Tag Archives: The Hobbit

Hugo Weaving Attends CinefestOz Film Festival, Collects Screen Legend Award

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

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

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

CinefestOz Interviews

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

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

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

Weaving’s heart is right at home

The West Australian
Mark Naglazas 28 August 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Nancy Groves, The Guardian 29 August 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CinefestOz Photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Guardian Aus Culture via Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dressmaker

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

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

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

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

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

The Hobbit Trilogy Expanded Editions Get Theatrical Release

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

via Warner Bros Online

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

Apologies for not updating sooner; my schedule has been chaotic for a few weeks now. Here are the major Hugo Weaving News Updates from the pasty couple of weeks. (As always, I update in a more timely manner on my Twitter account, but it’s been hard to grab a chunk of time long enough for the context and nuance that composing a Hugonuts update requires… I still consider this format preferable to the more abbreviated, trendy social networking sites, but Twitter at least allows me to post the raw materials of future entries as they appear.)

But enough delaying…

Strangerland: Official Trailer and Festival Screenings

Strangerland finally has an official trailer, via its American distributor Alchemy. (There was an unofficial, subtler teaser online several months ago, but it was quickly pulled from circulation, apparently considered an unofficial leak. For the record, I liked it as much as the new one, and it gave away less of the film’s plot.) The new trailer is longer and more intense, though Hugo has about the same amount of screentime. There are a few too many spoliers for my taste, but that’s generally true of the format. At least in this case the film’s ambiguous nature prevents the sort of over-sharing that plagues trailers for more conventional thrillers. All three lead actors look to be in solid form. Here’s the trailer plus the officxial poster (which is excellent) a few of my screencaps of Hugo’s scenes.

Alchemy via YouTube

The official film poster

(Above four images) My screencaps from the official trailer

Strangerland is released on 10 July in the US and 11 June in Australia, with the rest of its global distribution TBD. The US marketing hints strongly at a VOD-centric launch plus “select” cinematic screenings (likely a limited arthouse release.) The Australian release strategy will probably be similar, though the film is being treated with more class there, in a series of Sydney Film Festival Presents -themed screenings at the Palace Cinemas chain. (More about that in Inside Film). You can read the intel on the US release at Deadline, IndieWire, I’mWithGeek, The Film Stage and IMDb… all have very similar reports including the synopsis and trailer.

Prior to its international wide release, Strangerland will have screenings at the Sydney Film Festival— its Australian premiere 5 June and three additional screenings 6 June. Unfortunately, Hugo’s London stage role in STC’s Waiting For Godot (alongside Richard Roxburgh) will probably prevent Hugo from attending the film’s Sydney premiere… which is probably fine with him, though he has a longstanding love for the SFF apart from red-carpet duties. 😉 The film will also be showcased at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 17 and June 2. Tickets are still available for both festivals (follow the links above) but the SFF premiere is selling fast.

STC Endgame

Sydney Theatre Co’s production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame completed its final week of performances on Saturday; positive notices kept appearing til the end. In fact, I don’t recall seeing a single negative review for the entire run of the production, which may be a first. Here are review excerpts posted since my prior entry, along with some great fans photos.

Fiona Prior, Henry Thornton: “To experience Andrew Upton and Hugo Weaving’s vision of Endgame as an audience member goes way beyond empathy and imagination into a real-time experiential connection. I frequently felt I was suffering as much from the onstage angst as were the performers who were waiting for the end –  and, like the performers it was only their repetitive dialogue about futility that kept me there for its wickedly funny insights…

Hugo Weaving owns the role of the tyrannical Hamm whose heart is not really into his dictatorial role any more but, confined to his chair, sees little alternative;  Tom Budge as the long-suffering Clov is an adept physical clown and the most down-trodden and sweetest of  victims. Add dust-covered and ashen Nell (Sarah Peirse)  and Nago (Bruce Spence) who live – if that is an appropriate word for their existence –  in old metal barrels on stage and  you have the whole extended family. Nell and Nago exhibit a loving connection in the play through the sharing of a biscuit and of memory. This glimmer of love, however, is treated as routinely as the exchanges of Hamm and Clov and this handling makes it all the more tragic..

I don’t adhere to the existential vision embedded in Endgame but I’m astonished that it can be delivered with such compelling humour. It is also a timely reminder to live creatively and not be a slave to what has come before. ”

Photo: Sharon Johal via Instagram

Frank Barnes, Education/NSWTF: “Along with the full house I sat mesmerised by this production, marvelling at Weaving’s mastery as he uses only his voice and arms, the powerful clowning performance of Tom Budge who has not acted on stage for 10 years, and the rarely-seen Bruce Spence and the extraordinary Sarah Peirse whose appearance is way too brief… Somehow there is always lots of humour to be found in these bleak scenarios of Beckett’s worlds…

The production is engrossing. Let’s hope that Upton, who is leaving for the US with his family, comes back occasionally to team up with Weaving again.”

Tanydd Jacquet, cheekytaster: “From the moment Hugo Weaving is unveiled onstage, you could hear a pin drop at the Roslyn Packer Theatre..

As the endless drops drip from the stage wall like the agonising infinity of seconds passing through in their world, the audience cannot help but to respond to their helplessness with laughter…

The greatest conflict in the play is the one you find yourself in when you leave the theatre. Both quizzical and inspired – you resolve to leave the room you have been so comfortable in, and take a chance on exploring what could be outside…

Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Endgame is a dark comedy that leaves it’s audience talking more than what happens onstage.”

Photo: aabbeymensforth via Instagram

theatrematters.com.au: “Despite the play being a little challenging to follow, the performances were, unsurprisingly, outstanding. Hugo Weaving was captivating as the tyrannical, unforgiving Hamm. At first I was concerned about not being able to see his eyes, hidden behind clouded glasses. How would I connect with him? But he was so beautifully expressive with his languorous hands (echoes of Gambon) and utilised the entirety of his vocal range to such a great effect that I needn’t have worried. Weaving is an enviably clever actor, and his use of language is utterly inspiring. His voice is like chocolate, and the way he effortlessly squeezes meaning out of each syllable, whether it be from modern or classic text, is a gift. Bugde made the perfect companion, making great comedic and physical choices, and letting Clov’s strength shine through just enough to give us hope for him in the end. Both actors were playing within the confines of the script, and found comedy in very difficult and unexpected places…

Nick Schlieper’s set and lighting design was delightfully bleak and foreboding, and provided the perfect basement home for the unlikely family, doomed to be forever alone until something breaks the monotony – death or departure.”

Photo: bncarynlds via Instagram

The Buzz From Sydney: “At the risk of sounding effusive, a production like the Andrew Upton directed Endgame is the reason why people go to the theatre: spellbinding performances and meticulous direction has made Endgame one of the theatre events of the year, which may sound premature, but trust me, is not…

Tom Budge delivered a virtuoso performance as Clov: he executes his duties in exacting , yet forgetful fashion, with intense concentration on space, as he moves Hamm around the stage. Hugo Weaving as Hamm was absolutely brilliant. His monologues create a landscape that is rich in simple drama, while his unseeing eyes held the audience in their grip. Hamm is after all, trying to stave off the end with a few last minute manipulations that are pointless but for him necessary…

Andrew Upton presents Endgame as a more sophisticated companion piece to Waiting For Godot, and fans of Beckett who are after a detailed and faithful rendering will not be disappointed by this production.”

Photo: millsy_k via Instagram

Alex Rieneck, AE36: “Suffice to say the characters are “Hamm” (Hugo Weaving) who spends the play ensconced in a comfortable armchair (which may be seen as a throne) (or not) and who orders everyone  about. He describes himself as senile, so he may be seen as a king. His especial servant is “Clov” (Tom Budge) who runs hither and yon about the stage at every beck and call and being far more mobile than the rest of the cast, is responsible for the physical comedy. Its a big job, Mr Budge is on the move for the entire play scuttling from one side of the stage to the other. His main prop is a twenty foot ladder and I lost track of the number of times that he climbed it, all the way to the top; after carrying it across the stage from one side to the other. No housepainter works so hard; I pitied him and wondered that at the end of the play he seemed to still be word perfect, even as he glistened with sweat. Actors delight me…

Hamm is a less likeable character; he sprawls backwards in his chair bossing Clov, bellowing when he thinks it will achieve his purpose; bribing Nagg with sugar plums when shouting fails. In short Hamm is every inch a king, but not the phantasy monarch of king William and Kate – he is more the nasty reality of King Rupert (Murdoch) himself the unvarnished face of power itself…

The  performances (particularly Hugo Weaving’s as Hamm and Tom Budge as Clov) are flawless, and Bruce Spence beaming up at the world out of a garbage can is not something I will soon forget – nor will I try to.  Sarah Perse does rather better than can be expected with the little that is available to the character of Nell.”

Fan video(!) by Sharon Johal/Instagram

And here are a couple of treats from STC: a behind the scenes look at the production’s teaser trailer, and a neat animated promo for the souvenir programme. (Yes, I have a copy, and yes, there will be scans when I have more time.) 😉

STC via YouTube

Hugo will have a brief respite from Samuel Beckett before traveling with STC’s production of Waiting For Godot to London’s Barbican in June. Stage Whipers has a preview.

RIP Andrew Lesnie, Cinematographer

Many of us were shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of Andrew Lesnie, who won an Oscar for his cinematography for Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings and lent his considerable skills to several other notable Hugo Weaving films and TV projects, including The Hobbit Trilogy, Babe and its sequel, Bodyline, Melba and Healing. Lesnie also worked on King Kong and The Lovely Bones for Jackson, the recent Planet of the Apes reboot ; his final film was The Water Diviner starring Russell Crowe. Here is director Craig Monahan’s tribute to his collaborator and friend, via Healing’s Facebook page:

Healing director Craig Monahan, with Andrew Lesnie (2013)

“I am devastated at the loss of my friend of 35 years. I first met Andrew at film school : he was finishing and I was starting.

Our initial connection believe it or not was our love of Groucho Marx. I can still see him walking around saying ‘I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got in my pyjamas I’ll never know.’

There was no-one like Andrew. He was very intelligent, very funny and full of energy. As a cinematographer he was brilliant…”Lighting schmiting”, he would say. ‘What’s it about? What is this scene about? Everything came from that.

Much love to Marcie and to his boys Sam,Jack and Alex. R.I.P. my friend” – Craig

Lesnie (center) with his wife Marcie on the set of Healing (2013)  Photos: Healing Facebook

Hugo Weaving and Lesnie during the filming of Healing (2013)

You can read tributes and more about Lesnie’s career at Variety, The Guardian, The New York Times, TheOneRing.net and (of course) Peter Jackson’s Facebook page, which includes an extended tribute and photos from the sets of their many collaborations.

“Dearest Andrew, you never sought nor wanted praise – you never needed to hear how good you were, you only ever cared about doing great work and respecting the work of others. But on behalf of all those who were lucky enough to collaborate with you, love you and in turn, respect your mastery of story, of light and of cinema magic – you are one of the great cinematographers of our time.” — Peter Jackson, via Facebook

With Ian McKellen on The Hobbit set  (Photo: Screen Rant)

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Ivan Sen and his Mystery Road leading man Aaron Pedersen are filming the much-anticipated sequel/follow-up to their 2013 masterpiece. Alas, for obvious resons (to anyone who’s seen Mystery Road) Hugo Weaving and Ryan Kwanten won’t be able to participate this time around. The new film, entitled Goldstone, sees Pedersen’s Jay Swan investigating a new case in another town; though none of the Mystery Road supporting cast is on hand, the new film looks unmissable with the additions of Jacki Weaver, David Gulpilil and David Wenham to the cast. You can follow the film via the Mystery Road Facebook page (now officially named for BOTH films), and read more at Inside Film, Variety, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and SBS.  Filming is now underway in the Winton, QLD area.

The Dressmaker Wraps Production (incl Hugo Weaving set photos); BOFA Promo Material; #TheMuleLive

Apologies for the gap between entries… as you know, this is a very busy time of year.

The Battle of the Five Armies

I did attend a marathon screening of all three Hobbit films on 15 December but will withhold my full review until the end of the moth, as there are still a few regions whee The Battle of the Five Armies hasn’t opened (including Australia), and many reviewers have already been too loose with the spoilers. I will say that yes, these films don’t hold a candle to Lord of The Rings. But I had a fun time seeing tis trilogy and– some early technical difficulties aside– it was an effortlessly fun way to spend a day. I was never bored. And I’ll dare say that these three films go down easier seen at at once than with a year in between. (Peter Jackson’s reliance on cliffhangers this time around is legitimate grounds for criticism; the Lord of the Rings films each ended on a decisive note with one story element completed as the overall arc continued.) Interestingly, An Unexpected Journey improves with a second viewng while The Desolation of Smaug deteriorates a bit– not only due to the distinct lack of Hugo Weaving in the second film.)

Yes, the material probably would’ve fit just fine in two films rather than three. But I’m reminded of the Beatles’ White Album conundrum: most fans say it could have easily been edited down to one great album instead of two “merely” good ones, but I’ve yet to see two Beatles fans agree completely on WHAT they’d cut. Similarly, reviews critical of BOFA (and The Hobbit trilogy in general) seem divided on whether the extravagant action sequences are in need of trimming or the plotting nuances between. I’m in the former camp. In fact, I’d have enjoyed a longer BOFA if the some character-based material was added to make the transitions between action setpieces a bit less jarring. My favorite parts of the film– and the trilogy– are the small character moments. And the immense talent of most of the actors on hand makes even the underwritten material (and too-swift transitions) work.

Hugo Weaving and Peter Jackson prep for the Dol Guldur rescue scene in BOFA. HD version of this photo here.

If you’re only watching these films to see Hugo Weaving (or Cate Blanchett, or Christopher Lee) you might be disappointed. Their sequence battling Nazgul at Dol Guldur (to resolve the Gandalf’s capture cliffhanger in DOS) comes early in the film and is over within minutes. Much of Hugo’s footage appears to be a stunt double or CG, and he only has about three lines. He has little to do- less than the other White Council members– once he makes the grand entrance seen in all the trailers and TV ads. I would argue the scene is necessary and gives the titular battle greater stakes than the novel as originally written, as it ties this conflict to the larger one in LOTR. While Tolkien might not have staged this specific scene per se, he did explicitly attempt to link The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings through supplemental material, and at one point toyed with the notion of rewriting The Hobbit as a darker tale more in tune with LOTR. While his work is more lyrical and less action-driven than Peter Jackson’s take, I would argue no great liberties are taken. Jackson fills in gaps left undefined rather than violating the spirit of Tolkien’s work. I’m not an overly devout fan of either the director or the writer– both have provided great entertainment at various times in my life, and both have flaws.

I’ll say no more about plot specifics until the film is open everywhere, as I can’t get too far into describing what worked (or didn’t) about the film without spoilers.  As far as recommending the film, I would wholeheartedly to anyone who likes what they’ve seen so far. If you hated the first two parts, though, or simply aren’t into these sorts of films, BOFA won’t magically change your mind. It’s completely of a piece with the first two. I actually understand (and in some cases, agree with) various criticism of the film and trilogy. But I have enough affection for the films and characters that even glaring flaws don’t matter as much as they might in films featuring less talented actors and filmmakers.

Here are some of the promo videos for The Battle of the Five Armies that have appeared since my last entry:

The Hobbit trilogy B-Roll footage (Hugo at 1.50) ; Screen Slam via YouTube

Memories of Middle Earth behind-the-scenes featurette w/actor interviews; Hugo Weaving interview snippet at 1.22 Warner Bros via YouTube

Completing Middle Earth (six film overview) featurette; Warner Bros via YouTube

17 Years in the Making Hobbit/LOTR overview; Hugo footage at 1.39, 2.00, 2.49, and 5.40; Warner Bros via YouTube

I’m not even going to attempt to compile all the reviews of the film; many are very cynical. But some of the more balanced, well-written ones appear at Empire Online, Entertainment Focus, Victoria Advocate, The Radio Times, Flickering Myth (1), The Boston Globe, The Scotsman, TIME, Flickering Myth (2), ABS/CBN, Examiner.com, The Daily News Online and MoviePilot.

Additional feature stories about Battle of the Five Armies and The Hobbit trilogy have appeared at The Guardian, Films on Wax (Howard Shore interview about the film’s score), Digital Spy, The New York Daily News,

You can watch Evangeline Lilly’s gonzo promo interview on Conan at TeamCoco.com and see a behind-the-scenes glimpse of uber-fan Stephen Colbert having the ultimate cosplay fun prepping for his Entertainment Weekly Hobbit cover story at EW Online. (Yes, I have the print magazine (Bilbo cover) and will try to have scans up at Flickr soon.) There’s an Ian McKellen photo quiz at TwitchFilm.  And a Cate Blanchett interview which notes The Hobbit in passing at The Daily Telegraph.

…And I’ve added three Hobbit-themed print articles from The Independent, The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Express to my Flickr Archive. No Hugo Weaving interviews per se in these, but a two feature images of him.

The Mule

I hope some of you were able to participate in #TheMuleLive event back on December 7. (I know several of my Twitter pals were along for the ride).  I rented a copy of the film and tweeted along, and found it an indecent amount of fun.  Though it would be impossible to share everything contributed by the fans, filmmakers (Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell and several film crew members) and actors (John Noble, Sampson and Whannell, Georgina Haig, Ewen Leslie and Chris Pang), here are some highlights, including wonderful behind-the-scenes images and script pages:

Hugo Weaving, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Ewen Leslie during pre-production   Photo: Stefan Duscio (The Mule’s cinematographer) via Twitter

The cast at an early table-read of the script (Hugo is far down on the left)   Photo: Stefan Duscio (The Mule’s cinematographer) via Twitter

Angus Sampson. Hugo Weaving, Ewen Leslie,   on set   Photo: Stefan Duscio (The Mule’s cinematographer) via Twitter

Hugo Weaving on set Photo: Stefan Duscio (The Mule’s cinematographer) via Twitter

Here are script pages from some of Hugo’s (Det Croft’s) funniest scenes, as shared by Angus Sampson. Original screenplay by Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell and Jaime Browne.

“There are tongs for that!” (Croft vs Ziggy)

THAT scene…

“Bit more choke and that would’ve started”

The Infamous Balloon Scene

The Perils of Australian Lamb

Some other great production images:

Fiona Rees-Jones’ make-up kit for the #HugoWeaving #TheMuleLive” The Mule Movie via Twitter

The film’s storyboards  Photo: Stefan Duscio via Twitter

Assembling scenes in the editing room   Photo: Stefan Duscio via Twitter

You can read interviews with Angus Sampson and info about the Live Tweet event at The Sydney Morning Herald, Subculture Entertainment, The West Australian, FilmInk, Quickflix (places The Mule in the Top 10 Australian Films of 2014),

The latest reviews of The Mule (which remain largey positive) can be read at Better Than IMDb, How To Win Game Shows, International Syndicate of Cult Film Critics, Eureka Street, Thy Reviewer, Broadsheet

And if you missed any earlier promo videos or video interviews for The Mule, Angus Sampson has assembled a Playlist (which includes a few of his and Hugo Weaving’s press interviews) on YouTube.

The Dressmaker

Of course, Hugo Weaving was unable to participate in #TheMuleLive and in most of the Battle of the Five Armies promotion because he’s been busy filming The Dressmaker for director Jocelyn Moorhouse at locations in Victoria. Production formally wrapped a few days ago (December 14), but not before several more photos of Hugo Weaving and other cast members (Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth chief among them) appeared online via Instagram and several online papers in the Wimmera area, where the last block of filming took place.

The production team announced filming completion via producer Sue Maslin’s second eNews announcement. Click on the link for the full text; here are a few highlights:

“On Friday the 17th of October 2014, we rolled cameras on The Dressmaker at Docklands Studios Melbourne. Eight weeks later we called “Cut!” for the very last time finishing up in Horsham, Victoria. ..

Kate Winslet has been our ideal ‘Tilly’: beautiful, strong, quick-witted, and even quicker with her period Singer sewing machine. The mother-daughter relationship between our ‘Molly’, Judy Davis, and Tilly is authentic, moving and a joy to watch. To see these two great actresses working together on the screen has been electric and often hilarious… Liam Hemsworth brings loads of natural charm and warmth to ‘Teddy’ and it’s no wonder Tilly falls for this likeable and devastatingly handsome rogue. And Hugo Weaving is perfect as our debonair ‘Sergeant Farrat’. Add to this Sacha Horler as the formidable ‘Una’ who attempts to rival Tilly and Sarah Snook, a revelation as ‘Gertrude’ who bowls everyone over in her exquisite gowns designed by Marion Boyce. We are indebted to our entire cast, of which there are so many, who have added such depth and character to the townspeople of Dungatar.”

The Wimmera Mail-Times featured several great photos of cast members (including Hugo) enjoying down-time at local haunt The Exchange Hotel , posing with fans. (Captions are from original news article).

“Nathalie Henry and Sharon McDonald meet stars Gyton Grantley and Hugo Weaving at the Exchange Hotel in Horsham on Tuesday night [9 December].”

“Annie Brack meets Hugo Weaving on Tuesday night.”

“Katherine Coorey and friends get to meet some of The Dressmaker stars at the Exchange.”

“The Dressmaker extra Paige Schmidt, left, and Horsham’s Loucas Vettos, right, with Caroline Goodall, Hugo Weaving, Kerry Fox, Sarah Snook and Shane Jacobson outside The Exchange on Wednesday night.”

All four above photos: The Wimmera Mail-Times; they have additional photos of the set and other cast members in their online gallery.

Here are some additional fan photos (with original captions) that have appeared on Instagram:

So I met Hugo Weaving on the set of ‘The Dressmaker’ the other day. You always think that whenever or if-ever you’ll meet your absolute idol then you’ll have an intelligent conversation, but take it from me, you end up looking like a bumbling idiot asking for an autograph when the opportunity arises. #hugoweaving #agentsmith #lordelrond #thedressmaker #onset #metgodtoday”
Photo: Charles Thompson via Instagram

My beautiful mum met Hugo Weaving, @gytongrantley and other cast members of The Dressmaker on Wednesday night! So lucky. After spending the arvo on set and then meeting these guys that evening – I certainly am jealous! #thedressmaker #hugoweaving #horsham”  Photo: Schmenz via Instagram

“Got to meet one of the best Australian actors ever!! #HugoWeaving” Ella Schorback via Instagram

JustJared posted a number of photos of cast members between scenes on set; most are of Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth and Winslet’s husband Ned Rocknroll, but there was one great pic of Hugo with Kate Winslet. (Featuring his infamous fire-carbonized glasses– yes, apparently Hugo needs bifocals now. Guess we’re all gettin’ old together.) 😉

Hugo Weaving, Kate Winslet and a Dressmaker crew member on the film’s Melbourne set   Photo: JustJared; no specific photographer credit given; enlargement here

An additional JustJared gallery doesn’t feature Hugo, but shares some amazing shots of Kate Winslet in a dazzling red dress and Liam Hemsworth in rugby gear.

The Wimmera Mail-Times posted several related stories (and loads of set pics featuring Winslet, Hemsworth and many costumes extras). You can find the links to all here. Hugo Weaving is mentioned but there are no interviews or photos in these pieces.

The film’s production-wrap announcement was covered by Variety, Screen Daily, The Courier-Mail, The Daily Mail, Inside Film, Weekly Times Now and Digital Spy. All featured the film’s first official stil, featuring Kate Winslet (below). Jocelyn Moorhouse is quoted as calling the film “’Unforgiven’ with a sewing machine” and adds “Working with Kate, Judy, Liam and Hugo was wonderful. A great crew, brilliant supporting cast and beautiful locations, costume and design helped make the shoot a delight.”  The Lowdown Under included a number of set photos, including some from the film’s Facebook page.

Kate Winslet as Tilly in The Dressmaker   Film still via Empire on Twitter

In Other Hugo Weaving News

You can now stream Mystery Road on Netflix (in the US) and Healing on QuickFlix (Australia.) Healing is also available on DVD in Australia (region 4) only as of December 3; a US release and European release are tentatively scheduled for next year, but no specifics have been announced, nor any info on whether this would be a cinema run or direct-to-video/streaming/DVD/Blu-Ray. I assume that Starz/Encore will eventually broadcast the film on cable in the US.

Strangerland To Open Sundance; The Mule Live-Tweet Event 7 Dec; Pics from Dressmaker Set

A lot of new Hugo News to report; I’ll try to fit most of it in a single entry, but can’t promise anything as I’m on call for work tonight. I will definitely be avoiding certain items that unfairly overshadowed all the positive news online, though I plan to write a separate entry on that subject later. (That’d be Hugo’s interviews with The Hollywood Reporter and I Am Rogue, which were given to support The Mule, but got more attention for reigniting rumors Hugo might appear in a franchise he’s repeatedly says he finished with, and mostly reiterated he has little interest in returning to. For now I’ll just say that if Marvel wanted Hugo for the third Cap go-round, they’d most certainly have gotten in touch with him by now. He says no one has, and I believe him. Also, Hugo will be starring in Endgame for the STC when production on that film begins, which none of the over-eager rumor-mongers seems to have checked. So I’m fairly certain this closes the door regarding that particular film. I hope Hugo never goes back on his word and is done with lame franchise villain roles. And I’l reserve extended comment for another entry.)


First, some genuinely exciting news: Hugo Weaving’s film Strangerland, costarring Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes, will indeed have its world premiere at next February’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Some Italian Nicole Kidman fansites first hinted this might happen last month, and now the major trades have confirmed the news. Not only that, but the film will be featured on Sundance’s Opening Day program, and will be included in the World  Dramatic Cinematic Features competition with eleven other films. You can read the announcement at Screen Australia, Variety, Screen Daily, IndieWire and Sundance Institute’s blog. ; most reports feature only these details, the film’s official synopsis (below) and the familiar post-dust storm image of Kidman and Fiennes. Unfortunately the teaser I shared a few weeks ago turned out to be an unofficial leak (which would explain the Cyrillic in the YouTube title) 😉 so it’s been taken down. The film’s marketers promise an “official” trailer soon… frankly the leaked teaser was pretty damn good in my opinion, so they should just use that, then debut an official longer trailer closer to the opening.

Official Synopsis: Strangerland (Australia-Ireland) (Director: Kim Farrant, Screenwriters: Fiona Seres, Michael Kinirons) — When Catherine and Matthew Parker’s two teenage kids disappear into the remote Australian desert, the couple’s relationship is pushed to the brink as they confront the mystery of their children’s fate. Cast: Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving, Lisa Flanagan, Meyne Wyatt, Maddison Brown.”

Director Kim Farrant’s reaction (as quoted by Screen Australia): “We are thrilled that Strangerland will have its world premiere at one of the top festivals in the world. It’s such an honour to be in (World Dramatic) competition with such a fabulous line up of films and I’m especially excited to be going to Sundance (as I’ve always wanted to go) with my debut dramatic feature. Buying my snow boots now!” Farrant told Inside Film, “Sundance is where everything started with my shorts, so to be able to go back there with my first feature is very exciting. So many of my filmmaking heroes have come through the festival and to be included amongst that history is such an honour. Also, I really like snow.”

Hugo Weaving and Nicole Kidman, as seen in the “unofficial” teaser

The Mule

Though Hugo Weaving has returned to the Melbourne, Victoria area to continue filming The Dressmaker (which I’ll cover later this entry) his promotional interviews for The Mule continue to appear. I’ll re-post the relevant sections of the Hollywood Reporter and I Am Rogue interviews below, as a sort of corrective to all those entertainment sites which ONLY posted the Hollywood franchise bits which were a minor postscript to those interviews.

Hollywood Reporter Hugo Weaving Interview Excerpts:

What struck you about The Mule?

I really loved the script, and I laughed a lot. I thought it was a very smart, intelligent piece. It’s a terrific character. It presents him one way, but like all the characters in the film, he’s not black and white. They are all pretty gray. They are all harboring secrets and are a little compromised.

What preparation did you do for this role?

I jumped back into 1983 [when the film is set]. There were a number of little things I watched. There was a great TV series at the time in Australia called The Scales of Justice, which was a look at — for want of a better word — the whole justice industry, from a young cop graduating and becoming a policeman, right up until major corruption in the high court. It was made in 1983, and even though it wasn’t a documentary, it sort of took me back to the creative world of the day.

There was a cop both [costar] Ewen (Leslie) and I met up with, and we had a couple of hours to talk about various legalities and various interview transgressions and things you could or couldn’t do with a witness and holding them for a certain amount of time.

The Matrix has one of the all-time great interrogation scenes. Did that work affect your work here?

I didn’t draw a parallel with Smith, but it’s true. They both want something from somebody else. But I guess that’s true of a lot of relationships, really. If you look at any relationship on film, there’s often one dominant and one slightly recessive character, and then perhaps the tables turn. But we all want something from other people from time to time.

What do you like best about playing Croft?

I think the interesting thing about this film is that Croft presents as an old school cop with a pretty questionable interview technique, and he’s obviously a sexist pig, but you enjoy watching him, and I certainly enjoyed playing him. He’s very prepared to bend the rules, but ultimately he ends up at least having a line he doesn’t cross, unlike the majority of the other characters.

CJ: Yes, the interviewer can’t even stay on topic when discussing the film Hugo is promoting. Only someone with the mind of a two-year-old would possibly think Agent Smith somehow informs all of Hugo’s other films. 😉  The Interview (1998) would be a closer parallel, but I doubt anyone working for the Hollywood Reporter has seen it.

I Am Rogue Hugo Weaving Interview Excerpts

IAR: To begin with, how did you get involved with The Mule? Did you previously know actor/co-director/co-writer Angus Sampson, or were you just sent the script and then decided that you wanted you be part of the project?

Hugo Weaving: I had not met Angus before. I had the script sent to me. I read it, loved it and responded very quickly. I first met Angus when we had a read-through for part of the rehearsals. I knew a number of the other actors before. I had worked with Noni Hazlehurst, Geoff Morrell, John Noble and Ewen Leslie. Most of the actors I had worked with. I had never met Leigh (Whannell), Angus or Tony Mahony, the other co-director. I just responded to what I thought was a very smart and funny script. I loved the character. I thought he was great. It presented a type, but actually there was room for a specific person or character in there. I thought I would enjoy it enormously, and I did.

At first, it’s not really clear if your character has any morals, but then it becomes very apparent that he does have his own specific moral code. Can you talk about that?

Weaving: He is what I would call an old-school cop. If you think about 1983, the actual federal police force had just been set up at the time. So it would have been largely a state police force. There was a lot of corruption in Australian police around the time. But having said all of that, if you think about the circumstances as we are watching them in the film, we know that this guy has heroin in his stomach. The federal police pick him up and they are pretty sure he has it as well. He refuses an examination and they then take him. They are by law allowed to hold him for a short period of time. They do keep going down the legal avenues to extend that period of time because they are pretty sure he will not be able to hold on very long and have to produce the evidence. He is lying to them. They know he has got it in him. Croft bends the rules at all times in order to catch his man. That is definitely not considered the sort of thing you should do anymore. There are many more protections for suspects, which is a good thing. But back then this would have been absolutely standard procedure in a way. My character used a more physical interrogation technique, which does not necessarily happen anymore. But at the same time Croft, although he bends the rules, he will not break the rules. He will not break the law. The Australian police had a history of bending rules and maybe even breaking them to get someone because they know he is guilty. Croft would do anything to secure what he thinks is justice for the situation. But he would not go as far as killing someone. At the end of the film, he actually forms this unspoken alliance with someone who is the last person you would expect him to do that with. Croft has an old-school attitude and actually possesses old-school virtues. I always liked that about him.

Obviously you are no stranger to working with co-directors after collaborating with the Wachowskis on The Matrix trilogy. But what was it like working with two directors on The Mule, when one of them is acting in scenes opposite you?

Weaving: It was great actually, a situation that could have been full of major problems. You’ve got Tony, who was employed by Angus earlier to be the director on a set while he is acting. That could have been an incredible imposition of someone when you are trying to direct but that did not happen. Tony is very smart and has a great eye. He is very calm and a very easy-going, intelligent man. Angus did not push their weight around at all. There was a good open discussion about seeing any difference of opinion, which is talked about in a very easy way. It was an incredibly relaxed set I was incredibly impressed by the way in which they managed that. Tony was very much the director on the floor. Angus was just one of the actors, and so was Leigh, who was also a co-writer and executive producer. They both managed to say what they wanted, as did all of the other actors. It was a set full of permission at the time and camaraderie. It was very well managed.


Again with the freakin’ Matrix questions! Hugo completed work on those films twelve YEARS ago! As for rumors of possible Matrix sequels (which the I Am Rogue interviewer gullbly brought up) I’ve heard such rumors since 2005. There’s never been an ounce of truth to any of them. I do think Hugo will probably work with the Wachowskis again, but hope this time they give him a character of more complexity than they did in Cloud Atlas. They are a large part of the reason Hugo is so relentlessly stereotyped in the US media, and it would be nice if they helped remedy that. Tarantino gave Christoph Waltz a  complex non-villain to play in Django Unchained, after all. It CAN be done. 😉

But my favorite new interview was posted at The Dallas Examiner, which managed to stay on-topic and get some in-depth answers. Here’s their full transcript:

“Interview with ‘The Mule’ star Hugo Weaving
November 29, 2014

8:47 AM MST by Bobby Blakey

Few actors have had the impact of Hugo Weaving, who has been tearing his way through the film industry for years. When he made his memorable turn as Agent Smith in the Matrix films he was forever cemented as one of the greatest villains in film history, but that was just the beginning. Since he has not only been a part of numerous block buster franchises like The Lord of the Rings, Transformers and Captain America, but continues to deliver plenty of powerful smaller performances as well. His latest, The Mule is one of those films, but he turns in yet another brilliant performance as expected. I had the chance to sit down with Mr. Weaving to discuss this great film and how they brought this story to life.

Hugo Weaving at the Sydney Theatre Co prepping for Macbeth this past July   Photo: Tim Hunter

Bobby: How did you first get involved with The Mule?

Hugo: They sent me the script; I read it, loved it and said yes. That was the beginning of it and it wasn’t that much longer before I met up with Angus Sampson and Tony Mahony and just started talking about it a little bit, then we were in rehearsal and then shooting it. It was a pretty seamless sort of intro to it. I just responded to the script which I thought was a very smart take on something that we know in Australia very well that has an interesting mix of comedy and there was some thriller aspects to it as well I suppose. I just thought it was a really smart script that made me laugh a lot and I didn’t necessarily know what was going to happen in the next scene so I kept turning the pages and thought it was just a very good piece of writing.

Bobby: At this point in your career you have created so many iconic characters, how much input to you get to create these characters?

Hugo: I just ran with the script really and they were very excited to have all of the actors and it was a very collaborative filmmaking experience. I felt like I had absolute license to go with it, but I was just responding to what I saw on the page. I certainly wasn’t held back at all and felt very free to do what felt right. There was a lot of give and take and a hugely enjoyable experience. We were doing improv scenes every now and then with people just throwing in ideas and we had the flexibility to do just that. There are a number of little grabs in scenes that we came up with while we were shooting so it was very good.

Bobby: Mentioning improve, one of my favorite scenes to the film is the balloon scene. Between the balloon itself and the look on your face was that written that way or did you develop that yourself?

Hugo: I don’t actually remember if that scene was written or not, but I think the balloon might have been and then we just did it, but there were a lot of things like that such as the people playing golf, there were a lot of things that we just rolled with on that day. We got into a groove quite quickly in day 1 and 2 in the way we were filming. We enjoyed each other’s company and there was a lot of permission granted to people and didn’t seem to be a lot of obstruction besides the obvious one with the character of Angus. It was very enjoyable.

Ewen Leslie, Angus Sampson and Hugo Weaving in The Mule    Photo: The Mule Twitter feed

Bobby: As an actor a lot of time you feed off the sets you are working on as well. In this film the majority of the film is in this hotel room. Is there a different approach as an actor that you have to take when you only have limited space to feed off of?

Hugo: That’s the premise of the film in that these two cops take this guy who refuses to have an x-ray or examination so they just take him to this room. The great thing was that on day one of the shoot we were on this set that was a slightly enlarged hotel room set to get the camera in there, but it was a beautiful piece of art direction and production design. Being in that room for the first couple of weeks was great because we were able to really concentrate on what was at the heart of this film and jump straight in there and get on with the business of it. The confines of the room sort of set the tone for the whole piece because essentially that is what the film is about. The hero is inactive and there is nothing they can do but to hold on and everyone else is inactive and all they can do is wait and that is the whole film. The entire thing is character based and who is going to outwit who, everyone thinks they are smarter than everyone else, everyone is concealing something from everyone else and it all has something to do with the machinations of character and that is the strength of the film.

Bobby: There is a fairly violent shower scene that you are involved in, is that something that is choreographed out or was it more of a guideline and they just let you guys loose?

Hugo: We definitely had a stunt coordinator that day. Angus did injure himself when he first fell in the shower, but that is another story. In terms of the interaction between him and me, you have a naked body in a slippery shower so you have got to be careful. If you just work through the logical sequence of what happens to that person after they turn the hot taps on and they fall to the floor and then the other person how does the other person get them out? Then you just go through it step by step, he picks him up and then let’s go of him and they fall. So we just walked through the sequence just from one move to the next and then did it a few times without doing it a hundred percent so by the time you come to do it you know the sequence. Then you can jump in and do the whole thing in one and then know you will be going back to do other sections of it and as long as you have got each section of the grab. Once you have that it can be cut together in such a way and indeed it is because you are jumping from one character to the other. If you doing everything properly and communicate well you can actual shoot these things very quickly and effectively.

Photo: The Mule Twitter feed

Bobby: The tone of this film is a real dark comedy, but there are a lot of scenes that involve Angus’ butt. I know it is a professional set, but how hard is it that to deal with and stay in character?

Hugo: I think we all enjoyed the script and laughed a lot. There was always a really great mix and that is why we were interested in doing it. I remember talking a lot about the scene where he has produced the evidence and re-swallowed it, how much do you want to see, how do you shoot, how do you cover a scene like that? That audience needs to see something to know there are no condoms full of heroin there, so there were some real interesting and amusing discussions on how to shoot something like that. Less is more in some instances but on the other hand you do need to see it to some extent. The shooting of that scene there were lots of gags and laughs but essentially there didn’t seem to be a problem with character because each of them is very driven with what they are trying to get so by the time you talk through the shoot on how you are going to shoot it and then doing it, it just seemed true to the character. It was a very easy set to work on.

Bobby: It’s a great movie and that is probably one of the grossest scenes that show almost nothing.

Hugo: Yeah, I love when he is re-swallowing them that it is literally gag making. When you see it with a big audience it is really funny, because the audible reaction of people gagging is fabulous. At the same time you are thrilled for the hapless hero character because he has hit upon this brilliant way of beating the cops, but it involves the most repulsive concept imaginable. So it’s a great scene.

Bobby: Exactly, I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me and wish you all the best.

Hugo: My pleasure.”

Here, again, are a few previously-shared videos in You-Tube/embed-friendly formats:

Hugo Weaving/Angus Sampson Big Pond Movies video interview (via YouTube)

Hugo Weaving & Angus Sampson Triple M Grill Radio interview (video is static shot seen of Wea\bving and Sampson w/the Triple M Grill Team.)
Brenden Wood via YouTube

You can read the latest reviews of The Mule at Under The Gun, Concrete Playground and Weekend Notes. The film also made Buzzfeed’s list of the Top Australian Films of 2014. Unfortunately, due to some asinine rules about theatrical screening, The Mule wasn’t eligible for the AACTAS. (Hugo’s other 2014 film Healing was also snubbed in all but the Sore category.) Which sort of makes the AACTAs irrelevant this year. 😉

Angus Sampson spoke to The Saturday Paper and SYS Podcast. Leigh Whannell discussed the film with Movies.com and Fangoria. Speaking of Fangoria, anyone seen any photos that were taken of the New York Fangoria screening of The Mule? I saw several people taking pics, including some of the Australian Delegation, but haven’t found any pics online yet. No, wasn’t able to take my own. The curse of not having a cellphone that takes pictures. 😉

And I’ll again remind you that there will be a live-tweet event for the film on Twitter this Sunday (Saturday night for US fans) This handy graphic from the Mule’s always-entertaining Twitter feed includes all of the relevant time zone info:

No, unfortunately it doesn’t look like Hugo will be available (though I’d love there to be a last-minute surprise announcement– he’d have to guest on someone else’s Twitter account.)

And here are a few more of The MuleMovie’s Twitter feed’s recent Croft-centric virtual ads:

The infamous Croft Vs Ziggy Buffet Incident 😉

The Dressmaker

Though we’ve yet to see any official film stills or images of the main cast (apart from old head shots on The Dressmaker’s Pinterest), several interesting fan photos from the set and Melbourne have appeared over the past several days.

Here’s a first glimpse of Hugo in character on the film’s dance hall set. (according to an eyewitness, his Sargeant Farrat and Kate Winslet’s Tilly share a dance)

Photo: Heidi Dee via Twitter/Instagram

Here’s another photo from the set, this time with a fan.   Photo: Monty Fan via Twitter (she posts set photos regularly)

Hugo Weaving with fan Ginny at a Melbourne art gallery (He still wears that Nature Theater of Oklahoma T-shirt!)  Photo: Ginny (@virginiaarhh) via Twitter/Instagram

The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies

A few important new previews from Peter Jackson’s final Tolkien opus have appeared as we enter “the final stretch” before the film’s mid-December wide opening. I’m a bit reluctant to share the first, as it probably consists of about half of Hugo Weaving’s footage from the film, if his interview comments are any indication. At least it mostly focuses on Elrond’s dramatic entrance (and Christopher Lee’s Saruman’s) rather than the meat of the action sequence sure to follow. This and the glimpses of Cate Blanchett seen in TV ads probably ARE the bulk of her role, as she only spent 8 days total on set. (Weaving spent three weeks, but a lot of that was for Elrond’s scenes in the first film, the only part of his story that’s in Tolkien’s book.)

So– this is definitely spoiler territory, but a lot of fans are eating it up anyhow. You can read a frame-by-frame discussion of the scene at Movie Pilot. And there are three other preview clips featuring Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Thranduil (Lee Pace) and Bard (Luke Evans)– and some gnarly Goblin Catapults– at Flickering Myth.

Comic Book Movie.com via YouTube

Less spoilery, but just as much fun, is this Hugo Weaving behind the scenes interview about the Hobbit films. Though it’s explicitly labeled promotion for The Battle of The Five Armies, it’s suspiciously similar to Hugo’s set interview for An Unexpected Journey two years ago, and doesn’t divulge any intel about the current film. Hugo does discuss what it’s like to work with Peter Jackson, and the basics about “creating the world” of the films.

Screen Slam via YouTube

Unfortunately, Hugo was unable to appear at the film’s London premiere on December 1 due to his work commitment on The Dressmaker. (His fellow White Council members were also absent.) I suspect Hugo won’t be heavily involved in promotion of this film, as he only has a small role in it. As he told I Am Rogue:  “It was just another return to middle earth. We went over there [in April, 2011] to do The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It had just been announced that the one film was now going to be two. We got over there to do one, and they gave us the script for the second one. I really only had a couple of scenes to be perfectly honest. The shooting for me was over in a relatively short period of time. Now it seems like a while ago. When I left, I was told that it would again be a trilogy. I then did not know whether my scenes, which were originally in the second film, would be in the third Hobbit film. I assumed they would be once I saw the second movie and noticed I wasn’t in it. So that is what I have pent up in me to be honest. I am looking forward very much to seeing the final film.”

Peter Jackson HAS confirmed this will be his final Tolkien film (to The Independent.ie), which is probably for the best. (Some fans are salivating over the notion of seeing The Silmarillion filmed, but it’s an exttremely dry read that defies easy screen translation. Though PJ and co could probably do it justice, Tolkien’s heirs remain obstinate about not allowing him access to the rights.) The Dallas Observer posted an early review which was mixed but, in my opinion, very fair. I see a lot of the same virtues and flaws in these films. Here’s what critic Alan Scherstuhl said about The White Council’s scene: “A haunted-city showdown between shivery ghost knights and the staff-and-hair-whipping superteam of Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Elrond (Hugo Weaving), and Saruman (Christopher Lee) proves almost as grand [as Smaug’s opening shot]. It’s sad that Hollywood filmmaking is so often about attempting to put the dreams of children onto our screens, but shouldn’t it still be notable when someone actually manages it?”

Hugo Weaving with Peter Jackson on the BOFA set

The Mule Debuts On VOD/PPV Services in One Week, First Contact Features Hugo Weaving Narration

The Mule

Several new promo videos, pics and interviews promoting The Mule have appeared since my last entry. These include FilmInk piece featuring a new Hugo Weaving interview (mostly his comments on the Australian film industry, which– no surpriose– he defends vigorously amid the usual, cynical media reports of its demise.) I’ll post the full text of Hugo’s comments below, but first, the latest batch of promo videos for The Mule. (I have to say this film’s online marketing team is doing a splendid job, keeping the new promos coming (yet not-too-spoilery) and actually keeping in touch with interested fans, something I’ve yet to see from, say, Warner Bros despite by decade-plus of promoting various films of theirs. 😉 A lot of indie distributors could learn from this model too. Too many of Hugo’s smaller Australian indies haven’t gotten the audiences they deserved, and scattershot marketing has sometimes been part of the problem. (I should add here that Mystery Road is another film that got this aspect right,  though they released to cinemas and didn’t have the “cult appeal” that The Mule already has in its favor.)

Anyhow, the videos: the first, which was debuted by Inside Film, is another behind-the-scenes preview featuring comments from Hugo Weaving and an overview of the film itself (oh, and Leigh Whannell getting grabbed by the nads):

eOneANZ via YouTube

Here’s the second trailer for the film, which is really a re-edited, PG-rated shorter version of the first, from the film’s US distributor XLRator:

Festivals and Indie Films via YouTube

Angus Sampson has handled the bulk of international promo interviews for TheMule thusfar, including several radio and podcast interviews he spoke with Charles  for over an hour on Center Stage With Mark Gordon on KXLU. Here’s the Soundcloud embed:

He also sat down for interviews with Crave Online and Schmoes Know Movies for extended chats which touched on both The Mule and his more Hollywood-friendly projects (the Insidious films, the forthcoming Mad Max sequel.)

Crave Online via YouTube.

SK Podcast via YouTube; Sampson interview begins at 30.20

Sampson also explained the genesis of Hugo’s infamous “ballooon scene” (in the film and trailer) in a Reddit exchange earlier today:

“[In researching real-life incidents while writing the script] we interviewed customs officials. We interviewed lawyers and police officers. All on the condition of anonymity. We would ask the police we interviewed questions like: If you had to pressure someone you have in custody without physically bruising them or hitting them with a telephone book, The reply ‘I would let the air out of a balloon slowly and repeatedly’ was 100 per cent fact. And you’ll see in the trailer it made the final cut!”

Here are the latest character posters (and a behind the scenes shot) featuring Hugo Weaving’s Tom Croft:

Croft character poster #2. Photo: Moviehole

L to R: Angus Sampson, Hugo Weaving, Ewen Leslie and two others on the set. Photo: The Mule Movie Twitter feed

Promo still of Hugo as Tom Croft being tom Croft 😉  Photo: The Mule Movie Twitter feed

Passport-style poster  Photo: The Mule Movie official website

Most of the above video/radio interviews don’t feature an overabundance of Hugo content, though the Schmoes Know podcast reveals Hugo took a while to get back to the production team about signing on, probably because his infrequent contact with “the business side” of the industry, ie his agents, delayed him receiving the script. (Hugo’s enthusiasm in all interviews about the film, including those before shooting began, suggest he was always interested in the project; costar John Noble was leery of the subject matter until Sampson and Whannell persuaded him in person to give them a shot.) Hugo’s 2005 AFI acceptance sppech comes to mind here. 😉 Hugo Weaving will appear with Sampson and Whannell (and probably some other special guests) at the Melbourne (Nov 18) and Sydney (Nov 19) preview screenings next week, so we’ll probably see his role in promoting the film expand very soon.  The Melbourne preview is sold out, but free tickets are up for grabs for both venues if one tweets #TheMuleMovie then a description of one’s own most embarrassing predicament. (That contest closes soon– 16 Sept at 9pm AEDT–  so act quickly)

(Melbourne promo identical but venue)

Sorry to kep you in suspense about that Hugo Weaving interview; it’s part of a larger FilmInk piece highlighting the current pessimism in the media about the local film industry, and how The Mule is trying to reverse the trend of dismal box-office for homegrown Australian films by bypassing cinemas screenings and releasing direct to PPV/VOD/DVD-Blu-Ray. Here’s what Hugo had to say:

“There are much, much better films being made now than back in the heyday of Australian filmmaking,” Hugo Weaving – the star of recent Aussie crackers like Mystery Road, The Turning, Healing, and this month’s The Mule – tells FilmInk. “There really are, but the perceived wisdom is that that’s not the case. Well, I beg to differ. There are good films being made in this country, and the apparent fact that people are turning away from Australian film is something that I don’t necessarily buy. They’re turning away from films all over the world, apart from the biggest blockbusters. There are lots of arguments. But in terms of the quality of the films being made, there are finer films being made than there were back in the seventies. There were great films made back then, but the landscape is shifting enormously and rapidly, and everything – the way in which we view films, the marketing of films, the distribution – has changed…

“There are so many good films,” Weaving continues, “but it’s almost like they’re disappearing into this great big swamp, and no one can see what to do with them once they’re there. It’s very hard, and it doesn’t mean that those films are bad because they’re not seen. I see those films, and some of them are fantastic. Success at the box office isn’t the marker of a quality film. It’s a shame that they can’t coincide, and it’s a shame that we can’t find better ways of doing it. I still feel very engaged when I read a great script and have the opportunity to work with terrific directors. It’s the script and the people that you work with that keep you going. There are great people on the landscape, so I’m hopeful about where that all goes.”

Hugo’s position on this subject has remained remarkably consistent over the years… and the Australian media’s premature death knell for their film industry has been sounding at least since vthe late 90s, so he’s had plenty of opportunities to state his opinion. 😉 It’s sort of ridiculousd to hold up one unusual year (most often 1994) as a standard every other year needs to meet; it is deeply frustrating that so few Australian films are properly distributed overseas, which certainly wasn’t the case in the 90s, when Proof, Priscilla and other notable Australian films (Muriel’s Wedding, The Castle, Chopper) got decent arthouse releases abroad. These days, as Hugo notes, most indie films don’t get cinema screenings at all, anywhere in the world apart from a few cosmopolitain hubs (New York, London, LA, Paris, etc) unless they attract substantial awards buzz or feature major Hollywood stars. At least in the US films can be released to cinemas and PPV/VOD simultaneously, so patrons outside the arthouse market can at least see them. This apparently isn’t the case in Australia, where there’s a mandatory months-long wait between any substantial cinema release and the option of home-screening of any kind. If The Mule is successful, this may change, but not all films will have The Mule’s unique combination of wit, “midnight movie”/cult appeal and adroit mix of serious tension with potentially-dicey subject matter.

Anyhow, reviews for The Mule continue to be very positive. You can sample the latest at Dark Matter, Adrian Edwards, AltMedia.net and Movie Nation.  Additional promotion and info about the film and its unque release strategy at InDaily, The Daily Review and The Otto Empire. The film can boast of having the 3rd-most-viewed trailer at Apple and (currently) a 100% Fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating. And an extra who worked on the film tells her story at The Daily Telegraph.

The Mule will have a free preview screening in New York on 24 November courtesy the folks at Fangoria; you can read up on how to apply for tickets here. Supposedly they’ll RSVP confirmation before the screening date. (I’m still waiting to hear from them… this would be my best chance for seeing the film in a proper cinema, so I hope it works out.) An LA preview screening featuring Sampson and Whannell was already held last night at Cinefamily, but  there will be additional LA-area screenings through the end of the month at Arena Cinema.

Finally, whether you’e lucky enough to make it to one of the Australian or US preview screenings or whether you stream/download/order it on On Demand, you’ll want to tune in for the 7 Dec Live Tweeting event which will feature Sampson and Whannell, Georgina Haig and more. Unknown if Hugo Weaving will participate, as he doesn’t have a Twitter account, but I’ve seen actors participate by proxy on more than one occasion. John Noble DOES tweet, but it’s unknow if he’ll be available given his demanding schedule, which includes a recurring role on US TV’s Sleepy Hollow.

Streaming options for the film will include iTunes, which is featured heavily in most promotion, but the latest version of iTunes is incompatible with many non-Apple computers (including mine), so I feel obliged to post other streaming options, which will include: “AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner and Verizon as well as various digital platforms” yet TBA, I’ll keep you posted.

Finally, the DVD of the film will be available 3 Dec in Australia and 20 Jan in the US. Amazon is taking pre-orders for the latter.

First Contact

A surprise addition to Hugo Weaving’s audio resue popped up about a week ago, as promotion for the SBS documentary series First Contact debuted online. Hugo narrates this three-episode series about a group of six white Australians who hold very jaundiced views of the indigenous population who spent a month immersed in a culture they’d never been exposed to before, and how this changes their perspective. Hugo is heard briefly in the extended trailer below. The series begins airing on 18 November in Australia with the remaining episodes following immediately on the 19th and 20th. You can read more about it at SBS, The Sydney Morning Herald, TV Tonight, and Yahoo News.

There will be a DVD available later this year, in case international viewers are curious; Australian viewers will be able to stream current episodes at SBS once the episodes have aired.

The Dressmaker

Things have been fairly quiet from The Dressmaker’s “Dungatar set” in Victoria, apart from a few intriguing behin the scenes images shared via the film’s Facebook page. Presumably Hugo is currently at work on this particular project, though he’ll obviously be taking a few days off to promote The Mule.

“Our camera operator David ‘Daisy’ Williamson films Tilly’s train arriving in Dungatar (in Muckleford, VIC)”  Photo: The Dressmaker Facebook page

“Production Designer, Roger Ford, shows our director around the interior of the Pettyman’s house.” The Dressmaker Facebook page

Mystery Road

The film continues to receive positive notices in its US and UK home-format releases. The latest reviews may be read at Blu-Ray.com, Rock!Shock!Pop!, VODZilla, EveryFilmBlog.

The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies

First, apologies for inadvertently leaving the second “the” out of the film’s new(ish) subtitle in previous entries. Since fans have universally used the shorthand BOFA, I hadn’t actually noticed it was there until recently. (Frankly, I still think There And Back Again was better. So freakin’ sue me.) 😉 Still no info on whether Hugo Weaving will be on hand in London when the film premieres.

But several new goodies have nonetheless recently debuted, including a growing cache of TV ads. I’ll embed the most impressive (a collection of several international spots back-to-back) followed by the first official two US TV ads.

CBM Trailers via YouTube (Elrond’s sword-brandishing cameo from this month’s full-length trailer appears i the first 30 seconds).

TV Spot 1 (Warner Bros via YouTube)

TV Spot 2 (Warner Bros via YouTube)

Tickets are now on sale for marathon screenings of all three Hobbit films (shown in order) December 15 at various IMAX locations. The official site only seems to have times for The Battle of the Five Armies, so check local listings.

And you can hear Billy Boyd’s ending theme “The Last Goodbye in its entirety over at Billboard.com. And there are amusing reactions to the recently released trailer at GQ and Entertainment Tonight Online, including the rather obvious statement: “Hugo Weaving is amazing.”


In advance of the film’s Australian television debut (November 23) ABC TV shared Hugo Weaving’s behind the scenes interview clip. Some of you may remember seeing this back when the film had its theatrical release in May, but it’s definitely worth multiple viewings.

ABC, via YouTube

Also, Healing has two cinema screenings left in its Fort Lauderdale International Film Fest schedule in Florida this week.