indie Films via YouTube

Other interviews: You can hear Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell and Georgina Haig discuss the film on the Australians in Film podcast. Angus Samson was interviewed by Leader Newspapers, Spook Magazine, Radio National (audio interview), Subculture Media and a neatened-up version of his Reddit chat has been posted here. Leigh Whannell gave interviews to Nuke The Fridge, and The Examiner. And there’s a Georgina Haig video interview at IGN.

You can read the latest batch of reviews at Geek Nation, (Leigh Paatsch), Film Journal (reprint of The Hollywood Reporter’s review), The Dissolve, ACMI, Contact Music, The Guardian, The Film Stage,, Film Racket, The Iris (The AUReview),, The Herald Sun, Seven Inches Of Your Time,, Reel Good, Time Out Sydney and The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference. THEY LIKED IT. ;P  And famed cult director Stuart Gordon posted his rave review to The Talkhouse… he loved Hugo’s performance but I could’ve done without the spoilers. (Well, Hugo’s let a few slip, too.) 😉

And don’t forget the 7 December live-tweet event, which will begin at 3pm AEDT, 9pm PDT. Angus Sampson discusses what to expect at The Age;  no specifics on whether Hugo Weaving will be part of this yet.

You can buy/stream the VOD version of The Mule on iTunes, Cable On Demand (incl XFinity, Cox, Time Warner) You can see the film at Arena Screen in Los Angeles through the end of the month. And I hope some of you are able to join me at the Fangoria screening this Monday in New York City at 7pm. Much like Angus Sampson’s character in the film, I’m having a hard time holding out until then, but I want my first viewing of this film to be in a proper cinema.

If all that wasn’t enough, Weaving and Sampson also did an interview for Sunrise on Seven; the haven’t posted it online but I’ll share links as soon as they do. They have shared videos before, so I’m trying to be optimistic.

UPDATE: Here’s the Sunrise on 7 interview video:

I also hope that as I have more free time and all the hubbub dies down a bit, I’ll have time to work up transcripts (or at least a few quotes) from some of Hugo’s recent audio/video interviews.

Finally, some amazing new promotional portraits from Dan Himbrechts, via AAP:

Al seven images: Dan Himbrechts/AAP


If all that wasn’t overwhelming enough, the first teaser trailer for Hugo Weaving’s next film, Strangerland– costarring Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes– debuted online earlier today. You can read first impressions from various media outlets and the official synopsis at IndieWire, The Film Stage, /Film MovieWeb. The trailer already hints of paranoia, a family at odds with itself and the local community (which seems divided along racial lines as well) and breathtaking cinematography. I’m hoping Hugo’s character isn’t too similar to Johnno in Mystery Road; Hugo has insisted all of his recent cop roles are different, so that’s good enough for me. Kim Farrant is a talented director and fans have been waiting for this film for a long time. (Hugo fans for nearly a decade.) The trailer reminds me a bit of James Nesbitt’s cable series Missing, which I recommend (no Bofur knockabout comedy there, just heart-in-your-throat suspense) and Aussie classics like Picnic at Hanging Rock (though hopefully without the dated mysticism.) Others are comparing it to the US series True Detective, though it probably won’t get all occult-y the way that show did. (But who knows?) Some sites feel a need to dredge up Nicole Kidman’s  recent bad luck at the box office, with a string of well-regarded films either delayed or released to disappointing revenue. Only one– Grace of Monaco– has been poorly reviewed, though; the others have gotten minimal marketing. Strangerland has no US distributor, but this film really should be seen in cinemas with that scope, the impressive talent involved and the emphasis on the harsh beauty of the landscape.

According to some Italian Nicole Kidman fansites, Strangerland will either premiere at next February’s Sundance Film Festival or is under consideration for a screening there. I’ll post additional details or confirmation as soon as I know more, but I hope it’s true.

Hugo Weaving and Nicole Kidman in Strangerland

I’ll try to work up some trailer caps soon. It’s been insanely busy here all day betwee my jobs, NY prep and all the new material.  Here’s the official synopsis:

” Catherine (Nicole Kidman) and Matt Parker are trying to adjust to their new life in the remote Australian desert town of Nathgari. They are pleasant but keep to themselves, unwilling to get close to anyone. On the eve of a massive dust storm, their lives are rocked when their two teenage children, Lily and Tom disappear into the desert. With Nathgari now eerily smothered in red dust and darkness, the locals join the search lead by local cop, David Rae (Hugo Weaving). It soon becomes apparent that something terrible may have happened to them. Suspicion is cast, rumors spread and ancient Aboriginal stories are told in whispers as the locals begin to turn against the couple. With temperatures rising and the chances of survival plummeting with each passing day, Catherine and Matthew find themselves pushed to the brink, as they struggle to survive the uncertainty of their children’s fate.”

First Contact

The program has finished its initial airing on SBS but Australians can stream it here. The Age has posted another detailed analysis of the show and other programs addressing Australia’s indigenous population.


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