Apologies for not updating sooner; my schedule has been chaotic for a few weeks now. Here are the major Hugo Weaving News Updates from the pasty couple of weeks. (As always, I update in a more timely manner on my Twitter account, but it’s been hard to grab a chunk of time long enough for the context and nuance that composing a Hugonuts update requires… I still consider this format preferable to the more abbreviated, trendy social networking sites, but Twitter at least allows me to post the raw materials of future entries as they appear.)
But enough delaying…
Strangerland: Official Trailer and Festival Screenings
Strangerland finally has an official trailer, via its American distributor Alchemy. (There was an unofficial, subtler teaser online several months ago, but it was quickly pulled from circulation, apparently considered an unofficial leak. For the record, I liked it as much as the new one, and it gave away less of the film’s plot.) The new trailer is longer and more intense, though Hugo has about the same amount of screentime. There are a few too many spoliers for my taste, but that’s generally true of the format. At least in this case the film’s ambiguous nature prevents the sort of over-sharing that plagues trailers for more conventional thrillers. All three lead actors look to be in solid form. Here’s the trailer plus the officxial poster (which is excellent) a few of my screencaps of Hugo’s scenes.
Alchemy via YouTube
The official film poster
(Above four images) My screencaps from the official trailer
Strangerland is released on 10 July in the US and 11 June in Australia, with the rest of its global distribution TBD. The US marketing hints strongly at a VOD-centric launch plus “select” cinematic screenings (likely a limited arthouse release.) The Australian release strategy will probably be similar, though the film is being treated with more class there, in a series of Sydney Film Festival Presents -themed screenings at the Palace Cinemas chain. (More about that in Inside Film). You can read the intel on the US release at Deadline, IndieWire, I’mWithGeek, The Film Stage and IMDb… all have very similar reports including the synopsis and trailer.
Prior to its international wide release, Strangerland will have screenings at the Sydney Film Festival— its Australian premiere 5 June and three additional screenings 6 June. Unfortunately, Hugo’s London stage role in STC’s Waiting For Godot (alongside Richard Roxburgh) will probably prevent Hugo from attending the film’s Sydney premiere… which is probably fine with him, though he has a longstanding love for the SFF apart from red-carpet duties. 😉 The film will also be showcased at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 17 and June 2. Tickets are still available for both festivals (follow the links above) but the SFF premiere is selling fast.
Sydney Theatre Co’s production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame completed its final week of performances on Saturday; positive notices kept appearing til the end. In fact, I don’t recall seeing a single negative review for the entire run of the production, which may be a first. Here are review excerpts posted since my prior entry, along with some great fans photos.
Fiona Prior, Henry Thornton: “To experience Andrew Upton and Hugo Weaving’s vision of Endgame as an audience member goes way beyond empathy and imagination into a real-time experiential connection. I frequently felt I was suffering as much from the onstage angst as were the performers who were waiting for the end – and, like the performers it was only their repetitive dialogue about futility that kept me there for its wickedly funny insights…
Hugo Weaving owns the role of the tyrannical Hamm whose heart is not really into his dictatorial role any more but, confined to his chair, sees little alternative; Tom Budge as the long-suffering Clov is an adept physical clown and the most down-trodden and sweetest of victims. Add dust-covered and ashen Nell (Sarah Peirse) and Nago (Bruce Spence) who live – if that is an appropriate word for their existence – in old metal barrels on stage and you have the whole extended family. Nell and Nago exhibit a loving connection in the play through the sharing of a biscuit and of memory. This glimmer of love, however, is treated as routinely as the exchanges of Hamm and Clov and this handling makes it all the more tragic..
I don’t adhere to the existential vision embedded in Endgame but I’m astonished that it can be delivered with such compelling humour. It is also a timely reminder to live creatively and not be a slave to what has come before. ”
Photo: Sharon Johal via Instagram
Frank Barnes, Education/NSWTF: “Along with the full house I sat mesmerised by this production, marvelling at Weaving’s mastery as he uses only his voice and arms, the powerful clowning performance of Tom Budge who has not acted on stage for 10 years, and the rarely-seen Bruce Spence and the extraordinary Sarah Peirse whose appearance is way too brief… Somehow there is always lots of humour to be found in these bleak scenarios of Beckett’s worlds…
The production is engrossing. Let’s hope that Upton, who is leaving for the US with his family, comes back occasionally to team up with Weaving again.”
Tanydd Jacquet, cheekytaster: “From the moment Hugo Weaving is unveiled onstage, you could hear a pin drop at the Roslyn Packer Theatre..
As the endless drops drip from the stage wall like the agonising infinity of seconds passing through in their world, the audience cannot help but to respond to their helplessness with laughter…
The greatest conflict in the play is the one you find yourself in when you leave the theatre. Both quizzical and inspired – you resolve to leave the room you have been so comfortable in, and take a chance on exploring what could be outside…
Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Endgame is a dark comedy that leaves it’s audience talking more than what happens onstage.”
Photo: aabbeymensforth via Instagram
theatrematters.com.au: “Despite the play being a little challenging to follow, the performances were, unsurprisingly, outstanding. Hugo Weaving was captivating as the tyrannical, unforgiving Hamm. At first I was concerned about not being able to see his eyes, hidden behind clouded glasses. How would I connect with him? But he was so beautifully expressive with his languorous hands (echoes of Gambon) and utilised the entirety of his vocal range to such a great effect that I needn’t have worried. Weaving is an enviably clever actor, and his use of language is utterly inspiring. His voice is like chocolate, and the way he effortlessly squeezes meaning out of each syllable, whether it be from modern or classic text, is a gift. Bugde made the perfect companion, making great comedic and physical choices, and letting Clov’s strength shine through just enough to give us hope for him in the end. Both actors were playing within the confines of the script, and found comedy in very difficult and unexpected places…
Nick Schlieper’s set and lighting design was delightfully bleak and foreboding, and provided the perfect basement home for the unlikely family, doomed to be forever alone until something breaks the monotony – death or departure.”
Photo: bncarynlds via Instagram
The Buzz From Sydney: “At the risk of sounding effusive, a production like the Andrew Upton directed Endgame is the reason why people go to the theatre: spellbinding performances and meticulous direction has made Endgame one of the theatre events of the year, which may sound premature, but trust me, is not…
Tom Budge delivered a virtuoso performance as Clov: he executes his duties in exacting , yet forgetful fashion, with intense concentration on space, as he moves Hamm around the stage. Hugo Weaving as Hamm was absolutely brilliant. His monologues create a landscape that is rich in simple drama, while his unseeing eyes held the audience in their grip. Hamm is after all, trying to stave off the end with a few last minute manipulations that are pointless but for him necessary…
Andrew Upton presents Endgame as a more sophisticated companion piece to Waiting For Godot, and fans of Beckett who are after a detailed and faithful rendering will not be disappointed by this production.”
Photo: millsy_k via Instagram
Alex Rieneck, AE36: “Suffice to say the characters are “Hamm” (Hugo Weaving) who spends the play ensconced in a comfortable armchair (which may be seen as a throne) (or not) and who orders everyone about. He describes himself as senile, so he may be seen as a king. His especial servant is “Clov” (Tom Budge) who runs hither and yon about the stage at every beck and call and being far more mobile than the rest of the cast, is responsible for the physical comedy. Its a big job, Mr Budge is on the move for the entire play scuttling from one side of the stage to the other. His main prop is a twenty foot ladder and I lost track of the number of times that he climbed it, all the way to the top; after carrying it across the stage from one side to the other. No housepainter works so hard; I pitied him and wondered that at the end of the play he seemed to still be word perfect, even as he glistened with sweat. Actors delight me…
Hamm is a less likeable character; he sprawls backwards in his chair bossing Clov, bellowing when he thinks it will achieve his purpose; bribing Nagg with sugar plums when shouting fails. In short Hamm is every inch a king, but not the phantasy monarch of king William and Kate – he is more the nasty reality of King Rupert (Murdoch) himself the unvarnished face of power itself…
The performances (particularly Hugo Weaving’s as Hamm and Tom Budge as Clov) are flawless, and Bruce Spence beaming up at the world out of a garbage can is not something I will soon forget – nor will I try to. Sarah Perse does rather better than can be expected with the little that is available to the character of Nell.”
Fan video(!) by Sharon Johal/Instagram
And here are a couple of treats from STC: a behind the scenes look at the production’s teaser trailer, and a neat animated promo for the souvenir programme. (Yes, I have a copy, and yes, there will be scans when I have more time.) 😉
STC via YouTube
Hugo will have a brief respite from Samuel Beckett before traveling with STC’s production of Waiting For Godot to London’s Barbican in June. Stage Whipers has a preview.
RIP Andrew Lesnie, Cinematographer
Many of us were shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of Andrew Lesnie, who won an Oscar for his cinematography for Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings and lent his considerable skills to several other notable Hugo Weaving films and TV projects, including The Hobbit Trilogy, Babe and its sequel, Bodyline, Melba and Healing. Lesnie also worked on King Kong and The Lovely Bones for Jackson, the recent Planet of the Apes reboot ; his final film was The Water Diviner starring Russell Crowe. Here is director Craig Monahan’s tribute to his collaborator and friend, via Healing’s Facebook page:
Healing director Craig Monahan, with Andrew Lesnie (2013)
“I am devastated at the loss of my friend of 35 years. I first met Andrew at film school : he was finishing and I was starting.
Our initial connection believe it or not was our love of Groucho Marx. I can still see him walking around saying ‘I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got in my pyjamas I’ll never know.’
There was no-one like Andrew. He was very intelligent, very funny and full of energy. As a cinematographer he was brilliant…”Lighting schmiting”, he would say. ‘What’s it about? What is this scene about? Everything came from that.
Much love to Marcie and to his boys Sam,Jack and Alex. R.I.P. my friend” – Craig
Lesnie (center) with his wife Marcie on the set of Healing (2013) Photos: Healing Facebook
Hugo Weaving and Lesnie during the filming of Healing (2013)
You can read tributes and more about Lesnie’s career at Variety, The Guardian, The New York Times, TheOneRing.net and (of course) Peter Jackson’s Facebook page, which includes an extended tribute and photos from the sets of their many collaborations.
“Dearest Andrew, you never sought nor wanted praise – you never needed to hear how good you were, you only ever cared about doing great work and respecting the work of others. But on behalf of all those who were lucky enough to collaborate with you, love you and in turn, respect your mastery of story, of light and of cinema magic – you are one of the great cinematographers of our time.” — Peter Jackson, via Facebook
With Ian McKellen on The Hobbit set (Photo: Screen Rant)
In Other Hugo Weaving News
Ivan Sen and his Mystery Road leading man Aaron Pedersen are filming the much-anticipated sequel/follow-up to their 2013 masterpiece. Alas, for obvious resons (to anyone who’s seen Mystery Road) Hugo Weaving and Ryan Kwanten won’t be able to participate this time around. The new film, entitled Goldstone, sees Pedersen’s Jay Swan investigating a new case in another town; though none of the Mystery Road supporting cast is on hand, the new film looks unmissable with the additions of Jacki Weaver, David Gulpilil and David Wenham to the cast. You can follow the film via the Mystery Road Facebook page (now officially named for BOTH films), and read more at Inside Film, Variety, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and SBS. Filming is now underway in the Winton, QLD area.