Tag Archives: Art of Music

Hugo Weaving Cast In Jasper Jones; The Dressmaker Approaches Australian Premiere; Autism PSA

First off, I know I’ve been negligent about updating lately and am very sorry for that. Though Hugo has mostly been on a break (and did not attend The Dressmaker’s world premiere in Toronto), there have still been several notable public appearances, including a collaboration with Griffin Film School on an autism awareness public service announcement (which has yet to be released), and an appearance introducing his friend Jenny Morris’s recent profile on Australian Story. He’s also been spotted at various Sydney events, and images from CinefestOZ continue to trickle in. I’ll try to share as much of that as possible

Jasper Jones

But first, an exciting bit of casting news. Around a week ago, the Manjimup Bridgetown Times announced that Hugo Weaving had finally selected his next film project, and had been cast alongside Toni Collette in the film Jasper Jones, based o the popular Australian “coming-of-age mystery novel” by Craig Silvey. While Porchlight Films confirmed Collette’s casting, I couldn’t find any confirmation about Hugo’s casting for several days, though the news was completely plausible. (In addition to being an independent Australian film with a talented cast and strong social message, the film is produced by David Jowsey, who also produced Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road. Porchlight Films previously produced one of Hugo’s favorites of his own films, Little Fish. So I was very optimistic, but decided to await official confirmation. This arrived yesterday via a press release from Porchlight, which announced Hugo would be playing “Mad Jack Lionel, the town recluse with a mysterious past”. Already cast, in addition to Collette, are Susan Prior (who costarred with Hugo in STC’s Riflemind in 2007), Levi Miller as the lead character Charlie Bucktin, Aaron McGrath as the title charcter, Matt Nable, Dan Wyllie, Myles Pollard and Angourie Rice.  The film will be directed by Rachel Perkins (Hugo’s third collaboration in a row with a female director) and will commence filming in Pemberton, in the south west of West Australia on 26 October, right after Hugo puts in time promoting The Dressmaker. You can read additional reports about the film (written both prior to and after Hugo joined the cast) at FilmInk, SBS, ABC.net, Buzzfeed, and author Silvey’s Facebook page. (He seemed quite pleased at the casting news.) 😉 Fortunately the novel is widely available outside of Australia, for fans too curious to wait. Reviewers have compared it to To Kill A Mockingbird.

Hugo Introduces Jenny Morris on Australian Story

Longtime Hugo fans will recall that Hugo had a hilarious cameo (alongside Bryan Brown and other Australian actors) in singer Jenny Morris’s 2002 video for “Downtime”, and that Morris leads fundraising efforts for the charity group Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy’s annual Art of Music auction, which raises funds for music therapy by auctioning off Australian-themed artworks commissioned for the event. (Hugo is a frequent guest at Art of Music and usually makes a purchase.) Morris was also a singer for the legendary 80s band INXS before embarking on a successful solo career. But the documentary series Australian Story reveals that she’s recently suffered a debilitating medical setback which threatened to end her music career and led her to find fulfillment in other areas of the industry. Hugo Weaving appears at the beginning to introduce the segment, but he’d be the first to tell you to watch the entire episode streaming on The Australian Story’s website, and not just take his brief intro out of context. 😉 I will attempt an embed, but in the event this fails, just follow the links to the external site. Thankfully there ae no international content viewing restrictions this time. The site also includes a full transcript of the program. You can read more about Morris and her condition here, and more about Art of Music here.

[Sorry, no embeds allowed. But do watch it. ]

Here are a few of my screencaps of Hugo:

Hugo Weaving at this year’s Art of Music auction, 16 July. Photo: Art of Music 2015 Flickr gallery

Griffith Film School Autism Awareness PSA

Though the PSA itself hasn’t yet been broadcast or posted online, several photos of Hugo working with Griffith Film School students on the project have been posted online by participants; you can read the full story of the collaboration at Griffith University’s website. According to student/director Cameron March, “My role was to direct Hugo in an awareness video for Autism QLD. When Richard approached me to direct the piece I felt a great deal of responsibility and honour. The opportunity to work with an internationally renowned – yet still humble – actor was an unbelievable experience… To direct a man who has been directed by the likes of Peter Jackson (LOTR), George Miller (Mad Max) and Michael Bay (Transformers) left me feeling very overwhelmed. Despite this, the shoot was a breeze due to Hugo’s kindness and professionalism. We also had the pleasure of working with Hugo’s nephew Ky Greenwood, who did an unbelievable job in assisting us to tell his story… The film we shot is comprised of both live action and animation elements. We are all extremely excited to give back to a great cause like autism awareness in the form of this video and hope Hugo’s participation will boost awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorder. The crew was extremely professional and proficient throughout the shoot, which made my job as the director that much easier. The overall experience was incredible and couldn’t have been possible without LiveLab and Griffith Film School.”

Hugo Weaving poses with Griffith University Film School students amid a collaboration on an Autism Awareness film. Photo: Nicholas Billot, Griffith University

Hugo Weaving poses with Griffith University Film School students amid a collaboration on an Autism Awareness film. Photo: Nicholas Billot, Griffith University

Photo: Callum Hartgen via Instagram “”Had the pleasure of working w/ this bloke today on a video for a good cause.  #hugoweaving”

Photo: Genny Kertesz via Instagram “Got to meet the amazing Hugo Weaving today & hear him talk about acting, filmmaking [etc] :)”

The Dressmaker Approaches Australian Premiere

Though Hugo Weaving elected not to travel to Toronto for The Dressmaker’s TIFF premiere (which turned out to be a wise move, given its poorly-handled red-carpet premiere and somewhat snide reception), he will definitely be on hand for the film’s Australian premieres in Sydney (Oct 20) and Melbourne (Oct 18) next week. He hasn’t yet given any press interviews in support of the film, but nearly everyone else connected to the project has. The film had mixed reviews at TIFF, but has received almost unanimous praise from additional screening events and other previews, with most non-professional audience members giving a very positive response, especially in Australia. I’ll post links to the most positive critical and blogger reviews as well; some critics felt the film was tonally uneven and structurally messy, though they’ve been generally positive about the acting. Some also got hung up on the age difference between Winslet’s character and Hemsworth’s. Most casual reviewers on social media have been kinder.

Promotional graphic of Hugo Weaving s Segeant Farrat (via The Dressmaker Facebook, Universal Pictures Australia via Twitter)

You can read interviews with:

Director Jocelyn Moorhouse at: The Saturday Paper, The Australian, The Province, The Hollywood Reporter (also: Kate Winslet & Liam Hemsworth)

Kate Winslet at: Click The City, Vulture, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair (video), USA Today, The Daily Mail, NOW Magazine

Liam Hemsworth at: Sunrise on 7 (video of TV interview), Salon (plus Kate Winslet)

Judy Davis at: The AustralianTimes

Sarah Snook at: The Herald Sun, Vanity Fair

Author Rosalie Ham at: The Hepburn Advocate, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Weekly Review, The Herald Sun, MRCC Library (audio interview)

Colorist Trish Cahill at: Inside Film

You can read positive-leaning reviews (or mixed ones with positive comments about the actors) at InDaily, Screen Daily, Hot On The Street, Toronto Verve, ebuzzword, SBS Movies, Express Tribune, The Film Experience, IndieWire, Heartless Girl, Variety.

Hugo Weaving and director Jocelyn Moorhouse at a Sydney preview screening 13 October. Photo: Clare Wimble, via Twitter

According to The Age (in print edition) Hugo Weaving and Judy Davis may be strong contenders in the supporting categories for this year’s AACTA Awards.

CinefestOZ Photos And Other Candids

Here are some fan photos of Hugo take at CinefestOZ in August which have been posted online since my last entry:

“@cinefestoz 2015 honors Australian favorite #HugoWeaving with the Screen Legend Award, to the delight of WA audiences” Cinesurfer via Twitter

“When you meet #HugoWeaving at #Cinefestoz #winningatlife #fanboy #film” Cameron Whiteford via Instagram

Some fan photos of where Hugo actually was on the night of The Dressmaker’s TIFF premiere:

“I think this guy’s following me from #brokenhill to Sydney #hugoweaving #ultimolunch #priscillaqueenofthedesert” Sarah McConnell via Twitter

And here’s a candid of Hugo with Macbeth costar Paula Arundell at the Sydney premiere of Triptych on 4 October.

Article: The Sun Herald

Next update should be much more timely, with the two upcoming Dressmaker premieres Hugo is scheduled to attend; ideally he’ll sit for some interviews as well. Apoogies again for not updating sooner; in addition to three jobs and extra family commitments recently, I’ve been blinded by a new fandom which eats up a lot of my time, but which I’m not quite ready to go public with. Another character actor crush, though not in Hugo’s league. 😉


Hugo Weaving Wins Helpmann Award For STC Endgame; The Dressmaker To Premiere at TIFF, Art of Music Photos

Though Hugo Weaving has been on an extended, well-earned break since STC’s Waiting For Godot wrapped up its London run, his projects– past and future– continue to make the news. Here’s a rundown of all that’s happened since  my last update.

2015 Helpmann Awards

Hugo Weaving with Tom Budge in STC’s production of Endgame earlier ths year. Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

After years of snubs (sometimes of not even being nominated) the Helpmann Awards, given annually for Australian stage productions including theatre, dance, concert and opera, finally did the right thing, awarding Hugo Weaving Best Actor in A Play for his performance as Hamm in STC’s production of Endgame earlier this year. Hugo did not attend the July 27 ceremony, so his Endgame director and friend Andrew Upton claimed the award on his behalf. Hugo frequently avoids awards shows and the Helpmanns rarely recognized his work, so I wasn’t surprised he had other places to be, though it would have been nice to hear Hugo’s thoughts on the honor or have some new pics… as fans we’re more than used to him having other priorities than celebrity-driven red carpet galas. 😉 In addition to Upton, Cate Blanchett and Hugo’s former collaborators Kip Williams (Macbeth) and Pamela Rabe (God of Carnage, Les Liaisons Dangereuses) were on hand. You can view red carpet photos of the event at The Guardian and The Daily Mail; news reports covering the Helpmanns are available at Stage Whispers, The Sydney Morning Herald,The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The AustralianThe AU Review, Sydneyland, ABC.net and Contact Music.     Most of these just list Hugo’s name and honor without citing a reason for his absence.  A few include Lisa Tomasetti’s Endgame performance photos or random press photos from earlier events.

via Helpmann Awards twitter feed

You can read Andrew Upton’s comments explaining why arts funding, particularly of small-to-medium sized theatres, is essential at the Herald Sun. As Upton says, “That’s where the next Hugo Weaving and Samuel Beckett come from”

Speaking of Beckett, don’t forget that BBC2’s Artsnight will air a special Beckett themed episode on July 31 at 11pm (GMT) in which host Richard Wilson will interview Hugo Weaving and Lisa Dwan about their participation in The Barbican’s Beckett Festival this summer. The program will then go up on the BBC’s website for streaming. More details at The Telegraph. Ideally this should include footage from the Barbican production of STC’s Waiting for Godot, but we’ll have to wait and see.

The Dressmaker Slated For TIFF World Premiere Gala

Yet another of Hugo’s projects will hve its global premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The Dressmaker, costarring Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth and Sarah Snook, will be showcased in a gala premiere this September. (The festival begins 10 September, specific screening times TBD.) The film follows Hugo’s earlier projects Little Fish (2005), Cloud Atlas (2012) and Mystery Road (2013) at TIFF; Hugo attended the first two. He’s likely to appear this year too unless a project comes up which prevents him from doing so. (So far he has announced no new film or stage projects and has previously stated he’ll be taking an extended break from theatre to explore possible independent film projects.)

Most entertainment news sites simply list the film’s synopsis and the fact it will be featured in its own gala presentation. You’ll want to keep an eye on TIFF’s page for the film as more details become available in weeks to come.  More at ComingSoon.net, Entertainment Weekly, The Huffington Post and The Guardian, among many others.

More Photos of Hugo Weaving at Art Of Music Live 2015

Art of Music’s Facebook page has shared some additional new photos of Hugo Weaving alongside Simon Baker and Jenny Morris at the July 16 charity fundraiser, which has been Hugo’s only public appearance this summer. All were taken by Trini Cromie Photography.

Hugo walks the red carpet at The Art of Music Live, 16 July 2015. Photo (plus three others) Trini Cromie/Art of Music Facebook

L to R: Jenny Morris, Simo Baker, Hugo Weaving onstage at Art of Music 2015

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Finally, some American Hugo fans will finally have a chance to see Healing on the big screen as the film will be featured in a special Australians In Film screenings in New York (Aug 14) and Los Angeles (Aug 7) next month. More details and info on how to RSVP for tickets at Australians in Film’s website. I’m desperately trying to arrange attending the NYC event after feeling burned I missed out on Strangerland’s pathetically minuscule US cinematic release. (Still hoping for second-run or college screens to help me out on that issue…)

Speaking of Strangerland, I am still trying to fit in a second screening of the film before composing a review. Again, a proper theatrical viewing would be optimal, but US distributors seem intent on disappointing me time after time in that regard. We’ll have to see if The Dressmaker finally breaks that pattern, but I’m sick to death of arthouse screens being wasted on mid-budget American films that are being shunted there so superheroes and CG dinosaurs can hog ALL the screens at mall cineplexes.  I still highly recommend the film, and highly recommend that fans NOT waste any time reading snotty negative reviews or Twitter comments about the film, as most seem to have been written by juveniles with short attention spans.

Ivan Sen and Aaron Pedersen recently completed filming Goldstone, the sequel/offshoot to Mystery Road, in June. (Hugo’s character Johnno won’t be featured because… well, see the first film). But the new film co-stars Jacki Weaver, David Gulpilil and David Wenham, and should provide riveting viewing in its own right. You can see production photos and news reports at the film’s Facebook page.

The Dressmaker’s Trailer Debuts, Hugo Weaving attends Art of Music 2015, Strangerland

Apologies for the long wait between entries. My schedule is very harried of late and I’m juggling more responsibilities than usual. I’ve shared some of the details behind this on my Twitter feed, but this isn’t the right place for getting into off-topic personal stuff, apart from a sincere regret that I haven’t had nearly as much time for Hugonuts as I’d like. I do update my Twitter feed much more regularly, as that’s where the vast majority of my readers are these days. I still prefer the complexity of the blog, though, so I’ll keep doing it as long as I have the time and enthusiasm. I don’t know how many people still read me here (either the WordPress or LJ version) but this is where my heart remains, and I wish I had more time to devote to it.

The Dressmaker Trailer Debuts

Our first look at what might be Hugo’s last screen performance for awhile (though I hope not– it’s just the last one chewduled for now), as Sgt Farrat in Jocelyn Moorhouse’s The Dressmaker, made its internet debut July 12 and was enthusiastically received. Here’s Universal’s high-def version of the trailer. To my mind it gives away too much (in the tradition of 99% of film trailers these days) but to be fair, a lot of these details were divulged during the film’s production, and it’s based on a popular novel that’s several years old. Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, Sarah Snook and Hugo all have some great moments. I have a feeling Davis will steal most of her scenes. I’ll follow with possibly the only set of screencaps not featuring Shirtless Liam Hemsworth. 😉 This looks like Hugo’s most lighthearted role in eons, so I’m looking forward to it.

Universal Pictures Australia/YouTube

All screencaps mine, from the fim’s trailer

The trailer has been re-posted on pretty much every entertainment site online with a rote recitation of the official synopsis; you can read more interesting variations (with some other info about the film) at News.com.au, Jezebel, The Wimmera Advertiser, Inside Film, and The Wimmera Mail-Times (including a lot of behind-the-scenes pics).

Some Initial Thoughts On Strangerland

I’ve also been depressed over the handling of Strangerland’s US release and the largely-juvenile response to it here. The film has had a mixed reception everywhere, but at least most Australian reviews were thoughtful and lacking in the spoil-spouting snark that has marred most American reviews. I had wanted to see the film properly, ie in a cinema, but Alchemy essentially dumped the release straight to VOD with only a handful of cinems showings, none remotely convenient for my location or schedule. (I have RTed any info I can find on theaters showing the film in the US, as well as international festival screenings.) Also, as previously noted, the American critics have relentlessly spoiled many plot points that the Aussie and Sundance critics were polite enough to leave alone.  So I caved in and watched the film on a family member’s large HDTV, which was also an interesting experience. (I still find HDTV more closely resembles video than film, even films shown using digital projection, which makes the experience bizarrely intimate and is distracting… yes, I’m a late-adopter on this issue, mostly for budgetary reasons. And because the vast majority of films and TV aren’t really worthy of such high-end technology. Strangerland most certainly IS and though one should still see it in a cinema if at all possible, it works well on high-quality HDTV as well.)

Anyhow, I’m still mulling the film over and will probably hold off on a lengthy review until the DVD/Blu-Ray is out next month, which will give more people  chance to see the film before I say too much. But I’ll take the unusual step of imploring my readers to avoid the bulk of the US reviews, as most give away the entire plot and divulge what are nuanced character interaction is the smarmiest, most insulting manner I’ve seen for one of Hugo’s independent films. Particularly avoid casual blogs, podcasts and sites that are genre bound: Strangerland is NOT a horror film or conventional thriller. The filmmakers have in essence given away that the fact that the film, its ending and its “meaning” will not be spoon-fed to viewers. If you can’t handle open-ended narratives or are expecting the usual series of flashbacks near the end of the film that will neatly explain everything, and tell you how you should feel about it– stay away. This is not your kind of movie. The characters are all compromised or “difficult” in their own way, though I was able to see the humanity in all of them. I was fully expecting the film to be well-acted and beautifully shot but narratively flawed after all the reviews: I didn’t have that experience at all. It’s at least as good a film as Mystery Road, is compelling from start to finish and features career-defining work from Kidman, Fiennes and Weaving and some excellent supporting work from Meyne Wyatt, Lisa Flanagan and the actors playing the kids (Maddison Brown and Nicholas Hamilton). I did NOT find the film “slow”, confusing, disjointed or implausible. The mystical angle has been overemphasized by some critics (the film has only superficial similarities to Picnic at Hanging Rock, and is nothing like Walkabout) but viewers are certainly allowed that interpretation if it makes the most sense to them.

I actually found the film much more linear and naturalistic than I expected to. While not every aspect of the mystery is neatly resolved, you’re given enough information to make a sound guess as to what really happened. (To my mind it was one of two things, both prosaic and sad, no Rainbow Serpents involved. And the specifics of the case make me lean heavily toward one probable outcome.) In fact, I found Mystery Road’s plot mechanics slightly more ambiguous, though it ends in a gunfight which makes a lot of the who-did-what-to-whom-and-why less important. (Also, American audiences just love gunfights.) 😉 I also found the characters completely plausible given the circumstances they’re facing. The stultifying small town atmosphere is perfectly captured; in fact I was reminded of many American small towns I spent time in growing up, though none existed in quite as picturesque a landscape.  Critics have gotten hung up on some plot points I won’t go into (they constitute spoilers to my mind) but I found some dead-ends the investigation took to be obvious red herrings with no bearing on what actually happened, which petered out as they would in real life.  I didn’t feel as if the screenwriters were setting up shoes to drop, so to speak, then letting them hang. (I DID have this issue with Beautiful Kate, a film which has also been compared to Strangerland; it does have thematic similarities but lacks the forward momentum and rich characterization I found in Strangerland.)

I will include a sampling of quotes from the handful of decent and well-written reviews the film has received since my last review roundup, but I will warn that most of the full reviews include spoilers, so try to see the film before reading them. And– I can’t emphasize this enough– AVOID reviews on horror sites and Hollywood-fawning genre sites.

I do enthusiastically recommend the film. Yes, my fandom makes me biased, but I’ve run into enough controversy for slamming or avoiding Hugo’s subpar efforts (and ill-advised forays into Transformers and the Marvel-verse) that I do think I’m still objective. I’m not going to try and convince anyone that They Key Man or The Tender Hook are good movies either, though Hugo is entertaining in both. Strangerland was much better than I expected it to be, and it deserved better treatment than it’s gotten. I’ll probably see the film a second time before posting a formal review (which would probably reveal more of the plot), so fans of any of these actors should check it out. If Strangerland has flaws, they would be a lack of time spent on some of the supporting characters (though they’re well-acted and intriguing in what screentime they do have) and the whole mystical subtheme, which seems more haphazardly tossed together than the rest of the story, though one understands why Nicole Kidman’s character would seek solace or guidance from any source under the circumstances.

Anyhow, see the film. If only to give the snarky entertainment media a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. 😉 And yes, Hugo fans are in for more than they bargained for, but that should NOT be the reason you see the film. In fact, one reason I’ll have to see it again would be that I was too addled to completely follow the scenes after Hugo’s entrance, which might be his most… er… memorable in a long and distinguished career. 😉 Nicole Kidman is also completely fearless in this regard, but none of these actors did this movie to provide us with fan service. Yes, Hugo still makes me feel like a hormonal 12-year old, but you need a higher mental age to fully appreciate a film like this. 😉

Strangerland is already out on DVD in Australia; the US DVD/Blu-Ray comes out 18 August. The Australian edition features cast interviews and behind the scenes featurettes; though details on the US version are sparse, one 5 minute featurette called The Story (which features Hugo, Nicole Kidman, Kim Farrant and Joseph Fiennes), which is on the Australian home release, has been featured as a freebie promo on some Cable On Demand outlets, so one has to assume the US DVD will feature some of the same material. I could be wrong (Alchemy has really let me down in their handling of the US release) but I would assume they just use the same featurettes already available.

Hugo Attends Nordoff Robbins Art of Music Live Fundraising Event in Sydney

Longtime fans will remember that Hugo has long been associated with the Nordoff Robbins charity, which raises funds to provide music therapy for special-needs kids. He’s attended their annual art exhibition/concert-auction several years and was on hand again this year. (No word on whether he bought any art, but in years past he has.) So far the Art of Music Facebook page hasn’t posted any official event photos, but they usually share a gallery here. (You can see some pics of Hugo at last year’s event while you wait.) 😉 But there are several great new press and fan photos of Hugo at the July 16 evening which I’ll embed below, with new additions to follow when they appear. So far I haven’t found any news articles on the auction either, but I’ll continue to be on the lookout. Also in attendance were Simon Baker, who helped emcee, Hugo’s longtime friend Judy Morris and  many others. You can read more about Art of Music and their charitable goals at their website and Facebook page.  All photos below include their original Facebook/Twitter/Instagram captions from the original poster where applicable. Thanks to everyone who shared their pics.

Both above images: Hugo Weaving arrives at the Art of Music Live event (red carpet) 16 July 2015.  Photos: Mark Sullivan/WireImage

“Wonderful night Art of Music Live. Gr8 artists, performers & cause, Nordoff Robbins music therapy, @NoroArtofMusic” Dean Ormston, via Twitter
(L to R: Jenny Morris, Simon Baker, Hugo Weaving)

“omg #hugoweaving #sydneyoperahouse #theartofmusic #ngaiire” Ngaiire via Instagram

“Jenny Morris, Simon Baker and Hugo Weaving.” Sam Trattles via Facebook

“Me and #hugoweaving at #aomlive last night . #fangirling” Billie McCarthy via Twitter/Instagram

STC Macbeth Preview Photos, Hugo Weaving Interviews, More From Pre-Season Lunch

First off, my apologies for the delay in getting a new entry out. My schedule has been a bit more punishing of late.

STC’s Macbeth

Sydney Theatre Company’s innovative new production of Macbeth, featuring Hugo Weaving in the title role, continues to generate a lot of positive buzz as the actors enter their third week of rehearsals.   The first publicity photos and interview published since STC’s late 2013 season announcement have finally appeared, and are more than worth the wait. I also have an additional pic from the STC pre-season luncheon for Macbeth, which featured a Q&A session with the cast and director, as well as a transcript of Hugo’s comments from the event. (it would be lovely if STC opted to share video or audio of the event if it exists, but so far all they’ve shared is a pic on Facebook and a brief quote from Hugo, though more will surely appear once the opening date approaches.)

Sydney photographer Daniel Boud, who took some wonderfully insightful portraits of Hugo back in early 2010 (you can see those here) was commissioned for a publicity shoot for STC’s Macbeth by Time Out Sydney, who interviewed Hugo about the production. Boud’s dramatic new portraits (and comments about the brisk but agreeable shoot) and that interview both appeared online yesterday; I’ll embed both below. (Note to WordPress readers: to see largest versions of photos, right-click, then click on “open in a new tab/window”.)

Hugo Weaving, June 2014 at Sydney’s Wharf Theatre. All photos by Daniel Boud, via Boudist

All comments below photos are Boud’s, from his piece 11 Minutes With Hugo Weaving

“I had the pleasure of being tasked with shooting a portrait of Hugo Weaving for a Time Out feature recently.

I love him as an actor, always full of charisma and spark, whether playing a flamboyant drag queen or a menacing villain. I’m not often that nervous before a portrait shoot, but this one I was somewhat anxious about.

This feature was about his coming role as Macbeth for Sydney Theatre Company – so menace was the mood required.

As usual with these things, time is limited, so I arrived early to set up and do some tests.

I had a rehearsal room to play with, so set up a few lights in a way that I thought could convey the darkness of the play. Macbeth is full of murder and bloodletting, so I also experimented with a red gel for some frames.”

“I moved on from the lit set-up to a nearby window for a different feel.”

“Then we wrapped up with a final set-up in a stairwell, lit with my Canon speedlites.”

“Looking back at the timestamp on the photos I see it was just 11 minutes from first to last frame. It was a very efficient shoot, and like a lot of the high-profile people i’ve shot I felt a general “we all know i’m not enjoying this but i’ll suck it up and give you what you need” attitude from Hugo Weaving. Which is just fine with me, it’s refreshing to shoot someone who just rolls with what you ask and nails the brief bang on.”

My thanks to Boud for sharing these generously large versions of his portraits; Time Out Sydney featured a handful of much smaller ones.  I’m impressed with the directness and simplicity of these images; too many photographers get fussy with filters, color distortion and complicated setups, but he (and his subject) are confident enough to get memorable results with subtle use of light and existing space, which is more challenging than any amount of technological tweaking, but works, in my opinion, to much greater effect. (I’m not sure if the empty-theatre staging of STC’s production– where a small audience will be confined to the stage as he characters perform in the vast space around them– is also being referenced deliberately, or if that thematic tie is just a handy coincidence. But these are some of the best portraits of Hugo I’ve seen in a long time.

Here’s the full text of Time Out Sydney’s interview, which was relatively brief and focused solely on the play, then in the first week of rehearsals. (And also confirming Hugo was taking a well-earned break in Sicily last month.) 😉 I am trying to obtain a physical copy of the magazine, as print media often has a few added bonuses… it’s a constant source of frustration for me that, in this day and age, all magazines don’t publish a virtual version of their print issues. I’m more than happy to pay cover price for any issue, but costs of shipping from Sydney (and the wait, which can be a month or more) are a chore. That said, I am old-fashioned in that I will still seek out these print copies. I’ve had too many computers and hard drives die on me to not want the most reliable form of backup.  Also, there’s that “new magazine smell”. 😉

Hugo Weaving – Macbeth

Great Scot! Huges tackles the murderous Macbeth in a bold new production that puts the audience on the stage and the ensemble in the auditorium

Anyone who has seen Hugo Weaving on stage knows that he’s a bit of a livewire, all limbs and barely contained energy. Off stage, he’s far more laidback; yes, there’s the height and the penetrating blue eyes – and the sneaking suspicion he’d make a convincing homicidal Scottish warlord. That said, he’s still relatively unassuming.

In fact, he’s downright relaxed (and jet-lagged) when Time Out catches him at the Wharf on a chilly June morning. He’s just back from holidays in Sicily; he’s a few days into rehearsals for ‘the Scottish play’, and so only at the read-through stage; and with the gruelling experience of Godot months behind him (besides his Sicily stint, he’s also filmed Strangerland with Nicole Kidman in the time since), he can look down the barrel of a ten-week season at Sydney Theatre with relative nonchalance. “I’ll lose lots of weight,” he laughs. “I’ll sweat a lot and get fit.”

Weaving’s first Macbeth was a 1982 production directed by Richard Wherrett. “I was just out of drama school – I was 22,” he says. John Bell was the star, Robyn Nevin was Lady Mac, and Colin Friels, Peter Carroll and Heather Mitchell were in supporting roles. Weaving was Seyton, Macbeth’s lieutenant.

“I dunno that it was the greatest production in the world,” he demurs, “but it’s such an extraordinary play. It’s a play I’ve always been fascinated and horrified by – and drawn to. It’s moody, atmospheric… it’s incredible; how much of it takes place at night, how much of it takes place in a claustrophobic, whispered world; how much of it is about fear and apprehension and hallucination. It’s a very shifty world. It’s a nightmarish world – I think that’s what grabs me. It’s almost like a horror film.”

No surprise, then, that it was Roman Polanski’s Shakespeare of choice when it came to screen adaptations. But as Weaving points out, Macbeth is also one of, if not the most modern of Shakespeare’s plays, well suited to a contemporary temperament by dint of being lean and linear. “It moves at such a pace – bam bam bam,” he clicks his fingers.

Macbeth, Weaving says, is “pretty much” his favourite play – which he shares in common with Andrew Upton, who offered him the role. “We were talking about what we wanted to do in 2014. He said, what about Macbeth? I was like, ‘Yip,’” Weaving laughs. Since then, the play has been bubbling away in his mental cauldron. “I’ve read it over the years anyway, but as soon as I get a role or a script that excites me – even if it’s a couple of years away, or even if the film hasn’t got its money – I’ll be reading it or thinking about it.”

Macbeth will be directed by young STC resident director (and Upton protégé) Kip Williams, and co-star Melita Jurisic, John Gaden and Robert Menzies. “The exciting thing about this production is that we’re putting the audience on the stage and the actors in the auditorium,” says Weaving. “And there’s only eight of us. Everyone’s doubling or tripling roles except for me, so I think there’s the sense of an ensemble of actors or people telling a story and then increasingly inhabiting this story – and using the language to create this world.”


A lot of curiosity arose as to who would play Lady Macbeth opposite Hugo once it became clear Cate Blanchett wasn’t planning a surprise involvement. (I personally never thought she’d resort to that sort of stunt…) Veteran Australian actress Melita Jurisic (of the television series The Flying Doctors, Blue Heelers, Bordertown– costarring a young Hugo Weaving in 1995– and the forthcoming Mad Max sequel) has stepped into the breach and gave this insightful interview to Best Weekend.  Though it’s only appeared in print versions of the publication, here’s my scan:


More From STC’s Macbeth Preseason Lunch

Thanks to our Sydney correspondent Yvette, and to STC’s Facebook page, we have another photo of the Macbeth pre-season lunch event, which included a half-hour Q&A session with the production’s cast and director.

Overhead shot vis STC’s Facebook Page; larger version here

Here’s STC’s account of the event: “It was a full house at our Pier Group Luncheon at The Wharf yesterday… Andrew Upton and creatives from our upcoming production of the Scottish play were onstage having a casual chat over lunch.

Pier Group Luncheons are a great way to hear all the gory details from behind the scenes… This is Hugo Weaving’s (Macbeth) all time favourite play. It’s John Gaden’s fourth Macbeth, but his first time as Duncan. Melita Jurisic (Lady Macbeth) has played the title role herself before. Andrew Upton (artistic director) and Kip Williams (director) were both in productions as schoolboys.”

According to Yvette, Hugo personally fielded three questions, which I’ll provide the transcript for below. In a few cases the question being answered is a rough gist, not what was specifically asked. It’s very challenging to take detailed notes at  crowded, noisy event, but Hugo’s answers to seem typical of him, and have been echoed in other recent interviews. Director Kip Wilson fielded most of the technical and interpretive questions, Melita Jurisic discussed the psychology of portraying Lady Macbeth, and most cast members (there will be only eight total– all but Hugo playing multiple roles)  discussed their previous experiences with The Scottish Play, often in high school or amateur productions; Jurisic even played Macbeth in an experimental production years ago.Even though he plays the title character, Hugo often delegated to others, as fans will remember he often does in group interviews of this sort. But here are his three answers, putting quality before quantity. 😉

Q: [Asked about the ghosts in Macbeth, and how that might be staged]

Hugo:  Hugo: It feels like, when you’re looking out at the audience, they’ll be the ghosts of all the audiences past, staring at you. [laughs]

Q:  What is it about Shakespeare specifically that attracts you so much as an actor. A lot of his plays are so deeply embedded in [our] consciousness… how do you find a new approach to Shakespeare? What is it that attracts you so much to Macbeth?

Hugo: I think what attracts me to Shakespeare is the sort of impossibility, maybe, of entirely fathoming the piece, and therefore it’s eternally something you’re going to be investigating. Maybe. It always feels slightly out of your reach. I think that means it’s always challenging. There’s always something to rethink or to revisit. There’s always something you’re missing. There’s always something that’s not quite right, you haven’t quite understood, and I think that’s a bit like life really [laughs]. So Shakespeare seems to– for me– embody everything that’s contained in life. And yet he does it in such extraordinary different ways, you have scenes which seem so intense as to be contemporary, so brilliantly observed. The psychology of the characters seem to [have] such veracity to them. And yet there are other scenes which are kind of knockabout… you know “OK, we’ve got over THAT, let’s throw this on the stage and let’s make the audience laugh, and let them get over something that’s just happened. ” So he’s got this amazing ability to incorporate all sorts of worlds, and to allow you, allow your imagination to work, as an audience and as an actor.  You’ve got to take people on a journey of the words, you’ve got to allow the language to spark other peoples’ imaginations. And that’s the essence of storytelling.  And I think that’s why Shakespeare’s so wonderful.  This particular play is probably my favorite play in the world. [Audience applause] And I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it has something to do with all of that, but also it’s so… it has always affected me in a… I kind of think it’s so awful what happens to these people, what they become, what they’re trying to deny to themselves, and then what’s exposed by what they do… what is exposed within themselves is so hideous that they can’t actually function as they used to. So it’s a horrible kind of awakening. But the thing that’s always excited me is this dark hidden world in which most of this story takes place, and it’s a world in which the sands seems to be shifting all the time, and nothing is quite what it seems to be. Nothing is very well defined. Everything has an opposite and its opposite seems to be present. And that’s what excites me about this particular play.

Q: An audience member asked a lengthy question about whether Shakespeare “in the original version” was still accessible, literally and figuratively, to modern audiences given the language barriers, costs of theatre tickets, perceptions of elitism and political incorrectness, etc. Director Williams gave a definite affirmative, saying even young audiences respond to the experience of seeing Shakespeare performed as written, and that theatres often work to address other barriers. Hugo then added:

Hugo:  There’s a film version of Shakespeare you may have seen, by an Australian director [possibly Geoffrey Wright’s modern-day adaptation of Macbeth, 2006] with a fantastic cast. And I think Shakespeare lends himself, and this play lends itself so well to film, actually we haven’t even really started to investigate where we can go with Shakespeare, and I think we’re increasingly better at investigating Shakespeare than I think we were when I left drama school. I remember seeing really museum-y productions of Shakespeare a lot– course there are still poor productions of all sorts of plays over the world– but I think we’re just a little more open, a little freer with how we how we approach the man’s work. And I also think young people these days, people who are studying drama at schools, are much more switched-on, are much more theatre-literate, and personally, I think that your question seemed to imply that people were sort of more and more deprived of the ability to see theatre– good theatre– and Shakespeare, and I somehow feel maybe that’s not the case. I feel a bit more hopeful, actually.

While I agree that costs for quality productions of Shakespeare can be very expensive, particularly in New York and Sydney, the notion that somehow Shakespeare is “inaccessible” to modern audiences is laughable. Even if the words on the page seem hard to follow or archaic to a beginning reader, a good staging inevitably draws the viewer in. I’ve taken very reluctant friends and family members (who think the language will be impenetrable) to Shakespeare productions and inevitably they all wondered why they’d put up such a fuss. So I get tired of these questions about modern audiences being attention-deficit cases who can’t handle challenging work or relate to anything from earlier eras. I think Hugo is right about this: younger audiences are increasingly more open to Shakespeare, to older films and to earlier cultural eras, because they have greater access to informational resources… and because a lot of very trendy actors are now doing Shakespeare, and their audiences are more than willing to explore new horizons. 😉

So again, my thanks to Yvette for her account of the STC luncheon (if you haven’t seen her lovely photos of the event, they’re in the previous entry, and more than worth a look.) STC is also promising more promotional material as the opening date nears, so I’ll pass on whatever I find out. Unfortunately, the production is completely sold out, and STC’s final batch of set-aside tickets were gone within hours when they went on sale June 23. There’s always a chance of box-office returned tickets (though I doubt anyone would skip this production unless they had a fatal illness), so keep checking STC’s website. You can also try your luck with eBay and the like; I have gotten some good last-minute seats to New York STC productions last-minute when original ticket-holders were unable to go, and many patrons are interested in switching dates they attend. But you have to flexible, have some money saved, and be ready to run a lot of message board/social media searches.

We’ll probably see an increase in Macbeth news and publicity in the weeks leasing up to the official 27 July opening… and I’ll do my best to update more efficiently as this become available. Do keep an eye on my Twitter feed for breaking news, as I post new links to firsthand sources daily whenever possible.


In Other Hugo Weaving News

Some great news for Hugo’s North American, Middle Eastern and Asian fans: Healing has been picked up for what looks like the most decent, widespread distribution for one of Hugo’s Australian films in a LONG time, according to Screen Daily: “[At the recent Cannes Film Festival], Craig Monahan’s drama Healing with Hugo Weaving and Xavier Samuel has gone to Anchor Bay/Starz for North America, Eagle Films for the Middle East, Ster Kinekor for South Africa and Astro for Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.”

The prospects for decent US distribution are for once very promising, as Anchor Bay has a proven record obtaining cinema distribution, and the Starz/Encore cable channels tend to give generous replays of their films over a long period. (They still air Peaches and Oranges and Sunshine periodically). Contrast this with Last Ride, which played only a handful of US theaters and VOD and has never had a cable airing, or Mystery Road, which Well Go USA is STILL not distributing despite having locked up the rights, and it’s hard to to feel relief.

Still no word on European distribution for Healing, but that’s sure to follow given Weaving and Xavier Samuel’s international followings.There’s also an interesting article  at Secrets Magazine about several filming locations for recent Australian features, including Kathy Mexted’s house, which doubled for Hugo Weaving’s character’s residence in Healing.

Tim Winton’s The Turning has been nominated for Best Drama Feature at the WA Screen Awards, which will be presented 14 July at the State Theatre Center of West Australia (tickets on sale here.) More details about the event at Cinema Australia, Inside Film and FITI.org.

The Mule will have four screenings at The New Zealand International Film Festival this month: July 19, 23, 25 and 29 to be more specific. You can read more details here, and buy tickets to specific screenings here. And, glory be, we finally have a new screencap which doesn’t feature Angus Sampson’s naked posterior. 😉

There’s a positive review of Mystery Road (posted after its recent Chicago Critics Film Festival screening) at Horror 101 With Dr AC. The film also recently returned “home” to shooting location Winton for the Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival.

An entertaining review of the classic 1984 miniseries Bodyline (Hugo Weaving’s first prominent role) at A Hot Cup of Pleasure suggests it’s not just English cricket fans and Huo Weaving fans who are coming around to Douglas Jardine’s point of view. 😉

Australian Screen has posted a beautiful tribute to one of Hugo Weaving’s best (and most unsung) films Last Ride in honor of its fifth anniversary. The showcase features three quintessential clips from the film with commentary.  Includes the skinny-dipping scene, but that is NOT the only reason you should watch. 😉

And The Australian confirms that Hugo Weaving was indeed “among the buyers” at the June 14 Art of Music fundraiser, which netted $275,000 in charitable contributions overall for Nordoff-Robbins. In case you missed ’em in my update to the last entry, here are Art of Music’s event photos featuring Hugo. No word on which painting he purchased. 😉

Hugo Weaving and Katrina Greenwood   Photo: Bob King, via Art of Music Facebook

Photo: Isaac Leung, via Art of Music Facebook

Photo: Isaac Leung, via Art of Music Facebook

STC’s Macbeth Begins Rehearsals; Pre-Season Lunch Photos; Art of Music Fundraiser

STC’s Macbeth/Pre-Season Lunch

Apologies for the long delay in updating, but there hasn’t been much breaking news since the opening of Healing last month. Hugo took an extended break, which I thought was as good an excuse as any to attend to other aspects of my own life, though I’ve updated Twitter frequently with any info on film screenings (and I always love just chatting with other fans.) I’ve also archived additional older Hugonuts entries (now dating back to October 2013) at both the LiveJournal and WordPress locations, a process I’ll continue whenever I have extra time. I can’t promise that links in older entries will still work, but I usually have copies of all articles quoted/referenced in my personal archive somewhere, so just ask.

But there’s finally some new material to share. As STC shared via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook: “Great to welcome the cast and crew of the Scottish play to The Wharf for their first day of rehearsals. Sydney has provided some very moody and gloomy weather for the occasion #wharfweather #STCMacbeth”

STC hasn’t shared any official rehearsal photos yet, but I’m sure they will soon. Meanwhile I have something that might be even better courtesy our Sydney Correspondent Yvette (@LyridsMC), who was lucky enough to attend a special Rehearsal Lunch for Macbeth where subscribers got to mingle with the actors, and Hugo participated in a Q&A about the play. Nothing about this has yet appeared in the press or online, so thanks to Yvette for sharing this with all of us.

Hugo Weaving at the STC Macbeth Pre-Season Luncheon, 16 June:

All photos by Yvette… and yes, that’s her gift Hugo is holding. Probably torn about ruining that impeccable wrapping job. 😉

Note: WordPress readers should right-click on photos, then click “open in a new tab/window” for full-sized versions

These last two originally appeared via Instagram

Of course I’m astonished at the sudden wealth of new pics, but the fact that they’re fan photos and that Hugo posed for them makes them that much more special. I also love the little glimpses of the Sydney Theatre Co, which give one a sense of being there, a privilege not always available to us international fans with limited budgets.  Fortunately STC does tour some productions, but the Wharf complex looks like a special part of the STC experience too.  Much as I’ve enjoyed “pilgrimages” to the Brooklyn Academy of Music or the Kennedy Center, neither have that unique atmosphere. (Though each has its own funky thang going). 😉 I hope I’m able to finally make it to Sydney one day, but until then, my heartfelt thanks to Yvette for these insights into the STC Experience.

Watch this space for ongoing STC Macbeth News as soon as it becomes available.

Meanwhile here’s another look at STC’s spiffin’ 2014 season bookmarks:

Art of Music Fundraiser

Hugo Weaving’s first public appearance since early May was on behalf of The Art of Music, a cause he’s long supported. Hugo put in an appearance at their semi-annual fundraiser this past 14 June. The event benefits the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy charity through the unique approach of auctioning off original artworks by noted Australian artists, each of which creates a work– inspired by a song by an Australian artist– specifically for the event. This year Hugo’s friend Nicholas Harding (who created this year’s Drawing Godot exhibit at Olsen Irwin Galleries) contributed a painting inspired by Nick Cave’s “Where The Wild Roses Grow”.  You can read more about Nordoff-Robbins and their music therapy outreach to children on their Facebook page, which also features images of this year’s featured artwork (and, in some cases, interviews with the artists). The group’s official website features this quote from Hugo Weaving: “One of the most inspiring and enjoyable nights of the year, Art of Music combines iconic musicians in full swing, celebrated artists and their latest works, great food, fine wine, terrific company, colourful MC’s and a bidding frenzy to rival Sotheby’s. Always impeccably organised, in a great venue, for a wonderful cause. AoM 2014 is in my diary.”

“Where The Wild Roses Grow” by Nicholas Harding (Inspired by the 1996 Nick Cave/Kylie Minogue murder ballad)

The press hasn’t published much coverage of this year’s event compared to years past, and only one photo featuring Hugo has turned up, though that will probably change when Art of Music posts its own photos of the evening.

Photo: Jennifer Polixenni Brankin/WireImage (also available at Getty Images)

Hugo doesn’t appear to have participated in the auction process as he did in 2011, when he took to the stage, as seen in these archive photos from Art of Music/Nordoff-Robbins’s Flickr account:

Paul Clarke, Nicholas Harding and Hugo Weaving, 8 November 2011

Hugo Weaving, Bryan Brown and Jonathan Biggins, 8 November 2011

That year Hugo also contributed a whopping $25K AU in winning the auction for a tiny, abstract sculpture by the artist Robert Klippel.  It’s unknown if he made a similar contribution this time around. 😉

In Other Hugo Weaving News

The Mule will open in Australia this coming October, according to Cinema Australia; a US “fall release” has also previously announced, though no specific dates or release modes are yet known. If the US distributor XLRator ends up sitting on the film instead of actually distributing it, the way Well Go USA has with Mystery Road… I’ll be on their case about it. 😉 But the early press announcements (via Twitch Film and other sites) strongly suggested an actual cinematic release.  It’s now typical for films with either an arthouse or “extreme/midnight showings” vibe to be simultaneously released to theatres in select US cities and VOD/streaming these days, and The Mule certainly fits both niches. When Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell last mentioned the film in the media, they were hard at work on the film’s trailer, so that should be the next thing we see on this front. Possibly any day now.

Also in “possibly any day now” news, Peter Jackson has teased that the trailer for the final Hobbit installment The Battle of Five Armies is almost ready. TheOneRing.net has hinted footage already previewed at various conventions (including a shot of Elrond in armor that is virtual pornography to many fans) 😉 will be included and that the whole shebang should be debuting soon. (UPDATE: TORN is now clarifying that there have been some VFX-related delays in getting the trailer to theaters, but that the trailer MAY be ready by next month if not later THIS month… but they have no specific inside intel, so don’t hold them to any rumored dates. Very responsible of them, if you ask me.) 😉 And here’s TORN’s speculation on which previously-seen footage (from PJ’s Production Diaries, etc) might end up in the finished film. Again, this is all just fun speculation at this point.

Healing has closed in some Australian cities but opened in more widely-flung distribution in recent weeks: check out the film’s Facebook page for the current list. Healing also screened to generally positive notice at last month’s Seattle International Film Fest.

In other far-flung distribution news, Tim Winton’s The Turning is now screening in St Petersburg, Russia, while Mystery Road will be shown as part of the Australian Film Festival in several Israeli cities later this month (more info in The Jerusalem Post). Neither film has yet been distributed in the US, apart from a few festival screenings. 😉


Nordoff-Robbins/Art of Music has shared a lovely 50-photo gallery of its recent charity auction event via Facebook; here are their photos featuring Hugo Weaving:

Hugo Weaving and Katrina Greenwood Photo courtesy of Bob King — at Art Gallery of New South Wales via Art of Music Facebook

Photo: Isaac Leung/Art of Music Facebook

Photo: Isaac Leung/Art of Music Facebook