Tag Archives: Craig Monahan

Hugo Weaving Featured in Two New Pro-Equality PSAs, Attends STC’s The Present Opening

Though Hugo has mostly been taking an extended break since Waiting For Godot ended its London run. I do apologize for not getting his few but very welcome public appearances posted here in anything resembling a timely manner. Since the last entry I’ve lost a beloved pet and adopted two new ones, I work three part-time jobs with highly unpredictable hours, and I’ve had all sorts of other distractions from family, friends and other Life Complications, not all of them bad. I do update my Twitter feed most days because most of my friends tend to congregate there, but do appreciate the context this forum allows.

I was lucky enough to attend a screening of Hugo’s film Healing, costarring Don Hany, Xavier Samuel and Mark Leonard Winter, on August 14 in New York City. Though I sometimes fault my own “cussed orneriness” about waiting to see Hugo’s films on a big cinema screen (whether or not there’s any hope of such a screening actually materializing) this is one instance where I’m absolutely glad I did. The DGA Theatre in New York City offered Craig Monahan’s beautiful film the pristine visual/sound presentation it deserved. Monahan himself attended, discussed making the film and took questions from the audience after the screening, discreetly but definitely suggesting the film’s US distributor had dropped the ball dumping the film straight to DVD with no fanfare and a risibly inaccurate cover illustration “showing Hugo Weaving looking like he did in The Matrix.”   😉 The DGA screenings in New York and, last week, in Los Angeles are part of Monahan’s attempt to get the film properly seen here after too few film festivals took a chance on it, seeming to prefer “edgier” fare, though at this stage I would consider a prison-set film NOT fixated on violence and rape to be ahead of the pack. I’ll offer some thoughts on the film later; if any of you fans has a chance to see this film in a theatre– or on high-quality HDTV equipment with decent surround-sound– you should go for it.  In some ways I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to first witness Strangerland under such optimal conditions, but I’m still hopeful I might get that chance later. That, The Key Man and The Turning are Hugo’s only indie films since 2005 that I haven’t managed to see in a theatre. Yes, I actually managed to see The Tender Hook in a theatre too. Still can’t quite believe that happened… but just goes to show you never know what opportunities might come up, so always be ready. 😉

#WeCanDoThis and #IStandWithAdam TV Spots

Hugo Weaving lent his presence to two important public service announcements that aired on Australian TV to coincide with internet awareness/hashtag campaigns. The first, #IStandWithAdam, depicts many prominent Australian actors, politicians and athletes voicing their support for Adam Goodes, an Indigenous Australian athlete who has faced racist taunts and jeering from some Australian-rules football fans.  (Goodes plays for The Sydney Swans; Hugo is a long-standing fan often spotted at games.) Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh, among many others, also appear in the two-minute spot. You can read more about the campaign at The Age, BBC Online, The Sydney Morning Herald and ABC.

via The Age

About a week after the #IStandWithAdam spot appeared, Hugo also joined in the marriage-equality campaign #WeCanDoThis. Rather shockingly, even the US was ahead of Australia on this important issue… ideally this lapse will soon be rectified. Marriage equality has been the law of the land in my state for ten years now and has done nothing to impinge on the sanctity of “straight marriage”… even for people on their third or fourth straight marriage. 😉

via Australian Marriage Equality

Here are a few of my caps from both PSAs.

Hugo Attends Opening of STC’s The Present

On August 8, Hugo attended the premiere of Sydney Theatre Co’s new production of the rarely-mounted Chekhov play The Present, starring Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh, Jacqueline McKenzie and Susan Prior. Reviews have been generally positive; you can read a few at The Guardian, Limelight Magazine, The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Here are the only four pics of Hugo at the premiere that I’ve been able to find thusfar, along with my favorite of the production photos.

Hugo Weaving at the opening night performance of STC’s The Present  Photo: Jennifer Polixenni Brankin/Getty Images

Photo: Jennifer Polixenni Brankin/Getty Images

Photo: Mark Sullivan/WireImage

Photo: Mark Sullivan/WireImage

Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh and the cast share a quiet evening at home 😉  Production photo by Lisa Tomasetti (full set of her photos here)

Strangerland DVD/Blu-Ray

A month after it was (barely) released to US cinemas, Strangerland debuted on DVD and Blu-Ray August 18. (It has been available on these formats in Australia for a couple of months.) Though the cover art is different, both the R4 and R1 home releases seem to feature similar bonus features, though the Australian DVD breaks them down into smaller categories (ie by actor/director).   You can also rent the film via Netflix and the streaming services that offered the VOD when the film came out last month (Amazon, Vudu, iTunes.) Some of the more comprehensive/well-written assessments of the DVD/Blu-Ray (and the film itself) appear at Galveston News, Film Ireland, Edge Media Network,

There are also contests to win a copy of the US Blu-Ray and poster at several sites, including The Film Stage, Slant Magazine and Dread Central. (Though, IMHO, there should be a rule that only sites which give a film positive or supportive reviews should get free copies to dole out.) 😉

And you can read more info on the locations for the film at Screen NSW.

The Dressmaker

The Adelaide Film Festival will hold a preview screening of The Dressmaker (starring Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Sarah Snook, Liam Hemsworth and Hugo) on 16 October in advance of its 29 October Australian release. For more details go here.  The film’s world premiere (specific date TBA) will be at the Toronto International Film Festival in September… ie less than a month away! 😉

Author Rosalie Ham spoke to News 7/Yahoo about her excitement over seeing her novel adapted for the screen, as well as her role as an extra in the dance hall scene.  The video interview is several minutes long but, alas, features no Hugo footage apart from what’s already in the trailer.

There are two new paperback versions of Ham’s novel: a more generic reprint (still an improvement over the sickly pink-and-green original cover design) and a film tie-in which come out next month. I impatiently ordered the first one offered, which turned out to be the generic one, but since Hugo’s character isn’t depicted on either version, I can’t complain. The film tie-in, available for pre-order, features Kate Winslet as she appears on the film’s poster.

I’ve read a few pages and already love Ham’s caustic, witty “voice”, which could be problematic when it comes to adaptation… either the omniscient third-person wit has to be filtered into character dialogue (which can work if done judiciously) or through voiceover narration (please, don’t do this. It rarely works). I have a history of “book snobbery” dating back to when I was 6 and proclaimed the book version of The Wizard of Oz to be better than the beloved 1939 film version. (I now concede I was wrong… both are equally good.) This summer I got a taste of how the other side feels when I fell in love with an adaptation of a popular novel without having read it, then despaired that the novel filled in all the narrative gaps in different ways than my imagination had. 😉 So I’m nervous about whether I should continue reading the book before seeing the film. Previously I have read the book in almost every instance when Hugo starred in an adaptation, and his skill (and that of his costars and collaborators) has usually gotten me over any drastic changes from the book. But I do understand when some people complain that the film version of V for Vendetta is substantially different from the graphic novel– because it IS. In this case I love both for very different reasons. For the most part, the novel and cinema versions of (The) Last Ride are complementary as well… though anyone who disliked Kev’s fate in the film can seek solace in the novel. So I have to decide what to do… but what I’ve read of the novel so far is a sharp-edged delight.

Healing review to follow soon. Spoiler alert though: I loved it. Shouldn’t be missed by any fan of the actors, Craig Monahan or wild raptors.

Strangerland Trailer Debuts, Endgame’s Final Week, RIP Andrew Lesnie

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.

STC Endgame

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.

STC Macbeth Rehearsal Photos, Fan Photos, Healing Opens In NZ

Sydney Theatre Company has shared a few tantalizing photos taken in the Macbeth rehearsal room in the weeks leading up to the play’s formal opening; now that they play is running (in previews) they’ve posted the full astonishing set. In addition, fans attending early performances have shared photos of the theatre and STC’s on-site promotions (posters, programs and the like) which I’ll also cross-post here.

All rehearsal photos (21 total!) originated at STC’s Facebook page and were taken by Grant-Sparkes Carroll:

Hugo Weaving and Robert Menzies

Hugo Weaving and Robert Menzies as Ross , possibly seeing ghosts 😉

Hugo Weaving with Ivan Donato, Robert Menzies

Hugo Weaving and John Gaden

Funny how King Duncan isn’t looking too relaxed at Macbeth’s ministrations 😉

Not sure if Hugo is exercising (as I’d guessed prior) or rising up off the floor in acting out a scene.

Hugo Weaving and Ivan Donato. Love how the rehearsal room table doubles for Macbeth’s banquet table

Weaving, Menzies and Donato

Weaving and Donato

Weaving and Gaden

The cast at a table-read

Weaving and Menzies

Weaving and Eden Falk

Weaving, Donato and Menzies

Weaving, Donato, Menzies

According to the STC, “Rehearsal room inspiration”

The script:  Dying to know why “Hedgehog” is written next to Witch 2.  A familiar or cauldron ingredient? 😉

Here are some of the great fan photos (and one of STC’s) that have surfaced since the production began its run, including original posts’ text:

Despite the chilly weather, there are some keen bean punters lining up at The Wharf Box Office to try their luck at $20 tickets for #stctheeffect & #stcmacbeth. Find out more about #suncorptwenties at sydneytheatre.com.au/suncorptwenties”  (from STC’s Twitter/Instagram)

One of the most interesting productions and performances I’ve ever seen on stage with Hugo Weaving as Macbeth at @SydneyTheatreCo tonight! #STCMacbeth”: Blake Dew via Twitter/Instagram

This is our first look at the STC’s staging from inside the Wharf Theatre/audience viewpoint. The table looks even more spartan than in rehearsals.  My undying thanks for NOT using some gimmicky destaturation/Polaroid filter. 😉

“Just watched @sydneytheatreco Macbeth with Hugo Weaving, stunning production.” Dickon Boyles (dontforgetdick) via Twitter/Instagram

Great experience #macbeth last night at the #sydneytheatrecompany with #Hugoweaving hope I’m not spoiling but the effects are A1″ Eric Lobbecke via Twitter/Instagram
(He drew the caricature too)

Tuesday night theatre brought to you by #macbeth #pancakesontherocks #hugoweaving #sydneytheatreco #pancakesontherocks, #hugoweaving, #sydneytheatreco, #macbeth” Melanie Nicholls via Instagram (That’s the Macbeth programme.)

“Perfect end to the day & start to the week at #sydneytheatrecompany #hugoweaving #macbeth” Milica Duric via Instagram

Here’s a selection of more early Twitter reviews:

With the play’s “official” opening night in just a few days more pics (including some of the cast in the actual theatrical space) are sure to appear soon, and I’ll update as often as my jobs and schedule permit. Also: can we have a few images of the leading ladies, STC? I’d love to see how they realize Banquo, Macduff and of course Lady Macbeth. And then there are the male witches…

Just the rehearsal photos give weight to the cast and director’s comments that they’re trying to create a more human, identifiable Macbeth and Lady Macbeth than conventional productions tend to.  Ironically, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Hugo look so vulnerable in a role, apart from his Lionel in Little Fish. Too often, productions do reduce Macbeth to a maniacal caricature after his initial hesitation, though this is at odds with Shakespeare’s dialogue, even in the final scenes. It looks as though STC has something special on their hands, and it’s more than Lady Macbeth’s imaginary bloodstains. 😉 (STC posted an early– as in very early, circa 1610– review of Macbeth in their online magazine. Interesting that even back then, critics couldn’t resists dropping spoilers.)

Also, can I renew the call for STC to START SIMULCASTING OR FILMING these plays, PLEASE? I have always deeply appreciated the productions that did tour, and also respect that theatre is an essentially ephemeral art form. But not everyone in the world who wants to see even the touring productions is lucky enough to live near Sydney or the cosmopolitain centers (New York, London, Washington DC, etc) that would typically have the resources to stage them. Also, tickets for STC’s The Maids (at Lincoln Center) are expensive enough to exclude a large portion of the audience that wants to see it, as does the brief run. Since all of these actors have busy careers and global fans eager to see them in something other than Hollywood villain roles (which even Cate Blanchett has been shunted into of late, when not working in indie films) the only fair solution is simulcasting or filming. Or both. I was lucky enough to see Uncle Vanya five times and that wasn’t enough. It was truly sublime. STC should start saving these productions for posterity and sharing them with a much wider audience.  Also, they could raise funds this way. The average simulcast nets $18 to $25 a pop in my area, more in New York.

Healing Opens In New Zealand

Director Craig Monahan has assumed most of the promotional duties for his film Healing as it opens in New Zealand; obviously Hugo is otherwise occupied at present. You can read an interview he gave at Diversions.co.nz. (He says, of working with Hugo repeatedly: ” [It’s a] pretty good [working relationshp] .We live in different cities, so we tend to see each other only occasionally. He is a very relaxed person and easy to work with. Plus he has real screen presence. So it’s all upside as far as I am concerned.” There’s also a positive review of the film by George Machin at LetterboxD, and a middling one that praises Hugo at Yahoo NZ.

I hope to have an additional magazine piece on Healing ready to share soon.

Guardian Interview


The Guardian Online has just posted a WONDERFUL new interview with Hugo, which in addition to discussing Macbeth delves into his thoughts on why, exactly, he has turned his back on big-budget filmmaking, and why independent films and television are so critically important. Hugo’s thoughts on Hollywood’s tendency toward ‘fan service’ at the expense of coherent storytelling and artistic integrity (which also ends up commodifying actors and art) are so bang on that I could kiss him for saying that. (Not that I wouldn’t be tempted for other reasons, heh heh). But I’ve seen too many good TV series and promising film concepts undone by this base marketing instinct which insults fans by implying all they really need is titillation, least-common-denominator plotting and to never be challenged. Some fans of Hugo’s big-budget work buy into this mentality that he’s supposed to shut up and take big paychecks because that’s what pleases them, and they can’t be bothered to search out the work he finds most meaningful. I wouldn’t still be a fan after all these years if Hugo’s career had taken that trajectory. And I’m glad there are fans out there willing to follow on the journey Hugo HAS elected to take, which has never been boring or predictable. I’m going to include the full text (behind cut at LJ) because it’s one of the better Hugo Weaving interviews I’ve read lately, and my thanks to Monica Tan for conducting it so well. She obviously asked follow-up questions where others haven’t.

Hugo Weaving: on Macbeth, Hollywood and Tony Abbott’s ‘fascistic’ cuts to the ABC
The actor returns to the stage as a man seduced by evil ambition, following his own experience with the ‘dark side’ (aka Hollywood)
By Monica Tan

Hugo Weaving was first exposed to Shakespeare when he was only nine years old and his parents took him and his siblings to a ballet production of Romeo and Juliet. He went home enraptured.

“I just loved it … Mum started telling me about Shakespeare, and she got out the complete works. We turned to Romeo and Juliet – I’ve still got that particular copy of it – and started reading it. And because I knew the story, it wasn’t as foreign and the language wasn’t as crazy as it might have otherwise been,” he says, from the foyer of the Sydney Theatre Company overlooking Walsh Bay. It’s a sunny day and the water has a stunning, champagne effervescence.

Weaving, who will be playing Macbeth in a new production by the company, sits, somewhat formally, on the lip of a couch. “For weeks and weeks I was playing Romeo and Juliet games with friends,” he adds.

Fast forward 45 years and the Sydney actor is evidently still a Shakespeare fanboy, displaying an impressive knowledge of the historical context from which the works were written. He talks of a late-1500s Elizabethan London that was radically changing: religion was splintering, a rising middle class, education reform, science, and an explosion of creativity and conversation, that found its home in the theatre.

“There was a strong belief, a humanist belief, in the ability of individuals to make a difference, and I think that’s where Macbeth sits,” he says. “He’s a self-made man, but the tragedy is that he’s caught between two worlds: a belief in supernatural prophecy, a fatalistic prophecy, but at the same time he wants to be able to challenge those prophecies and go, ‘I can make my own way in life’.”

Unlike Shakespeare’s more Machiavellian characters such as Richard III or Othello’s Iago, Macbeth is tormented by his evil-doing. “He’s a man with an incredible amount of imagination and conscience,” says Weaving. “He can’t just put it in the past. Macbeth is more like Hamlet in that way; he’s someone whose brain is constantly churning and he’s allowing you to churn with him.”

If Macbeth is the “reluctant murderer”, then Weaving – it could be said – is the “reluctant Hollywood star”. He views the commercial movie machine with a high degree of suspicion. And though, with his appearance in blockbusters like the Marvel superhero flick Captain America and Lord of the Rings franchise, he’s been known to dance with the devil, Weaving has a stronger constitution than Macbeth when it comes to resisting the “dark side”.

The actor is keenly aware he lives in an era in which, piled on top of media interviews, an actor’s promotional obligations to a movie now include social media engagement and fan meet-and-greets. “When we were a week into the shoot of Captain America we flew over to San Diego for Comic Con. I didn’t particularly want to go, but I went, and it was a bit of an eye opener, but it’s so not where I’m at. It cemented in my mind exactly what I didn’t want to do with film and exactly what I wasn’t interested in doing,” he says.

Weaving is highly critical of “fan-driven” forms of movie making, at the heart of which lie huge profit margins. “[The studios] will put a whole lot of names out to get the fan feedback and then cast accordingly. It’s very democratic in that way, but it’s also entirely driven by what’s going to make them money. I’m not sure about being driven by populism as a concept – I think it’s very dangerous because you spend enough money on something to make it popular, it becomes popular, then you use the popularity of the thing to sell other things.

“The fans are being used by the companies. And the fans are happy to be used. You get a young actor who’s given a gift, like some jewellery, and then takes a photo of themselves on instagram, gets thousands and thousands of hits and they’ll say thanks so and so forth for the necklace. Who’s using whom? It’s free advertising. Actors are just commodities, and when you work with these big studios you’re selling their product. So you have to be careful that you’re not being used.”

With such strong words, it’s surprising Weaving did a film like Captain America at all. But he provides, with a grin, reasoning that’s appropriately frivolous, for that sort of movie. “I thought it would be fun to play a Nazi who thought Hitler was really lame, somebody who’s a sort of uber-villain. And I learned a lot working with Marvel on Captain America, but it’s not something I would like to be engaged with again.”

And appearances in films like The Matrix, prove the actor is able to put one foot in both critical and commercial success. “[The Wachowskis] are very political filmmakers, and of all the studios Warner Brothers are probably the most interesting,” says Weaving.

And for every multi-million dollar Hollywood film, there are 20 low budget films being made in Australia, a few of which feature Weaving, and the actor describes, frustratingly, as “going to a big pile of films, in the corner of a room, that no one is seeing”. Sandwiched between cultural cringe, and an influx of foreign cultural imports, Australian creatives struggle to find support to tell local stories. Recent cuts to the budgets of the ABC and SBS are just the latest example of how the arts are valued.

“This is a complete other conversation really, but of course I do find it appalling the way the ABC has been attacked by this present government, stacking the appointees to the board so it’s become a political thing. You’re actually saying ‘if you say this on the ABC news we’re going to cut your budget’, which is essentially what Tony Abbott did. That’s fascistic.

“Having an independent ABC and having a strong arts and cultural community is really important. Because there’s more to life than economics; the economy – I don’t know why it’s the be-all and end-all of everything, to quote Shakespeare.”

First Report from Healing Set, Continued Cloud Atlas Coverage (UK, Beijing), Hugo Weaving Interviews

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

We finally have our first report from the Kyneton, Victoria set of Healing. The film, written and directed by Craig Monahan (The Interview, Peaches) stars Hugo Weaving, Don Hany, and Xavier Samuel in lead roles. The plot centers on a prison rehabilitation program matching inmates and injured birds of prey. The new article, published in the Sydney Morning Herald and related papers, features comments from Hany, Samuel and bird-wrangler Andrew Payne. So far Hugo hasn't been interviewed or photographed on set (it's possible he hasn't begun filming yet), but there is a nice new photo of Hany with one of his costars, Bart the eagle:

Actor Don Hany and wedgetail eagle Bart on the Kyneton set of the movie Healing.
Photo: Ben King/Sydney Morning Herald

The rehabilitation program dramatized in the film is fact-based, drawn from articles Monahan read about raptor rehab programs that actually exist in Victoria. Here are some quotes from the SMH piece:

Don Hany: "'I REALLY fell for [a wedge-tailed eagle named] Grace. She was the one I first met. She was probably [injured while] eating carrion on the side of the road, and got a bit cheeky, and a car hit her before she could get clear. She's a bit of a sook, and she did this nuzzle up to my neck, and she just melted me….the parallels between caged animals and caged humans was a great vehicle to tell a story [which underscores] the pain of understanding that you need to leave the cage''.

Bird expert Andrew Payne: "'Don was really good. He handles a bird well, and there's the right balance when the bird's on the glove. Sometimes you'll put a bird on a person's arm and they can look all stiff and uncomfortable. [After the pair are introduced] 'you can get them, with baby steps, to do more and get the bird accustomed to someone different''.

The full article is well worth a read.

Though Hugo hasn't yet been interviewed about Healing, his promotional interviews for Cloud Atlas (conducted in Los Angeles, Berlin, Moscow and Beijing between last October and January) continue appearing in the online press alongside hitherto-unseen photos and video footage. Quite a few of these have accumulated since my last entry, so here they are without further ado.

Perhaps the most intriguing recent posting appeared in Alfred Tsing's blog My Last 365 Days. Tsing attended press events for Cloud Atlas's Beijing premiere, and worked as a translator for interviews conducted for the Chinese press. He also includes his impressions of the film (including a strongly-worded defense of its use of cross-racial casting, which in the final tally seems to have offended white academic types obsessed with political correctness more than most Asians.) You should click on the link and go read the full entry for yourselves: there are wonderful new pics and a thoughtful perspective from someone who's both an "insider" at these events (with access to the directors and actors) and a fan. I'll include his sampling of quotes from Hugo Weaving's interviews and a few pics under the cut, but these are mere highlights and the full piece is fascinating.

L to R: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Zhou Xun, Hugo Weaving and one of the film's producers at the Beijing press conference 20 January 2013; Photo: Alfred Tsing

Hugo Weaving spent most of January 21 being interviewed by the Chinese press; Tsing served as his translator and offered the following observations and excerpts:

Alfred Tsing: As a bilingual Chinese-American working in Beijing I sometimes use my powers for good over evil. In this case, I translated for Hugo Weaving during his full day of interviews. My main remarks on Hugo’s personality is that despite playing some notable “villains”, his vibe is very gentle and compassionate. By the end of an entire day of translating, since so many interview questions were the same, he joked that I should pretty much just answer the questions before he even responds.

Here are some of the questions he was asked throughout the day.

Q: In “Cloud Atlas” all the actors in the movie play multiple roles, including different genders and different identities, what did it feel like for you playing all those roles?

Hugo Weaving: When we were filming V for Vendetta seven years ago, the Wachowski siblings and I both read the novel Cloud Atlas. [Actress Natalie Portman introduced them to it.] When I got the screenplay, I’d already read the original version twice, so I understood what the basic story was. For me, the most fun thing reading the script was that the story structure was completely new and original. The novel’s narrative style is somewhat like a Russian Doll, each story is half told chronologically, then the second halves in reverse-chronology. The screenplay tells the six stories all in one go as a mosaic. So I was fascinated by the structure of the film.

Q: In real life you’re a gentle man and a good person but in Wachowski movies, you are always cast as the bad guy. How do you feel about that?

Hugo Weaving: The character’s I play do not perceive themselves as pure villains, nor do I portray them deliberately as “the bad guys”; I like to play contradictory roles. For instance Agent Smith or the characters I play in Cloud Atlas. Many are agents against change invested in the maintenance of a system. They are fighting to keep things the way they are. On The Matrix, when I read the script, I found the character of Smith to be very funny; that character always made me laugh. The Wachowskis also thought Smith was very funny. So I guess they knew I could take on these sorts of roles because we’ve always seen things very much on the same level and of course we’re good friends in real life.

Q: Which role did you enjoy the most?

Hugo Weaving: I enjoyed each of them, but my favorite is the role of the old Georgie, who only exists in Tom Hanks’ character Zachry’s imagination. He’s a manifestation of his fear, and I really like to play this aspect of human imagination.

Q: What about Nurse Noakes?

Hugo Weaving: She’s the mean nurse in [the Timothy Cavendish plotline]; she’s simply a monster. I always wanted to laugh when playing her. Her character makeup was the most ambitious and challenging; it took four hours to apply. I had to get used to wearing the heavy costume. It wasn’t easy, but I really enjoyed the process.

Alfred Tsing with Hugo Weaving

L to R: Hugo Weaving, Keanu Reeves, Alfred Tsing, Lana Wachowski

Alfred Tsing: "At the end of the press tour we had a nice dinner and Keanu Reeves came by to support. He was also in town working on post-production for his latest China-US co-production Man of Tai Chi."

Tsing's full blog post includes many additional photos, Tsing's interviews with the film's directors, hints about the Wachowskis next project Jupiter Ascending, a meet-up with Chinese director Stephen Chow and many other goodies, so do check it out!

Photo: Alfred Tsing

While Cloud Atlas didn't have a formal Australian premiere, it did open in Australia 28 February. The Sydney Morning Herald has posted/printed a few versions of a Hugo Weaving interview conducted by Caris Bizzaca; it's unknown if this was conducted during earlier press junkets (as most of the UK promo interviews featuring Hugo were) or if he spoke to this reporter from Australia while prepping for Healing… either way it's a brief but interesting discussion of the film and Hugo's most memorable characters. I'll post the text of the online version under the cut; the print version can be read here. Both featured stills of Hugo's Cloud Atlas characters rather than new photos.
An unusual change of face
March 1, 2013
by Caris Bizzaca (Sydney Morning Herald/AAP)
"The many faces of Hugo Weaving in Cloud Atlas.

Hugo Weaving has played the villainous Agent Smith and freedom fighter V, but in just one film – Cloud Atlas – the Aussie actor has taken on more characters than in his entire 14-year collaboration with directors Andy and Lana Wachowski.

Weaving plays a total of six characters in Cloud Atlas, an ambitious adaptation of David Mitchell's novel that tackles big existential ideas such as reincarnation and the repercussions of actions in one life to another.

Like his co-stars – including Halle Berry, Tom Hanks and Susan Sarandon – Weaving plays a variety of characters, who cross genders, social classes and race over a period of about 500 years.

One in particular is Nurse Noakes, a burly, nasty woman working in an aged-care facility. Weaving said he was excited as the prospect of playing this "hysterical monster".

"There are roles you kind of get thrilled about," Weaving says. "When Andy [Wachowski] said we want you to play Nurse Noakes, I was like, 'You want ME to play Nurse Noakes? That is fantastic.'

"And then I thought, 'How the hell and we going to do that?' "

With a lot of prosthetics, it turns out.

While Weaving originally imagined the character to be tall and thin, the Wachowskis and co-director Tom Tykwer envisioned her as a large woman.

Weaving had to don a heavy fat suit and facial prosthetics for the transformation, but unlike other characters he plays in the film, he didn't get much time to get used to the costume.

"That was a challenge just to try and forget about it actually and to inhabit it in a way that wasn't too preposterous," he says.

"But no, the idea of playing a different gender, the idea of playing anything is . . . it's thrilling and daunting."

The way characters such as Nurse Noakes allowed Cloud Atlas to cross social barriers, including gender, spoke personally to director Lana Wachowski.

Formerly known as Larry, (she underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2009) she, likewise, says Cloud Atlas is the kind of movie that refuses to be put into a box by social conventions.

"Yes, you're drawn to art that resonates in your own life and my life has been a struggle against a society, a culture that is pathologically obsessed with binary," she says.

"The culture does not want to contemplate the idea of a spectral range of gender."

Cloud Atlas marks the first film Weaving has worked on with Lana since she had her surgery, but the fifth Wachowski film that he has been in – a long collaboration that began in 1999 with The Matrix, followed by its two sequels in 2003 and V for Vendetta in 2005.

It was actually during filming for V for Vendetta that Weaving first came across the novel Cloud Atlas. His co-star Natalie Portman was reading it, so he followed suit and has previously said it became one of his top 10 books.

Reading the script for the first time, Weaving says he was fascinated by how the writer/directors approached the story.

In the novel, huge chunks are spent on different characters, but in the film, the stories are all cut together.

Weaving says Andy explained the film to him by comparing it to a mosaic, in that all the stories are introduced immediately, as opposed to "this Russian Doll of a structure" that the book had.

The Australian actor said he was glad to have already been familiar with the book and seeing what they wanted to do with it.

"You know the world, you know the characters, you know how they parallel each other and interconnect," he says. "So it was a thrilling kind of read because I love the book so much."

Cloud Atlas is out now."

Australian reporter Alicia Malone spoke to Hugo (and Susan Sarandon) during the LA press junket back in October; I'll include the YouTube clip of that interview under the next cut, along with Metro.co.uk's joint Hugo Weaving/Susan Sarandon interview and a link Yahoo UK's video featuring Hugo and Bae Doona tackling The Reincarnation Question in Berlin last November.

Alicia Malone's Movie Minute:

Some other Hugo Weaving quotes Malone posted at The Brag:
"That’s the thing that interests me… how the actions you take in your life reverberate somehow, and often the things you are doing in your life are as a consequence of the people who may have been connected to you in time, geography or culture. If you extrapolate that idea, we’re all connected in some way. That butterfly effect. Every action you make has an effect on everyone else in the world, to some extent .

“I get on extremely well with both of [the Wachowskis] and I love them very much. I’m always challenged and stimulated by them and their ideas. I never used to get separate notes from them, which would be the main difference. They’re more individuated than before.[T]owards the end [of filming], the cameos grew. All the actors were saying, ‘I want to be in that story too. Can I play… anything?"

Here's the Metro.co.uk interview, with introduction included to demonstrate why some of the interview questions end up being so incorrigibly silly:

Ross McD interviewed the cast and crew of Cloud Atlas at a round table press junket in LA. In part three he meets Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon…

11AM Beverly Hills, Los Angeles – Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon

Uh-oh. Things have taken a sour turn. Hollywood royalty may be about to walk in, but at least one person isn’t preoccupying himself with rolling out the red carpet. No sooner have Whishaw and D’Arcy left the room when the Italian lights up on one of the female South African journos, apparently for cutting across one of his monologue/questions.

‘I’m trying to get one quote, and you start….’

‘What. Is. Cloud. Atlas? Four words,’ she suggests.


‘I don’t give a f**k what you think.’
‘But you took too long.’

‘I don’t give a sh*t.’

‘IF YOU COULD all take you seats,’ a PA announces to the room through a rather intense smile, ‘we are ready for Susan and Hugo.’

‘We should also put down things to tape what you say,’ Susan smiles, wryly eyeing the Dictaphones – and perhaps concerned for her safety, having sniffed the tail end of a potential journo brawl.

Hugo smiles, no stranger to brawls under the Wachowskis, having played the iconic Agent Smith in all three Matrixes. He’s rocking an impressively shaggy beard right now and couldn’t look any further from the impeccable computer program. Unless he were to dress up as a sadistic, hulking blonde female nurse, I suppose….

‘You’ve worked with the Wachowski’s before, in what way was it different this time?’ One of the Japanese journos wanted to know.

‘It was very similar. The first time we met we hit it off very quickly, and it feels like I’ve been laughing and raving with them for years, so…’

‘You know raving means something entirely different in this country?’ Susan advises him in her trademark playful tone. ‘It involves certain drugs, dancing, sweating…’

‘Oh it does? I meant talking a lot,’ Hugo clarifies.

‘It was like a circus,’ said Susan, who worked under the Wachowskis on Speed Racer. ‘The fact that people were playing big parts and little parts and giving up their egos and their iconic status and just jumping in… and Hugh Grant going naked with tattoos was hilarious. It set this feeling like you were kind of at Camp Cloud Atlas.’

And like a circus, the fun and frivolity of the surface are firmly rooted in meticulous choreography: the casting was not just an aimlessly assembled ensemble.

The joy of being an actor is that you have this opportunity to be many different people in one lifetime, that’s kind of the point,’ Susan explained. ‘My characters all have a kind of spirituality and are a little bit more enlightened, whatever; [Hugo's] are a little bit more controlled and maybe somewhat more evil. They had done that when they cast, it wasn’t just a haphazard kind of filling in. And then people were begging to be in stories they weren’t in and wanted to play little parts…’

Hugo added: ‘But that character had to, in some way, have an acceptable link or time link to the other characters they might have played.’

‘I think the idea of changing genders and colours, having the opportunity for a Korean actress to play a Mexican and everyone to play another gender, somehow underneath it all, the film subliminally breaks down and makes this fluidity the point of the film. No matter how the wrapping is underneath, the spirit and the humanity is consistent,’ Susan went on. ‘Even though they don’t hit you over the head with it, it was something that affected us – not just popping contact lenses in and chins and noses and stuff, but the idea of actually getting a chance of walking in someone else’s moccasins and be a man for a day.’

Of all the worlds we’ve visited today so far, this pairing appear to be most confident that the film will be a success. Are they?

I think it is a success,’ Susan claims. ‘Are you talking about commercial success? I think it is extraordinary this film was made, and it signals to the industry an opportunity to break a mould.’

From early reviews, one of the fears surrounding whether or not the film will indeed be a commercial success overall is that it’s trying to be too clever, and that audiences just might not get it.

But, according to Susan, there is a hunger among cinemagoers for something different: ‘I think that the public is much smarter than anybody thinks and they don’t need to see the same movie six times, they don’t need to have everything be derivative.

‘I’m sure there will be some people who will go in and say “Oh my God, what is this?” in the first five minutes.

‘I have a sister, you take her to France and she orders a pizza, and she’s disappointed that it’s not like in New York. She’s just not a good traveller. You need people who are good travellers who can surrender and say “Okay, this is something new” and be excited and not threatened.’

‘And we all did that, and really had the most extraordinary time,’ Hugo adds. ‘And that’s enough, that’s reward in itself for us, regardless of whether its financially successful or not. Of course you hope that it is because that means a lot of people have seen it and hopefully were moved in the same way we were. But, beyond that, it’s not really a concern.’

As one of the Japanese journalists correctly points out, Susan is one of a handful of actors who seems to get work consistently – is it down to the roles she chooses, luck, or something else?

‘Well I’m playing supporting parts – a lot of men won’t do that,’ she replies, matter-of-factly. ‘I see myself as a character actor, and if a project is exciting and the other people I’m working with are good…I do a lot of first time directors, so I’m the go to person for that.

‘I’ve always been kind of outside of the system, so if somebody sends me something and I haven’t done it before and I think it’ll be fun – and I don’t have to be there for five months for a smaller part – as long as I’m still having fun, then I’ll keep doing it.’

CJ: As a lifelong American, I'd have to say that, apart from a brief period in the 1990s, Hugo's definition of "rave" is most common here. But maybe Sarandon has spent too much time in LA. 😉

Yahoo UK asked several actors The Reincarnation Question again; Hugo gave a slightly different response this time around (the interview was taped in Berlin) than when the same question came up in LA. I'll try to embed, but since non-YouTube embeds typically fail here lately (grrrrr!) click here if no video appears. Very interesting to note the falcon/falcon handler answers from D'Arcy and Whishaw given Hugo's casting in Healing. 😉

Cloud Atlas Press Articles:

  • Interviews with the actors who attended the UK premiere (Hugh Grant, James D'Arcy, Ben Whishaw, Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent) at FilmBeat
  • Alicia Malone's cast interviews with Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess and Jim Broadbent are excerpted at The Brag (Beat Magazine reposts the same piece)
  • BBC News coverage and cast interviews of the Cloud Atlas UK premiere
  • James D'Arcy's Glasgow Film Fest interview promoting Cloud Atlas
  • The Guardian's assessment of how Warner Bros marketing might have hurt its US box office take (the film is now close to recouping its $100 million budget, thanks to more enlightened overseas audiences)
  • An uproarious Jim Sturgess/James D'Arcy interview using fan questions at Total Film
  • There are in-depth interviews with the visual effects artists and production photos showing how key scenes evolved at Flickering Myth
  • Tom Tykwer radio interview on BBC4's The Film Programme
  • Great Jim Broadbent Radio Times interview in which the actor excoriates Hollywood award shows that snubbed the film
  • Empire Online Q&A/Behind the Scenes feature with Jim Stugess and James D'Arcy  (Who discuss how that their death scenes at the hands of Hugh Grant and Hugo, respectively, were "fun")
  • Cloud Atlas's Scotland locations are detailed in The Scotsman (including the Glasgow street– pretending to be San Francisco– where Bill Smoke tries to run down Luisa Rey, and the Scott Monument, where Frobisher watches his lover Sixsmith search for him)
  • James D'Arcy interviews at TheView.co.uk, The Belissimo Files, Spin 1038
  • Filmosphere's interview with conceptual artist Adam Cuczsek (French)
  • Parkes Champion Post Tom Tykwer interview/Cloud Atlas preview
  • Making-of featurette in The Age (featuring interviews with the directors).
Also, if you are a fan of James D'Arcy or Jim Sturgess, do check out JamesD'ArcyForum.net and/or Jim Stugess Online for many, many more pics and articles covering the UK premiere of Cloud Atlas. These communities and their mods have provided critical assistance and boundless enthusiasm during these giddy months of Cloud Atlas coverage.

New Cloud Atlas Reviews: DianaBabe.com, Best For Film, Colourless Opinions, MoveMeez, Blogomatic 3000, Comic Buzz, MovieMail.com, Bring The Noise, BanterFlix, The Establishing Shot, ViewLondon.co.uk, Popcorn Addict, Express.co.uk, Mild Concern, PreviewFiilms.com.au, Get-Reel.net, The Film Cricket, London, Hollywood, Tim The Film Guy, Den of Geek (middling review including some amusing errors, demonstrating that a lot of people dissing certain elements of the film failed to really pay attention), Movie Ramblings, TheArtsDesk.com, Flickering Myth, Ed's Electronics Review, Impact Online, The Australian, SFX.co.uk, Empire Online, Marked Movies, Triptothepictures, Lisa Thatcher, FMV Magazine, Female First, The Bioscopist, The Celluloid Sage, The Movie Bit, TV and Film Review, Film 4, Monday Movie Show, The Irish Examiner, The Film Pie, Platform Online, Alienationmentale, Implied Subjectivity, DUSA Media, Mac Robinson, TheMusic.com.au, The 500 Club, Raybeard, Fanatical Film, Quickflix, Pieces of Reece, The Digital Fix, LeftLion.co.uk, Insights.uca.org, Cambridge Tab, The Statesman, The Sydney Morning Herald, At The Movies, M/C Reviews, Expand Your Canvas, 3aw.com.au, West Sussex County Times, Mustache Magazine, Inside 7th Art, Shadowplay, Social Intercourse, Cinema with Sarah O'Connor, The Big Brown Chair, Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop, Rip It Up and The Blend. [Takes a deep breath!…] 😉  It should be noted that the vast majority of these are positive and thoughtfully written, and that Cloud Atlas has quickly become one of Hugo's most-reviewed and internationally celebrated projects. Not bad for a film misleadingly labelled a "failure" in the shallower corners of the US media.

Finally, as far as Cloud Atlas is concerned, the US DVD/BluRay finally has a firm release date (May 14) and can now be preordered at Amazon and other retailers (I encourage fans to shop around, as always). The BluRay package will include the DVD and download versions, seven new featurettes  and cast interviews, but– as we've become accustomed to from the Wachowskis– no deleted scenes. For additional details and the frustratingly pedestrian (IMO) box art, check out HighDefDiscNews, Home Theater Forum, We Got This Covered, JoBlo.com

My friend Abigail wants Hugo Weaving fans to know that if you simply want a new, random Hugo photo or film still every day without so much text to get through, she's started a new community here called Daily Hugo Weaving Photo.

Waiting For Godot News: Though Sydney Theatre Company's new production of the Samuel Beckett classic (costarring Richard Roxburgh) is still several months away, tickets are already scarce, thanks to record box-office sales. More details at Aussie Theatre. And finally, in NIDA/STC News, a young actor named Harry Greenwood, who recently graduated from NIDA, has been cast in his first Sydney Theatre Company production, The Fury. Any similarities to another young NIDA alum who first made a splash at STC in the early 1980s are purely coincidental, no doubt. 😉

Healing To Begin Filming 18 February; Cloud Atlas Tops Chinese Box Office

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

from Pointblank Pictures‘ website

We’re finally getting some specific details on Hugo’s next starring role in Healing, which will begin filming on 18 February in Victoria. I posted links to the film’s webpage at Pointblank Pictures on Twitter and as a comment to my previous entry a couple of days ago and began to gather additional information before I was waylaid by a certain blizzard that hit the northeastern US on Saturday. 😉 It’s heartening that several media sources have since picked up the story and filled in a few additional details. The Pointblank site remains the most comprehensive, and looks set to update on the film’s progress as filming gets underway on its What’s Happening page; according to the most recent update, some of the film’s cast are already at work on pre-production, getting to know the raptors who will play a key thematic element in the story (and, likely, do a bit of scene-stealing.)

Healing’s bird trainer Andrew Payne has a script conference with Bart the eagle

To backtrack, in case anyone hasn’t read the synopsis, here’s the plotline provided by Pointblank and the subsequent press releases:

“Healing is a powerful, moving story of redemption, the discovery of hope and the healing of the spirit – in the most unlikely place, for the most unique men, through the most unusual catalyst.

Viktor Khadem is a man who has almost given up on life, sentenced to a low-security prison farm, a completely non-threatening environment where it is still felt that some individuals can be reformed. At Won Wron, Case Worker Matt Perry has established a unique program to rehabilitate broken men through giving them the responsibility for the rehabilitation of injured raptors – beautiful, fearsome proud eagles, falcons and owls.

Against all odds, Matt takes on Viktor as his number one test case, introducing him to Yasmine, the majestic wedge tailed eagle with a 2 metre wingspan. If these two can tame each other, anything is possible.”

Hugo is to portray Matt Perry in what might finally be the role that breaks the typecasting notion that Hugo only plays villains, mostly in supporting roles. (Fans have known this idea is rubbish for years, but Hugo’s Australian films are often overlooked or unknown to too much of the general public.) Don Hany has been cast as Viktor Khadem. Also in the cast are three former costars of Hugo’s: Justine Clarke (STC’s Hedda Gabler, Dangerous Liaisons), Tony Martin (who memorably played Det. Steele in Craig Monahan’s first film, The Interview) and Robert Taylor (who played Agent Jones in the first Matrix film and is now starring on the US cable procedural Longmire).

Inside Film provided a few new quotes from director Craig Monahan about the long-planned project (He first mentioned it in interviews as early as 2005, while promoting Peaches, and even then wanted Hugo Weaving to star.) “The script is inspired by true events and the powerful connection forged by humans with birds and animals…  This project has attracted a remarkable cast and crew and we are privileged to be working with them and the dedicated staff at Healesville Sanctuary.” The film’s cinematographer is Academy Award-winner Andrew Lesnie, who shot the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, Hollywood hits like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Babe, for which Hugo provided the voice of Rex the sheepdog. (I note an animal theme here…) 😉

The film will be distributed by Pinnacle in Australia and Lightning Entertainment on the international market, though no specifics on countries and release dates is yet available. Ramascreen posted the full press release from Lightning Entertainment, which features the following quotes from Lightning president Robert Beaumont: “It’s wonderful being associated with and bringing to our buyers a film with an excellent pedigree of filmmakers and cast. HEALING brings all those qualities to the table and we have high hopes for the film….Craig [Monahan] and Alison [Niselle] have successfully crafted a script which truly captures the ability of the human being to atone, transform, and ultimately heal. HEALING is a powerfully uplifting story about redemption that moved me from the moment Craig [Monahan] and [producer] Tait [Brady] first pitched it tome. The team has attracted some of Australia’s finest creative talent to the project, one that I think will shine another spotlight on the country’s wonderful tradition of quality filmmaking.” According to the press release, the film will be introduced to potential international buyers at the upcoming European Film Market in Berlin. Screen Daily and FilmBiz Asia also covered the press release. The Lowdownunder posted a slightly different press release (probably from Pointblank) featuring a more general overview of the project and its participants.

No, we haven’t had any specific news or pics of Hugo from the set… yet. (And most of the pics of him in internet coverage of the film– even Hugo’s profile pic at Pointblank– are about ten years old.) 😉 But this sounds like a project that would be close to his heart, as it hews more closely to his personal philosophy that acting should “illuminate another human being ” than the sort of roles he’s more famous for.

In Other Hugo Weaving News:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will debut on DVD/BluRay on March 19 (in the US), according to the LA Times’ Hero Complex.  The packages will include behind the scenes footage and (if you’re getting the BluRay) a 3D option, but this won’t be the “Expanded Edition”… Warner Bros suggests that won’t be available until “the holidays” at the end of the year. I suspect they’ll release it a few weeks in advance of The Desolation of Smaug’s theatrical bow.  Fans who do spring for the early, fewer-frills BluRay release will be treated to a “special sneak peek” at the second film in the Hobbit trilogy on 24 March at noon (PST) featuring Peter Jackson. (More  details here.) Also, it should be noted that all of the various Lord of the Rings DVD packages featured different supplemental material (there were at least three different editions) until the BluRay issue belatedly compiled the whole lot in 2011, so I suspect Warner’s will try that lucrative tactic again.

Chinese audiences proved much more embracing of Cloud Atlas than US audiences despite the 40 minutes of edits to the film released there… it’s already soared to #1 at their box office and racked up $16 million (95 million yuan) in its first week; by contrast, the film made about $9 million in the US during its first week of release in October. (The film has done much better overseas than it has here.) This is heartening and may explain why the film’s DVD release has been pushed back; I wouldn’t be against a theatrical re-release here to give the ignoramuses who missed it the first time around a second chance. 😉 As Dwain Worrell (via The Washington Times) put it, “Overlooked and underrated, Cloud Atlas is overdue and well deserving of its new foreign found success and praise. The film curves the lenses of reality and wraps them around themes and concepts that are nearly impossible to explain, less etch into a two hour screenplay. Ambitious to say the least Could Atlas artfully and responsibly translates these lofty concepts in a language that speaks to the traditional nation. Far different than anything before released in China, the film has struck a chord with Chinese movie goers and its success in China proves that ‘all boundaries are conventions’.” Additional details can be read at The Hollywood Reporter, which notes that Cloud Atlas is currently outperforming Skyfall in China.

Cloud Atlas has been nominated by the Film Music Awards for Film Score of the Year, Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Score and Film Music Composition of the Year award for Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek’s masterful score. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was also nominated in the first two of those categories for Howard Shore’s score, but I think Cloud Atlas the more unique and deserving of the two.  More details at Film Awards Daily.

New, interesting reviews of Cloud Atlas continue to turn up on a daily basis as the film is gradually released around the world and gathers more positive word of mouth. The latest: Actuallymag, The Umlaut, Listal.com, The Average Guy, and Memoirs of a Culture Stalker.

Elisa over at Random Scribblings managed to secure and post some footage of Hugo’s brief appearance at this year’s AACTA Awards, co-presenting the Best Lead Actress award with Rebecca Gibney. (Notable Aussie character actress Deborah Mailman won, for The Sapphires.) I’m not sure why this repeats (silently the second time)… maybe to give us a look at what Hugo might have tripped over that the two of them were joking about. 😉 I’m quite charmed that Hugo’s awards show teleprompter-reading skills remain unpolished after all these years. I hope that never changes.

There’s also a red carpet video from the Wellington premiere of the Hobbit featuring Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Martin Freeman, Peter Jackson and others posted by VivirdeCine to YouTube, but it’s frustratingly overdubbed, and Hugo’s interview is cut off before he finishes speaking!

Australian fans (and those with funds to travel) not already in possession of season tickets to STC’s 2013 slate will want to note that tickets to individual plays (including Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh in Waiting for Godot) go on sale tomorrow, though they’ll probably be going fast. Some productions (including Cate Blanchett in The Maids) are already sold out. More details at TheatrePeople.com and (of course) STC.

STC promo photo of Richard Roxburgh, Hugo Weaving

Finally, here’s a vintage pic of Hugo at the New York premiere of The Matrix Reloaded back in May 2003, posted by lacyleeevan via Twitter/Instagram:

Oh, and I actually did order some of that Old Georgie tea (from Adagio’s “fandom” line of Cloud Atlas teas)… I don’t usually go in for  crazy promotional tie-ins, preferring to save my limited funds for the actual film/theater tickets/DVDs etc featuring Hugo’s actual work, and the occasional magazine for the Flickr archive. But I was already a big Lapsang Souching drinker, so I indulged in the impulse purchase. It’s quite addictive, particularly when one is snowed in or shoveling out of a major winter storm. There are also blends inspired by Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw), Rufus Sixsmith (James D’Arcy), Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent), Luisa Rey (Halle Berry) and Somni 451 (Bae Doona– don’t worry, it’s 100% soap-free.) 😉 Yes, they include pics of the characters in stickers on the bags/tins, but they’re not great quality (the Old Georgie pic was very dark– was there a copyright issue?), so you should buy primarily if you enjoy the teas in that (or another) blend.

NOTE:There are some new members here, so I’m going to repeat an old instruction not to post material here without first submitting it to me for review. This isn’t a message board; I’m trying to run an orderly news column. I don’t want this to become like Tumblr, where a lot of material gets randomly reposted without proper credit or source info… Also, I often begin writing the next post as soon as new material becomes available, and post it when I have enough information to justify a post. My Twitter feed is the “raw feed” for this column, so if you have new material you think should be included, please submit it via Twitter, the comments here or a personal message. Often when a new project is announced, many different sources run stories, but I try to find and post the original sources or most complete versions of this material. In most communities, no posts are cleared without moderation; Hugonuts is a special case because I inherited it in 2005 after it was “orphaned” by the previous moderator. But I have run the community since then and want to maintain some semblance of order.

I want Hugonuts to be a breaking news column and source for new, or newly-available, material. If you have such material, submit it to me, and I’ll be happy to post it, and of course fully credit you.   Elisa from RS has an exemption because she runs a wonderful fully-fledged fansite (Random Scribblings) and often has access to exclusive or hard to find material. (There’s also a wonderful Message Board there, for fans who can start threads (or contribute to them) on any subject that interests them.)   But I do want the site to stay on-topic and have some semblance of order. I hope this is acceptable.