Tag Archives: Sundance

New Hugo Weaving & Tom Budge Interviews Promoting Endgame, Dressmaker Update


Hugo Weaving portrait by Steve Baccon, from The Australian online

Amid ongoing rehearsals for Sydney Theatre Co’s new production of Endgame, Hugo Weaving recently took time to give an interview to The Australian‘s Verity Edwards for their !0 Questions feature. The interview was published in The Weekend Australian as well as posted online. Since the online version of The Australian is very stingy about repeat page-views, I’ll post the magazine scan version, along with  both versions of Steve Baccon’s delectable new portrait.

WordPress Readers: right-click, click on “Open in a new tab” for full-sized article

From The Weekend Australian magazine, 13 March 2015


Portrait by Steve Baccon, The Weekend Australian

The first question and answer are disturbing evidence that all fans learn to need how to draw boundaries, and that harassing “celebrities” on their own time (ie when not explicitly promoting a film or other project) is despicable behavior. The fact that Hugo is so generous with fans under most circumstances just makes me angrier that people continue to think the own him. Hugo’s attempts at understanding and conciliation are lovely, but he shouldn’t have to do this. I hate to bring this up, but John Lennon was similarly loving and patient with all manner of fans importuning him for autographs, often even showing up clearly…impaired at his house (one incident was documented in the 1989 film Imagine) demanding lyric explanations.  Lennon would try to downplay expectation and respond with compassion.This level of openness led to a lovely number of student interviews and fan photos most artists would never permit, but it also eventually cost him his life. I know that’s a particularly scary example, but we all need to take this issue very seriously and respect our favorite actors and artists as human beings with rights, beginning with the right to a certain amount of privacy.

Shocking as it may seem, Hugo actually enjoys going to film festival TO ENJOY OTHER PEOPLE’S FILMS, not just play the star in service of his own projects. He willingly gave dozens of autographs at Sundance and posed for photos with fans, But he should be allowed to say ‘no’ without being treated abusively. That “fan” should’ve been ejected from the festival at the very least. This is one reason I don’t post videos made by professional autograph hawkers who ambush Hugo at the airport and other public places, and why I discourage people from buying autographs online. Number one, you can never be sure of their authenticity, number two, if they are authentic, they meant nothing to the person who obtained them except mere profit, and they might have been obtained in this sort of dodgy manner. Real fans have often told me they failed to meet Hugo or get one treasured item signed because these dealers crashed an event (or stage door) and Hugo had to take so much time signing their Agent Smith glossies that there was no time left for quieter, more authentic fans who were politely waiting their turn. So please, everyone– have boundaries. Be respectful.

Sorry ’bout the lecture– I know most of you don’t need it and wouldn’t dream of behaving that way. But with an artist as wonderfully unaffected and unjaded as Hugo, fans are at that much more risk of being part of the problem, even with the most sincere motives. I question my behavior and choices as an online fan every day.

The rest of the interview reaffirms most of what I’ve loved about Hugo and reassures me his commitment to serious, challenging roles remains firm.

Hugo’s new costar Tom Budge gave his own intriguing interview to the Sydney Theatre Co Magazine. He’s already had quite an eventful career, and describes the challenges of stepping into the role of Clov last-minute, his previous career highs, and the unique thrill of working with both Hugo and his son Harry Greenwood (in Gallipoli) in the same year. Here are a few quotes, but the full piece is very much worth a look– even has some STC Endgame rehearsal photos as an additional incentive.

Budge: [Describing Endgame] “I met with Andrew a year ago about this show. I thought the play was brilliant, I thought I could bring my own clown version to this role, as well as it just being beautiful and written incredibly well. But then the role went to Robert Menzies and I was honoured to have even been considered – it’s one of those rare moments where you go, ‘Oh, he’ll be f***ing amazing!’ And I’d actually been talking to Julie Forsythe about Endgame – she’s doing it at MTC right now, she’s in the bin right now – and so when I got the call from STC, there was no question. I had to ask my wife, but there was no second guessing. And it’s amazing to be back in Sydney. There’s so much great passion, energy and value put on theatre in this town…

There’s so many different kinds of clown in [Endgame]. Even within the one character. I’m realising that there’s no template with this. When you read it at first, you might think there is, but when you get to the specifics of it you realise it changes every 20 seconds. The play begins with something that everyone could recognise as a kind of clown routine – moving the ladder back and forth – but then it switches into (almost) naturalism, for a moment, then I’m playing straight man to Hamm’s laugh riot. I’m still getting comfortable with the changes and it as a general form feeling OK. But there was a gross shock to begin with of not having a simple, gradual through-line of a single ‘clown’.

[Interviewer] Hugo Weaving was talking the other day about how Beckett doesn’t give actors an easy motivational bridge between moments.

Budge: Exactly, as an actor your first thought is, “Why do I start talking about this? Why do i do that?” And Hugo’s right, most of the time there is no connection. But you get this creepy feeling – and this is a bit romantic and dramatic – that Beckett’s ghost is standing over you reassuring you that it is all there. Once you get it all down and you learn everything and you’ve done it a bunch of times, you’ll be able to stand back and it’ll be clear that something that happens two-thirds of the way through might not relate to what happened immediately prior but it does relate to something that happened for a second in the first third. And so you can find a complete through-line from one moment to another moment, it’s just really complicated. It feels seriously bizarre to begin with. I don’t think Beckett is messing with the actors, even if people assume that. I think it makes perfect sense, it’s just beyond my intelligence as to how he created it. It keeps you at arms length, so it never gets too bald… That’s the genius of it. You feel that there are conscious triple meanings in each line. It’s staggering… it’s been a real joy to be allowed into something like this, into a brain like Beckett’s. It’s fascinating. It’s beyond philosophy. It’s not just rumination, it’s very personal.

[Interviewer] That’s right, Beckett’s actually embodied it. It’s not the espousing of philosophy just in language, it’s making it happen through action – the people in his plays live that philosophy.

Budge: Yes! And it is so deeply personal, these things that he’s extracting from his life and putting out there. Look, you could read his biography and then say, “Hamm and Clov are Beckett and his wife.” But, in practice, it doesn’t help you, because no one can completely zoom in on and recreate the characters from someone else’s life. So, Hugo and I have to find our own version of a relationship, which takes time. I’d never met Hugo before this, and it takes time to get through all the normal personal stuff to something else…

In this case, the initial thing was easy, because I’d weirdly just worked with Hugo’s son – the amazing, lovely Harry Greenwood – last year on Gallipoli. He’s an incredible young man, divine. And having spent time with him you just make the assumption that at least one of his parents has to be amazing. An amazing, open-minded, divine individual. So the odds are pretty good and there’s a strange kind of familiarity in that small way. Given that I had about 10 hours’ notice between getting the job and the first reading, Hugo’s the perfect person to greet you in that situation. Warm and generous…

It’s interesting, we did our lines looking at each other just now, because Hugo realised that he never really gets to look at me in the show. None of them really look at each other much. So, as actors, it’s useful to play around with both to see what we’re each doing, because the voice and the face aren’t always doing the same thing… We’ve been talking about how it’s jazz. It’s loose, things can pop up from nowhere. But, like jazz, you learn the standard before you start improvising. So, we’re still finding the standard.”

***

The Dressmaker

Jocelyn Moorhouse’s film is still in post-production heading toward an October release in Australia. Author Rosalie Ham, who has been on hand for the film and played an extra in her own fictional town, recently posted a lovely new blog entry about a certain perk of being an extra: dancing opposite a certain Sergeant Farrat, played by Hugo Weaving in the film. (Alas, no new pics yet). Here’s an excerpt:

“Sue Maslin wasn’t in my Deportment or Ballroom dancing classes at school. I would have remembered her. But she did eat in the dining room and so she does know how to dissect and eat a banana in small half-moons, like a lady. As Sergeant Farrat does in The Dressmaker…

In dancing classes Miss Rose stressed, ‘Remain light in your partners arms, do not lean on your partner. Do not lead, allow yourself to be guided.’… These instructions were alive to me as we set off for our ‘dance’ scene in a hall in Williamstown/Dungatar. We’d received the instructional DVD and like good extras, pushed back the couch and practiced together…

In the car park we joined the other practicing extras. Angela took a firm hold of Matthew’s left hand and placed his right on her hip and said, ‘Forward, forward, back, back, side-together, slide.’… Then I was gone, led away by my old school friend, Sue. She took me to set where the actors and superstars were rehearsing and deposited me in front of Sergeant Farrat. ‘This is your dance partner.’

Sergeant Farrat was kind, but aloof, and I, terrified. The music started and he took my hand. This was my moment. I must dance without fault. Sergeant Farrat looked at me, confidence in his eyes. ‘He thinks I know what I’m doing,’ I thought. In front of us, Mr and Mrs Pratt danced like they were born to it, so I just did what they did, and, I remained light in my partner’s arms, allowed myself to be led, as did Matthew, who danced all day with Angela.”

Since Hugo isn’t mentioned by name, I am drawing certain inferences here… he’s shown certain skill as a dancer in previous film roles (and..um…charity events) 😉 so I don’t think a double or stand-in was required.  I’m really looking forward to the finished film, as the creative team have been so generous about keeping fans in the loop without giving too much away.


Hugo Weaving on The Dressmaker’s dance-hall set last December.   Photo: Heidi Dee, via Instagram

More Endgame promo material may appear at any time, so I’ll update as frequently as I can, first at witter, then here.

For one thing, there’s this tantalizing, trailer-promising tweet from Steph Zulu:

A Few More Hugo Weaving Pics From Sundance; The Key Man Finally Released on DVD, VOD; Endgame

A few quick items to report while we wait for Hugo’s next big project, his role in Sydney Theatre Co’s Endgame (now in rehearsal) to appear in the online media.

First, my suspicion that photographers may have been olding back some of their best images from Sundance continues to be proved right: these stunning portraits by LA Times photographer  Jay L. Clendenin (posted to Contour by Getty Images) were just posted recently, though they were taken on 24 January. They’ve already become very popular in the fandom for good reason.


All five photos:  Jay L. Clendenin/Contour/Getty Images

Victoria Will’s tintype-style portrait has also been widely posted, now in larger formats without the watermark:


Victoria Will, via Yahoo News

The Key Man Finally Available On DVD

Longtime Hugo fans were excited when the DVD/VOD release of Hugo’s long-stalled US indie film The Key Man (costarring Brian Cox, Jack Davenport and Judy Greer) was finally announced. The project was filmed on location in North Carolina and Virginia in late 2006 (though it’s set in Massachusetts) and was in post-production limbo for many years before finally screening to mixed reviews at SXSW in February 2011. Then fans had to wait still longer for a proper distribution deal to take place; Screen Media finally acquired the rights last year. The DVD popped up unheralded on Amazon this week; US viewers can stream the or purchase the VOD version of the film in Standard or High Definition. VUDU also has the film available. So far Netflix is only offering the eventual DVD rental; the DVD comes out 17 March, with Amazon and other sites taking pre-orders.

We also finally have a trailer for the film, which I’ll embed below, followed by a few still images.


PopcornFlix Too via YouTube

You can also watch the film’s opening credits free on VUDU.


All screencaps are mine, from the film’s trailer.

i may take additional screencaps once I’ve had time to watch the film, but I probably won’t post an abundance of those out of context until the DVD is officially out and fans have had a chance to watch it. I do get annoyed when people post screencaps (especially those containing spoilers or salacious content) from a film I haven’t had as chance to see yet or that isn’t widely available to fans, so I won’t be a hypocrite. I know a lot of fans watched this film in bootleg form, but I’ve held out for a proper release.  I have no idea yet whether it was worth the wait, but I do think I owe Hugo and the other actors involved and the filmmakers they chose to work with that amount of respect. I’m not an absolutist on this front: I am resigned to the fact that some of Hugo’s early TV work will never be properly released on home-viewing formats, particularly since even a landmark miniseries like Bodyline couldn’t get a DVD release without chainsaw editing that removed most of the nuances from Hugo’s character. 😉  So I do own a “unofficial” release of the unedited Bodyline (I bought the official version too) and a few other 90s TV rarities. I don’t blame other fans for doing so, or even for despairing that The Key Man would ever see the light of day in a proper global release. But I do hope fans always purchase the legal versions of Hugo’s films (or rent them, or– best of all– see them in cinemas) when they do become available, because the independent filmmakers Hugo prefers to work with need and deserve this support.


The Key Man’s US DVD box art

If I do elect to take screencaps I’ll post them to the Photobucket archive, so fans who’ve already seejn the film can have a look. Again, I’m only stating my own policies and opinions here… if you happen to like ogling revealing screencaps out of context, I’m not about to stop you. 😉 In some cases (The Right Hand springs to mind) it beats sitting through the film. I’m hoping The Key Man defies expectation and is a lost gem. And that as a Red Sox fan I don’t have to post a lot of corrections after viewing it. (Yes, you probably could’ve sold the Sox cheap circa 1975. But even then, Fenway was much more majestic than that puny ballpark in the trailer.) 😉

Endgame


STC promo banner for Endgame, including Hugo Weaving portrait by James Green

As I mentioned at the top of the update, Hugo Weaving is now in rehearsals for Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, which will debut at STC at the end of March. (They’ll almost certainly share rehearsal photos and other promo material before then.)  According to Broadway World, Tom Budge has replaced Robert Menzies in the role of Clov (the son of Hugo’s character Hamm). Menzies costarred with Hugo in last season’s Macbeth, and had to drop out due to illness. We wish him a speedy recovery.

The Guardian previewed STC’s production alongside a rival version being mounted by Melbourne Theatre Co.this year. Ironically,  MTC’s staging costars Luke Mullins, who played Lucky in STC’s 2013 adaptation of Waiting For Godot starring Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh, which will be revived at London’s Barbican this June. (Tickets are still available for both Endgame and Godot.) STC News confirmed that Artistic Director Andrew Upton (who’s directing STC’s Endgame as well) will step down at the end of his current term. News reports (including those in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Daily Review and Variety) include Hugo’s name among fantasy successors, but last time this issue came up in 2011, Hugo said he absolutely wasn’t interested. Most insiders suggest the post will go to a director rather than an actor. Upton and his family (including his wife, whom you may have heard of) are supposedly moving to the US, though I hope Cate will still focus on theatre and decent indie roles, as Hollywood has no clue about what to do with her and most other actresses over 40. (No, “wicked stepmother” roles don’t cut it.) Upton apparently wants to direct TV… since US TV is often far superior to US moviemaking, this might prove interesting providing he steers clear of the “reality” genre. Also good news: he’s writing a play for the Mrs. 😉

You can read factoids about playwright Samuel Beckett at STC’s blog. You can read Upton’s thoughts on Endgame at Real Time Arts. Upton’s STC is highlighted (with photos from many productions Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett costarred in) at STC’s blog.


Andrew Upton and Hugo Weaving portrait by James Green (via STC News)


Hugo Weaving and Jeremy Sims in Andrew Upton’s 2007 play Riflemind, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Photo: Brett Boardman/STC Blog

Technical Difficulties

Finally, I apologise for continued technical issues I’m having with Twitter and Photobucket. In the case of the former, I haven’t been able to access more than a few hours of timeline for weeks, and at times am not being notified by the site about DMs and other messages I’d prefer to answer quickly. As of today the latter problem seems mostly resolved, but the former does not. And I continue to find photos not showing properly in archived entries, a problem caused by Photobucket, where I archive most of my Hugo photos. I had though the site finally corrected the problem a few weeks ago, but still find some entries with incorrect notifications that I’ve moved or deleted photos, which I NEVER do upon completion of Hugonuts posts. I’m trying to correct these issues as I find them, but do let me know if you find these errors in old posts. I’ve about had it with Photobucket technical issues but have so many years of photos stored there, it would take months to relocate, and months more to re-embed photos in all my Hugonuts posts from a new location. 😉 So apologies again, and I hope you’ll bear with me as I continue making corrections and moving my archived Hugonuts posts to the “new” WordPress and Hugonuts News sites. My current plan is to eventually have the complete archive 2011-present with a selection of important older posts.  

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. 😉

Sundance Videos Interviews Feat. Hugo Weaving (Including ‘Missing Bits’ from The Wrap Interview), New Pics

Before I update I want to apologise for the recent technical difficulties experienced by the Hugonuts blog at both locations, but particularly LiveJournal. Some recent photos have failed to load or erroneously displayed “This photo has been moved or deleted” graphics. I have NOT moved any photos, and am not such an idiot I can’t figure out that moving photos severs the links to blog posts. But I’ve had a host of problems with both LJ and PhotoBucket with this error. I’ve used PB for ten years with no issues until this past couple of weeks, but it’s now a recurring headache. I have fixed all the links (though again, no pics were EVER moved; PB just had errors connecting to the correct photos). And none of my pre-January entries seem affected, though please notify me if this changes. I have experimented with disabling AdBlock, which can disrupt PhotoBucket, though it’s otherwise essential for computer use without being driven insane by an ad-barrage. (In the future I may have to disable it when using PB, but re-enable it afterward… if this fails to correct the problem, I may have to consider moving my photo collection elsewhere.) Support requests to PB have thusfar been ignored. So far as I can tell, all photos are now displaying correctly after several days or painstakingly re-inserting each link and other trouble-shooting, but please notify me if the problem recurs. Obviously there’s no point doing this if I can’t share photos reliably. 😉

Strangerland at Sundance: New Videos

In my last entry I mentioned that Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes gave video entries to three different entertainment media sites: IMDb/Amazon Instant Video (which I posted in the prior entry and features the deploying Hugo’s inimitable “Donald Duck voice” to dodge the inevitable “movie trivia” questions.) 😉 A few days later, possibly after pestering by myself and other fans, The Wrap posted their interview… well.. MOST of it. The full segment on Strangerland remains, but several minutes at the end were edited out, so I’ll transcribe that from the audio I recorded live.


The Wrap

Somewhat irritatingly, only Joseph Fiennes was noted in the headline and tags for the clip, so some Hugo fans might not’ve spotted it on cursory searches. I was monitoring The Wrap’s full Sundance feed and it eventually appeared there several days after the live airing. I am thrilled they finally shared the high-quality video, been in truncated form.  I suspect the edits were due to Hugo’s usual reluctance to play along with Hollywood trivia questions, which now seem de rigeur even at festivals allegedly about independent films. 😉 They might also have been trying to avoid divulging some slight plot spoilers, thorough it’s now an open secret that the film isn’t “about” the solution of its central mystery. So, those warnings in mind…

Here’s my transcript of the rest of the interview (immediately following end of video’s final question/answer) :

The Wrap: Did you do a lot of takes or did you get it right away?

Joseph Fiennes: No, it was one or two takes and pretty straightforward and quick… but then on ALL the scenes it was one or two takes and pretty straightforward and quick. (laughs.)

TW: What were the biggest challenges for both of you on this [film]? Hugo, you said there was limited time? Was it that [limitation] or was it psychological… what was the toughest part of this movie?

HW:  Um… yeah. I don’t know. That’s a good question. I mean, the time constraints are always there so I wouldn’t include that, or hoping that you get certain scenes. Probably for me, on this one, trying to increasingly find a breathing space for a human being that you’re putting onto film, trying to embody someone who’s as complex and dimensional as he can possibly be, even when the framework within which you’re working is relatively minor.  This man has a past, has troubles, has secrets, but he presents as a kind of sensitive, calm, capable cop most of the time, and for me that was kind of an interesting framework for me to exist within, and occasionally reveal something about the deeper side of his nature. so.. finding that right tone, I suppose.

TW: Joseph, for you what was the toughest part?

JF: I echo Hugo. On any independent movie, it’s a miracle we’re even there filming, but then there are enormous constraints. I think we had quite a few scenes that we just couldn’t complete, because we didn’t have the money or the time, and that’s hugely disappointing. But, that aside, which is just part of what we have to handle, I think the hardest for me just doing enough work [on] the backstory… It takes place over a very short period of time. as well. I kind of felt that… at the end it’s got to.. not necessarily have to be redemptive from his point of view, but some tiny, tiny [glimmer] of hope that there may be, ironically, within the horror of the disappearance.  a glimmer of potential light that this relationship might just survive… and going and taking it to the real max of the breakdown and with Nicole, and seeing that and his restraint and needing to control because of his inertia and shame. He’s a man that has a public persona and finds it very difficult to sort of let that fall, so it’s taking that to the max and then trying to find his humanity again, and the potential of that relationship, which just could pull through.

TW: Your characters are very much at odds for most of the movie. I mean, did you stay away from each other on the set, or were you palling around… ?

[Joseph Fiennes hugs Hugo]

HW: (laughs) We did lots of stuff together! We went ballooning…

JF: (overlapping) Ballooning was the highlight!

HW: We had a great balloon trip one morning. We got up before the dawn, and  went, met in town, jumped in a car and drove out to this field… We practically blew up the balloon ourselves…

LF: Well, we DID!

HW… And we sailed away for about an hour and a half and then had breakfast. So we did. Yeah, we did lots of good things.

JF:  And we drove out to the Blue Mountains together…

HW: Big drive…

JF: Big tour

HW: A few trips

TW: Well now we’re going to do our rapid-fire round here, [in which] we’re asking all [our interviewees] these same questions… Pick one film from your body of work that best represents you. I know this is a very tough question for you guys, but let’s…

HW: (interrupting, immediately) Little Fish.

TW: Pardon me?

HW: Little Fish.

TW: (surprised) Little Fish? (Hugo nods) Joseph?

JF: BIG Fish! Oh, sorry. I thought this was word association. Um… I don’t know… As Montaigne once said, a wonderful French Philosopher, that the serious in art is of no avail, that joy is the only guide… so apart from working with Hugo, which was immensely joyous, on this–which was a gnarly piece– but the most joy I’ve had is Shakespeare in Love. So I pick that one.

TW:  If North Korea hacked your computer, who would your first call be to apologise?

HW: I’m such a computer idiot that I probably wouldn’t even know that they’d hacked my computer. (laughs)

TW: Joseph?

JF: I’m sorry, Hugo (mock melodrama) I’m so sorry!  (laughs)

TW: I don’t know how closely you follow the Oscars, but do you have a “biggest snub” for this year’s Oscars, and who are you rooting for the most?

HW:  I honestly do not follow the Oscars. I have absolutely no idea who is  up for any Oscar at all, what film, what actors, anything. Know nothing about it, so I apologise.

TW: You’re no help at all!

JF: I wouldn’t snub, but, because it was Sundance, Boyhood. I would love to see that succeed.

TW: The producer of Boyhood was sitting in front of me when I saw your movie.

JF: Oh, okay

TW: I know this is an impossible question, but name an actor, director or producer– just one– that you haven’t worked with yet that you want to work with.

HW: (Long pause)… Werner Herzog… Oh no!  Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a Turkish film director. Definitely. Him. I don’t speak Turkish, but please, Nuri, put me in one of your films.

TW: Joseph?

JF: Um…God, there’s a whole host… I’m gonna leave here going, ‘Why didn’t i say THAT person?’, Um… right now I’m blanking, but I think I would have to go for a foreign director where I could be subtitled. And look immensely intelligent. (Laughs)

TW: OK, last question: If you could crowd-fund one passion project, what would it be?

HW: Um… Maybe something to do with reforestation.

TW: Joseph?

JF: God, I want to talk about projects that I HAVE… but (Hugo whispers in his ear)…Yeah! Okay, yes yes yes. Thank you. He didn’t help me on this one! (Laughs) Um… Bees. A project on bees. We need more bees. And we’re into bees and honey, so that’s what we spend a lot of time talking about, organic cold-pressing olive oil, honey and bees. So bees, yeah. Fundraising for bees.

TW: Well, thank you both for coming, and congratulations on the film.

HW, JF: (Simultaneously) Thank you.

*****

Here’s the IMDb “Duck” interview again, for anyone who missed it. (And coz I wanted to watch it again) 😉


IMDb/Amazon Instant Video

THIS JUST IN: Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes discuss the theme of “walkabout” and their favorite walks in this brief but GREAT new AP interview, which also includes footage from the film premiere 23 January:


AP via YouTube

AP also has a longer clip of the premiere with interviews of Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes, though none of Hugo. (It’s possible he didn’t speak to reporters on the red carpet, as absolutely no interview footage of him from that night has surfaced, and he seems to step into cast photos only at the last minute.) The Daily Mail posted an abbreviated version of this footage with their coverage of the premiere. I’d love to see any additional footage AP recorded of the “walkabout” interview, as they clearly asked more creative questions than some others. I will on the whole give all the Sundance interviewers credit for going into depth about Strangerland and staying on topic. I’m still looking for HuffPost Live’s ten-minute interview of Weaving and Fiennes. Transcribing that would be a bear (and not as pleasing as watching the video), so I hope they humor us and post their footage SOON.

Photos

I’m fairly certain Hugo Weaving has gone home, due to the lack of recent photos (though he could just be lying low and enjoying films as a viewer). He was definitely there through 25 January and several new photos have surfaced of both the premiere and other events, including some great new fan photos. A lot of these events included convoluted names citing corporate sponsorship… since no one is paying ME, and I’m pretty sure Hugo wasn’t there for that reason, I’m not going to use those names.


Photo: MastaCord via Twitter, 25 Jan


The Strangerland cast (minus Nicole Kidman) 23 January
L to R top: Meyne Wyatt, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving; bottom: Lisa Flanagan, Sean Keenan, Maddison Brown


Both above photos: Victoria Will/Invision/AP


Photo: adeline_sky via Instagram


Hugo Weaving out & about in Park City, 25 Jan


All four above photos:  Ray Tamarra/GC Images/Getty Images


Hugo Weaving with onscreen paramour Lisa Flanagan at a dinner event at Sundance Film Festival, 25 Jan


Letting the paparazzi know they’re services will no longer be required 😉 Both photos: Tiffany Rose/Getty Images


Photo: Kyungmin Rachel Lee via Instagram


Hugo Weaving at a Sundance event, 25 Jan 2015. Photo: Todd Williamson/Invision for TAO Group/AP Images


The Strangerland cast at the Grey Goose Lounge pre-screening party 23 Jan


Hugo Weaving with talent manager Paul Clifford Escoll
Both above photos: Liz Kelly via Examiner.com


Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving onstage at the film’s 23 Jan Sundance premiere.  Photo: clotureclub.com


Fan photo: Lisa Herrera, via  St Louis Post-Dispatch


The cast at the 23 Jan Sundane premiere. L to R: Kim Farrant, Hugo Weaving, Joseph Fiennes, Maddison Brown, Meyne Wyatt, Nicole Kidman, Lisa Flanagan, Sean Keenan


Both above photos: Carla Boecklin/Salt Lake Magazine


True privilege meeting #HugoWeaving at #Sundance after the #PartisanMovie premiere. What else do we have in common? He was born in #Nigeria. #Livinglegend #Matrix #AgentSmith #LordoftheRings #Hobbit #Sundance2015 #Strangerland #SeedlessMovie” temiojo via Instagram

And EW Online posted a huge enlarged version of the now-notorious Weaving-Fiennes smooch in their coverage of the premiere.

Reviews

We finally do have some positive or leaning-positive reviews of Strangerland, which I’ll excerpt below (do check out the original sites for full reviews.) I’ll start off with CineFix’s video review because it includes some good quality footage from the film itself, and delves into why the glib hipsters at Sundance didn’t get into the movie:


Cinefix via YouTube

Bears Fonte, AMFM Magazine: “STRANGERLAND works because all the parts seem selected to have the greatest impact. The depth of the relationship between Fiennes and Kidman gives then plenty of great moments, and when Weaving makes it a triangle, the film soars. It is a true honor to watch such phenomenal actors work their craft and the film is filled with more buried drama than a Sam Shepard play…

If that wasn’t enough, the setting provides a landscape of despair to torture the characters… It is so effective then to see it in a contemporary piece, where it can represent the apocalypse of all hope.The town plays as a border town, one last stop before entering the unknown, as the children disappear into the empty beyond… The cinematography is great, but always in service of telling the story, even when the vistas get overwhelming.

Each performance shines, and it especially nice to see a film that could have just been a simple end of a marriage kitchen sink drama layered with a mystery and some great action moments. In fact, it is the most complete film I’ve seen at Sundance so far.”

Culture Collide: “Set in the dusty outback (way outback) of Australia, the story follows a family whose two teenage children disappear into the desert. But rather than concentrate the drama on the unfolding missing-persons’ investigation, Farrant pays special attention to her characters and how they act out in times of crisis, and their primal compulsions both sexual and violent. Strangerland pushes its boundaries and its actors: Kidman’s character bares more (way more) than her soul, and the entire cast stays committed throughout. Though the film itself never ends up being as committed as its actors are, it absolutely opens a glimpse into the suffocating heartache of a grieving parent.”

Heath Jones, The Film Stage: “Kidman gives one of her best performances in recent years. Displaying a vulnerability and depth that has not been seen since her appearance in The Paperboy, Kidman’s Catherine is engaging and heartbreaking as she begins to unravel at the loss of her children. Fiennes’ Matthew is just as broken as his wife, displaying equal parts of affection and cruelty… Weaving does an expert job at playing one of the few truly honorable men in Strangerland’s fictional town of Nathgari. Rae simply wishes to follow the leads and get the children back home safe…

While the plot can feel over-extended at points, often suffering from melodrama that seems to go from zero to one hundred in a second, it is Kidman and Fiennes’ expert balance of their characters’ noble and deplorable acts that keep the viewer wanting more. Strangerland is made complete by an eerie score from Keefus Ciancia (True Detective) and cinematography from P.J. Dillon (Game of Thrones, Vikings), making suitable use out of its vast landscape. While many moments of Strangerland can be hard to watch, one certainly does not want to look away.”

Other Strangerland Press

Liz quoted several cast members in her summary of the Strangerland premiere for The Examiner, which included the two photos embedded in the Photos section.

AJPlus posted a brief Joseph Fiennes tutorial (taped at the premiere) on how to master the Australian accent.

Inside Film and Variety reported on Strangerland’s now-confirmed distribution deal with Alchemy. Alas, no release date has yet been announced.

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Mystery Road received a sold-out showcase at a film festival in Pyongyang, North Korea, of all places. Director Ivan Sen attended the screening and gives his thoughts about the experience and describes the audience’s hunger for a variety of films in SBS.

Positive reviews for the Blu-Ray release of The Mule keep appearing; you can read the latest in Nuke the Fridge.

Hugo Weaving Promotes Strangerland At Sundance: New Pics & Video, Film Secures Distribution

There was a deluge of new material as Hugo Weaving attended Strangerland’s premiere at Sundance Friday (Jan 23), then participated in interviews and photo ops for much of Saturday. So far there hasn’t been any breaking news today, but a few more photos of yesterday’s press events continue to appear online.

There have been at least three video interviews presented by various entertainment websites: Hugo and Joseph Fiennes sat for 10-minute interviews with HuffPost Live and The Wrap yesterday afternoon. I was lucky enough to catch the live feed but could only record audio. (My video recording software is primitive and chokes on HD; I did try to record video but was unable to.) When Hugo has attended press junkets at festivals before, the websites obtaining the interviews were usually good enough to post the complete segments afterward so viewers who might not have been available for the live feed can see them. After all, that’s why the actors participate– to promote their films to as wide an audience as possible. But so far neither The Wrap nor HuffPost Live has deigned to share their interviews, even more than 24 hours after they were held. This is obnoxious, frankly, and I hope the interviews are eventually shared in complete form, as both were thoughtful and informative. I WILL share the audio if the websites don’t cooperate, but I’m still hoping they’ll hold up their end and do the right thing by us fans.

Meanwhile, here are the two videos from sites that did share their interviews. The first is Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes’ IMDb/Amazon Instant Video chat, which is short but hilarious. the second a far more in-depth interview with Nicole Kidman posted to IndieWire. Unfortunately, Kidman didn’t participate in any of the Jan 24 press sessions, which might be one reason why the sites in question aren’t sharing the material immediately. (Another might be they’re sitting on the interviews until the film is released, which would be infuriating.)


IMDb

Proof Hugo is as invaluable when being silly as when being thoughtful and serious. Sundance desperately needed that Donald Duck voice. 😉

(Note: I can’t embed the Nicole Kidman interview directly to WordPress due to their infernal “whitelisting” restrictions, but it’s definitely worth following the link)
IndieWire

Rather perversely, we have abundant photo documentation of both “missing” interviews in addition to a wealth of new pics of the premiere and other Sundance events. I’m going to try to post these in a coherent, vaguely chronological manner (not promising anything!)… As a general rule, anything featuring Hugo in a blue shirt is from Friday, anything with him in a brown shirt is from Saturday. All are photos posted online posted since my prior entry, which included the first bunch.

Friday, January 23 Strangerland pre-premiere party, Grey Goose Lounge

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The cast and crew of Strangerland (including Joseph Fiennes, Fiona Seres, Nicole Kidman, Maddison Brown, Lisa Flanagan, Hugo Weaving, Meyne Wyatt, Kim Farrant, Sean Keenan and Michael Kinirons

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Both above photos: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

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Above two photos: Ray Tamarra/GC Images/Getty

Cast Portraits, 23 January

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L to R: Lisa Flanagan, Meyne Wyatt, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving, Kim Farrant, Sean Keenan and Maddison Brown

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Above four photos: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Hugo Weaving Out & About At Sundance January 23 (Including some great fan photos)

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“Hanging with Hugo. You never know who you will bump into at Sundance.”   Alec Pedersen via Instagram

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Above eight photos: Splash News/Corbis

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“Hugo Weaving is a cool aussie. #Sundance” shawnqk via Instagram

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“Lots of #Aussies here at #SundanceFilmFestival With #HugoWeaving at #Strangerland party” Katherine Tulich visa Instagram

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Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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“#hugoweaving #sundance15 #strangerland” Lucia Cornejo via Instagram

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What a fantastic day at work this was! emoji #HugoWeaving” Tinara Braham via Instagram

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Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes

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Above four photos: Mat Hayward/GC/Getty Images

Strangerland Red Carpet and Premiere, 23 January

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Above three photos: Chris Pizzello / AP


Above five photos: Michael Hurcomb/Corbis

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“After the world premiere screening of Kim Farrant’s Strangerland, Kim, cast and writers take the stage for the Q&A. #sundance” Trevor Groth via Instagram

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“Great screening tonight #strangerland” Macdara Kelleher via Twitter

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“#Sundance2015: #NicoleKidman #JosephFiennes #HugoWeaving #LisaFlanagan #KimFarrant at tonight’s premiere of #Strangerland” Ed Gibbs via Twitter

January 24 Interview Sessions With Joseph Fiennes

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Hugo Weaving at IMDb/Amazon Instant Video interview session

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With IMDb interviewer Keith Simanton

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Guess which five seconds of Hugo Weaving’s Sudance Film Festival experience got the most press? 😉 Joseph Fiennes tries to outdo James Nesbitt’s valiant 2012 Hobbit red carpet efforts

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Above six photos: Jerod Harris/Getty Images

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Another angle on the smooch, from IMDB’s twitter feed

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Weaving and Fiennes discuss Strangerland with The Wrap‘s interviewer

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Both above pics: The Wrap’s Twitter feed

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Photo: Tyler Straight via Instagram

A few things I remember offhand from The Wrap’s interview: Both actors were asked what they felt their “most representative” role was; Hugo said Little Fish, Joseph Shakespeare in Love. Both were also asked about the Oscars; Hugo said he doesn’t follow or pay much heed to such events. Fans often are perplexed why Hugo’s never been nominated for Oscars, but to me, the reason is simple: Hugo doesn’t kiss up to the entertainment industry or buy ads selling himself as a contender. Nor does he schmooze at industry events which aren’t explicitly about promoting a specific film. These are all things one has to do to be under consideration. Since Oscars only occasionally recognize what’s really the best work in any given yer, I’d rather Hugo be exactly as he is than ever win Oscars. He’s a breath of fresh air in an industry where actual quality is well down the list of important qualifiers for recognition.

Also: Both actors discussed Strangerland’s themes and most potent scenes at length. Both actors know the drill on working under the time and budget constraints of independent film, but both say they thrive amid the challenge. Some scenes in Strangerland had to be changed or eliminated due to financial issues and the conditions on the set. Both actors also praised Nicole Kidman’s work ethic and willingness to do whatever a role requires of her. Hugo’s character, a policeman who investigates the teenaged children of Fiennes and Kidman’s characters, wasn’t discussed at length but Hugo noted that he accepts roles on the basis of the script, without trying to imagine how he’d tackle a given role on the first read-through.

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Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes arrive for an inteview with HuffPost Live, January 24

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The HuffPostLive interview: Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving, moderator Ricky Camilleri

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Eight above photos: Tiffany Rose/Getty Images

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“Talk about #Sundance chic… #JosephFiennes & #HugoWeaving dressed the part for today’s interview about their new film #Strangerland.”   Photo: HuffPost Live via Instagram

Ths was the longest of the three joint interviews, and I’m most eager to see it again. The interviewer was enthusiastic about the film and stayed on-topic in discussing it.  Hugo at first seemed slightly distracted, picking lint off his clothes, but really engaged and spoke eloquently once the interview was properly underway. I’ll reiterate that both The Wrap and HuffPost Live really need to post these clips unedited, as they’re a far better indicator of what this film is really like than all of the snarky reviews (I’m already thinking this festival, rife with posturing young hipsters who’d rather pretend to discover the latest thing than recognize industry vets like this cast, might have been the wrong forum to launch this particular project.)

Hugo Weaving Out and About At Sundance, 24 January

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Above two photos: Fame/Flynet Pictures

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Above two photos: Alo Cebalos/Getty Images

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“Hugo Weaving. 2:02pm #sundance” andyundo via Instagram

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“Hugo Weaving just left Park City Live in Main Street. #Sundance2015” SLC Ink via Twitter

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Above two lovely portraits: John Parra via Getty Images

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Above two pics: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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“Taking a selfie with Hugo Weaving was like taking a selfie with Lord Elrond, Agent Smith, and Red Skull all at once.” Brenna Empey via Twitter

Press Coverage

As I noted earlier, the formal review posted thusfar have ranged from middling to poisonously jaded, often sounding suspiciously like the critics either decided what they thought of the film before actually seeing it, or thought it would be more formulaic (or “message-heavy”) and derided it for being more ambiguous than they’d anticipated. Though I’d be the first to concede Hugo has been in some less-than-brilliant projects over his career (most of his post-Matrix cartoon-villain roles would top that list, but a few indies such as The Tender Hook have also sold him short) I find it very hard to believe some of these critics. This is Kim Farrant’s first feature length dramatic film, but she’s made documentaries and short films for many years, and what I’ve seen of her work has been superlative.

I also distrust reviewers who need a thunderingly obvious “message” about female sexuality, aboriginal rights or whatever else they thought the film needed… I always enjoyed ambiguity and plot threads that don’t necessarily tie so neatly into the main strand that the whole thing resembles a CBS procedural (in which every line of dialogue and seemingly-random visual actually provides a clue to the outcome). I’m rather surprised critics in a festival audience would be so averse to ambiguity, but then I read about the films they enjoyed or indie darlings they fawn over… and “obvious” seems to be the trend this year. Also, there’s been an undeserved piling-on of Nicole Kidman by many critics over the “failure” of several of her recent projects, though some of those films were actually good. (Box office disappointment has nothing to do with quality… another thing I thought the hipster crowd got.)  So none of the reviews so far are getting links from me. Sorry. If the film indeed turns out to be disappointing, I’ll be honest about that… I actually get more guff from other Hugo fans about NOT liking certain films than about being too uncritical.  But the tone of these reviews has been so snide I find it hard to take them seriously.

Also, I’m one of a handful of fans who’s been aware of this project for a long time as the director has labored to secure backing and a cast. Hugo Weaving signed on as early as 2006, Farrant says she’s worked on the film for a dozen years. There were several cast changes (with Anthony LaPaglia and Guy Pearce up for the Joseph Fiennes role at various times) but Hugo stayed attached. that a group of jaded critics think they can smother this film at birth after such a long, hard-fought gestation does get on my nerves just a bit, especially when some of these critics have praised films or series involving family drama of various sorts which was handled in a more more generic or gimmick driven manner. (If only Farrant had filmed one scene per yar over that twelve year period, or made her characters more politically trendy…) 😉 I should note that public reception of the film (by people not paid for their opinions) has been much more even handed, and positive comments have far outweighed negative. And that the negative comments have read like bad insult comedy.

As far as objective or positive press coverage goes: The Sunday Morning Herald accentuated the positive response, including comments from Farrant and Kidman. The Sundance website gave a summary of the film’s premiere, though their social media sites have paid the film almost no attention.  Nicole Kidman spoke vabout the film with Golden Globes online in addition to IndieWire.

One of the more charming festiovalgoer accounts can be read at The Film Experience, where writer Nathaniel R describes barely getting in to the Strangerland pre-screening party, and chatting with Hugo:

“Nicole was late to her own party (and stayed only briefly). I was somehow roped into taking a photo of her with a fan. Sadly that fan was not me. Awkward. She did a friendly little wave to me as she disappeared. Hugo Weaving, who plays the detective investigating the case, was chattier. He was visibly surprised to hear that Proof (1991) was my entry point into his career – that fine Australian film is way too underseen. He says the Hollywood stuff is the anomaly – what he mostly does is ‘these little Australian films that no one sees.’ He says that Nicole is a joy to work with and fearless. That she’ll basically come right out and say things like ‘I’ll do anything for the camera’ but off camera she’s a ‘dag’. He could tell I didn’t know what the word meant, so he started with the literal meaning which, much to my horror, is basically a sheep’s dingleberries! Thankfully it has a much more affectionately teasing figurative meaning, basically a ‘nerd,’and he promised that cast and crew loves her.”


“Nioole, Joseph, and Hugo. Joseph’s boots were gigantic!” Photo: Nathaniel R, The Film Experience

Proof was also the first Hugo Weaving film I saw… one reason I find the post-Matrix typecasting so irritating. I’ve known all along there was so much more to his range.  Also, bringing up Hugo’s indie films (or simply asking him to sign a DVD/Blu-Ray cover for one) is a sure way to get a great conversation with him. I know that from experience. 😉

Kim Farrant described the long process of bringing Strangerland to the screen in Filmmaker Magazine.

The best industry news concerning Strangerland a Sundance has been the acquisition of a US distributor, Alchemy Pictures. Deadline broke the story, but The Wrap has a few more details, and LJ doesn’t barf when I try to link to them. (No idea what LJ has against Deadline in particular… If they started blocking all hype-based sites they should at least include The Hollywood Reporter.) 😉  The deal includes “a multi-platform release as well as a theatrical commitment in 15 U.S. markets” meaning I stand a fair chance of seeing it in a cinema… and even an outside chance of not having to pay New York parking fares (or public transport fees if I took the train.) The original Deadline piece adds  “[Strangerland] got a strong response particularly for a  powerful performance by Kidman. Worldview financed and Wild Bunch is selling foreign.” So the film might gain worldwide cinema distribution despite the best efforts of those critics. 😉

The Australian covers the full contingent of Australian movies at the festival. And… you can read intel on the Grey Goose pre-premiere party (and its libations) at Tipsy Diaries. Frankly I;m gonna need some Grey Goose of my own if I read any more hipster snark about this movie. 😉

I’ll keep looking for those video interviews from HuffPostLive and The Wrap; if I’m not updating Twitter tomorrow it’ll be because we’re expecting a blizzard tomorrow and could lose power. But feel free to keep checking their links (and asking where the interviews are at their social media sites, etc.) I hope they’ll be up soon.