Tag Archives: Emily Watson

Oranges and Sunshine US Release, Happy Feet Two, Year-End Accolades

Note: This is an archived entry that’s several years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material. Some entries may not be up to my current standards as far as photo source and other credits are concerned; if you are a photographer or writer of a piece that lacks appropriate acknowledgement, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add source info.

First off, sorry this entry has been delayed for so long. In addition to prolonged power failures, health issues and work issues, this is generally a chaotic time of year. 😉 There hasn’t been any breaking news on Hugo, or his current project Cloud Atlas, for some time. (Hugo was still in Berlin as recently as December 9; I have no idea whether or not production will continue through Christmas.) No new casting confirmations have been announced, but Halle Berry did give the New York Times some broad hints about the range of her characters.

But I have promised a compilation of Oranges and Sunshine material from the recent, all-too-brief US theatrical release for some time, and I need to deliver on that. 😉 Unfortunately, Cohen Media never opened the film beyond its announced list of about twenty US locations and did very little to publicize it. Emily Watson did a handful of interviews for the US media, but most of these were only posted online, and didn’t attract the attention they deserved. Nonetheless I have saved all of the US coverage and reviews, and I’ll share a selection here.

US Reviews: The Village Voice, The New York Times, Cinespect, Time Out New York, New York Observer, Living in Cinema, Whistleblower, Bloomberg News, Christian Science Monitor, Working Author, Tonight At The Movies, YouSayToo, Glendale News Press, RamaScreen, Paste, San Francisco Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, TwinCities.com, Dallas-Fort Worth Entertainment, BerkeleySide, Boston Herald, Roger Ebert

Emily Watson interviews: Looseleaf Report, Collider.com, Working Author, Celebs.com, MovieWeb (includes Jim Loach)

Jim Loach interviews: ShockYa

Margaret Humphries interviews: Social Workers Speak, LA Times, ShockYa, Tonight At The Movies (includes Jim Loach),

Coverage of O & S’s Hamptons Film Festival premiere: Showbiz 411, Huffington Post

Unfortunately, the US DVD release date has not yet been announced, though I’d guess it will probably happen early next year. This is the sort of film that could have a fulfilling second life on DVD, since many of the fans eager to see the theatrical release never got to. The British and Australian DVDs have been available for several months now and have similar bonus features. The Aussie DVD features Hugo more prominently on the cover art, but the UK DVD is much less expensive– I ordered a new copy from Amazon UK for only $12 including shipping to the US.

I’ve compiled a selection of trailers, interviews and other video publicity for Oranges and Sunshine here; this includes clips of Hugo and David Wenham at the film’s Australian premiere in June as well as the worldwide promotion done by director Jim Loach, author/social worker Margaret Humphries and lead actress Emily Watson.


Hugo Weaving and Emily Watson in Oranges and Sunshine

Fortunately the film’s been more properly appreciated in its overseas release (particularly in Australia, where it was one of the biggest home-grown hits of the year.) While Oscar nominations for any of the cast are highly unlikely at this point, Hugo, Emily Watson and David Wenham have been nominated for awards in less glitzy (but also less political and publicity/fame-driven) venues. Hugo, David Wenham and Emily Watson were nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Best Actor and Best Actress respectively by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (the AACTAs, formerly the AFIs), and the film itself was nominated for Best Picture and several other awards. (Read more in the Hollywood Reporter and Encore Magazine). Hugo was nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Emily Watson for Best Actress at the international, much more crowded Satellite Awards as well. The Satellite Awards will be handed out on December 18, the AACTAs on January 30. Hugo probably stands a better chance of winning the latter, as the film made its strongest impression in Australia. (Also, Hugo won’t have to compete with Christopher Plummer there.) 😉

Happy Feet Two performed more modestly at the box office than its Oscar-winning predecessor did, and received a more mixed critical reception as well. I saw the film in 3D and wasn’t sure where the hostility was coming from…. the plot is a mess, but so was that of the original Happy Feet. 😉 I would guess people who enjoyed the first will enjoy this one. The animation in particular is gorgeous, much better than that in some of the year’s more vaunted animated sequels featuring pandas and cars. If you’re only going because Hugo’s among the voice cast, you might be disappointed– he has maybe ten lines. Noah the Elder remains a crochety, feisty old geezer but is no longer Mumble’s enemy, so he’s not as central to the plot. (Characters played by Sofia Vergara, Anthony LaPaglia, Common and Pink are also in the film much less than you’d think given the advertising.) Noah’s big moment involves a showdown with some villainous and incontinent skuas. 😉 (You can read my full review at my personal LJ). I did enjoy Hugo’s voice work, and the fact that Noah was able to reform without much change to his essential personality. But your reaction to the film will probably be based more on how you like the rest of it– the chaotic plot (it’s basically two different films coexisting), the characters, etc.

NoahHappyFeet2“Damn skuas!” 😉

The most interesting reviews are as follows (these are both positive reviews and mixed ones that make interesting points):
Roger Ebert, Filmonic, Boston.com, Prizm, Entertainment Weekly, Toronto Globe and Mail, Knoxville.com, Salinas Californian, DNA, Free Press Journal, KoiMoi, Comingsoon.net, Perth Community News, Galveston Daily News, At the Movies (Australia), The Reading Eagle, The Manicunean

There’s also an extended interview with director George Miller in Animation Magazine. Hugo didn’t do any publicity for Happy Feet Two; he rarely does promotional work for voice roles and has been busy in Berlin in recent months. 😉 Curiously, no footage of him from character voicing sessions has emerged either (as did during promotion for the first film), just the photograph I shared in an earlier entry. There’s an extravaganza of footage of other actors, though, as well as most of the film’s trailers and teasers, and Trailer Addict.

Finally, Sydney Theatre Company’s Uncle Vanya, which had a sold-out run at The Kennedy Center in August, is popping up on year-end Best Of lists in the Theater category, including those of Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, which placed the very top of its list. Anticipation is already high for Hugo Weaving’s next theatrical role for the STC, that of the Vicomte du Valmont in Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The production debuts next 30 March.  Here’s the latest publicity photo:


Pamela Rabe and Hugo Weaving, from STC’s promotional email

The Hobbit’s first promotional trailer will be debuting any minute now (you can read a breathless description of its contents at the ever-reliable TheOneRing.Net.) Once it’s online, I’ll repost it here. Unfortunately, Elrond isn’t prominently featured. 😉 You can also read a lengthier new synopsis at many sites, including Flickering Myth, and an interesting article about the development of the Gollum character at MovieWeb. Next year at this time, we’ll finally get to see what the whole thing looks like. 😉

HOBBIT BREAKING NEWS: Warner Bros has announced that “The 15-minute satellite feed for “The Hobbit” trailer will stream on Dec. 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, then again Dec. 21 at 9 a.m. ET/PT.” No specifics on whether this means they’re actually screening 15 minutes of footage or not… most early descriptions of the trailer clock it at only about a minute and a half. The trailer will also screen in theaters before showings of Peter Jackson’s new animated collaboration with Stephen Spielberg, The Adventures of Tintin, which opens 21 December in most US cities. For more info, and a new pic of Martin Freeman as Bilbo (possibly on the Rivendell set, definitely with Dwarves in the background) see The Examiner, USA Today or HeyUGuys,co.uk .

Cloud Atlas News and Rumors; Key Man Stills

Note: This is an archived entry that’s several years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material. Some entries may not be up to my current standards as far as photo source and other credits are concerned; if you are a photographer or writer of a piece that lacks appropriate acknowledgement, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add source info.

I’ve been compiling reviews and other stories covering Oranges and Sunshine’s US release and Hamptons International Film Festival debut this past week; now, suddenly, there is a flurry of Cloud Atlas items, some confirmed some still speculative, but intriguing enough to share. I’ll start with the Cloud Atlas material because it includes the latest Hugo pic (this time not in character), and a few tidbits about directions Cloud Atlas might be taking.

Several German-language news sites, including sz-online.de and LVZ Online, report that a cohort of Cloud Atlas cast members and production crew, including Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and director Lana Wachowski, took a “working vacation” in the “spa town” Bad Schandau recently.  Sz-online.de included some photos of the actors and their hotel guestbook inscriptions, Hugo’s included. Tom Hanks was spotted at many tourist attractions in the area during the same period, so one can assume he’s also been involved in any filming that took place. The articles suggest the trip included some location work, but was mostly a well-needed break for the actors. I can only provide a shaky translation, but Hugo was said to be “so impressed by the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, that he promised to come back”, and his comments below echo the sentiment.


Hugo poses with the Hotel Elbresidenz barman, Andreas


…and signs the guestbook

Some additional pics of Hugo at Studio Babelsberg back on August 30 have surfaced at the German photo site isopix ; apologies for the intrusive watermarks, but I thought them still worth a look:

'Cloud Atlas' film set, Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany - 30 Aug 2011 Rex1c

'Cloud Atlas' film set, Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany - 30 Aug 2011 Rex5c

'Cloud Atlas' film set, Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany - 30 Aug 2011 Rex3c

'Cloud Atlas' film set, Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany - 30 Aug 2011 Rex2c

'Cloud Atlas' film set, Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany - 30 Aug 2011 Rex4c

These were probably taken at around the same time as these previously-seen images:

An interesting, but so far uncorroborated rumor surfaced on the James D’Arcy Forum this week, namely that Hugo will be playing the female character Nurse Noakes in the Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish segment of Cloud Atlas. I can’t find any official comments on this info yet, but they seem to have plausible information on three characters D’Arcy will be playing (including Rufus Sixsmith in the Frobisher storyline and The Archivist in the Sonmi-451 section), and Ben Whishaw (who’ll be playing D’Arcy’s love interest in one story) 😉 confirmed cross-gender casting, so this is in the “plausible but unconfirmed” category for now. Hugo’s only confirmed character thusfar is Bill Smoke in the Half Lives (Luisa Rey) plotline.

Also hot on the rumor mill but officially unconfirmed: that Tom Cruise will play a “robot repairman” in the Sonmi story. No word on whether they’ll make him wear a fat suit or not. 😉 The BBFC has posted some production info on Cloud Atlas, including the fact that they’re aiming for a 180-minute running time. So, while the film still won’t be as complex as the novel, it will defy the Hollywood convention that films should run two hours or less. Finally, as far as Cloud Atlas updates go, the project has raised enough interest and studio confidence to secure the Wachowskis financing for their next project, a sci-fi epic called Jupiter Ascending. No casting or plot details about that project have been released yet.

Hugo’s film Oranges and Sunshine, costarring Emily Watson and David Wenham, opened in the US this Friday to mostly-positive reviews after receiving standing ovations at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Director Jim Loach and author Margaret Humphreys (the inspiration for Emily Watson’s character in the film) attended the festival and other preview screenings and held Q&A sessions between October 15 and 21; since this entry is already fairly long I’ll reserve my material on the film’s US reception for the next entry, which I’ll try to have up in the next day or two. I’ll post my own review of the film on my personal LJ once it’s completed, but I do encourage fans to see the film in a cinema if it’s at all possible. It’s Hugo’s finest work since Last Ride, and would almost certainly earn him (and Emily Watson) Oscar nominations in a fair universe (ie one where films were nominated on merit rather than based on Academy politics, promotional budgets and celebrity campaigning.) 😉

Finally, though we have no DVD release date for Hugo’s long-lost 2006 film The Key Man (which finally premiered this February at SXSW), Occupant Films did share a few new production stills on their Facebook page:

…And, if you can’t get enough of Hugo with 70s hair, here’s another pic from the Glasgow street filming last month:


(photo: Stuart Wallace)

Oranges and Sunshine update soon! 🙂

Cloud Atlas Wraps Filming in Glasgow; Oranges and Sunshine’s US Premiere

Note: This is an archived entry that’s several years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material. Some entries may not be up to my current standards as far as photo source and other credits are concerned; if you are a photographer or writer of a piece that lacks appropriate acknowledgement, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add source info.

A couple of brief notes for tonight:

First off, the scenes of Cloud Atlas that were filming in Scotland have apparently been completed, as some of the cast held a wrap party at a Glasgow pub. Here’s the full item from the October 2 Inverness Sunday Post::

A night down the pub for film stars

STAFF in a Glasgow pub were stunned when a booking for function turned out to be a party for Hollywood stars.

Producers of blockbuster Cloud Atlas, which stars Halle Berry and Tom Hanks, chose Sloans bar in the city centre for a wrap party after filming ended.

Clueless barstaff thought it was a regular booking until Hugo Weaving, who starred in Lord Of The Rings, and Jim Broadbent, who starred in Moulin Rouge, turned up.

Both are starring in the upcoming movie.

Nicola Wilkinson, events manager at Sloans, said: “We’re delighted the team chose to come to Sloans.”

HugoCADetail
No, alas… no photos of the cast party have turned up. I’ll add any that turn up, but since this was a private event, we should understand the actors might have wanted privacy.

No word on whether filming continues in Edinburgh, where scenes from another segment of the novel (Letters from Zedelghem) were being shot this past week, or whether Hugo has any role in that storyline. This is the first I’ve heard about Broadbent having a role in the Luisa Rey story, which stars Halle Berry. (She didn’t appear at the party, and is probably still recovering from her foor injury… by some accounts, filming of her additional scenes has been pushed back a few weeks.) Filming also continues on two other sequences in Mallorca. So it’s possible we’ll see Hugo popping up in other exotic locations (and hairstyles) through the fall. 😉

Hugo’s film Oranges and Sunshine will open in the US on October 21, but some fans on the east coast might be able to see it before then if they’re willing to venture out to the Hamptons Film Festival. Oranges and Sunshine will have its US premiere at the festival, with two screenings on October 15 and 16 in South Hampton and East Hampton. To learn more or buy tickets, go here. There’s been no word on how widely the film will be distributed in its formal release, but I’ll post cities and dates once they’re available. (Canadian dates can be found here.) So far the only universally cited cities mentioned in the entertainment press are New York and LA… I sincerely hope that won’t be all. This film deserves a larger audience and has been a hit in the UK and particularly Australia.

UPDATE: Cohen Media has added a list of announced US opening dates, cities and venues for Oranges and Sunshine:

Oranges and Sunshine US Poster; Another Glasgow Cloud Atlas pic

Note: This is an archived entry that’s several years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material. Some entries may not be up to my current standards as far as photo source and other credits are concerned; if you are a photographer or writer of a piece that lacks appropriate acknowledgement, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add source info.

Just a couple of things today… but good ones. Most interesting is the new US poster for Oranges and Sunshine, which finally adds Hugo Weaving and David Wenham. Cinema Blend debuted the image earlier today, and they also provide an HD version here.

The film, starring Emily Watson along with Hugo and David, opens 21 October in North America, so far only New York and LA have been confirmed for US screenings, and no specific venues have been announced. I’ll update when more info becomes available– given the online interest, surely a wide arthouse release is merited. (Also, those of you interested in seeing the film locally should ask your local arthouse to book it, and save it to your Netflix queue if you have one. The more interest people show, the more likely the film could be widely distributed.) Cohen Media owns the US rights, so keep an eye on their website too.  The full slate of Canadian dates and venues can be read here.

Cloud Atlas is filming in both Mallorca and Scotland this week, with Hugo being sighted in the latter, but not photographed at work. I still think he’ll have at least a cameo in each of the six stories, given that he’s not playing any of the lead roles. But here’s another great pic (from Reuters) of Hugo filming the Luisa Rey segment in Glasgow last week. He plays contract killer Bill Smoke in that story.

Finally, there are stories on STC’s 2012 season (which will feature Hugo Weaving and Pamela Rabe in Les Liaisons Dangereuses) at Variety and SameSame .

Oranges and Sunshine Opens in Australia; New Hugo Interviews

Note: This is an archived entry that’s several years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material. Some entries may not be up to my current standards as far as photo source and other credits are concerned; if you are a photographer or writer of a piece that lacks appropriate acknowledgement, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add source info.

Oranges and Sunshine opened in Australia on June 9 to largely rapturous reviews. Press coverage continues, so I’ll add links to everything that’s been posted online since my last update. Of particular note is a new, in-depth Hugo Weaving interview posted by Map Street Editors (in which he discusses not only his current role in Oranges and Sunshine, but his growth as an actor and hopes for the future.)  Also, Oranges and Sunshine finally has its own website, which includes a new Australian trailer and lots of great film stills and historical information. (Hugo and his fellow castmates provide comments as well.)

Perhaps the most interesting of the new batch of reviews can be seen on ABC-TV’s website for At The Movies: not because the loved the film (they did, though) 😉 but because they posted footage of several complete scenes from Oranges and Sunshine,  and the new Australian trailer, along with the reviews. Other reviews can be read at The Herald Sun, M/C Reviews, Cinema Autopsy, Movie Ramble, The Catholic Church of Australia (they liked it!), Greg King’s Film Reviews, The Reel Bits and, my favorite website name of the month… Web Wombat! 😉

Other Australian coverage of the film includes an Emily Watson interview in The Herald Sun, a David Wenham interview in the Courier Mail (“Hugo is certainly one of our greats. He’s always been a great actor but his work, he keeps surprising. I always look forward to the next thing Hugo does because he’s someone who is always wanting to push the edge of the envelope. I have the greatest respect for him.”– Wenham also discusses his own career, heh heh), a brief preview in Inside Film which quotes Hugo (more is promised in next month’s print issue), and interviews with Emily Watson and director Jim Loach at Urban Cinefile .

I’ll add the full text of the Map Street Editiors piece below the cut because it’s a particularly worthwhile read.

HUGO WEAVING

WeavingBySaller2010

Posted by map magazine on June 2, 2011

The offer of oranges and sunshine – like peaches and cream – holds a promise of simple, wholesome goodness. This was one of the pictures painted for the 130,000 young working-class British children deported to Australia as supposed orphans in the 1940s and ‘50s. While the children may have arrived in a land rich with fruit and bathed in the sun’s golden glow, their fate was hardly all oranges and sunshine. In one of his latest roles, Hugo Weaving put himself in the shoes of a man who lived the nightmare of abuse that was a reality for a stolen generation of children. Starring as Jack in Oranges and Sunshine, due for release in Australia in June, Hugo expertly shares a story that will no doubt trigger tears, raise eyebrows and spark heated community debate.

Hugo Weaving may be one of Australia’s most renowned veteran actors and have starred in blockbuster series like The Matrix, Lord of the Rings and Transformers, but there is no hint of blockbuster bravado about him. Rather, he makes no secret of the fact he prefers working on smaller Australian films rather than big budget international flicks where, he jokes: “… I don’t know what’s going on”.
Ever the actor’s chameleon, Hugo is of a rare breed that can leap between themes and genres, epics and indies, without losing his audience or his integrity. Hugo plays a lost soul in Oranges and Sunshine, inspired by the best-selling book, Empty Cradles, by Margaret Humphreys.

The film is due for release in Australia in June and Hugo is interested to see how it will be greeted by the community and by the people upon who it is based – most are in their 60s and 70s and many still live in Australia. The issue of child migrants has already prompted formal apologies from both the Australian and British governments in 2009 and 2010 respectively, so there’s little chance the film will slide by unnoticed.

“It certainly feels like a story that has to be told and should be talked about,” Hugo starts. “And it feels like it highlights the fact that these things just keep happening in world history – these terrible injustices that happen to the most vulnerable and innocent people, in the case little children, in the name of progress, or whatever, by institutions and governments.”

Professionally, Hugo cherished working with British actress Emily Watson and first-time feature director Jim Loach – son of veteran filmmaker and activist Ken Loach – who was quoted as saying: “We all loved Hugo Weaving’s work: his capacity for gentleness, compassion and vulnerability.”

While Hugo can empathise with the children of this story, his childhood was quite the opposite; his family unit was tight although their sense of home was fluid. Born in Nigeria in 1960, Hugo and his family moved every two years or so between England, South Africa and Australia until they settled in Sydney when Hugo was 16.

“My childhood changed so much; the constant was the family,” he explains. “We were always moving to a different country, a different school, a different house … And I feel very lucky to have had the childhood I had because it was very exciting. The thing I learnt was that, wherever you go in the world, people are fundamentally the same even though they might speak a different language and have a different culture. Fundamentally, we’re all very similar and I guess that’s a good lesson for anyone really, but certainly for an actor.”

Hugo’s childhood dreams fluttered from being a fireman to a sailor and in his early teens he wanted to be a writer. Asked if he still has any of those early scribbles, he laughs. “Yes,” he says. “I’m sure they are stashed somewhere but you’re not getting your hands on them!”
By the time he was 16 he was emotionally involved with the idea of acting. His parents had exposed him to music, art and theatre from a young age and he recalls some standout creative influences while living in South Africa from six to nine years of age.

“My parents took me to a ballet of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and I was really amazed by that. I loved the music, and was interested in the story. Mum said it was based on a play by Shakespeare, so I wanted to read it. I can remember as an eight-year-old trying to read Romeo and Juliet,” Hugo laughs at his innocence. “Because I knew the story, I kind of got captivated by the language in it in a weird way and wanted to act out those stories.”

Hugo listened to his intuitive desire to act and went straight from high school into auditions for the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). He was accepted after three callbacks and graduated in 1981.

One of his first major hits was Bangkok Hilton opposite Nicole Kidman in 1989 and he won his first industry award, a Best Actor Australian Film Institute Award, for the low-budget Proof in 1991. Many gems have followed, but the Australian films Hugo counts as achievements are Little Fish (2005), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), and Last Ride (2009). Hugo also loved working with the Wachowski Brothers on The Matrix.

Though he is loath to give advice to young actors, Hugo shares some wise words his first agent told him when he was 22. “He said, ‘You gotta learn to say no to jobs’,” Hugo says, noting that is the constant dilemma for actors – whether to accept every job that’s offered or to be more discerning. They were wise words at the time. And I instinctively felt they were true anyway.”

His biggest career challenge has been self-doubt, but he’s found it can be a positive. “Sometimes these doubts – as you think, ‘I don’t know if this is what I want to do anymore’ – for whatever reason, sometimes those things actually spur you into reappraising everything and starting afresh with a much more invigorated outlook. Sometimes those challenges have actually ended up being great spurs.”

He acknowledges that acting is a tough gig – there’s the waiting around, the auditioning, the suspense of the offer, the knockbacks. “It’s not the loveliest profession,” he laughs at the understatement. “I know so many people who went through NIDA with me who I thought the world of, who within four years of leaving NIDA weren’t working anymore. It’s not fair. The world’s not fair and the industry’s not particularly fair … but that hasn’t stopped me. I just keep on trying to maintain an interest in it all.”

Asked what he still wants to achieve with his work, Hugo notes he and his partner Katrina Greenwood are at a new phase of their lives. “Both our kids have just left school, so it’s probably a natural question mark in the sky of where I’m at at the moment. We’re just reappraising what we’re up to as a family, and what Katrina, my partner, and I are up to.”

One thing Hugo is sure of is that he wants to keep working as an actor for many years to come. “I’ve just worked with Ian McKellan – he’s in his seventies. He’s such a lively mind and such a relaxed physical creature so I would hope that I would be as enquiring and youthful as Ian in another 20 years. And still working in theatre and film but probably increasingly refocus again on Australian film – the sort of film that’s always interested me.

Interview by Frances Frangenheim

But wait! There’s More! Here’s another, more Oranges and Sunshine-focused Hugo interview, courtesy Junior:

ORANGES & SUNSHINE INTERVIEW

Author: Junior

The highly anticipated Oranges And Sunshine tells the story of Margaret Humphreys, a social worker from Nottingham who uncovered one of the most significant social scandals of recent times: the deportation of thousands of children from the United Kingdom to Australia.

Against overwhelming odds and with little regard for her own well-being, Margaret reunited thousands of families, brought authorities to account and drew worldwide attention to an extraordinary miscarriage of justice. Children as young as four had been told their parents were dead, and been sent to children’s homes on the other side of the world. Many were subjected to appalling abuse.

They were promised oranges and sunshine; they got hard labour and life in institutions.

HugoO&SCloseup

Legendary Aussie actor Hugo Weaving plays Jack, one of the children victimised by the program who must now come to grips with the fact his mother might be alive.

What attracted you to the project?
I got the script with a covering letter saying that Emily (Watson) was involved and that Jim Loach was directing. The material’s just so moving and beautifully written, so it was something I was instantly grabbed by. Once I’d met Jim I was even more interested; I just thought he was a delightful person, very warm and kind of quiet, but intelligent. I was very excited about the idea of working with Emily, and I also knew that David Wenham was involved, so it was the whole package.

Who is Jack?
Jack just seemed to me to be a man crying out to be accepted and to have his story recognised. He’s a very gentle soul, a lost soul, quietly working to find something in an undemonstrative way. When we meet him he’s still going through a great deal of issues and a lot of pain. He is estranged from his family as well as from his mother and father – he assumes they’re dead. But he’s just linked up with his sister again.

What is his story as shown in the film?
Nicky, Jack’s sister, is part of Margaret’s group in Nottingham and she tells them a story about having found her brother again and shows them a photo of Jack. Quite soon after that Nicky’s persuaded by Margaret to go and see Jack again. They’ve obviously met up before a couple of times and so we first meet Jack at Melbourne Airport, when Nicky and Margaret arrive.

Initially he’s very mistrustful of Margaret. Even though he can see that her intentions are probably good, I think he has a great mistrust of social workers, psychiatrists, anyone in bureaucracy, in positions of power or administration. He basically says to Margaret, ‘I was told as a child that my mother was dead; now you’re telling me she might be alive, but I don’t really know what to do with that information’. I think he feels at that stage that he doesn’t know whether he would have the strength to meet his mother. But the journey is embarked upon to try and find her.

Did you know about the story before you read the script?
I was pretty ignorant of the story really, although I’d seen The Leaving Of Liverpool [an Australian television drama about the child migrants] many years before so I suppose I did know something about it. Just not the extent of it – that so many young kids had been sent out.

The next step after talking to Jim and committing to doing it was reading Margaret’s book, and then I wanted desperately to meet the man on whom Jack is partially based – someone who’d actually come out and had that experience themselves. I was doing a play in Melbourne and I got to meet this wonderful man who’d been sent out as a child from England at the age of ten. He was incredibly forthcoming and generous with his time and we sat and talked for about three hours. That was a wonderful thing to do.

What did you discuss?
The school he’d been to, his early life, his marriage, his kids and then his descent into depression; his attempted suicide and his finding his way out of that. Then he tried to contact his mother and get in touch with his sister and then he met Margaret. It was an invaluable experience talking to him and that was my primary research.

What was the impact of the government apologies while you were filming?
The day I left for the shoot in England Kevin Rudd apologised, and so by the time I landed all the English papers were full of it – which is extraordinary really after such a long time. I was driving along in the afternoon listening to the PM crying; it was incredibly moving and just so tragic.

All these people have probably tried to tell their stories many times but no one’s really listened. So for it to suddenly break in that way must have been an incredible vindication of who they were and where they’d been and what happened to them. But at the same time it seemed extraordinary that it should have taken so many years.

What are the challenges for an actor playing a real-life character?
With any character the challenge is to do as much research and psychological investigative work as possible, in order to try to understand their motivations and complex psychology. Then you have to let go of all of that and just try to exist on the day in the moment. In a way these characters come with added pressure – you’re trying to be faithful to them and their experience and so maybe there’s an added sense of… I don’t know that ‘duty’ is the right word, but trying to do the right thing by a person or by a group of people.

What’s it been like working with Emily Watson?
Really delightful. She’s such an intelligent and sensitive and very present human being. I suppose I don’t really know her very well, but I’ve always loved her work from Breaking The Waves through to Synecdoche and everything in between, so I was really thrilled with the idea of working with her.

How is Jim Loach as a director?
He’s a lovely, calm, sweet man and he’s obviously intelligent and knows what he wants. We sometimes didn’t know whether it was a take or a rehearsal, which is always a good thing because it means it’s seamless. It all seems to have the same uncomplicated energy to it. He has a great empathy for the characters.

What does ‘oranges and sunshine’ mean?
Well, it’s interesting that the title Oranges And Sunshine is something that Jack says. He was asked as a child whether he wanted to go to Australia where he could live in a white house, ride a horse to school and be able to pick oranges off the trees for his breakfast and where the sun shines every day. That was the sort of golden promise that these children were sold and then in the same breath someone said to him, ‘Well you might as well go because your mum’s dead.’

So it was sold as a wonderful world they were going to, a wonderful new life for them and yet at the same time they were told their parents had died. ‘Oranges and Sunshine’? It’s the great promise and the great lie, the great untruth that was told to these innocent children who were damaged for so many, many years and probably irrevocably. And it’s the journey that Margaret takes to try to heal that and give them some sense of who they are and what has happened to them, gain them some sort of recognition.

So to me it’s really about abandonment and lies and then being accepted again.

In other Hugo Weaving News, the classic film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is finally available in Blu-Ray. According to reviews at BluRay.com and Big Picture Big Sound, the extras are the same as those on the Extra Frills DVD release, so upgrade only if you want the improved technical qualities inherent in the format. (Or, of course, if you’ve never bought the film until now) 😉 The film features one of Hugo’s most timeless performances, so fans will want to own it in one format or another. I have the three previous DVD versions, so I’m standing pat. Mostly because I don’t yet own a Blu-Ray player. 😉

AND THIS JUST IN: FilmInk has posted an excerpt from their magazine interview with Hugo online here. I’ll have the full-length version soon. Also: new reviews of Oranges and Sunshine at Movietime (“I do not know how Weaving does it, but this chameleon of an actor has once again immersed himself in the psyche of another flawed fictional human being and made you believe and ache for him.”), Disassociated, and ABC South Queensland