Tag Archives: David Wenham

Hugo Weaving Attends CinefestOz Film Festival, Collects Screen Legend Award


Hugo Weaving prepares to be interviewed by ABC Perth at CinefestOz  Photo: 720 ABC Perth via Twitter

I’m going to try and avoid too much commentary this time and just post all the great new material that’s appeared this week in conjunction with Hugo Weaving’s appearance at Cinefest Oz in Busselton, West Australia. There have been three amazing interviews, (two text, one audio) and a plethora of new photos from both fans and the press. Hugo hasn’t revealed any new projects but continues to say that he’ll be committed to focusing on Australian films over the next year; still not certain if he has already signed on for some of these or is just speaking generally; we’ll have to wait and see. But his interviews reinforce what a lovely, humble person he is and where his true priorities lie, and I’m happy to hear he continues to prefer underappreciated Australian indies to  international projects that would earn him more money and fame, but in most cases wouldn’t serve the full spectrum of his talent. I also appreciate the fact that he feels conflicted about the notion of being named a “screen legend”, but was still willing to appear because it served the greater good of drawing attention to Australian film in general.

Here’s hoping that The Dressmaker becomes that elusive home-grown project that finally has an impact worldwide, and appeals to fans of both his commercial and artistic sides. The participation of Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth certainly can’t hurt, but above all I hope this finally breaks Hugo free of the franchise villain typecasting that has limited how too many international fans perceive him… and that it finally earns Jocelyn Moorhouse the respect she deserves.

CinefestOz Interviews

Here are the three interviews Hugo’s given (so far)… I haven’t yet found any video footage of Hugo’s Cinefest appearances (including last night’s Living Legend gala) but we’ll see if any gets posted. CinefestOz has shared video footage in years past, but none so far this time around. Click on the title of interviews for hyperlinks back to source sites.

First up here’s the Soundcloud version of Hugo’s interview with Geoff Hutchinson of 720 ABC Perth for The Morning Show. You can listen to the full show, which also includes 10-minute chats with David Wenham and Sarah Snook, here. Note that the unedited program will only be available for seven days from original airing.

Here are the text interviews, from The West Australian and The Guardian:

Weaving’s heart is right at home

The West Australian
Mark Naglazas 28 August 2015


David Wenham, Sarah Snook and David Wenham at the Busselton Jetty.  Photo: Courtney McAllister/Mac1Photography via The West Australian. Larger version here

Hugo Weaving is being honoured as this year’s CinefestOZ Screen Legend but the Matrix and Lord of the Rings star is not one for dwelling on his stellar career.

“The only time I look back is when I meet somebody I worked with and I’m trying to remember their name,” laughed Weaving, who is making his first visit to the South West for the five-day celebration of Australian and French cinema.

Although he is best known for his Hollywood blockbusters, he is proudest of the smaller films he has made in Australia, such as Little Fish and The Interview.

“The sad thing for me is that these films are not better known and the directors have struggled to go on to make a second or a third film,” Weaving said.

His passion for Australian movies is the reason he continues to work here, even though he could have a full-time Hollywood career and why he believes events such as CinefestOZ are vital.

CinefestOZ started on Wednesday night with the Australian premiere of Now Add Honey, a family comedy from Wayne Hope and Robyn Butler. It is one of five competing for the $100,000 Film Prize.

Hugo Weaving: ‘Just because Australian films aren’t seen doesn’t mean they don’t exist’

CinefestOz’s screen legend for 2015 on Tony Abbott, reuniting with director Jocelyn Moorhouse and why you’ve probably never seen his best work

by Nancy Groves, The Guardian 29 August 2015


Hugo Weaving on the Busselton boardwalk. Photograph: Courtney McAllister/Mac1Photography via The Guardian.  Larger version here

Hugo Weaving likes playing faceless villains, he once told an American journalist, because it means people are less likely to recognise him in real life. It’s a good tactic but one that certainly isn’t working for him in sleepy Busselton, Western Australia, where he’s in town to be honoured with the title of “screen legend” at the city’s annual CinefestOz festival – home to Australia’s richest film prize.

Over the course of five days, Weaving is repeatedly invited up to the mic – at opening ceremonies, screenings and lunches – and regularly stopped on the street by industry peers slapping him on the back or by local cinema-goers keen to take a selfie with him.

“It’s lovely to be here and a little embarrassing, but at the same time I appreciate it,” says Weaving, folding his 6’2” (188cm) frame into a chair at Busselton’s only hipster coffee outlet. “I do feel honoured but it’s hard to say that.”

This is not luvvie dissembling. Known to the world for his roles in the Matrix, Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, this modest, intensely private man has also been the linchpin in dozens of smaller Australian independent films, as Luke Buckmaster’s rewatching film blog reminds us on a weekly basis. It’s only a shame so few people have seen them.

“I could name 10 films I’ve done where I’ve thought: what a shame they didn’t catch on,” says Weaving, singling out Rowan Woods’ dark Sydney drama Little Fish with Cate Blanchett, as well as Last Ride, Glendyn Ivin’s 2009 film about a father and son on the run across Australia. “Not because I’m in them,” he stresses, “but because they are great works and they express something about who we are.”

His latest outing, The Dressmaker, which premieres at Toronto film festival this month, does not seem destined to disappear. A classic revenge Western dressed up in Dior, it stars Kate Winslet as the titular seamstress who returns from self-imposed exodus in Europe to her small “white-sliced” hometown and its smaller-minded residents. Liam Hemsworth, Judy Davis, Barry Otto, Shane Jacobson and Sarah Snook also feature – a who’s who of established and emerging Aussie talent.

“It’s certainly an ensemble piece,” says Weaving, adding that the days when everyone was on set had a “reunion” vibe to them. The film also reunites him with director Jocelyn Moorhouse, at least professionally – the two have been friends since Moorhouse directed Weaving opposite a young Russell Crowe in her excellent 1991 film, Proof. “There is a sort of subterranean element to my relationship with Joss,” he says. “Proof was a long time ago but then there was the whole Eucalyptus saga. Or tragedy – whatever you want to call it.”

He’s referring to the 2005 Australian film that never was, adapted by Moorhouse from the Miles Franklin-winning novel by Murray Bail and set to star Nicole Kidman, Crowe and Weaving, until Fox cancelled production just three days into filming due to “creative differences” between Crowe and Moorhouse. Reports at the time suggested the differences were all Crowe’s. “The whole film going down was just really sad,” is all Weaving will say. “It was one of the greatest scripts I’ve ever read, just fantastic work from Joss. Fox ended up owning it and I don’t know whether she has ever got it back.”

The incident almost wiped Moorhouse out, Weaving adds, but she is back on confident form with The Dressmaker: “Joss has got such an eye for detail and specific sense of humour. There’s a surface expression to what she says and then something beneath that’s a little darker. I’m kind of interested in that.”

That same formulation seems to sum up Weaving’s acting – on stage, as well as screen. He has recently emerged from playing Hamm in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame at Sydney Theatre Company back to back with taking STC’s award-winning Waiting for Godot to London for a run at the Barbican. A “Beckfest”, as he calls it, and he’s still not had his fill.

“I’m just re-reading his four early novellas, these absolutely beautiful little stories, all different, all difficult, and I’d love to bring to them to the stage. Put two on one night, two the next, mix and match them a bit, possibly on the same set. They are just extraordinary pieces of work. He’s exhausting and wonderful at the same time.”

Whether Weaving gets to realise this project any time soon is another matter. He has been a fixture of Sydney Theatre Company under artistic directors Andrew Upton and (until 2013) Cate Blanchett. But Upton is leaving in late 2015, to be replaced by British theatre-maker Jonathan Church. Does it feel like the end of an era for what, in its regular use of the same actors, began to feel like a rep company?

“It was a very fertile time,” says Weaving. “One thing leads to another and I loved that sense of exploration as a company, of moving forward as a unit.” He praises Upton for his openness and democracy in the rehearsal room, and Blanchett for her poise. “Cate’s extraordinary. She’s in hyperspace in terms of her profile – much more so me. But she manages to maintain her sanity, sometimes barely. I know it’s difficult.”

Is it easier to maintain a private life in Australia than in Hollywood? “Probably, says Weaving. “Possibly, a bit, yes, maybe. You’ve got to actively find that space for yourself. You’ve got to actively disappear. This industry is so vast that once you’re a part of it, you can easily lose yourself and the trade-off isn’t necessarily a great thing for your soul, you know.”

He hasn’t met Church but says “it will be a big change, a bit shift”, adding his hope that Church will nurture acting and directing talent, not just shows. It echoes Weaving’s stance on cinema. “Film is the great artistic medium and yet we don’t see it as that,” he says. “We don’t allow it to be everything it could be.”


Hugo Weaving in front of his CinefestOz 2015 screen legend plaque.  Photograph: Mac1 photography  Larger version here

At a meeting of Chinese and Australian film producers during CinefestOz, Screen Australia showed a promo reel in which big name Australian actors – Blanchett and Joel Edgerton among them – sung to camera the praises of those working behind it. This is more than a sell, says Weaving, citing veteran Australian producers Jan Chapman, David Jowsey and Vincent Sheehan, and cinematographers Donald McAlpine (Moulin Rouge) and Stefan Duscio, whose work on Michael Petroni’s thriller Backtrack could scoop it the festival’s $100,000 prize.

“The industry exists here,” he insists. “Just because films aren’t seen doesn’t mean they don’t exist; doesn’t mean they’re not good. That’s always the tragedy for me. I get so …”. He tails off only to pick up again. “What do we have to do to mature to the extent that we choose to watch and look at our own culture? Why don’t we do that?”

The fault doesn’t necessarily lie with Australian audiences, he says. It comes “from the top”, by which I’m guessing Weaving means government. “Yes,” he says – coupled with a US-dominated industry that makes it hard for any other market to break through internationally. “I’m not into free markets. I think they are just an excuse for destroying things, an excuse to make massive profits at the expense of cultures and people.”

Weaving has never been shy of criticising the Abbott government, voicing his concerns about ongoing cuts to the ABC in 2014, and recently adding his face to the stepped-up campaign for Australian marriage equality. “It’s less about the marriage bit for me” – Weaving and his partner since 1984, artist Katrina Greenwood, have two children but have never tied the knot – “and more about equality. Just because I don’t need to marry, doesn’t mean other people can’t.”

Conversation steers to the UK, where Weaving grew up, and its ramped-up rhetoric on immigration. “Now we’ve got Abbott lecturing the Europeans about what to do: “Turn back the boats.” You think, oh man! This is insane the world we live in.” Culturally, Weaving still feels the influence of his British upbringing. “My childhood and heritage and the stories I grew up with, well, I accept I’m not the purest Australian,” he says. “At the same time, I go back there and I don’t really feel English. We’re all a mixture of all the influences that made us.”

Should the government be protecting Australian film talent with production quotas, as some in the industry have suggested? Weaving sees a bigger picture. When it comes to policy, everything is connected, he says: “Protecting your culture, protecting your environment, protecting your land, protecting your stories, protecting who you are, protecting your thoughts – it’s all crucial.”

And he still doesn’t know what the fix is. “If it were obvious it would have been done. In terms of the skilled practitioners making the films, they are here. And they’ll keep on doing what they do in the hope that somehow, at the end, when the tap’s turned on, something comes out. At the moment, we’ve got rainfall, but it’s not coming out of the tap.”

*****

CinefestOz Photos

Here are all the photos I’ve found of Hugo Weaving appearing at various screenings, events and interviews. Thanks to all the news outlets and fans who shared these! Captions below photos are from original posts by the photographers/sharers.


Behind the scenes Today Show! David Wenham, Sarah Snook & Hugo Weaving!!! @MargaretRiver @ScreenWest #eventswa  Photo: CinefestOz via Twitter


“Hugo Weaving and David Wenham at #cinefestoz awesome to see these guys in WA to support Australian Cinema”  Photo: Lauren Monicka via Instagram


“Couple of icons of the Australian screen #DavidWenham and #HugoWeaving take to the stage at @cinefestoz #cinefestoz ”  Photo: Lucy Gibson via Twitter


“Hugo Weaving as we are about to start” Photo: ABC South West WA via Twitter


“Hugo Weaving & David Wenham commandeer the cobra! @cinefestoz #southwest #australianfilmindustry #cinefestoz.” Aravina Estate via Twitter/Facebook


“Aravina Directors lunch is underway! David Wenham & Hugo Weaving doing some Q & A’s. Simply stunning day!” Photo: CinefestOz via Instagram


“My nephew just met Hugo weaving WFT wow ” Photo: StevoVictoria via Twitter


“Hangin’ with Hugo #hugoweaving #CinefestOZ #filmfestival @ Aravina Estate”   Photo: Tasha Campbell via Twitter/Instagram


“”Hugo Weaving- CinefestOZ Screen Legend!! Check out his plaque outside Orana Cinemas Busselton!”  Photo: CinefestOz via Instagram


“Gold Fever models Libby & Tabs rockin’ the red carpet tonight at CinefestOz Bunbury with the very generous Hugo Weaving. Big thanks to Gemma Collins Makeup & Nadin from Niche for hair. #goldfevervintage #pinupgirlclothing #cinefestoz #cinefestoz #southwestlife #gemmacollinsmakeup #westisbest #downsouth #hollywoodglamour” Gold Fever Vintage via Instagram


“@_ashleejulian_ and #kadiaarmstrong of @cm_management #luluandvee alongside #Hellbunny with Actor #HugoWeaving @cinefestoz red carpet event! MUA: @gemmacollinsmakeupartist Hair: Nadine @nicheforhair Image via Stylo and Thankyou @goldfevervintage #redcarpet #gowns #models #glamour #southwestlife #WADesigner #aussieactor #cinefestoz ” Natalie Angus via Instagram

Photo: Guardian Aus Culture via Twitter

“Just chilling with @WenhamDavid, #HugoWeaving & #ShaneJacobsen and the @lomaxmedia” Grant M Fletcher via Instagram


Hugo interviewed on the red carpet at the Living Legend gala, 29 August CinefestOz  Photo: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail


Hugo on the red carpet at the Living Legend gala, 29 August CinefestOz  Photo: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail


Hugo interviewed on the red carpet at the Living Legend gala, 29 August CinefestOz  Photo: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail


“And then Hugo said……… When I lead in with “I love you and that’s ok… ” you know hilarity and silly buggerish will ensue. Great opening night @cinefestoz here in the beautiful southwest. Welcome to country by Josh Whiteland; smooth tune from the glamourous Local Vintage fine local bubbles followed by the Australian movie premiere of Now Add Honey. Robyn Butler you are absolute joy to watch and SO funny. What a cracking cast.” RemedyStore via Instagram

Other CinefestOz press: Sarah Snook (Hugo’s costar in The Dressmaker) was interviewed by The West Australian. And Hugo is briefly quoted in a festival-themed article at CommunityNews.com.au And there’s a full gallery of photos of the Living Legend and Awards gala at the Busselton-Dunsboriugh Mail.

The Dressmaker

We won’t have too long to wait before Hugo’s next film (and last completed project for awhile) debuts with the World Premiere Gala for The Dressmaker at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 14. While Hugo hasn’t officially confirmed is presence at the premiere, I would be very surprised if he didn’t attend, as he’s been very supportive of the film and his director in all of his recent interviews, and has always gone to TIFF in the past unless a prior commitment prevented him.

Meanwhile, the film’s social media presence has kicked into high gear recently, sharing some new photos and character profiles. Here’s their formal introduction to Hugo’s character, Sergeant Farratt:


“Meet Sergeant Farrat. The local policeman and first to see Tilly’s magical skill with thread and silk.” The Dressmaker via Twitter/Facebook

The film has also secured British distribution and will premiere in the UK on 6 November. (The film’s IMDb page lists October and November 2015 release dates for Australia (29 Oct), New Zealand, Turkey, Argentina, Portugal, Thailand and Brazil, with the US given only a vague 2015 tentative release date.)  It is also slated to screen at Korea’s Busan Film Festival in October (date TBA).There are additional articles about the film at Premier of Victoria and The Border Mail, the latter including a interview with novelist Rosalie Ham and producer Sue Maslin.

Fans will also want to check out Rosalie Ham’s television interview on Network 7’s The Daily Edition.

The Hobbit Trilogy Expanded Editions Get Theatrical Release

In advance of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy completing its Expanded Edition release on DVD/Blu-Ray this fall, all three films will be re-released in the expanded cuts to theatres in 500 locations on October 5 (An Unexpected Journey) October 7 (The Desolation of Smaug) and October 13 (The Battle of the Five Armies). This will be fans’ first opportunity to see Five Armies in long form, and, as with last year’s marathon trilogy screenings, these will feature special introductions from Jackson. Here’s the official trailer for the reissue. You can buy tickets (US locations) here. The extended cut of Battle of the Five Armies has been re-rated R for violent content, but no specifics on whether Hugo Weaving has any additional footage. I’m guessing not from early descriptions of the 20 minutes of new material, which seem to focus on the titular battle. (Also, Hugo has mentioned in interviews that filming the additional scenes for his expanded role in the film (ie the five minute rescue of Gandalf near the beginning of BOFA, also featuring Cate Blanchett and Christopher Lee) only took a few extra days.) I’d absolutely love to be wrong. I’m not sure whether my finances will permit me to indulge in the theatrical re-release, though I’d love to go. (I will be investing in the Blu-Ray eventually.) I first saw LOTR in the expanded cuts prior to Return of the King’s debut  2003, and I’ve always thought the theatrical edits of those films were inferior… but no one would argue that LOTR is generally the superior trilogy of the two and had much lengthier source material to draw from than The Hobbit.


via Warner Bros Online

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New Photos of Hugo Weaving at Sundance; HuffPost Live transcript; Plus a Romantic Gesture ;)

It’s been a slow couple of weeks for breaking news since Sundance ended. I assume Hugo Weaving has been taking a well-earned break, possibly gearing up for Endgame rehearsals at Sydney Theatre Co. (The play, which teams Hugo with Bruce Spence for his second go-round with Samuel Beckett in the past few years, begins performances March 31.) Hugo was also spotted in the audience at last night’s STC premiere of Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer, starring his former director and costar Robyn Nevin. His son Harry Greenwood– now making waves on Australian TV in Gallipoli— was also on hand. No, no pictures as of yet: Hugo is often adept at dodging press photo ops when he’s attending plays as a viewer, but sometimes indulges us. We’ll have to wait and see.

More previously-unseen photos of Hugo from January’s Sundance press junket for Strangerland continue to surface, though, so I’ll share all I’ve found since the last entry. I’ve also given up on HuffPost Live sharing their Hugo Weaving/Joseph Fiennes interview (which was webcast live on January 24 but hasn’t been re-posted) in anything resembling a timely manner. So I’ve transcribed the whole thing and will post it here (from my audio recording) along with photos taken at the taping. HuffPost might be waiting until the film’s formal release, whenever that might be, though all of the other media outlets who taped Strangerland cast interviews shared their material the same week.

I still hope HuffPost eventually shares their footage of the interview, which would be far superior to this. But for now, I’ll do what I can. I’d share the audio too if I wasn’t afraid of lawsuit threats. I’ve long since stopped trying to guess what might or might not make content providers needlessly pissy, but it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution. That said, this material is too good to merely live-broadcast then sit on for weeks. The actors were there expressly to promote their film, and I’ll do what I can to faciltate that, given how disrespected this film was by the largely-snide hipster press at the festival. Warning: the following does contain a few plot spoilers and overuse of the word ‘process’. 😉

Transcript: HuffPostLive interview with Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes at Sundance, promoting Strangerland, 24 Jan 2015

Interviewed by Ricky Camilleri at the ChefDance & HuffPost Live Media Lounge
Interview photos: Tiffany Rose/Getty Images
RC: I’m joined by Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes who star in the film Strangerland with Nicole Kidman. I saw the movie last night, I was gushing over it with you guys just a minute ago. Thank you so much for joining me. Incredible performances. Incredible performances. When you read the script, were you nervous at all? We you worried about taking on these roles?

 

HW: No…I don’t… I think… Whenever I read a script, I just read the script rather than think about ‘the doing’ of it. I’m just reading the script for what it is. I don’t know about you, Joe, but–

 RC: Sort of read it as a fan first, almost?

 

HW: Not as a ‘fan’, just to read it as a story, and to understand what it is, and just to read the minute detail within it–

RC: Right–

HW: How the humans interact. Just read it as a story. And THEN you go, ‘Well, that’s something I want to do.” And then you think–

RC: Can I do it? How could I do it?

HW: Yeah. If the offer’s there, THEN you start thinking about all those things. So the initial thing is just the story itself.

JF: Also, Kim is– our director, Kim Farrant– her process with the actors is kind of not common, it’s unusual… her dedication to the rehearsal period [the] sort of mining and sort of emotional exploration. And so, just reading the script and talking to her on the phone and gauging, ‘Ah, this is the kind of laboratory we’re going to be involved in’ was really exciting.

RC: How exactly is her process different, working with actors, considering what you’re used to, you said?

 

JF: She’s been an actress, so she understands that, and she… rather like Nicole and Hugo, for me… create a very, very safe and protected environment in which to explore, and to fail and to examine. And so that conversation, and the time to have that conversation– although, as you know [in] the independent world of making movies, you never have [too much] time– But you really did feel that she made every effort, so she was there weekends, days off, mornings, nights, really excavating, mining, and that’s rare.

RC: People always say that actors–FOR actors– make the best directors. Right? At the end of the day, sometimes actors have projects that they direct [which don’t come out as good, but actors on set make the best directors. Why is that? What about knowing the process of the actor really helps?

HW: Well, maybe it’s an understanding that all actors are different, as all human beings are different. So every actor’s “process” is different. Maybe just that in itself is a help for an actor/director because they understand that each individual has a very different process, a different way of approaching something, whereas… but I think there are directors who understand that very very well too, so I wouldn’t say ALL actors would make great directors. A lot of them would be awful. So I think it depends of the individual, really.

 

RC: We should summarize the film, give an idea as to what is about. We’re getting deep into the process here, and we’re not talking about what the movie’s about [laughs]. It’s an incredible story. You [Joseph] and Nicole Kidman play a husband and wife– kind of having trouble, kind of on the rocks– and your two children go missing, and you’re [Hugo] the cop who’s sent to investigate it. Do you guys want to open up more about some of the–

 

 JF: There’s a history [between my and Nicole’s characters] which brings them to a strange land, and that is that their daughter had an affair with teacher at school, so they’ve moved from one location to another.

 

HW: So when we first meet them, they’ve just arrived in this new town. He’s go the job as the local pharmacist, and… they’re very much [just] settling in, and unsettled by this past experience in this other town.

 

RC: Pharmacist is such a perfect occupation for your character–

 

 HW: Yeah, it is, isn’t it?

 

 RC: There’s something about pharmacists that I’ve always found to be, like, stiff and rigid–

 

HW: [Laughs]

 

 JF: [Laughs] There’s– yes, clinical, but there’s also– what I love is that he is the carer for the community, so he wears a public face– a mask, if you like– which is all about dedication and attention to the community. But the one place where he’s missing the contact and the care is right at the home, because he feels such a shame of what’s [happened] in the episode before. So he really becomes so involved in his work as a way of deadening having to deal with that. I don’t think he’s got the facility or the dialogue to explore that theme. I think he feels such rage and shame. That he’s caring for the community and then that community kind of lets him down, because it could be any one of those [people] that has taken his daughter. So it’s an interesting place.

 

RC: And we also get that great foreshadow at the top of the movie where he says, ‘I will not have my business strewn out in front of the people of this town like last time.’ And as a viewer I was like, ‘Oh, yes you will.’ [Laughs]

HW: [Laughs] Yeah!

RC: ‘This is coming!’ You [think you can] say that at the first act of the movie and NOT have that happen by the end…

JF: It’s the idea that your public persona is laid bare, that at any cost… I cannot have my private life… That devalues the strength of his position in the community.

HW: I love the way that one of the first actions we see him taking is that, at night he is actively going around houses, looking in windows, just to see if the daughter is–

RC: Because he doesn’t want to be seen to be searching during the day, which is so strange–

HW: Yeah. Everything buried and hidden, even his searching–

RC: It’s all private.

JF: I think he’s trying to keep control of the situation, because he’s lost it. It’s all about pent-up control–

RC: But it’s even weirder [that way], when he’s peeping in windows–

JF: That brings about a worse effect, yeah.

RC: And it’s like, whose window is that? He’s just going around to neighbors, peeking in?

JF: I think that’s what it is.

HW: Yeah.

JF: He’s going to, sort of, suspects that he might imagine that she might go to within the vicinity.

RC: Talk about working with Nicole Kidman. Man, she is a powerhouse, right? She’s this big brand star who takes the biggest risks I think I’ve ever seen an actress take.

HW: Yes, she does. She’s immensely brave. But the lovely thing about Nic is that she’s a very… present person. Yes, she’s a big star, but people endow her with a lot of stuff. She just wants to do her work really well, she does–

RC: And that’s what you get a sense of with her–

HW: And she’s very… Being with her on set is very easy, to breathe with her in a scene. You know? It’s very easy to just do your work well with her, and she is very brave, and I… She said a great thing, ‘Between action and cut, I will do anything.’

RC: Wow.

HW: And it’s not an uncritical mind or facility… It’s actually [that] she’s just prepared to go anywhere between action and cut. And it was a fantastic thing to say. And that’s a measure of how brave she is.


Photo: HuffPost Live/Instagram

RC: When you’re doing scenes like this with her, and she’s doing anything, she’s going to these wild, desperate places emotionally, do you feel like you, as the actor in that scene, have to be present and aware, and sensitive to how she’s going to feel about this off-camera, or do you feel that affects your process of being on camera as well? I mean, how do you work out the sensitivity of a moment with some of the stuff that she has to do in that film?
HW: Like anything in life, if someone’s– if you’re aware of the difficulties of something for them, or– I think, just being aware of other people is sort of what actors hopefully do anyway. We try and be aware of other people outside ourselves–

 

RC: The presence–

 

HW: –And then when you’re in that situation, just being aware– everyone on set, not just the other actors.

 

RC: We were talking a little bit about process, and I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but we were talking about a scene in the film where we see everything that you’ve [Joseph] gone through go over your face in one take. One shot. And it’s unbelievable how you were able to get there. Can you talk to me about gearing up to do that scene?

JF: We were lucky enough to shoot– in terms of that scene– chronologically, so that ended up being pretty much toward the end of schedule and so all of the release was… sort of ready to be let go. I think I played the character with, you know… for me the one word that came from this whole process was ‘shame’. And a man that has a public persona, and has to carry the shame, and… he becomes blocked. He becomes a man that is enraged. he has no… he’s impotent. He has no control. He’s impotent in many ways.

RC: Yes–

 JF: Mentally, physically, spiritually. Because he’s lost control. And I think that there is that one moment when he realizes– without giving anything away, he reads his daughter’s diary, and he realizes the extent of damage that’s probably caused by him. And it’s interesting to kind of… as parents– I’m a parent, Hugo’s a parent– that thing that your children are sponges on all levels, not just sort of intellectually, but very much emotionally. And I think there’s a huge kind of chasm, I think, at a certain age, when his daughter’s sexuality awakened, he felt threatened, and probably receded from that. So there are many components built into that moment.
 

 

RC: I loved how, in the film, you imagine when something like this happens– a child goes missing– there are all of these avenues that you could start going down as a parent, be they false, be they true. And in the end of the film, I think, for a certain type of viewer, they go, ‘That’s not wrapped up’, and it’s like, no that IS wrapped up. That’s all that it was for them. You know, that’s not a plot point. That’s just people going crazy.

HW: That is, for me, the greatest strength of the film: it IS about impotence, really, everyone’s inability to express what they feel, to find what they want, to take the right action– ’cause there’s not a lot you can actually do. So the film’s great strength is in that failure and inability of people to connect with each other, and to move forward in their lives. Because when something like the loss of a child happens, the loss is so extreme, and the not-knowing what happened is so open-ended, that you are literally incapable of doing anything. And it’s a great– I think that when the film’s at its best, it’s when that’s so palpable.

RC: Absolutely. Is there a certain irony, you think, to the story, that getting past this shame, getting past this impotence, may have [required] this tragedy? The greatest tragedy that would cause all of this other impotence for so many other families, may have been in many ways the saving grace of this relationship?

JF: Right, that’s very astute. And I love the way you’ve seen that, because I think that, at the end, it’s the beginning of possible repair, because come right– we hurtle– we’re thrown right into this disintegration of a relationship, amd marriage, and all that encompasses, and at the end, they connect. There’s a moment of touch. There’s a moment of genuine connection which has been so absent. And I think that from that moment, there’s a possibility– there’s a sort of redemptive possibility. So that’s a really big component. I think there IS an irony in that. You’re absolutely right.

RC: Yeah. Well, guys, thanks so much for being here. It’s been real pleasure talking to you.

HW, JF: Thank you.

RC: Congratulations on making such a powerful film, and premiering at Sundance.

HW: Thanks.

JF: Thanks a lot.

RC: Pleasure talking to you.


Photo: ChefDance Facebook
***

More Photos of Hugo Weaving at Sundance

All taken 23 January unless otherwise noted.


Photo (plus next three) Jeff Vespa, Getty Images


Photo (plus next one): Daniel Bergeron/Corbis Outline


Photo (plus next two): Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Given how stunning these are, I’m tempted to say the photographers calculatedly saved the best for last… and there’s hope more beautiful portraits may still emerge. You can learn more about Larry Busacca’s stunning portraits at PetaPixel.

We also have one rather flippant new video entry from Sundance, AJ+’s “Red Carpet Hardball”, in which various celebs at the Strangerland and other premieres are ambushed by the snarky reporter with complex hard-news questions completely out of place at such an event. I don’t think Hugo is given enough credit, frankly, as he does answer a challenging question, and unlike Chiwetel Eijiofor (who admittedly does a great job) probably hasn’t been asked this question before. I guess we should be glad Hugo wasn’t also ambushed with a “How do we fix Nigeria?” question. He hasn’t actually been to Nigeria since the year of his birth. 😉  I do think there’s a fair context for asking actors and other thoughtful celebs such questions, but a red carpet event where many reporters are clamoring for minimal face-time sure ain’t it. Call me square, but I actually wanted to hear more about THE MOVIE.  Especially given how few media outlets have deigned to shared premiere footage.


AJ+ via YouTube

Strangerland still doesn’t have a release date or any sort of official media presence, which is bizarre given that even small Australian indies like Last Ride, Mystery Road, The Dressmaker– and particularly The Mule– have been so well promoted on social media. The film’s new distributer Alchemy has a shell of a website with no real content about films as of yet, and is competing with at least half a dozen other filmmakers/distributors with very similar names. I hate to say it, but it looks like this might be Hugo’s worst-handled film in terms of marketing since The Tender Hook and the US release of Mystery Road.  I hope Alchemy proves me wrong in a decisive way soon, because I’m still very excited about this film, and still think the Sundance disapproval seemed shrill and adolescent, more undeserved media piling-on of Nicole Kidman, who deseves better.


Hugo Weaving in a brief preview scene from Strangerland (via AP News  and Cinefix)

You can read a new interview with Strangerland director Kim Farrant at IndieWire. And a balanced, positive review at The People’s Movies.


Hugo Weaving photographed by Victoria Will in vintage-style portrait for @Esquiremag. #HugoWeaving #Sundance2015 ” JohnSant87 via Twitter

And here’s my candidate for Strangest Strangerland Press Article, but it features a new photo of Hugo (with Kim Farrant, Niole Kidman and… Kim Farrant’s massage therapist brother.) 😉


The Waiheke Times, via Stuff.Co.NZ

In Other Hugo Weaving News

STC has updated their page for Endgame, adding a lot of background info on the play and its themes. No word yet on whether rehearsals have officially begun, but they probably will soon. Tickets remain available for most performances. The play runs through 9 May.

The Dressmaker is deep into post-production, and according to Deadline, some early footage of the project was shared at the just-ended 2015 Berlinale for marketing/distribution purposes. Obviously it’s too early to expect a final edit this soon. The film’s Facebook page recently noted that David Hirschfelder (who also scored Healing and Kidman’s The Railway Man) is composing the score. There will also be a movie tie-in reissue of Rosalie Ham’s source novel, welcome news for international readers who can’t locate a copy of the original printing for under $35 plus shipping from Australia. 😉

Tim Winton’s The Turning has received mostly favorable notices in kits UK release (from 6 February) includinfg reviews from The Independent, Dog and A Wolf, The List, Flickreel.com, The Irish Post and The Hollywood News. FILM3SIXTY reposted their excellent Berlinale 2014 interview with Hugo Weaving and director Davod Wenham discussing their contribution, “Commission”.

And The Mule continues to draw better reviews than either The Turning or Strangerland, ironically, the latest in Badass Digest, Technology Tell, Catch of The Day, and The South China Morning Post. And you can now buy the film’s way-cool 1980s-style soundtrack.

Finally, I’m not a big proponent of Valentine’s Day, which I consider a manufactured holiday designed primarily to sell greeting cards and chocolates and foster an atmosphere of romantic insecurity. 😉 But I realize some people may feel differently, and I loved the “unguarded moment” existential gesture of Hugo Weaving picking flowers near the Strangerland set, seen in these photos which recently surfaced courtesy INFPhoto. 😉

Hugo Weaving Narrates Cambodian Children’s Trust Video; SXSW Mule Reviews; Strangerland Cast Change

Cambodian Children’s Trust Charitable Appeal

I’ll have several brief updates on Hugo’s upcoming projects shortly, but wanted to prioritize his narration of this new video from Cambodian Children’s Trust, which was announced several weeks ago and debuted online yesterday. Hugo has worked on behalf of many charities over the years, including Voiceless.org and various actors’ equity and arts education groups CCT (a “secular, non-profit Cambodian NGO working to enable children in Battambang to become educated, ethical and empowered future leaders of Cambodia”) has a number of complex and admirable goals which you can read about in more detail on their website and Facebook page; the video is a brief introduction to their plans and achievements:

CCT will also host a benefit concert in Sydney on 21 May; more details and ticketing info here.

The Mule At SXSW

Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson participated in several uproarious interviews promoting The Mule at SXSW; I’ll embed the shortest (and most LJ-compatible) here, but if you’re interested in the film the others are worth a look too, if only to let you know what you’re in for (including a behind-the-scenes factoid that’ll forvever change your perception of Snickers bars). 😉

Screen Rant, via YouTube

More interviews featured at Bloody Disgusting, ComingSoon.net.

The film also earned near-unanimous raves through its four festival screenings; here’s a sampling of the latest with links back to full reviews:

Bradley Gastwirth, Austin Daze: “This may be my favorite movie so far at SXSW Film. Well it’s hard to pick one, but it’s up there. It’s reminiscent of the anxiety felt from Midnight Express (1978) with the Soundtrack straight out of the 80′s. It’s a gritty film that that doesn’t disappoint with its direction….

The Mule is full of betrayal, suspense, and a little bit of mayhem, but Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, The LOTR Trilogy) has to be the best contribution to the film. Playing one of the detectives in charge of watching Sampson’s character in a hotel for the 10+ days, he has never been more of a likable sleazebag….

The direction and acting alike is very top notch and again, I have to say that this is a must see at SXSW. If for nothing else, The Mule made me look away for one particularly revolting scene which is always a feat.  Get out and see it and you won’t be sorry. Dig the music playing at the credits.”
*

Peri Nemiroff, Collider: “You better wait to eat until after seeing this one – if you even have an appetite after anymore.  Director Tony Mahony‘s The Mule doesn’t fall in line with the Saw films or Insidious, but co-writer/co-star Leigh Whannell does give it a horrific quality of its own.  You may never want to experience certain sequences from this one ever again, but they do bolster the effect of the full film…

The Mule is well-written and well-made no matter how you look at it, but, regardless, it will come down to whether or not you can stomach the situation.  (No pun intended.)… Sampson is the heart of this film.  No matter who’s doing what, it’s most powerful when Ray is directly involved.  For example, Ray’s father is also being hounded by Pat due to an overdue debt, but it isn’t woven into Ray’s storyline well enough to truly care.  The officers leading Ray’s interrogation run into a similar issue.  Croft and Paris (Hugo Weaving and Ewen Leslie) are two dynamic characters that are fun to track, but only in conjunction with Ray’s situation….
Clearly The Mule’s sub-plots are less effective than the core concept, but even then, those escapes serve a purpose.  In order to make The Mule a watchable film, you need them.  Ray gets more and more uncomfortable each day of his confinement and thanks to the powerful connection to the character, you’ll get more and more uncomfortable watching it.  The Mule is so good in that respect that you’ll never want to experience it again.”[I’m ignoring this particular reviewer’s faulting the film because its characters have “rather thick Australian accents”. That’s you’re problem, not theirs. 😉 ]
*
Adam, Film Pulse: “In theory, a story about a man who is trying not to poop for a week doesn’t sound like enough material for a feature length film.  Fortunately, Angus Sampson’s The Mule proves that theory wrong by presenting a funny and incredibly gripping crime story…
[Angus] Sampson gives a fantastic performance as Ray, a big teddy bear whose love for his mom gets him involved in this nasty drug smuggling business.  Despite acting alongside some really great talents like Hugo Weaving, Sampson proves his abilities as both a director and an actor in providing some stellar work…

The Mule is a perfect example of how to successfully create a fun crime movie.  It’s wonderfully shot, hilariously funny, and contains way more substance than one would imagine.  It’s unique and although I love Whannell and Sampson’s horror efforts, it’s nice to see them breaking off and dominating other genres.  The Mule is fantastic and is an absolute must-see.”
*
Drew McWeeny, HitFix: ” ‘The Mule’ is dark and smart and deeply satisfying, a wicked little crime thriller with a grim sense of humor. Sampson’s work in front of the camera is just as good as his work behind the camera, and I suspect “The Mule” is going to emerge as one of the films that audiences really love from this festival. It may be the most exciting surprise I’ve had since I got here…[John Noble] is crazy scary in the film. He strikes me as the kind of guy who is genuinely behind the scenes, calling the shots. He’s not pretending to be Scarface. He’s just a hard, cold thug with a shark’s smile and dead eyes, and I love the way Noble plays the part. By contrast, [Hugo] Weaving’s having a party from the moment he shows up. You can tell when an actor is taking pleasure in every little thing they get to do, and Det. Croft is such a happy asshole, so pleased to be busting Ray. His partner is far more irritated by it all, and Leslie allows his emotions to rule the way he behaves, a dangerous situation to be in for the detective…
There’s a very tricky tone that the entire movie navigates carefully, sometimes funny, sometimes filthy, sometimes genuinely scary… As you might suspect from the set-up, there is some really gnarly stuff in the film, some grim moments that are going to be hard for some audiences. But a film like this is a gift to a distributor looking to cut a good trailer, because it’s got plenty of familiar faces, and a ton of great moments and images to use. It’s an easy film to explain, and it’s such a stark conflict — will he poop or won’t he? — that it seems like there’s no way that’s enough to drive a whole film. It is, though, and I really hope ‘The Mule’ gets a shot at a real theatrical release in the US. While the film is very Australian, with several characters speaking in fairly dense accents, the film does such an outstanding job of just communicating intent in each beat that I don’t think it matters at all…
‘The Mule’ is still seeking distribution. This confuses me.”
*
Edward Douglas, ComingSoon.net: “It takes a little time for the movie to get going as Sampson is not the most charismatic actor, but the cast they’ve assembled around them, particularly Hugo Weaving and Ewen Leslie as the main detectives in charge of getting Ray to give up the goods inside him, really bring a lot to the story. The general premise leads to a number of truly unsettling scenes as one might expect, but things get more interesting the longer Ray holds out and as we see a number of peripheral characters trying to get to him. ”
*
Matt Donato, We Got This Covered: “Our nefarious duo [Angus Sampson and Leigh whannell] create a criminal period piece oozing new-wave tunes popular with the culture and time, offending viewer’s senses with bodily gross outs that some might find off-putting – but as an adaptation of truths, The Mule surprisingly delights…When I say The Mule is a dark comedy, I don’t mean it’s consistently funny or full of laughs – but instead hesitant chuckles sprinkled throughout an almost tragic tale…Ray Jenkins’ hotel stay focuses more on biological suspense and a subdued gangster backdrop that adds criminal intrigue. A straight-and-narrow balance between tones doesn’t create humor through jokes and goofy predicaments, but instead incredulous human feats and sadder moments that some might consider defeat – but in reality, these are small victories for Ray…

Personally, I wasn’t queasy leaving The Mule, instead indulging in the splendid cast that our team threw together. Aside from Angus Sampson sporting leading man talents while writhing around in bed with a narcotic time-bomb ticking in his belly, and Leigh Whannell playing a shifty deviant contemplating all actions while his mule sits under police custody, one big name boasts commanding presence – Hugo Weaving. Playing bad cop Det. Croft to Ewen Leslie’s Det. Paris, Weaving delivers a gruff, old-school role that balances obsession and intellect, with a little physical torture to boot. A cat and mouse game between Ray and Agent Croft slyly unravels, as obvious clues hint at Ray’s guilty predicament, but Croft is handcuffed by lawful actions. He can’t just cut open Ray’s stomach and extract the drugs, Ray has to pass them “naturally,” and there’s only a small window in which Croft can “gather” the evidence. Weaving’s charismatic intensity makes Croft an addictive, intriguing character, as we wait patiently to see what tricks he’ll implement next that might break Ray’s fecal dam. Good grief…

I found enjoyment through technical aspects and ballsy international filmmaking that takes risks and blends numerous genres in an incredulous yet unique cocktail. Whannell and Sampson offer a unflattering look into drug smuggling culture, one avoiding sugar-coated action sequences or silly stoner comedy. The Mule is a viciously stripped-down bit of periodic storytelling that highlights a drug mule’s worst nightmare, refusing to gloss over the grimiest, most abhorrent visuals imaginable. Raw, intense, and heroically crafted, I’ve never felt more violated by a movie I fully enjoyed.”
*

David Massey, Pop Culture Beast: “If the worth of a film is measured in its audience’s response, the woman dry-heaving next to me definitely got her money’s worth… The initial tone of the film signals that this might be a comedy of some sort but any sense of humor is swiftly lost as a cruel group of police officers (lead by Hugo Weaving in one of his most intimidating rolls to date) starts (let’s say) ‘pressing progress’ toward resolving the case as Ray struggles to ‘postpone the discovery’ of his guilt–lots of innuendo here-throughout 10 days of observation. Along the way, Ray’s circumstance results in a domino effect that uncovers crimes far larger than his own. I couldn’t stay for the Q&A but the film is presented as having been based on true events and, as unbelievable as it was, I never questioned it for a moment. Though Google provides a slew of 1983 Australian drug smugglers, I can’t find a single reference to these events and, as much as I liked this film, if they pulled a ‘Fargo’ on me, I adore it. Co-directors Tony Mahoney & Angus Sampson bring new meaning to anal retentive with this very different sort of horror film.”

Strangerland

Hugo Weaving’s next project to film, Strangerland, had its cast shaken up a bit when original lead Guy Pearce dropped out to pursue a role in a Hollywood film.  He has been replaced by Joseph Fiennes, who’s probably still best known for his bard-themed films Shakespeare In Love and The Merchant of Venice. Deadline broke the story, and seems to be the original source of the news, but provided no new casting news or details. Inside Film provided a bit more intel, including a possible confirmation that Hugo will indeed be playing a local cop (“named David Rae”) on the case rather than the husband of Nicole Kidman’s character. Moviehole begged to differ (insisting Nicole Kidman and Hugo Weaving play the couple at the center of the film, whose children disappear) but failed to substantiate the claim and sourced only the Deadline article, which included no casting information at all. I suspect they’re just guessing, because Weaving has been connected to the detective role since the first version of this project was announced in 2007, with Anthony LaPaglia and Gia Carrrides cast as the central couple. 😉 Also, I trust Inside Film’s reliability as a source. But we won’t know anything for certain until filming gets underway next month. Since Weaving has played cops or corrections officers in every movie he’s made in the past year, I wouldn’t mind if he switched, but I don’t think that’s happened.

NOTE: As usual, LJ is having inexplicable hissy-fits whenever I try to post direct links to Deadline. Here’s a cut-and-paste version of the link:
deadline [dot] com/2014/03/joseph-fiennes-replacing-guy-pearce-in-strangerland/

Healing

Healing’s new trailer has been warmly received online, with viewers all over the world crossing their fingers for good international distribution. Since the trailer made it to YouTube since my last entry, I’ll embed that (slightly higher-res) version here. More news and promotion for the film, which opens 8 May in Australia, is available at Spotlight Report, Pinnacle Films, Lightning Entertainment, Salty Popcorn, SBS Movies… and of course Healing’s website and Facebook page.

In Other Hugo Weaving News:

Cult Magazine’s wonderful Hugo Weaving interview from November, promoting Waiting For Godot, is now available in digital form here.

“No Budget”, the comedic short film featuring cameos from Hugo Weaving and David Wenham, continues touring Australia as part of Flickerfest, which will visit Sydney shortly. More details here.

Mystery Road will have a UK screening as part of Tyneside Cinema’s sponsored Film Marathon on March 29-30. Details and ticketing info here.

And finally, here are the long-delayed additional Berlin Airport pics of Hugo Weaving and David Wenham arriving for last month’s Berlinale. Apologies it’s taken so long for me to prep these.


Photo: News.com/Infgebe 13 (plus next eight)


Photo: Splash News/Corbis (plus next 19)

Yes, I realize a lot of these photos are very similar. 😉


A higher-res version of Filip van Roe’s beautiful Hugo Weaving Berlinale portrait  Photo: Filip van Roe’s website


Hugo Weaving at The Turning’s gala screening at Berlinale       Photo: Melanie Reinker/Zoonar

Still More Berlinale Photos Featuring Hugo Weaving & David Wenham + New Interview, Healing Updates

New photos (and improved copies of earlier ones) continue to trickle in, so a new entry is warranted to assemble the latest finds. Note that some of these did appear in the previous entry in lower-res versions; I do always try to share the best-available copies but apologize if this seems redundant. I also found an AP site with (slightly) less obnoxious watermarks; since some of the photos are unique and wonderfully expressive, I’ll go ahead and post them despite my misgivings. If anyone has clean copies of ANY watermarked photos, as always, there are a lot of fans very eager to see them…

As is often the case, there are some lovely fan photos in the mix too… thanks to everyone who took them and shared them online.


A distinguished shot from Martin Briese (via Twitter)


Above two photos: Hugo Weaving and David Wenham sign for fans at The Turning’s gala screening 9 February  Photos: LevelK Film/Facebook


Very interesting composition. 😉 David Wenham, flanked by Hugo Weaving and Robert Connolly  Photo: DoctorWarning, via Twitter


Hugo Weaving, Robert Connolly and David Wenham walk the red carpet  Photo: Cinemazzi

Finally, Zimbio came through with larger, unwatermarked versions of Clemens Bilan’s Getty pics from the Turning premiere (five total)


Onstage at the premiere event  Photo: Jamie Rose via Twitter/Instagram


At the press conference  Photo: richietozzier via Instagram


Another great one from richietozzier (via Instagram)


Signing for fans at the premiere (KeTe via Instagram)

The following pics are watermarked… again, my apologies. And if anyone spots better version… you know the drill. 😉


Berlinale Turning press conference  Photo (plus next 9): Joel Ryan/AP


Photo: Francois Berthier/Getty Images/Contour

There are also several web articles summarizing the festival’s highlights thusfar, including at Cinemazzi and Berlinale Press Releases ; unfortunately, The Turning hasn’t gotten abundant coverage, nor have any internaional sales been announced except those noted by Inside Film and Screen Daily… so if your’re in Russia, the Benelux countries or frequent “world airlines” …rejoice. Ideally, the film has picked up distribution further afield as well. (It has already been shown in New Zealand as well as its well-received “special presentation” release at home.)

Healing

Hugo’s forthcoming film Healing (directed by Craig Monahan) has had a quieter presence at Berlinale, as it’s primarily being shown to potential distributors, but the raves it’s already won from Variety and Screen Daily have gotten the attention of the Australian press, with excerpts and other details about the film posted at Inside Film. Note that the film’s Australian release date is now May 8 (not April 4, as some sites previously reported.)

Also: film extra Simone Maree shared this glimpse of Hugo on the set via her Tumblr account:


“Hugo Weaving – my girlfriend and I were extras in his most recent film.”

STOP THE PRESSES: Film3Sixty just posted transcripts of their interview session with Hugo Weaving and David Wenham at Berlinale!

CLARIFICATION:  All red/colored text in WordPress entries are links back to source material/website.  So if you wanted to see the Film3Sixty webpage, just click on the red type  above. In some cases, I’ll say “___ can be read here” instead, but in all cases it’s my strict policy to  name and link back to sites/sources of origin via hyperlinks.  Apologies if that was unclear to anyone.

5 MINUTES WITH HUGO WEAVING & DAVID WENHAM

Hugo Weaving and David Wenham are both well known for starring in Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy(2001-2003) as Elrond and Faramir respectively. Now, they have embarked on a very different project, The Turning, helmed by producer Robert Connolly.

Based on the best-selling collection of interlinking short stories by Tim Winton, this ambitious film sees a whole host of Australian talent come together to make 17 individual short films concerning ‘turning points,’ in the lives of a group reoccurring characters.

For the first time, Wenham takes the director’s chair for one chapter titled “Commission,” and stars Hugo Weaving. The plot concerns Victor (Josh McConville) who travels out to the Bush to find his father, Bob (Hugo Weaving) and inform him that Carol, Vic’s mother and Bob’s wife, is dying. Finding Bob living in a ramshackle hut, Vic rekindles the bond between father and son and tries to come to terms with why his father abandoned him and his mother.

Playing as part of the Berlin Special Gala, we caught up with Weaving and Wenham in Berlin to discuss the project.

Film3Sixty: This film feels like a showcase of who’s who in Australian cinema, would you agree?

Hugo Weaving: There are a lot of people that you might know of, but I don’t think that it was ever Robert’s (Connolly)intention. I don’t think it was ever his aim was pull-together the top Australian actors and directors together, it was more Robert thinking about who inspires him creatively and who would respond to this wonderful book by Tim Winton.  He has gathered a lot of people who don’t necessarily work in film. Certainly not as directors, there are a couple of choreographers, visual artists, actors and a theatre director. It is quite an unusual project. It could have been much, much more obvious, starry and showy cross-section of the Australian film industry, but actually I think that it is much more of an idiosyncratic project.

F3S: Did you know the book before you came to the project?

HW: Yeah, the first time that we (David Wenham) worked together it was on an adaptation of a Tim Winton book, that was adapted for the stage called That Eye, The Sky. We are both very familiar with his work, and Tim is really the reason why we were all drawn to it. The Turning is very popular in Australia.

F3S: Were you at all intimated by the scope of the project?

David Wenham: Being responsible for just one eighteenth of the book. I am speaking on Robert’s behalf here, but he actually didn’t know how the film would look as a whole. It is a very ambitious project that empowers 18 different directors to interpret a story in whatever way they wanted, there were nothing dictatorial from Robert, meaning that we could be as open ended, as we wanted to be. How those 18 disparate project projects would come together if they would come together was another concern. The films were shot over a period of 18months, and none of the directors had any interaction with each other, so when it came to the premiere in Melbourne last year, all the other directors were as interested as everybody else as to how this would unite. What is incredible is that, even thought they are all very different, what unites them is greater than what divides them, and I believe that this is a testament to the initial source material. People, regardless of where they came from, and their disciplines were affected by Tim’s book in ways that were similar, meaning that the whole project was united.

F3S: David, How was the shift from acting to directing?

DW: It was a very natural for me. It didn’t happen overnight, I had wanted to direct for a number of years. Robert and I had talked about it for a long time, and this seemed like the perfect introduction. This was a manageable project, it runs for about 12mins, and I learned so much in the period that we made the movie. I absolutely adored the process, it fired me creatively, and subsequently I have written a feature that I hope to direct this year.  It has come just at the right time, and I am glad that I didn’t do it earlier in my career. I think that actors, especially those who have been doing it for some time, come to directing with a slight advantage that directors don’t have that being that actors have worked with a lot of directors and can draw on that knowledge.  A director, if they are lucky, makes a film every 2-5 years, and rarely has the opportunity to work with other directors, so they only have their sync in the vision. We are very fortunate in a way in that we have seen a lot of different forms of creation through lots of different prisms of lots of different talented people.

F3S: Did you draw on any other sources, other that Winton’s book, for inspiration?

DW: I had a little scrapbook, which I used to collate ideas. One of the biggest influences though was Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show (1971), which helped in terms of the simplicity of the piece. One scene that I drew upon involves a man that sits down on a log, rolls a cigarette, and begins to tell a story. In terms of the cinematography it is very simple, only 2 shots, one wide shot and then a two-shot that tracks in. It concentrates solely on the performance, and it allows the actor (Ben Johnson) to own the screen and tell the story, incidentally that actor won an academy award for that performance.  There are no gimmicky tricks, it is simple, good story telling. That was the key when it came to making my movie. I didn’t want it to be gimmicky, or tricky, especially in the use of camera. I didn’t want an artificial light either, and all the light sources are natural, like a campfire.

Did you find doing just one short, within the larger body of the anthology limiting at all?

HW: With this one you are shooting for a shorter period of time, and it is possible to watch them as a stand-alone piece. I don’t think that they are as interesting on their own, and they’re more interesting together in how they reference each other. So with the character that I play, Bob Lang, although he is essentially in this one, “Commission,” he is outlined and mentioned in many of the pages of Winton’s novel. This means that over the story you get a strong sense of the character. From that perspective,  it then becomes similar to a feature. Short films can be wonderful, but they demand you to be incredibly economical in a very hard way.  It is like haikus, they can be great, but they are all very similar because of their structure.

F3S: Several different actors play your character, Bob Lang, were you ever preoccupied with the thoughts of how other actors would be playing the character?

HW: I did think about it, but I didn’t really have time to be overly concerned.  I did wonder how many Bob’s there were and who would be playing him. I never had any contact with the other actors who were also playing Bob. This was the same for everyone involved in the project. We were all working purely on our own, so when it came to the screening at the Melbourne Film Festival we were all looking at the film for the first time.

You have both worked together before, both in theatre and in film. Was it a fairly natural process collaborating again?

HW: It felt really easy. I was excited that David wanted me to work on it as it was his first piece of direction. The actually filming of it was lovely. It was completely unadorned; we were out in this beautiful part of the world, all under one roof. It was a bit of a backwater where we filmed, so there was a lot of camaraderie.

DW: Directing ticks a few more boxes for me. It afforded me the opening to play in areas where I hadn’t been able to before. I love the visual arts, so to be able to paint something, as opposed to being a picture in the frame was wonderful. I love working in the editing suite, and actually constructing the film. Directing allows you more options and to work in many different areas. It is a much wider focus than you get being an actor…

HW: One of the frustrating aspects of being an actor is that you can feel that your creativity can be limited. You want to work beyond the boundaries of what normally you have to do.

DW: As a director you get to put on the captains hat and be in control. Ultimately though it is about being able to tell a story the way that you would like to do it. As an actor, you get to play with your character, but that is about it.

The Turning screened as part of the Berlinale Special.

 

More Pictures, Video of The Turning Press Conference & Gala Premiere At Berlinale

Sorry for the delay in getting some of this stuff up; I had to attend to some less riveting matters like work, sleep and other forms of personal maintenance.

We do finally have video of the FULL Berlinale press conference for Tim Winton’s The Turning, though only edited highlights were posted to YouTube. I’ll attempt an embed of both, but if only one appears, it’s because LJ is up to its usual tricks in not allowing non-YouTube embeds. But the full event was only around 24 minutes, with Hugo Weaving fielding only two questions (one about his character, Bob Lang, the other about the film’s continuity and scoring.) I hadn’t known this yesterday as I waited for the delayed press conference to begin, but the press were distracted by events at the preceding Berlinale event: I knew at the time it was for Lars von Trier’s latest controversy-engine, but this time Shia Le Boeuf’s ongoing attempts at career implosion out-controversied even von Trier. I’ve always thought artists should get attention for quality work and professional behavior, but all too often– even at prestigious fetivals– a tabloid atmosphere pervades, and serious, non-sensationalist work like The Turning gets short shrift.

So I guess that’s where us fans have to do all we can… here are those videos. 😉

The full press conference (note: there is no audio during part of the film clip)

YouTube Press Conference “highlights”

PopSugar has posted four interesting supplemental clips featuring Weaving and Wenham: one features the Star Wars refutation from last night’s Getty clip (plus Hugo’s bemused resignation that he’ll probably be doing Hobbit films for the rest of his life) but the other four are refreshingly on-topic about The Turning. It’s great to see these two smiling and jibing with one another after the somewhat rushed, perfunctory press conference.


On David Wenham's directorial debut


Hugo, on working with David as a director


On the pleasures and challenges of The Turning's unusual structure


On The Turning's shooting schedule, how the pieces fit together


On "never leaving Middle Earth", not wanting to do Star Wars

Lots of new photos are turning up in the usual disorganised manner; oddly, none of the Berlinale social networking sites have given the film much attention, but the main website makes up for that with a lavish gallery of “star portraits” and event photos; the film’s Facebook page and several other media outlets have also come through, though only a couple of Getty’s pics of the premiere gala (as opposed to the press conference) have appeared without watermarks. A few others I might try and “adjust”, but some sites watermark photos so heavily that they basically ruin them (and make it nearly impossible to gauge if the photo is worth buying in the first place.)


Smashing ‘star portrait’ of Hugo from the Berlinale website gallery; Photo: Gerhard Kassner / Berlinale


Hugo Weaving and David Wenham share a laugh at the gala premiere  Photo:Clemens Bilan/Getty Images


Hugo at the Turning gala premiere  Photo: Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

Hugo Weaving acknowledges audience at The Turning’s gala premiere 9 February  Photo: The Turning’s Facebook page


The Turning’s cast and crew (well, a selection of them) at Berlinale  Photo: The Turning’s Facebook page


Hugo and the directors introduced onstage at the premiere gala  Photo: The Turning’s Facebook page


The February 9 press conference  Photo: The Turning’s Facebook page


“No, honestly, people, I have no interest in being in the Star Wars movie. Can we please stay on topic?” ;P Seriously, though– Hugo discusses the film’s score and full effect
Photo: The Turning’s Facebook page


David Wenham signs autographs after the press conference  Photo: The Turning’s Facebook page


Hugo signs for fans outside the venue for the gala premiere (debunking online detractor who said he didn’t)  Photo: The Turning’s Facebook page


Hugo and David in the middle of an animated discussion with festival director Dieter Kosslick (Please tell me there’s video of this!) Photo: Berlinale Star Boulevard gallery


The cast and crew acknowledge audience while going to their seats at the gala premiere  Photo: Berlinale Star Boulevard gallery


The press conference L to R:  Yaron Lifschitz (Director), Jonathan auf der Heide (Director), Shaun Gladwell (Director), Rhys Graham (Director), Hugo Weaving (Actor), David Wenham (Director), Robert Connolly (Director, Producer);  Photo: Berlinale Star Boulevard gallery


David Wenham  Photo: Berlinale Star Boulevard gallery


Hugo Weaving  Photo: Berlinale Star Boulevard gallery


Producer Robert Connolly (Hugo in background)  Photo: Berlinale Star Boulevard gallery


Hugo Weaving and David Wenham at the premiere gala Photo: Clemens Bilan/Getty Images


Photo: Clemens Bilan/Getty Images


Photo: Clemens Bilan/Getty Images


Photo: Clemens Bilan/Getty Images


Hugo signs autographs at the Turning premiere gala  Photo (plus next three): JC/Splash News

Watch this space, as more photos will probably be added soon…

There are additional, more heavily watermarked (and smaller) images at AP and ImagesCollect. As usual, if anyone has clean copies of these, do let us know. 😉 My thanks to the usual lot of Hugo Weaving and David Wenham fans for sharing everything they’ve found.

Mystery Road, The Turning Receive More Awards Nominations

Hugo Weaving has another nomination for Best Supporting Actor, this time for his role in Mystery Road, from The Australian Film Critics Association. Mystery Road received additional nominations for Best Actor (Aaron Pedersen), Supporting Actress (Tasma Walton), Film, Director (Ivan Sen),  Screenplay, and Cinematography (both Sen). The Turning was nominated for Best Film, Best Supporting Actress (Rose Byrne), Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography (various). The award winners will be announced 1 March. For more details and the full list of nominees, go to the AFCA’s website or FilmInk.

Healing

UPDATE: Craig Monahan’s film Healing has drawn another positive review after its Berlinale press screenings, this time from Variety.  Here are excerpts:

“A group of conflicted men, prisoners and inmates discover the majesty of great birds — and through them, the cleansing power of redemption — in the deeply felt outdoor drama “Healing.” The first film in a decade from director and co-writer Craig Monahan, whose 1998 psychological thriller ‘The Interview’ remains an uncommonly smart genre piece, this equally intelligent and satisfying item will prove therapeutic to distribs on the hunt for quality fare….

The film is inspired by the formation of the real-life alliance between the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary in the outback, northwest of Melbourne, and the state-run penal system Prisons Victoria….Into this facility comes Viktor Khadem (Don Hany, extraordinary), who, after 18 years behind bars for murder, has little understanding of the contemporary world and nothing to look forward to from his long-estranged Iranian family. Viktor is assigned to Matt Perry (Hugo Weaving), a committed officer with a fondness for rescuing Raptors and, like Viktor, weighty past issues of his own. On the suggestion of Healesville bird specialist Glynis (Jane Menelaus), Matt rams the rehabilitation program past his skeptical superiors and installs Viktor as supervisor….

It’s refreshing to see a film that takes its own sweet time building characters and the subtle conflicts simmering among them. Led by the familiar and bankable Weaving, the cast, under Monahan’s sure guidance, deftly underplays what could have been, in other hands, an awkward melodrama.” — Eddie Cockrell