Monthly Archives: March 2015

Last-Minute Endgame Previews, Incl New Hugo Weaving Interview & Nicholas Harding Sketches

Bruce Spence, Hugo Weaving and Sarah Peirse in rehearsals for STC’s Endgame.  Photo: Bob Barker/The Daily Telegraph online

STC Endgame

Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Endgame, starring Hugo Weaving, Tom Budge, Sarah Peirse and Bruce Spence, opens later today in Sydney. While we await the first reviews and production photos, here are the latest preview articles and other promos released in the past few days.

The most interesting of these is The Daily Telegraph’s interview with Weaving, Peirse and Spence. The online and print versions of the piece, written by Chris Hook, both feature the same text and a new photo by Bob Barker (above); the print version (from Best Weekend’s 27 March edition, scans below) adds a nice cover photo of the three and a few additional rehearsal pics by Lisa Tomasetti. Not a lengthy interview but it features perceptive comments and stays pleasingly on-topic.

Fans of last year’s Drawing Godot exhibit, featuring Nicholas Harding’s sketches, etchings and watercolors of STC’s Waiting For Godot (2013) will be happy to note that Harding (a longtime friend of Hugo’s) has returned to perform a similar task for the current Beckett play. STCs Facebook page recently featured a selection of the new sketches, and more will appear in the programme sold at performances. Those not lucky enough to make it to Sydney can read a few highlights of the programme content (including rehearsal photos, biographical notes and commentary on the play’s themes and characters) in this STC Magazine feature. Here are a few of Harding’s drawings featuring Hugo Weaving as Hamm:

Hugo Weaving as Hamm, Tom Budge as Clov in STC’s Endgame.   Drawing by Nicholas Harding, via STC Facebook

Andrew Upton spoke to The Big Smoke about his take on the play and his role directing the new production. Rebecca Gibney briefly mentions the film in a recent TV interview. And Sarah Peirse was interviewed by about her role as Nell, and why she’s luckier than Bruce Spence as far as trying to squeeze into those trash bins goes. 😉 Gay News Network posted a detailed preview of the production.

The Dressmaker

As Jocelyn Moorhouse’s new film nears the end of post-production, a handful of preview screenings have been held or are planned at various locations in Australia. There was brief but enthusiastic commentary about one such screening in Melbourne on IMDb and Twitter, but not a lot of information about the film.

New production photos have appeared on Twitter courtesy of Monty Fan, including images of the sets and costumes, and this lovely cast and crew photo featuring Hugo Weaving and director Moorhouse:

Photo: Monty Fan via Twitter


Though no news of an official US release has yet surfaced, Healing did make a splash in its recent Sedona Film Festival screening, winning the Best Foreign Film prize. More details at the festival’s webpage.

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Hugo was recently spotted and photographed at a Sydney Art Month event at The National Arts School Gallery, behind a Red Sturts Desert Pea. 😉

Photo: Dick Quan via Twitter/Instagram

Impulse Gamer interviewed Harry Greenwood about his role in the acclaimed miniseries Gallipoli (directed by Last Ride’s Glendyn Ivin)

The Guardian‘s Luke Buckmaster posted a tribute to one of Hugo Weaving’s most gripping (and “criminally underseen”) films: The Interview, directed by Craig Monahan (who subsequently reteamed with Hugo on Peaches and Healing.) This remains among Hugo’s top five performances by most serious fans’ estimations; those who still only know his career from its occasional franchise excursions would find it a revelation if they checked it out.

Mystery Road continues to draw positive attention via Netflix and BBC streaming; you can read new reviews at Everything Noir and Cleveland Movie Blog.

Watch this space for additional updates as Endgame’s preview performances unfold!

STC’s Pre-Season Briefing for Endgame, Featuring Hugo Weaving; Incl Photo

As usual, STC live-tweeted highlights of their pre-season briefing for the new production of Endgame a week in advance of its first performance (31 March). Here’s how everything unfolded in chronological order, beginning at 6.15pm 23 March:

(I’ll add a few tweets from audience members too.) 😉

Photo: STC, via Twitter/Instagram; Hugo is to far right

That really went by quickly! I’ll add any additional STC or audience pics that turn up later today, as well as any notes or transcripts that turn up. 😉

New Hugo Weaving Interview, Endgame Previews, More Pics From Sundance, The Key Man on DVD

Hugo Weaving and the cast of Sydney Theatre Co’s Endgame are currently deep into rehearsals, with a scheduled first performance of the production March 31. (Official “Opening Night”, which will be when most reviewers start seeing the play, is 8 April; my experience is that the best time to catch a play with a run of a month ore more is either during previews or the final week. The actors are at their sharpest, either fresh out of rehearsals or getting that second wind that comes when the run is winding down. I’ve never seen a major mistake during previews from an actor of Hugo’s caliber (or, frankly, any actor at all in a major stage production. Occasionally the staging is still being tweaked, but, especially in the case of Beckett, the settings aren’t the reason you’re seeing the play.) 😉 Obviously mistakes or unforeseen incidents can happen at any time in a play’s run– I remember a major prop failure with one of Cate Blanchett’s guns during the NY run of Hedda Gabler, but she’s such a pro only people who’d seen earlier performances probably knew anything was amiss. And no, fortunately it wasn’t during the final scene. Just wanted to make the point that previews are a unsung bargain and often some of the best performances.   AND you can form your own opinion without being swayed by the critics’ takes that come later. 😉

Sorry if I’m too chatty. I should probably get straight to the news. Limelight have more than delivered with their new Hugo Weaving interview on STC’s Endgame and Hugo’s love of Samuel Beckett in general. The interview is expansive and refreshingly on-topic, allowing Hugo time to discuss his interests and goals in theatrical acting (and, now, directing) with a depth most entertainment press features  can’t achieve. There are also some lovely promo photos by James Green and photos from the 2013 production of Waiting For Godot by Lisa Tomasetti. The text and intriguing questions are by Clive Paget. Alas, there’s no online version available (at least not yet– I’ll post links if that changes) so here are the magazine scans. Limelight also mentioned Hugo flatteringly in this month’s Editor’s Letter and previewed the April issue in a brief video.  You can buy print or digital copies of the April issue here.

Interesting to hear Hugo bring up Desert Island Discs again… the program was also referenced in 2003 promotion for Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing (at STC) because it was a plot point in that play. Gotta say I find it fascinating and wonderfully counter-intuitive that Hugo would list Beckett as his Desert Island reading choice… most people opt for nostalgia or escapism of some sort. Of course, others (myself included) would find a desert island (or even a resort island) a somewhat hellish experience, so Beckett would be oddly comforting. 😉 I think the older one gets, the more Beckett becomes comedy rather than horror or tragedy, and the more human, relatable aspects shine through. Certainly I’d bring Beckett before Samuel Pepys… Pepys is interesting from a historical perspective but didn’t like Shakespeare, so there was clearly something wrong with him. 😉 *


The Key Man Finally Released On DVD

My review of The Key Man film and DVD (contains minor spoilers)

The Key Man, jokingly referred to by some longterm fans as Hugo’s “lost film”, has finally been released on North American DVD by Screen Media. The release is disappointingly stripped down, with no bonus features, deleted scenes or even subtitles, not even captions for the hearing impaired. The film is only about 80 minutes long and seems oddly incomplete (or poorly-edited), almost like someone took a hatchet to an intriguing 12-part series and cobbled together only the minimal part necessary to understand the plot. Well, sort of. As a result, the characters seem underdeveloped and there are several transitions that seem to come out of nowhere out of plot convenience, or possibly because most of the character moments that didn’t directly impact the plot were sheared away in post.

Hugo Weaving and Jack Davenport in the film’s first scene. All images: My screencaps from the first 20 minutes of the DVD

I’m going to assume anyone delving this deep into the three leads’ resumes already knows the basic plot: that the film is about a luckless insurance salesman named Bobby Scheinman (Jack Davenport) who’s lured into an insurance scam by an aging gangster (Brian Cox’s Irving) and a shady business heir with a sideline in acting (Hugo Weaving’s Vincent.) Bobby’s ostensible motive is to buy a house for his wife (Judy Greer) and young children, but his growing fascination with these criminal criminals and their opulent lifestyle causes him to ignore what should be obvious warnings that he’s putting himself and his family at great risk, and might become complicit in murder. I see I’ve gone out of my way to avoid certain spoiler content… I do hope to talk with other fans about this without needing to be so elliptical in the future, but I only received my DVD, and know others are still waiting, and I won’t play the spoiler-monkey. For those who like to know the absolute bare minimum about any film (and find even trailers spoilery)… you should wait until you see the film to read the rest of this. 😉

Brian Cox and Hugo Weaving in The Key Man

I’m giving a lot of benefit of doubt on the point of editing (ie missing scenes) because there’s a montage near the end that features a lot of footage that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the film, including what would appear to be establishing scenes between Jack Davenport and Hugo Weaving’s characters. If they existed, such scenes could give both characters– particularly Davenport’s protagonist, needed depth and complexity. As things are, Bobby seems like a more mannered, suburban variant on James Brolin’s character in No Country for old Men, ie a greed-driven empty vessel who puts others in dangers despite multiple warnings. The film’s unexpected post-script (which I won’t disclose) seems to belie this, suggesting there was a lot more going on in Bobby’s head, but this conflicted motivation should have bee woven throughout the plot. I have to believe a production this bare-bones must have started with a unique original script to draw actors of Weaving, Cox and davenport’s caliber. But it seems like the distributors didn’t know what to make of the finished film, and thus chopped it down to a rote thriller that follows a lot of the now-stale conventions of 70s film rather than jauntily reinventing them. Hugo and Brian Cox have some magnificent acting moments, but key connective tissue about their characters seems missing, which makes these great scenes seem to come out of nowhere. Vincent’s acting, for example, is barely mentioned before it suddenly becomes all-important, and Irving (Cox) goes from a murderous thug to a soulful, regretful pacifist with almost no transition.

The film is full of often-pretentious nods to 70s techniques like split-screen; often the directorial tricks seem more like showing off than devices in service of the plot and characters. Some scenes– mostly exteriors– appear grainy. At first I thought this was part of the film’s retro theme (a la Grindhouse), but other scenes are perfectly crisp, so I’m wondering if the grain is a side-effect of the low budget. The film is ostensibly set in the suburbs of Boston, but was obviously (to a New England resident) shot nowhere near there. I suppose I should be grateful there are clumsy Pick-up Shots Of Boston Landmarks crammed between scenes to distract us that the film was in fact shot in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The central scam of the film– that Vincent is buying a fraudulent insurance policy to help finance buying interest in the Boston Red Sox– would only seem plausible to someone who DIDN’T live in Boston in the 1970s… basically the proposal is akin to that of buying partial interest in the Brooklyn Bridge for pennies on the dollar. Bobby should instantly see such a ruse for what it is– or at least do some basic research. 😉 If more character-establishing scenes existed to explain why he doesn’t, and why he’s so easily drawn into Vincent’s scheme despite multiple warnings, the film might work. As it is, it seems like Bobby is naive in addition to henpecked into action to please his wife (Judy Greer) with a new house. Since Greer plays her underwritten character with her usual degree of understatement and charm (she has an amazing scene with Hugo late in the game), the latter motive doesn’t really wash.

I mentioned 70s tropes being reinforced rather than challenged or reinvented– the depiction of gay and female characters is another unfortunate side effect of possible editing or writing. The only two female characters– played by Greer and Carol Kane, who’s wasted in two minimal appearances as Bobby’s secretary– fall into types due to a lack of screentime. An early montage suggests the spark is going out of Bobby’s marriage, but this isn’t really explained or developed so much as played for uncomfortable laughter (a Johnny Carson clip from at least a decade after the film’s 1975 setting is thrown in as a punchline). And Greer’s portrayal is almost entirely sympathetic. It’s also suggested Bobby is falling behind in sales at work, which Vincent and Irving think will make him easy pickings for their scam. But this is also underwritten, particular when, late in the film, a colleague of Bobby’s reveals Vincent has unsuccessfully tried to lure others at the same insurance office. Wouldn’t that have become general knowledge at the firm, or at least gossip?

A major gay relationship between two characters is a major revelation, and seems played for shock value or prurient titillation, the way gay or cross-dressing characters (who were invariably villains) usually were in actual 70s film. One participant is the affair is barely sketched out, though he seems critically important to the proceedings and the insurance scam, so the audience is given nothing to work with regarding how to feel about him. The other participant– a main character– is depicted as flamboyant and even quasi-rapey at one point, but is also treated so fetishistically by the camera that one wonders if the creative team actually meant for the character to come across negatively. Again, here’s an area where additional scenes or greater nuance in existing scenes might add more complexity. The film’s ending, which ventures in a direction no rote 70s thriller would, suggests there was supposed to be more going on, and that there was a nascent love triangle somewhere in the film’s machinations. Maybe I’m reading too much into things. (I don’t usually try to add slashy plot elements where none were intended– or straight romantic elements for that matter. I don’t watch films primarily for the shipping potential.)

I’m going on so long because the film does have some great moments and intriguing subtexts amid the choppy editing and rote plot elements. So I have to think there was initially more to this. As it is, fans of Hugo Weaving and Brian Cox should see the film regardless, as these actors have some transcendent moments that hint these characters could each be spun into a very good series with the right creative team. (I can’t help but think of what Vince Gilligan has done with Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, both stocked with miscreant characters given unexpected depth and relatability through the right alchemical mixture of acting, script and direction.) The Key Man’s writer/director, Peter Himmelstein, had never made a feature before this one. Reading Hugo’s thoughts on what an experienced actor can add to a newbie director’s work, I’d love to hear what he (or Brian Cox) initially saw in the script and what they might have though should be added. (Or, indeed, if some stuff was subtracted.) Hugo’s tendency to be both generous and unabashedly honest would make hearing his thoughts on this film very interesting.

A few other random thoughts: I probably will watch this again to make sure I’m being fair to it. I’ve actually seen The Tender Hook three times (in total, Hugo’s scenes more often) and this is definitely a better period caper than that dreary pile of genre cliches. Hugo’s Vincent could be said to be a weird transitional character between Hook’s McHeath and The Mule’s Croft, though each character has some unique traits. (I’m pretty sure Croft would find Vincent and McHeath’s penchant for Shakespeare-quoting and other refinements a bit dodgy. Well, he’d probably put things in less politically correct terms.) 😉 The Mule movie is leagues above either The Key Man OR The Tender Hook, and shows how challenging it is to get period genre films right. It’s probably not right to call The Key Man a “caper”, really, as it’s almost entirely devoid of humor. If anything, it could use a bit of leavening, and a less draggy “lite-jazz” soundtrack. But the camera loves Hugo and he steals every scene he’s in effortlessly. None of he actors disappoints, though Davenport is stuck with a purely reactive character, and for someone with decidedly-above-Keanu-Reeves level chops, this is frustrating. 😉

Re fan  service: Yes, there are sauna scenes for all three protagonists, though no full nudity. There’s a hint of sex treated very glancingly (no nudity), though some fans will go heavy on the pause, zoom, and rewind. I’m not spoiling any aspect of that.  Nothing makes me quite as furious as people who post such scenes (or stills from them) out of context without spoiler warnings before most fans can see the film as a whole. Since a lot of these indie fans are somewhat obscure, new fans in any given year should have the opportunity to see them without having major plot points spoiled in advance in the name of “fan service”, so such images should be posted via links with spoiler warnings. Just my opinion. Yes, I do draw a certain amount of titillation from Hugo’s sexier roles, but treating his work primarily as softcore porn is a bit disrespectful and juvenile. Hugo always emphasizes script and “character illumination” as his primary motive in choosing roles, so we should at least try to watch the films with that in mind the first time or two through. Fan service can follow for those into that, with the proper content advisories. Because, in all honesty, there’s no reason to watch The Right Hand Man more than one or two times except for the Hugo Nudity. 😉 The sauna scene featuring Hugo and Brian Cox gets a pass because it was in the trailer, though I was annoyed that some fan in Eastern Europe posted giant caps out of context years before the film was widely released. It should be noted that that scene contains no sexual activity or hint of sex between those characters. No Viggo-Mortensen-style nude knife-fights (Eastern Promises) either, alas. 😉

Odd trivia: The film’s opening credits (and a dream sequence that follows)  give away key plot points, though in a veiled manner. I’d have preferred starting from the beginning of the actual story and dispensing with the arty spoilers, which might’ve allowed time for possibly-deleted character building scenes. Also, the DVD cover art image of a bloodied, bullet-riddled car windshield and bag of  money are a completely fabricated scene that doesn’t happen anywhere in the film. 😉 And I am going to have to re-read Troilus and Cressida again after this. In some ways I can relate to Vincent’s feelings about the play, as my one experience seeing it in performance was an unfortunate experimental production. My primary memory is of one particular cast member wearing leather bondage gear spitting all over us amid his over-enunciating… 😉

A Few More Sundance Pics

Some nice images of Hugo Weaving with Joseph Fiennes, taken 24 January 2015 at Sundance during Strangerland promotion. Both photos by Jay L Clendenin/LA Times/Contour/Getty Images

The Dressmaker

Finally, novel author Rosalie Ham has shared another production diary post recounting her experiences working as an extra on the set of The Dressmaker. this time Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth and Judy Davis are casually name-dropped (I would to if I wrote a novel these actors starred in the film adaptation…) but Hugo is still referred to as “Segreant Farrat”. Could it be she doesn’t know his real name, or is just just particularly besotted with that character (or Hugo’s deptction of him)? An interesting read either way. The film opens October 1 in Australian, with international distribution to be announced. Here’s a short excerpt from Ham’s piece, and a set photo of the day described.

“Kate Winslet, dressed in startling red couture, walks across the Jung footy oval, her complexion very British in the Dungatar glare and the Australian bush green. Behind her, Judy Davis, small and magnetic, watches. Before her, Sergeant Farrat waits…     The actors and their attentive entourage return. We watch the tall, lovely, leading man (Liam Hemsworth) play skilled, choreographed footy, the stunties hovering… ”

Kate Winslet and Judy Davis filimg The Dressmaker

New Hugo Weaving & Tom Budge Interviews Promoting Endgame, Dressmaker Update

Hugo Weaving portrait by Steve Baccon, from The Australian online

Amid ongoing rehearsals for Sydney Theatre Co’s new production of Endgame, Hugo Weaving recently took time to give an interview to The Australian‘s Verity Edwards for their !0 Questions feature. The interview was published in The Weekend Australian as well as posted online. Since the online version of The Australian is very stingy about repeat page-views, I’ll post the magazine scan version, along with  both versions of Steve Baccon’s delectable new portrait.

WordPress Readers: right-click, click on “Open in a new tab” for full-sized article

From The Weekend Australian magazine, 13 March 2015

Portrait by Steve Baccon, The Weekend Australian

The first question and answer are disturbing evidence that all fans learn to need how to draw boundaries, and that harassing “celebrities” on their own time (ie when not explicitly promoting a film or other project) is despicable behavior. The fact that Hugo is so generous with fans under most circumstances just makes me angrier that people continue to think the own him. Hugo’s attempts at understanding and conciliation are lovely, but he shouldn’t have to do this. I hate to bring this up, but John Lennon was similarly loving and patient with all manner of fans importuning him for autographs, often even showing up clearly…impaired at his house (one incident was documented in the 1989 film Imagine) demanding lyric explanations.  Lennon would try to downplay expectation and respond with compassion.This level of openness led to a lovely number of student interviews and fan photos most artists would never permit, but it also eventually cost him his life. I know that’s a particularly scary example, but we all need to take this issue very seriously and respect our favorite actors and artists as human beings with rights, beginning with the right to a certain amount of privacy.

Shocking as it may seem, Hugo actually enjoys going to film festival TO ENJOY OTHER PEOPLE’S FILMS, not just play the star in service of his own projects. He willingly gave dozens of autographs at Sundance and posed for photos with fans, But he should be allowed to say ‘no’ without being treated abusively. That “fan” should’ve been ejected from the festival at the very least. This is one reason I don’t post videos made by professional autograph hawkers who ambush Hugo at the airport and other public places, and why I discourage people from buying autographs online. Number one, you can never be sure of their authenticity, number two, if they are authentic, they meant nothing to the person who obtained them except mere profit, and they might have been obtained in this sort of dodgy manner. Real fans have often told me they failed to meet Hugo or get one treasured item signed because these dealers crashed an event (or stage door) and Hugo had to take so much time signing their Agent Smith glossies that there was no time left for quieter, more authentic fans who were politely waiting their turn. So please, everyone– have boundaries. Be respectful.

Sorry ’bout the lecture– I know most of you don’t need it and wouldn’t dream of behaving that way. But with an artist as wonderfully unaffected and unjaded as Hugo, fans are at that much more risk of being part of the problem, even with the most sincere motives. I question my behavior and choices as an online fan every day.

The rest of the interview reaffirms most of what I’ve loved about Hugo and reassures me his commitment to serious, challenging roles remains firm.

Hugo’s new costar Tom Budge gave his own intriguing interview to the Sydney Theatre Co Magazine. He’s already had quite an eventful career, and describes the challenges of stepping into the role of Clov last-minute, his previous career highs, and the unique thrill of working with both Hugo and his son Harry Greenwood (in Gallipoli) in the same year. Here are a few quotes, but the full piece is very much worth a look– even has some STC Endgame rehearsal photos as an additional incentive.

Budge: [Describing Endgame] “I met with Andrew a year ago about this show. I thought the play was brilliant, I thought I could bring my own clown version to this role, as well as it just being beautiful and written incredibly well. But then the role went to Robert Menzies and I was honoured to have even been considered – it’s one of those rare moments where you go, ‘Oh, he’ll be f***ing amazing!’ And I’d actually been talking to Julie Forsythe about Endgame – she’s doing it at MTC right now, she’s in the bin right now – and so when I got the call from STC, there was no question. I had to ask my wife, but there was no second guessing. And it’s amazing to be back in Sydney. There’s so much great passion, energy and value put on theatre in this town…

There’s so many different kinds of clown in [Endgame]. Even within the one character. I’m realising that there’s no template with this. When you read it at first, you might think there is, but when you get to the specifics of it you realise it changes every 20 seconds. The play begins with something that everyone could recognise as a kind of clown routine – moving the ladder back and forth – but then it switches into (almost) naturalism, for a moment, then I’m playing straight man to Hamm’s laugh riot. I’m still getting comfortable with the changes and it as a general form feeling OK. But there was a gross shock to begin with of not having a simple, gradual through-line of a single ‘clown’.

[Interviewer] Hugo Weaving was talking the other day about how Beckett doesn’t give actors an easy motivational bridge between moments.

Budge: Exactly, as an actor your first thought is, “Why do I start talking about this? Why do i do that?” And Hugo’s right, most of the time there is no connection. But you get this creepy feeling – and this is a bit romantic and dramatic – that Beckett’s ghost is standing over you reassuring you that it is all there. Once you get it all down and you learn everything and you’ve done it a bunch of times, you’ll be able to stand back and it’ll be clear that something that happens two-thirds of the way through might not relate to what happened immediately prior but it does relate to something that happened for a second in the first third. And so you can find a complete through-line from one moment to another moment, it’s just really complicated. It feels seriously bizarre to begin with. I don’t think Beckett is messing with the actors, even if people assume that. I think it makes perfect sense, it’s just beyond my intelligence as to how he created it. It keeps you at arms length, so it never gets too bald… That’s the genius of it. You feel that there are conscious triple meanings in each line. It’s staggering… it’s been a real joy to be allowed into something like this, into a brain like Beckett’s. It’s fascinating. It’s beyond philosophy. It’s not just rumination, it’s very personal.

[Interviewer] That’s right, Beckett’s actually embodied it. It’s not the espousing of philosophy just in language, it’s making it happen through action – the people in his plays live that philosophy.

Budge: Yes! And it is so deeply personal, these things that he’s extracting from his life and putting out there. Look, you could read his biography and then say, “Hamm and Clov are Beckett and his wife.” But, in practice, it doesn’t help you, because no one can completely zoom in on and recreate the characters from someone else’s life. So, Hugo and I have to find our own version of a relationship, which takes time. I’d never met Hugo before this, and it takes time to get through all the normal personal stuff to something else…

In this case, the initial thing was easy, because I’d weirdly just worked with Hugo’s son – the amazing, lovely Harry Greenwood – last year on Gallipoli. He’s an incredible young man, divine. And having spent time with him you just make the assumption that at least one of his parents has to be amazing. An amazing, open-minded, divine individual. So the odds are pretty good and there’s a strange kind of familiarity in that small way. Given that I had about 10 hours’ notice between getting the job and the first reading, Hugo’s the perfect person to greet you in that situation. Warm and generous…

It’s interesting, we did our lines looking at each other just now, because Hugo realised that he never really gets to look at me in the show. None of them really look at each other much. So, as actors, it’s useful to play around with both to see what we’re each doing, because the voice and the face aren’t always doing the same thing… We’ve been talking about how it’s jazz. It’s loose, things can pop up from nowhere. But, like jazz, you learn the standard before you start improvising. So, we’re still finding the standard.”


The Dressmaker

Jocelyn Moorhouse’s film is still in post-production heading toward an October release in Australia. Author Rosalie Ham, who has been on hand for the film and played an extra in her own fictional town, recently posted a lovely new blog entry about a certain perk of being an extra: dancing opposite a certain Sergeant Farrat, played by Hugo Weaving in the film. (Alas, no new pics yet). Here’s an excerpt:

“Sue Maslin wasn’t in my Deportment or Ballroom dancing classes at school. I would have remembered her. But she did eat in the dining room and so she does know how to dissect and eat a banana in small half-moons, like a lady. As Sergeant Farrat does in The Dressmaker…

In dancing classes Miss Rose stressed, ‘Remain light in your partners arms, do not lean on your partner. Do not lead, allow yourself to be guided.’… These instructions were alive to me as we set off for our ‘dance’ scene in a hall in Williamstown/Dungatar. We’d received the instructional DVD and like good extras, pushed back the couch and practiced together…

In the car park we joined the other practicing extras. Angela took a firm hold of Matthew’s left hand and placed his right on her hip and said, ‘Forward, forward, back, back, side-together, slide.’… Then I was gone, led away by my old school friend, Sue. She took me to set where the actors and superstars were rehearsing and deposited me in front of Sergeant Farrat. ‘This is your dance partner.’

Sergeant Farrat was kind, but aloof, and I, terrified. The music started and he took my hand. This was my moment. I must dance without fault. Sergeant Farrat looked at me, confidence in his eyes. ‘He thinks I know what I’m doing,’ I thought. In front of us, Mr and Mrs Pratt danced like they were born to it, so I just did what they did, and, I remained light in my partner’s arms, allowed myself to be led, as did Matthew, who danced all day with Angela.”

Since Hugo isn’t mentioned by name, I am drawing certain inferences here… he’s shown certain skill as a dancer in previous film roles (…charity events) 😉 so I don’t think a double or stand-in was required.  I’m really looking forward to the finished film, as the creative team have been so generous about keeping fans in the loop without giving too much away.

Hugo Weaving on The Dressmaker’s dance-hall set last December.   Photo: Heidi Dee, via Instagram

More Endgame promo material may appear at any time, so I’ll update as frequently as I can, first at witter, then here.

For one thing, there’s this tantalizing, trailer-promising tweet from Steph Zulu:

New STC Endgame Rehearsal Photos, Video

Sydney Theatre Company’s Endgame, Hugo Weaving and director Andrew Upton’s second go at Samuel Beckett in the past couple of years, premieres at the end of the month, but promotion of the engagement has already swung into high gear. STC’s Facebook page treated us to even more rehearsal photos than usual, a bit earlier than usual. Here are the 18 featuring Hugo, but there are a total of around 25 here, including some great shots of Bruce Spence in his garbage bin abode. All photos are by Lisa Tomasetti, continuing her tradition of amazing documentation of STC productions over many years.

Hugo Weaving and Tom Budge during a break in rehearsals

Hugo Weaving and Tom Budge as Hamm and Clov

Budge and Weaving with director Andrew Upton

Weaving with Sara Peirse as Nell and Bruce Spence as Nagg

To add to the sudden riches, Hugo Weaving gave an interview to ABC Radio National Breakfast‘s Fran Kelly yesterday, which they kindly taped and posted to YouTube. Hugo discusses his recent foray into Samuel Beckett’s oeuvre, and suggests he might take a break from theatre after reprising Waiting For Godot (at London’s Barbican this June) to focus on Australian independent film.  No specific films are mentioned, but he does reaffirm that his primary loyalty remains with Australian productions, and seems bemused and a bit mystified that some people might know him from only a handful of big-budget roles. 😉 Hugo has been connected to directors Glendyn Ivin and Anand Gandhi’s next film projects (One Foot Wrong and Bird Eclipse, respectively) by the directors themselves, but they aren’t specifically mentioned here, alas. 😉

RN Breakfast, via YouTube

As a fan I’m torn by the idea Hugo might take a break from theatre: I have a much greater likelihood of seeing ANY film he makes, and STC seems reluctant to bring productions to the US that don’t feature Cate Blanchett, though I’d love for that to change. (Blanchett is also changing focus to her film career for the near term). But the theatrical roles Hugo has been tackling in recent years usually have much greater resonance and dimensionality than a lot of his film roles. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED Tom Croft, but he’s no Macbeth. That said. as long as Hugo remains focused on independent film AND theatre, he can really do no wrong in my eyes. Just stay away from the megabudget superhero franchises. 😉

Couldn’t help making a few screencaps of the RN Breakfast interview, as Hugo’s microexpressions remain hard to resist.

The RN Breakfast video interview also includes footage from STC’s Waiting For Godot trailer.

Sydney Theatre Co, via YouTube

STC has also bought adspace in print publications for Endgame. This ad from the Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum (March 10) features another of James Green’s great promo images from last September:

Tickets for Endgame are still available and can be puchased directly from STC’s website; even fans who can’t make it to Sydney (or London) should keep an eye on the site, because they always share a wealth of great supplemental material to go along with each production.

In Other Hugo Weaving News

As The Dressmaker inches toward completion in post-production, entertainment sites continuing expressing optimism that it could be the comeback Jocelyn Moorhouse has long deserved. (One article also suggests Kate Winslet needs a “comeback”– I disagree. She’s never stopped delivering. And I get tired of the entertainment press treating female actors like has-beens the moment they hit 35.  Anyhow, you can read the latest articles in The Film Experience and Pajiba.

The Turning will be released on DVD/Blu-Ray in the UK on April 6, with bonus features comparable to those o the Australian edition. There’s a nice review at IndieMacUser. Alas, still no inkling of when or if the film might be released in North America.

And The Australian National Portrait Gallery’s interview with Nicholas Harding about his portrait Hugo at Home (a finalist for the 2011 Archibald Prizes) was cross-posted to YouTube a couple of days ago (It’s been available at the National Portrait Gallery website for awhile). Here it is again in case anyone missed it.

National Portrait Gallery, via YouTube

Finally, fans of Hugo’s short films might remember Andrew Kotatko’s “Everythng Goes” (2004), a lovely adaptation of the Raymond Carver short story “Why Don’t You Dance”, starring Hugo Weaving and Abbie Cornish. It’s the only short film of Hugo’s I’ve been lucky enough to see in a cinema, as part of the Manhattan International Short Film Festival back in 2005, and remains probably his finest work in a short film… probably in the top twenty of his performances in any medium. 😉 Anyhow, if you’ve only seen lo-res, often “unofficial” internet videos of the film, you might want an officially sanctioned HD upgrade, and as a bonus you can help Kotatko produce and distribute his next Carver adaptation Whoever Was Using This Bed, starring Radha Mitchell and Jane Birkin. Donors of $50 or more will receive their own HD copy of both projects and promo artwork for the new film.  You can watch footage of the new project and read more details at Kotatko’s Kickstarter page, or read more at Inside Film.

Sullivan Stapleton, Abbie Cornish and Hugo Weaving in Everything Goes, from a brochure distributed by the Manhattan Short Film Festival, 2005

Updates should come more frequently now that Endgame is close to opening, so watch this space. 😉