Tag Archives: Tom Russell

Cloud Atlas: Seven New Banners, Enhanced E-Book, More Reviews, Pics

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

New promotional material for Cloud Atlas continues to appear on a near-daily basis; yesterday seven (!) new promotional banners debuted on thew film’s Facebook page and were quickly picked up by pretty much every movie site out there and reposted at varying sizes; I’ve included the largest versions I could find (under the cut) and will post them in chronological order. Hugo Weaving appears in those for the Luisa Rey and Timothy Cavendish storylines as the villainous Bill Smoke and Nurse Noakes, respectively.

Note : The Adam Ewing storyline doesn’t yet have a banner: it features Jim Sturgess as Adam Ewing, Tom Hanks as Henry Goose, David Gyasi as Autua, Bae Doona as Tilda, Hugo Weaving as Rev. Horrox (some who’ve seen the film have confirmed my suspicion that Reverends D’Arnoq and Horrox have been combined into one character), and Jim Broadbent as Capt. Mollyneaux, and is set in the 1850s. And I should give a Slight Spoiler Warning on my banner notes in case anyone wants to go in knowing as little as possible about who plays who… in a way, I envy anyone coming to the film with an innocent eye. Once you get in the “professional fan” business that almost never happens… but our favorite actors nonetheless reward us by still managing to surprise and beguile us in spite of our over-preparation. 😉

Letters From Zedelghem starring Ben Whishaw as Robert Frobisher and James D’Arcy as Rufus Sixsmith. Set in 1931 Belgium, the story also features Jim Broadbent as Vyvyan Ayrs, Halle Berry as Jocasta, Tom Hanks as the Hotel Clerk and Gotz Otto as Withers the Butler.

Half Lives: the First Luisa Rey Mystery stars Halle Berry as Luisa Rey, Keith David as Joe Napier and Hugo Weaving as Bill Smoke. The 1970s-set China Syndrome-ish nuclear espionage thriller also stars Tom Hanks as Isaac Sachs, James D’Arcy as the older Sixsmith (the only character to physically feature in two stories, though there are meta-references galore between plots) Hugh Grant as Grimaldi, Zhu Zhu as Meagan Sixsmith, Ben Whishaw as the record store clerk, David Gyasi as Lester Rey and Bae Doona as a Mexican woman who assists Luisa.

The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish is set in the present day and stars Jim Broadbent as the title character and Hugo Weaving as Nurse Noakes. Also featured but not pictured: Hugh Grant as Denholme Cavendish, Tom Hanks as Dermott “Duster” Hoggins, Susan Sarandon as Cavendish’s “lost love” (called “Ursula” in some cast lists, though if this is the case, she’s a very different character from the novel’s Ursula), Ben Whishaw as another of the nursing home denizens, and Alistair Petrie as Felix Finch.

An Orison of Sonmi-451 is set in a futuristic, corporate oligarchic Korea (called Nea So Copros in the novel and Neo Seoul in the film)  and stars Bae Doona as Sonmi- 451– she features in all three banners highlighting this storyline. Jim Sturgess, who plays Hae-Joo Chang (an apparent synthesis of the Chang and Hae-Joo Im characters in the novel) is seen in two banners, and the gluttonous overseer (called Seer Rhee in the novel and played by Hugh Grant in the film) is in the first one. Also featured but not pictured: James D’Arcy as The Archivist, Zhou Xun as Yoona- 939, Zhu Zhu as another Papa Song waitress, Keith David as An Kor Apis, Hugo Weaving as Control, Tom Hanks as the Film Cavendish and Susan Sarandon as Ma Arak Na and Halle Berry as a “male Korean doctor”.

Finally, Sloosha’s Crossin’ An’ Everythin’ After is set about 100 years after the events of the Sonmi storyline and unfolds in a post-apocalyptic, tribal-warfare striven Hawaii. Pictured as Tom Hanks as Zachry and Halle Berry as Meronym. Not pictured: Zhou Xun as Zachry’s wife Rose, Hugo Weaving as Old Georgie, Hugh Grant as the lead cannibal, Susan Sarandon as the Abbess, Jim Sturgess as Zachry’s father Adam, and David Gyasi as “a presidential figure” (possibly Meronym’s contact Duophysite).

Note: some of my casting notes are guesses based on the novel, early reviews and actor interviews as well as the promotional material now available. The film version has substantially changed some characters (including their names and basic physical characteristics) and omitted or synthesized others. For example, Keith David plays a character named “Kupaka Apis” who appears nowhere in the novel but is apparently related to An Kor Apis, a mysterious figure David plays in the Sonmi storyline.  He could be an ancestor of An Kor Apis in just about any storyline (The Adam Ewing plot would be my best guess)– or a descendant in Sloosha’s Crossin’. Neither IMDb nor Wikipedia has a completely correct cast list because both are crowd-sourced and have some omissions or inaccuracies. Ironically, casting notes on the smaller roles at these sites are more likely to be accurate, because they’re posted by the actors or their representation personally.

I understand several of my guesses might be wrong… I’m not trying to be definitive before I’ve seen the film. As many viewers who HAVE seen the film have confirmed, part of the fun is guessing who’s who, and how the novel adheres to or changes the novel.

By the way, the film’s Facebook Page just added an enlarged version of the Toronto Cast Party from September 8:

L to R: Zhu Zhu, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, Zhou Xun, Keith David, Susan Sarandon and Bae Doona in front of Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, David Gyasi, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Andy Wachowski (behind), James D’Arcy, Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Alistair Petrie.

And thanks again to the James D’Arcy fans for calling this new premiere photo of Hugo to my attention:

Photo: MTime; they have a gallery featuring several other actors from the film as well. This one’s slightly overexposed, but I like it anyhow. 😉

If you still haven’t read the novel, or want to read it again before you see the film (or after) there’s now an Enhanced E-Book “movie tie-in edition” available for pre-order (it’s officially released October 9) featuring heretofore unseen film footage and interviews with the actors, “including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving and James D’Arcy”.  It’s in Kindle format, but you can download free Kindle software from Amazon for computer viewing if you have a rival e-reader or, like me, bought the old school Dead Tree Format. (I’ll probably buy the enhanced version too, but am eternally grateful the paperback was on hand last October during the 12-day power outage…  and it’ll be equally handy if, like some Cloud Atlas characters, we eventually find ourselves in a post-apocalyptic, post-technological state.) 😉

If you want to do something nice for your fellow fans (and people who, like the James D’Arcy faithful, have provided invaluable research assistance in following this film’s progress) you can buy the Kindle Enhanced edition via Jim Sturgess Online for the regular (and very reasonable) Amazon price. The Orison Edition is not yet available, though it may be bundled with the inevitable Blu-Ray. 😉 And speaking of Jim Sturgess, he gave an interesting interview to Vulture (as Hugo Weaving did earlier this month) discussing the challenges of playing six characters in Cloud Atlas. He also (one hopes) provides the final word on the cross-racial casting controversy: if Bae Doona’s mother was OK with Stugess (or other actors, including Hugo Weaving, James D’Arcy, Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon) playing Asian characters, you should be too.

New review excerpts:

Tom Clift, Moviedex: “Cloud Atlas is a big, bold, beautiful work of staggering ambition and artistry… The casts’ work is excellent bar none, although quite frankly, so unrecognisable does the makeup sometimes render them that the end credit revelation as to who played who in what segment is more jaw-dropping than the actual performances… Astoundingly, out of six stories over vastly different scale and tone, not one feels unnecessary or boring. Indeed, masterful editing – along with a beautiful score that’s as multifaceted as the movie it’s accompanying – provides the film with a wonderful ebb and flow… Yet no matter the profundity, the best thing about Cloud Atlas is that it always maintains a sense of intimacy…. To try and write conclusively on Cloud Atlas after just one viewing feels like something of a fruitless endeavour. This is an important film; a film that will deservedly be watched, rewatched, discussed and studied for many generations to come. It is stained glass cinema: shards of disparate splendour made breathtakingly whole.”

Moira Romano, Myetvmedia: “Visually the movie is superb employing a number of cinematic techniques to transport the viewer across time. The story requires the full attention of the viewer. There are no simple plot lines. Each character is on a quest and has a mission. How they accomplish this will have impacts that will influence generations to come…. The story illustrates the significance of keeping a record of our human journeys and the passing down of knowledge that we as a civilization can learn from. The contribution of each character is very powerful as the tale is variously narrated, portrayed through dream sequences, played out in the present, seen through flashbacks and in futuristic worlds….Cloud Atlas is an extraordinary movie with an inspiring, thoughtful message that will stay with the viewer well after you leave the theatre. ”

Myetvmedia also posted a new YouTube clip featuring footage of the directors and cast intro from the Cloud Atlas premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, filmed from a viewpoint slightly closer to the stage than the official version:

In non-Cloud Atlas Hugo Weaving news, Last Ride will finally debut on US DVD next month (October 16 to be precise) and is currently available for pre-order; alas, no US Blu-Ray has yet been announced. (There is a German version, the only Blu-Ray currently available, but I have no idea how enhanced it is, or what its extra features might be; since there’s no Australian Blu-Ray and director Glendyn Ivins hasn’t mentioned that version, I suspect it’s the Australian DVD edition reformatted.) If you’re a Netflix subscriber, you might have noticed it’s moved from your Saved Queue to your active queue.  I recently found another glowing review in The New Republic for the film’s US release this past summer… here’s an excerpt:

Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic: “The Australian outback, the setting for most of Last Ride, an extraordinary film for which the locale is a quiet, almost secret catalyst. Directed by Glendyn Ivin, with a screenplay derived by Mac Gudgeon from a novel by Denise Young, it needs only two major characters to create a picture that begins as a bare-knuckled adventure and becomes a folk tale. At the last we are almost gratifyingly ashamed for not having seen from the first the quasi-myth that it becomes….Kev is a man in his thirties, a rough character not untouched by the law, who has a ten-year-old son named Chook. The bulk of the film is Kev’s flight from the law and to a possible new life accompanied by his son… But an almost lofty effect in Ivin’s view of the proceedings, plus his sense of the awesome environment as a silent character, alerts us for surprise….This deepened view extends backward to touch everything we have seen before. And that view is enriched by the very end of the picture. Last Ride is then seen as an attempt to render with words and pictures the sad lyricism of a country ballad. Ivin, with his loving direction, lets this gradually come through to us. Hugo Weaving, a leading Australian actor, makes Kev exceptionally sound along every shade of his register. And once again a breathtaking performance by a child. Tom Russell is Chook most endearingly.”

I bet Hugo would be thrilled to hear that the reviewer perceives Kev, not one of his more manicured characters, to be “in his thirties”. 😉

‘I promise not to try and drown you this time, son” 😉
Hugo Weaving and Tom Russell in Last Ride

Breaking News: There’s apparently been a surprise preview screening of Cloud Atlas at Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX with the directors in attendance. More news on this as it becomes available.

New Hugo Weaving interview; More Uncle Vanya Press; More Last Ride Coverage

Note: This is an archived entry that’s over two years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material.

While we’re awaiting the first round of Uncle Vanya reviews (and, possibly, more cast photos), a lovely surprise just surfaced on The A.V. Club: they’ve had Hugo Weaving participate in their “Random Roles” forum, “wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.” Yes, The Matrix and the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movies came up. 😉 But I was impressed with the scope of the other choices, which included my first Hugo Weaving movie, Proof. (This was also the film that brought him to the Wachowskis’ attention, don’t forget. ) Last Ride, the eagerly anticipated Cloud Atlas and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert also got generous attention. Oddly, Uncle Vanya wasn’t discussed, but this is a film-centric website, and they’ve helped spread the word about Last Ride’s US release, so it’s all good. It’s such a balanced, thoughtful exchange that I can’t easily truncate or pull quotes, so full transcript is below the cut. Or just click on the link and read it at their site.

Hugo Weaving on being Elrond, The Matrix’s evil AI, and a kidnapper convict

Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.

The actor: Balancing mega-blockbusters and character-driven independent films, Hugo Weaving musters the high style necessary for a elven lord, an evil computer program, and a malevolent Transformer, all while retaining the subtlety to fuel more small-scale films. His latest, Last Ride, is one of the latter, with Weaving playing an abusive ex-convict who takes his estranged son along as they flee through the Australian outback.

Last Ride (2009)—“Kev”
The A.V. Club: It’s an actor-driven movie, which is always attractive. But what drew you to this part in particular?

Hugo Weaving: That he was such a compromised man. That he was so troubled and really in a bad way, and obviously had everything against him, and his upbringing, and… I mean, if you read the book, you get a sense of—beautiful book, by the way—Kev’s childhood and what he had to struggle with with his father. You feel like it’s a continuum—what’s happening with him and his own son —except even worse. And so it’s the spiral of that. The flashes of time when Kev reveals his love for his son, I found really poignant and quite beautiful. I think it is a love story. It’s certainly a love story in the book; slightly less so in the film. The film’s a little bleaker—well, a lot bleaker, actually, and darker. But it still really is about the particular relationship between these two damaged individuals, and I think that was a thing that interested me in the character. The reason I was interested in the film is because I loved the script, and I’d seen Glendyn [Ivin]’s first short, an absolutely beautiful film called “Cracker Bag,” and that won an award at Cannes. I was really keen to work with him, so it didn’t take much, really.

AVC: You shot Last Ride three or four years ago at this point?

HW: Yes.

AVC: So it was just after a run of movies you’d done with a substantial amount of bluescreen and makeup and masks. Was it a relief to just go out in the bush with a camera and a small crew and make a movie that way?

HW: That’s actually the norm for me, so the change of pace is the big-budget mask thing, actually. The last few years, I have to say, I haven’t done so many small-budget Australian films, but that’s only been very recently, the last couple of years—since Last Ride, actually. But that, to me, was the more common experience: small crew, in the outback. And that’s the sort of film I love working on. That’s the thing I’ll always try to return to. I’m about to, in another month, do a similar, very low-budget film up in Queensland with an extraordinarily talented young director called Ivan Sen. I really love working with writer-directors on films in this country. Very low-budget, maybe a five- or six-week shoot, and that’s it. I think there’s a great energy that comes with working on films in that way. It’s a real pleasure to go to work when you’re in the most extraordinary surroundings, and working with people who are young and interested and creatively keen. I find it really stimulating, and just beautiful to be out in nature as well. So that’s something I peg as an absolute pleasure. There’s nothing like being on a massive-budget film where you don’t know anything, and there’s a million people, and no one’s communicating. So I generally prefer the smaller-budget film. I find both of them really great for me; they just stretch me in different ways.

AVC: There’s a visually stunning scene where you and your son are driving across this immense salt flat. Is that Lake Gairdner?

HW: Yeah.

AVC: How does it figure into your performance when you know you’re being framed in front of such an astonishing backdrop?

HW: Well, you see, that’s why I love location. You don’t have to do anything. I’ve never seen a film crew taking so many pictures of where they were. [Laughs.] Because it was exquisite. Absolutely exquisite. We were there for a couple of days. And the landscape would change dramatically, as well. You get a slight wind and it would feel like you’re in the Antarctic, and then it would go very still, and suddenly it’d be on a desert island or something. Then it would have this amazing reflective glass effect. There was a couple of inches of water along the salt flat, and everything would be completely reflected. And by the end of the day, if it was getting windy and the salt was flicking up, it would get in your eyes and on your lips and everything. So it’s an absolutely beautiful landscape. It just means you don’t have to… In a way, it permeates your being, and I think locations do that to you. They give you so much and you don’t have to pretend.

The Matrix (1999)/The Matrix Reloaded (2003)/The Matrix Revolutions (2003)—“Agent Smith”
AVC: When you’re making a movie like The Matrix, and the whole trilogy is about a world that doesn’t exist—on a number of levels—what do you feed off in those circumstances?

HW: The good humor of the directors, with The Matrix—very good relationship with them. But onThe Matrix, there were only a couple of days that I was working on green-screen. The sets on that were phenomenal, so I was always standing there going, “Well, this set is so real that it feels like this is the world I’m in.” Because the sets were so good, it didn’t feel particularly… And we were on location quite a lot for that. But something like The Hobbit would be more… Working on that last year, there was a definitely a lot more green-screen. There’s much more of a distance between… You see these extraordinary makeup transformations in front of your eyes, yet behind that, there’s a green flat. And so there’s quite a distance, quite a journey to make between… You’re constantly aware that this is a film reality that you need to augment with performance and your imagination, and that’s fine. That’s the world of The Hobbit and of Lord Of The Rings. I mean, again, there are sometimes the most exquisite sets, so it’s not always the case. And other times, you’re on location. But there seems to be more green-screen with that than anything I’ve ever done.

The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)/The Two Towers (2002)/The Return Of The King(2003)/The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)/The Hobbit: There And Back Again (2013)—“Elrond”
AVC: How different was making the Hobbit movies from doing the Lord Of The Ringstrilogy? It’s the same director, and a few of the same cast as well.

HW: Well, tonally, I think the film is slightly different, but the experience didn’t seem radically different, to be honest. If anything, it was slightly more green-screen and slightly less set. But a lot of the same people, both in the crew and some of the cast. Going back and standing with Ian McKellen on the set again 10 years later, we felt very much at home, in a way, and very much like no time had passed at all. A lot of the other cast were different from The Lord Of The Rings, but it felt like a very similar experience. Actually, I was back there just the other day doing some post-production and went onto set, and I was just thinking, “Well, it’s been a year since I’ve been here—10 years, really, since we started—but it feels like the same family group has been making films there for that long.”

AVC: In the trailer, Bag End looks exactly as it does when we see Bilbo living there in the trilogy. Is it the same set?

HW: You know, I’m not sure. I would hesitate to say it was. I would think it wasn’t. But there may be some elements. I would have thought not, but possibly, yeah.

Cloud Atlas (2012)—various undisclosed roles
AVC: Cloud Atlas seems like an enormously complicated project, combining six stories shot by two sets of directors: the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer. How does that work?

HW: That was the most wonderful adventure, really. It was an extraordinary time in Berlin. Absolutely wonderful experience. I think everyone agreed it was like nothing anyone had ever done before, running from one director to another or from one set to another, potentially playing up to, well, I suppose up to six characters in one week. That’s a very unusual experience. And then there’s a lot of downtime because there’s six stories going on and you’re not in every part of every one of those stories. A lot of the English actors would be able to go home for a week or two and then come back, but because I live in Australia and I was in Berlin, I just stayed. So I lived in Berlin for three and a half months, which was actually a dream come true. I loved it. It’s a very special project, and a wonderful, wonderful book, and a really great script adaptation. Something that in the end, after the readthrough—which was really exciting, all the actors there at the beginning of the shoot—I think everyone realized, despite all the preparatory work that had been done, there were certain things which we weren’t going to know about until we jumped in and did it. So we all took a sort of big, brave leap and jumped in and started filming, and it was a really, genuinely exciting adventure. I’m as eager as anyone else to see it. I think it’s a really, really brave, difficult project that could be very exciting to watch. I hope it is. I think everyone really loved working on it.

AVC: How did splitting the stories up work in practical terms?

HW: There were three stories each, basically. Lana and Andy [Wachowski] did three, and Tom did three. Tom’s crew was largely the crew he’s worked with for years, and Lana and Andy’s crew—a lot of the crew were English, and some of them had worked on V For Vendetta and had worked with them in Berlin in the past as well. That was the division of labor: three stories each. Actually, I think initially Tom had wanted to do one particular story and Lana and Andy had wanted to do another one, and they needed to swap because of the way the locations were set up. They ended up not doing one of the stories they particularly wanted to do; they just swapped. They have an incredibly good relationship, Tom and Lana and Andy. It was delightful to first meet Tom on a video-conference Skype with Lana and Andy, who I know very well, and just see immediately that they were literally bouncing off each other and were getting on very, very well. And that was maintained all the way through the shoot. The editing process is something I’m not so sure about. I think that would have been more problematic and difficult, but I suspect, knowing the three of them, that they got on extremely well throughout that and managed to express what they wanted and to fight for the film as they all talked about it in the first place. I don’t envisage there being any problems between the three of them. I think that’s kind of remarkable. A testament to all three of them, actually.

Proof (1991)—“Martin”
AVC: Going back to small Australian projects, Proof was something of a breakthrough for you, wasn’t it? Not your first movie, but a wonderful introduction to you and director Jocelyn Moorhouse. Did it seem like an important project for you at the time?

HW: It wasn’t my first, you’re right, but it was the first film script I received and I thought, “This is the sort of film I want to be in.” And I just thought, “I really want that role. I really want to be in this film.” And again, it was a first-time filmmaker, and she’d written the script. There’s something about that combination that’s really… Knowing that something’s small-budget, and it’s a writer-director. If the script grabs me and appeals to me, I’m really very keen to work on it. Even if that director hasn’t… They’ve been to film school, but this is their first feature. Sometimes that makes me want to do it more, because I think there’s probably something fantastically fresh and different about them and their approach. So I was very keen when I read that to be involved in that. And went along, met Jocelyn, did the audition, got the role. For me, that was a definite watershed in my fairly early career. I felt, “Ah, this is where I want to be.” Those sort of films come along quite rarely, you know. [Laughs.] I think I’ve done maybe five or six films that I’ve had that sense. I really want to work on those films during my time in Australia. That was the first of those films.

AVC: You had Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert not long after Proof, which put you on the map, but your costar, Russell Crowe, took a few more years to catch on.

HW: He seemed very keen to head over to the States and have a career there, which wasn’t ever my… I wasn’t ever going to go and live there.  I can’t remember exactly the dates, but it seemed within three or four years of Proof that he was already working in Hollywood, and working in L.A., and doing films over there. I can’t remember how long it took, but certainly he became a major box-office star, didn’t he?

The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert (1994)—“Anthony ‘Tick’ Belrose”/“Mitzi Del Bra”
AVC: It’s almost hard to remember how groundbreaking it seemed to have a movie about drag queens in the mid-’90s, characters who were campy, but also short-tempered and dangerous. Was that all in the script? Did you do your own research?

HW: No, the script was there. The writer [Stephan Elliott] is definitely an extraordinary character, and very smart. Can be very caustic, a lot of fun. I had worked with him on a film prior to that [Frauds], and in fact we’d worked on a number of films before that, with him as a runner or a second AD. So no, it was there in the script, but as we grew into characters, then… I mean, Terence [Stamp] and I and Guy [Pearce] were out in drag in the streets of Sydney before the film started, going out to clubs and things to sort of get into character. [Laughs.] And so those sort of things grew as the shoot progressed. We would be adding and changing little bits and pieces, and increasingly wearing the clothes of some of our makeup artists, one of whom was a drag queen himself—Guy’s makeup artist. I sort of started stealing his clothes and wearing them throughout the shoot. So it grew, but a lot of that was in the script, or what was happening on the day. But Stephan was very amenable to that.

You can sense from this that Hugo will love heading back to Australia to work on Mystery Road, his next film, directed by Ivan Sen.  Ideally international audiences won’t have to wait as long for it as they did for Last Ride. Speaking of Last Ride, it opens in the Minneapolis/St Paul market this weekend, and continues to accrue positive notices:

Nathan Kamal, Spectrum Culture: ” Last Ride is the first full length film from director Glendyn Ivin, though you’d never know it. While the downfall of far too many first time directors is a lamentable tendency to throw in every cinematic trick in the book to demonstrate the breadth of their skill, Last Ride is a stark, simple movie…. And while [Tom] Russell portrays the childish petulance and anger of Chook well, it’s Weaving that’s the heart of the film. He captures Kev perfectly, a man who’s well aware of the mistakes he’s made but doesn’t know what to do with the life he’s made. He hits the notes of fatherhood just right (as in a scene where he dunks Chook in a pond to try to teach him to swim, something all fathers are apparently obligated to do), as well as the lack of self control that periodically erupts in rage. Last Ride is remarkable film for several reasons, but it’s most worth watching for Weaving.”

Colin Covert, Vita.mn/Minneapolis Star Tribune: “In this outback road movie, Australian actor Hugo Weaving dirties up to play Kev, an ex-con on a camping trip with his 10-year-old son Chook (the flawlessly naturalistic Tom Russell). The dynamic between the two is as mysterious and unforgiving as the desert vistas they travel. Their relationship is love and suspicion, rejection and dependency, faith and disappointment all in a knot. Weaving finds Kev’s humanity, winning our grudging pity for a hothead doomed by his nitroglycerine temper and thoughtlessness. Stunning camerawork by Greig Fraser (“Snow White and the Huntsman”) finds eerie beauty in desolate landscapes. The title more or less gives away the film’s design, but the predestined journey is taut and tragic nevertheless.”

There is also a selection of interesting stories from actors who played extras in Last Ride at Squidoo, a well-written review for the Australian release at Onya Magazine, and US reviews at Bloomberg and News Review.

Cate Blanchett has been given most of the Uncle Vanya promotional duties (often shared with husband/co-STC artistic director Andrew Upton), and carried them off with insight and panache, speaking to The Wall Street Journal (video), NY1 (video), The LA Times, Playbill, The New York Times, and New York Monthly. The NY Times piece also includes comments from Richard Roxburgh, and the video interviews include snippets of play footage, all from STC’s brilliant promotional trailer (below). Roxburgh and Blanchett gave their most in-depth interview last summer during the Kennedy Center run, filling a segment of PBS’s News Hour:

Early, informal reviews to the current production of Uncle Vanya remain wildly enthusiastic. I’ll share more as the story develops, but it’s an exciting week.

Another New Interview, More Accolades For Last Ride, Hobbit Poster

Note: This is an archived entry that’s over two years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material.

Hugo Weaving has really gone all-out in promoting the American release of Last Ride. In addition to interviews with Collider, THR (Part One, Part Two) and IFC (Part One, Part Two)– and his entertaining Rotten Tomatoes Five Films selections– he chatted with MSN Movies recently. This interview stays refreshingly on-topic, though Hugo outlines his plans for the rest of the year. (We’ll hear him say a lot more about Cloud Atlas, and probably The Hobbit, when their release dates approach.) He also clarifies that he hasn’t yet started work on Mystery Road, though the film began shooting in Queensland recently. Hugo remains in Sydney, probably deep into Uncle Vanya rehearsals, for now.

“By Danny Miller July 7

Hugo Weaving and Tom Russell in Last Ride

Hugo Weaving has the kind of career all actors must admire. He burst on the international scene in 1994 with a poignant performance as a sensitive drag queen in the much-loved Australian film, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” opposite Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp, and then parlayed that success into prominent roles in some of the most successful films of all time…. Weaving has also been lauded for his stage work in Australia including recent productions of “Uncle Vanya” with Cate Blanchett and a new adaptation of Christopher Hampton’s “Les Liasons Dangereuses.” Later this month, Weaving and Blanchett will bring their Sydney Theatre Company version of “Uncle Vanya” to Lincoln Center in New York.

In addition to these high-profile ventures, Hugo Weaving has continued to appear in the kind of smaller independent films that he made early on. In “Last Ride,” directed by Glendyn Ivin, Weaving gives one of the most powerful performances of his career. The film is the story of a father and son traveling across Australia. The father, Kev (Weaving), is on the lam from the police. His 10-year-old son, Chook (Tom Russell), loves his dad but suffers as a result of his father’s damaged past and difficult present. The film, which opens today in select cities and is available everywhere on demand, is definitely a ride worth taking. I spoke to Weaving by phone. He had just returned to Australia from New Zealand, where he was reprising his role as Elrond in Peter Jackson’s upcoming “The Hobbit,” a two-film prequel of sorts to “The Lord of the Rings.”

MSN Movies: Has it been a conscious decision on your part to mix up roles in these amazing international blockbusters with parts in small independent films like “Last Ride?”

Hugo Weaving: Well, when I first started in this business, the only films I could do as an actor fresh out of drama school were these low-budget Australian films! I did a bunch of them and then a couple of the films started getting noticed at festivals. The success of “Priscilla” led to “The Matrix” films and started me on this parallel career in these big-budget mostly American-funded films. But I’ll always continue to make the smaller films. If someone forced me to choose just one kind of thing to work on, I’d probably choose films like “Last Ride”—lower budget, smaller crews, working with writer/directors, on the road for six weeks. That would be definitely be my preference since these films stretch me so much as an actor. I’m just about to start another low-budget film up in Queensland [Mystery Road], but then right after that I’ll be promoting “Cloud Atlas” which is a much larger venture that I shot in Germany last year with Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, and Susan Sarandon. I feel very lucky to be able to move from one thing to the other!

What’s so amazing about your performance in “Last Ride” is how at times you are this monster of a father but then at other times one of the most caring fathers I’ve ever seen on screen. Was that a hard balance to strike?

After I read the screenplay, I read the original book by Denise Young. In the book you get a very strong sense of Kev’s childhood and what happened to him—his father was a nightmare and you see how it’s all a continuum. If you’re brought up a certain way, if you’re pulled every which way as a child and abused by your parent, you’re a very compromised individual, you’re going to be fighting your whole life against yourself to try and express some decent part of your nature. That’s what interested me in the character, that despite everything, Kev does love and want to protect his child. He desperately wants to love him and hug him and teach him, but he can’t be successful at it because he hates himself so much as he hated his own father. As an actor, to play someone who’s at war with himself, that’s so interesting. As human beings, of course, we’re all compromised and complex and contradictory and if a screenplay can express those contradictions within a character and if there’s room for me to express them, that’s a part I’d love to play, so much more than a character who is heroic and one-dimensional.

Obviously the success of this film also hinges on the performance of the actor who plays your son, Chook. Can you talk about working with Tom Russell? Is it a challenge to do such intense scenes with such a young actor?

It’s very different and quite wonderful. Tommy is so completely present at all times—it was a great reminder to me about what good acting is about. When you’re a kid you have this sense of wonder and wholeness and a strong sense of your own identity. The older you get, the more you feel compelled to respond to others. We’re socialized as we grow up and we’re asked to take account of other people, thank God, but at the same time a young child is always so fascinating to watch. Look at a baby’s face. I could watch babies for hours because they’re completely in their own world. Some scenes were difficult for Tom because he’s just a 10-year-old boy but he was always reminding me of fundamentally important things. He also learned certain things about acting and filmmaking from me so it was a wonderful exchange!

I know you shot “Last Ride” back in 2009. Are you surprised it took so long for the film to reach the United States?

Oh, no, some of the films I’m most proud of don’t have much of a life at all, even in Australia. I’m used to it! It’s very difficult, unless you make some kind of splash at Cannes or something like that, like “Priscilla” did. It’s a hard row to hoe for small Australian films. There are a number of other films I’ve done that may have gone to festivals but then got lost. For films like this, if you get a release in Australia, you’re lucky. If you run for more than four or five weeks, you’re really lucky. If you make any money back, then you’re super lucky! You’re dependent on all sorts of weird vagaries which have nothing at all to do with the quality of the piece. So I’m very happy that this film is getting a release in the States. I think Glendyn Ivin is a fantastic young director and I would love to work with him again. I’m so proud to be a part of this film.”

Technically it was Proof (1991) as much as Priscilla that got Hugo cast in The Matrix, but you couldn’t get a more expansive acting range than is displayed in just those two films. Also, MSN lists Last Ride as having opened in Boston, but so far I can only find listings at Chicago’s Music Box Theater and New York’s Cinema Village. Also, no Boston-based critics have yet reviewed the film. But the film is supposed to open in Los Angeles soon, so it may yet “go wider” in coming weeks. I’ll keep you posted. This is a film of striking visual beauty, so see it at a theater if you can!  If not, there are several ways to see it On Demand.

The rave reviews keep pouring in too:

Miriam Rinn, New Jersey Newsroom: “First time director [Glendyn] Ivin keeps the tension high, leaking bits of information as the father and son hurtle across the countryside, moving farther into the wilderness, both physically and spiritually….An acclaimed stage and screen actor in Australia, Hugo Weaving delivers an extraordinary performance, imbuing Kev with enough humanity that we can empathize with him despite his meanness and violence. He’s an awful guy, but he cares about his son in the only way he can. Limited by his own childhood, Kev doesn’t have the resources to give Chook the affection and attention a child needs. First-time actor Tom Russell is natural and innately sympathetic as Chook, a boy alternately fearful and idolizing of his father. He wants his father’s love, but he has enough of his father’s hardness that he’s not willing to go past a certain point.”

Danny King, The Film Stage: “There is something immediately powerful about observing these two souls march through such a vast territory, because it sets up such a compelling incongruity; as they are surrounded by all the vast open-space the world can offer, the tension between them builds mightily so that even when young Chook (Tom Russell) stands alone atop the immense, puddle-coated Lake Gairdner, a sense of claustrophobia still trickles in. They are freed by their surroundings, but paralyzed by their past…Sure, everything about the duo’s past is spelled out… but even in these instances, Ivin doesn’t linger unnecessarily or settle for out-of-the-blue plot-twists. He shows us, economically, what we need to know to understand and leaves the rest to [Hugo] Weaving’s scarred face and Russell’s lurking aggression…And two wonderful performances these are, sustaining a heavy burden in terms of how much they’re relied on for emotional identification and power.”

In other Hugo News, Peter Jackson recently posted the following update at Facebook: “We made it! Shoot day 266 and the end of principal photography on The Hobbit. Thanks to our fantastic cast and crew for getting us this far, and to all of you for your support! Next stop, the cutting room. Oh, and Comic Con! ” He also shared a new poster for the film, which will be showcased (well, some footage, anyway) at San Diego Comic Con later this month.


Two More Hugo Weaving Interviews; Hugo’s Five Favorite Films (This Week)

Note: This is an archived entry that’s over two years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material.

IFC has finally posted the Last Ride portion of their Hugo Weaving interview, which is great… unfortunately, the reporter casually added spoilers of every major plot twist in the film. So I’m going to just repost Hugo’s quotes (which are spoiler-free). If you’ve already seen the film, by all means click check out the full piece.

“I’m very pleased to be talking about [Last Ride]. It’s great that it’s getting a release in the States. There aren’t many films that you do that you feel very passionate about and strongly about, but this is certainly one of them, so it’s nice to know that it’s getting a release even if it’s two and a half, three years later than it was here….Most of the films I’ve done have been small, Australian films, a lot of which haven’t seen too much light of day. A little bit here and there… But it’s always very hard for Australian films, because of the nature of the world in which we live in, the dominance of the American film industry even you know as far away as Australia. It’s quite hard for an Australian film to get much of a look even in Australia, let alone in the rest of the world.”

“It was difficult [for Tom Russell to handle the damnds of filming and difficult subject matter] in some ways. Difficult because he wasn’t used to the film set, wasn’t used to working. But with Tom, he’s so present and he’s so there … And he’s a delightful boy, a lot of fun, and just a kid, you know? Just a kid who you point the camera at him and whatever he’s doing is interesting… But yeah, it did mean that there were some other scenes that were quite –particularly some intensely dramatic scenes — there were a couple where he was not in that mood to be intensely dramatic and you think well, he’s a 10-year-old kid, and you’ve got to try to find that in him in another way. No, he’s great. He’s absolutely wonderful. It was a real treat to work with him.” 

An unexpected surprise today was Hugo’s participation in Rotten Tomatoes‘ popular Five Favorite Films feature. He technically named more than five films, and qualified that they’re five of his favorites, and that the selection would vary from day to day. Interestingly, none of these are identical to the films Hugo chose the last time he did this sort of thing in 2003* (in an MTV interview),  but once again his taste in challenging, artistic arthouse fare (what my boyfriend and I jokingly call Criterion Collection Cinema) comes to the fore.  Here’s the text of his remarks; go to the article itself (or IMDb) if you’ve been provoked into further curiosity about these films and want links. I consider myself a bit of an arthouse nerd ;), but I’d never heard of one of these, and have never seen two. I could also have some spirited debates with Hugo about Kubrick, but I think that’s true of any two Kubrick fans.

” My five favorite films would change from, you know, day to day, but if you want five of my favorite films, one would have to be (1) The Rules of the Game, by [Jean] Renoir. A fabulous upstairs-downstairs look at French society in a very particular period. It’s both unbelievably sad and tragic, and moving and funny. And a delightfully humanist film. In fact, a lot of my favorite films are like that…. For instance, (2) A Tree of Wooden Clogs [Ermano Olmi, 1978], which would have to be one of my favorite films. A year in the life of a peasant commune in Italy — again, it’s poor souls living through a year, so you’re getting a sense of seasons and hardship and community, and a simple, very basic deprived existence. I think that’s a masterpiece, that film…(3) Closely Watched Trains [1966], one of my all-time favorite films, by Jiri Menzel. Funny, wry, beautiful, entertaining; and subversive, in its own quirky way. A beautiful film…. (4) A film like If….. Lindsay Anderson’s If [1968] …., which I think is a work of genius…(5) And Barry Lyndon [Stanley Kubrick, 1975]. Anything by Kubrick. [Pauses] 2001 [A Space Odyssey, 1968]… no… Barry Lyndon, yeah. If we’re talking about Australian films, probably something like Ten Canoes. [Rolf de Heer, 2006] That’s probably my favorite Australian film ever made, actually. I think it’s a great, great film. I’ve probably listed more than five. And then there’s [Fellini’s] 8 ½ [1963]… I could go on forever. There are some great films coming to mind, like The Return [Andrei Zvyagintsev, 2003] the Russian film. [Laughs] I’ll stop.”

Hugo on MTV Movie House, 2003. Yes, that’s Peter Jackson’s early splatter masterpiece Bad Taste (1982). 😉

* In the 2003 MTV Movie House piece, Hugo picked Fellini’s 8 ½, Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), and Marcel Carné’s Children of Paradise (1945)… and picked 2001 as his favorite Kubrick film. (“There’s a great character in this called Hal. And Hal has an extraordinary voice. He’s not a human being, but he’s one of the major influences on Agent Smith.”) 😉

Now I’ve gotta go adjust my Netflix queue. 😉 There are some films on this list even Hugo will never completely sell me on, and others I love as much as he does, but they’re all artistically provocative on some level and worth seeing at least once. I couldn’t narrow my favorite films list down to five in any given week either. But, in the spirit of fan participation, feel free to list your own in Comments if you like. 😉

Hobbit scans, More Last Ride Reviews, THR Last Ride Interview

Note: This is an archived entry that’s over two years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material.

After a lot of delays caused by technical difficulties of various sorts, I have managed to scan Entertainment Weekly‘s recent Hobbit preview/cover story. Alas, there’s no new Hugo Weaving material in it (the set interviews were conducted last fall, when he was working on Cloud Atlas), just a cropped version of the pic EW and many other sites shared online. LOTR/Hobbit fans will want to take a look (if they haven’t already snapped up their own copy)… as usual, Peter Jackson and Ian McKellen provide some entertaining insights. And there’s a handy guide on how to tell the dwarves apart. 😉

Full, uncropped version of EW’s new Elrond pic

For slightly larger versions of these scans, go here.

Hugo’s recent interviews with Collider, THR and IFC continue to be reposted, quoted and repackaged in various ways online, but so far those are the only original interviews he’s given in support of Last Ride‘s US release (and, to a lesser but more-talked-about extent, Cloud Atlas and The Hobbit.) Frustratingly, though Last Ride is now in theaters in New York and Chicago, and available on Cable On Demand and via other Video On Demand services, IFC and THR continue to sit on the interviews Hugo gave specifically to promote it in favor of hyping films that don’t come out for months, and which he can only speak in broad terms about. (Of course they had a right to ask about these projects– who wouldn’t?– but he’ll be promoting them officially in a few months. Last Ride is out now, and is the one film of the three that really needs a strong word of mouth campaign from its star.) [UPDATE: THR must be tired of my bitching: they posted Hugo’s Last Ride interview even as I typed this up. 😉 It was well worth the wait– see below…]

But the better news is that Last Ride continues to be well-received in its limited arthouse release; today it received a positive notice   from The New York Times‘ notoriously hard- to- please Manohla Dargis. There were also glowing reviews on other sites which I’ll link to and excerpt below.

The American poster art for Last Ride

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times: The Australian actor Hugo Weaving has the kind of blockbuster credits and genre fame that can overshadow a performer’s range. He’s hitched rides in hits like “The Matrix” cycle (as Agent Smith) and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (Elrond, an Elf-lord), in which he dominated his scenes with restrained intensity, slashing eyebrows and a voice that turns whispers into threats… There’s more to Mr. Weaving than a spooky voice, though, but you need to look into the quieter corners of the movie world for the fuller picture….The screenwriter Mac Gudgeon, working from a novel by Denise Young, fills out the story with natural-sounding stop-and-go conversations, traded jokes, informational exchanges and the like rather than conspicuously expository passages. The two main characters talk rather than slog or sift through their feelings. This strengthens the realism, particularly because Kev is fairly laconic, and Chook isn’t especially chatty…Shooting in wide screen [Glendyn] Ivin tends to switch back and forth between intimate images of Kev and Chook and long shots of them enveloped by the harshly beautiful landscape, suggestively toggling between man and nature…Mr. Weaving turns the film’s silences into brooding and threatening lulls, and he matches Kev’s quieter moments with gestures that are similarly controlled until they’re abruptly not. This restraint draws you closer to Kev — he seems like an enigma worth exploring — even as he then repulses you with his violence, including toward Chook. Kev is mean and often frightening, a volcano on the verge of inundating everything within distance. But what Mr. Weaving and Mr. Ivin never lose sight of is that Kev is Chook’s father. The boy loves Kev and wants to be loved by him, which is crucial to the story’s emotional stakes. ”

Mark Jenkins, NPR: “Hugo Weaving, best known for The Matrix and the Lord of the Rings trilogies, brings subtlety and poignance to the hoodlum’s mercurial character. Kev can do good when he takes time to think; that just doesn’t happen very often….Weaving is well matched by Tom Russell, making his screen debut as Chook, the boy who at first doesn’t understand that this excursion with his dad is actually a run from the law. Chook is confused and overwhelmed, but Russell conveys an inner strength that makes plausible the kid’s gradual shift toward independence… While we watch Kev and Chook run from the law, the southern Australian landscape becomes a character of its own….Adapted from Denise Young’s novel by screenwriter Mac Gudgeon, Last Ride is neatly structured. Events are carefully foreshadowed, and the flashbacks fill in the story without clogging it; this is primarily a character study, not an exercise in narrative acrobatics.”

Meagan Lehmann, Film Journal:  “A tour-de-force turn from the persistently terrific Hugo Weaving lights a fuse under Last Ride, a spare and wrenching road movie delving into the complexities of a fraught father-son relationship. Against all odds, Weaving gives his violent career criminal, on the run from the law with his ten-year-old son, a touching humanity. Coupled with a slow-burn narrative tension and some truly stunning location shots of the South Australian outback, his front-and-center performance makes this a journey worth taking….The debut feature from Glendyn Ivin, who won the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2003 with Cracker Bag, feeds into a distinctly Australian mythology of the rambling man lost in a vast landscape. But its exploration of a troubled male psyche is universal.”

James van Maanen, TrustMovies: “As well played by Weaving, one of Australia’s finest actors, and the excellent young newcomer Tom Russell (below, who made this movie prior The Tree, which opened here one year ago), these two performances command our attention and at least a little of our good will, especially where young Russell’s character is concerned…Kev (Weaving) and Chook (Russell) encounter various folk, tell jokes (two out of three are pretty funny) and have some sweet moments along the way — which becomes all the sadder as we get a better understanding of how dark and problematic is the character of Kev.”

David Fear, Time Out New York: “Glendyn Ivin’s road movie has a knack for turning Aussie landscapes into characters, as well as a slow-burn sense of tension. If Last Ride leans heavily on fugitive-life lyricism, it benefits from an incredible father-son chemistry between Weaving and Russell—one that makes the movie’s inexorable drive toward tragedy that much more gut-wrenching.”

Shannon M. Houston, Paste: “Last Ride accomplishes the difficult task of being a complete film with a fully explored storyline that is simultaneously enveloped in mystery. Eerie and strange, and unwilling to produce concrete answers to every question, it leaves the viewer with an unabating interest in the characters and the traditional (yet unconventional) father/son dynamic at work…With an outstanding performance from Weaving and impressive work from his young co-star, Last Ride participates in a grand narrative of films concerned with the unique relationship between a man and his boy. As Chook takes on (and tries to rectify) the sins of his father, we are reminded of similarly complex relationships in last year’s The Tree Of Life, this year’s Boy, and the countless other films where a seemingly bad father tries to raise a good son—and, in doing so, redeems himself.”

For Video On Demand info on Last Ride (and venues, dates, etc as they’re added) check out Music Box Films’ Last Ride page.

Hugo Weaving and Last Ride novelist Denise Young on the film’s set, 2008 (Yes, she visited the set the day the love scene was filmed. No idea if this was intentional, heh heh.) Fans of the film should read the novel, by the way. It’s told in a different way and ends differently, but the essence of the story– and the emotional crux of Chook’s decision– are intact.

I’m thrilled to report THR has finally posted Hugo’s lengthy Last Ride promotional interview. I’m too happy and relieved to condense or excerpt the thing, so here it is in glorious entirety:

6:05 PM PDT 7/5/2012 by Todd Gilchrist

Weaving spoke to The Hollywood Reporter last week via telephone to talk about Last Ride, where he plays a troubled father named Kev who absconds with his son and takes a dangerous trek across the Australian Outback. In addition to discussing his initial interest in the role, Weaving talks about his collaboration with newcomer Tom Russell, who plays his onscreen son, and examines the appeal of films that tackle complex and sometimes difficult-to-watch subject matter.

The Hollywood Reporter: When you look at all of the work you’re going to have to do in a movie like this, what’s your initial reaction – excitement or trepidation?

Hugo Weaving: That’s an interesting question because in a way it doesn’t feel like an effort, but the thing that appealed to me about that character was that he was very compromised. He had an appalling childhood himself, his background, and I’d read the book and I just wanted to work on a small-budget film and with a really talented film director whose short film I’d seen that won an award at Cannes. I really wanted to work with Glendyn [Ivin], and the script moved me and I could see there was a massive contrast between the subject of the story, which was a relationship between a father and a son, and the brutality of the landscape and the interaction of the father and son and some of the other characters in the film. And so it was all of those complexities together that excited me – the more compromised the character is, the more complexities the story has, I’ll jump in and say “yes” to it immediately. Then I think, “Oh my God – I’ve got a lot of work to do.” But that tends to excite me rather than daunt me – and then it’s just trying to spend whatever time you’ve got between first reading the script and production and trying to bring about some kind of internal combination and create a character. And that was an exciting process – it was a real joy to do, actually.

THR: Because I imagine you get a lot of offers to play villainous characters, how much do you think about what roles you’ve played in the past – or even just recently – when choosing to take on a new one that might be perceived as similar?

Weaving: I try and sort of vary what I do as much as possible, but it’s a little bit dependent on what’s out there and what’s offered – and I don’t say yes to everything. But I try to get back to the theatre every year, and to work on small-budget film like Last Ride, that would be my first choice, to do something like that, and then do some theatre, and then if possible, do something completely different like Cloud Atlas which is coming out at the end of the year, which is a huge-budget science fiction film we shot in Germany.

THR: How difficult was it to fall into the rhythm of a relationship with the young actor who plays your son in the film, especially since you relate to one another in some dramatic ways?

Weaving: We met up in Sydney. Glendyn, Tom [Russell] and I came up and we spent two or three days up in a room, the three of us just talking and having fun and eating and just getting to know each other, and filming little bits and rehearsing. And it was just a matter of getting to know each other, and making Tom feel like he was safe, that I wasn’t actually like Kev and I wouldn’t actually beat and bash him. But he was a young kid who was just very present, and whenever the camera’s on him, whatever he’s doing is interesting, and the thing with him at that age was just keeping him interested and keeping his mind focused. And it’s quite hard to do that through a long shooting day, but Glendyn had a great relationship with Tom and I did too, so he was supported by the whole crew and his parents were on board most of the time. So they were with us on the journey through the Outback, and he’s a remarkable boy and I think he did a great job. But no, Glendyn’s skill at dealing with him in a relaxed way I think was the key to the performance, really.

THR: Actors seem to have different opinions on how best to play characters that are difficult to sympathize with. How tough is it to tap into the humanity in a character like Kev that will help you and/or the audience identify with him even if they don’t like him?

Weaving: I’ve always found that people, even if they’re quite bleak or unlikeable characters and it’s hard to sympathize with them, if you give some sense that they’ve been damaged as a child or why they are the way that they are, to think about that even for a few seconds, that’s enough for me to reserve judgment about them rather than saying, “I didn’t like that film because that character was so awful.” But there’s something, not an explanation but something to hinge that character on, who’s doing things as best they can given their background and their upbringing and the things they’re battling against. And I think that’s what’s interesting in the film, really, that it is about love and it is about the secure relationship between father and son, and yet, you know that he’s violent and you know that he’s making all of the wrong decisions and you know he’s compounding the problem rather than alleviating it. But there’s something compelling about all of that, I think – that’s certainly what interested me in doing the film in the first place. The book’s a little different – he’s a little more of a loser in the book, and the ending’s a little different.

THR: How do you ultimately look at a film project like this one – is it a purely visceral experience, a meditative one, a metaphorical one? It offers a pretty unflinching portrait of a complex relationship.

Weaving: I think people will have their own reaction to it, but to me it was about, despite everything else, a story about love, actually, and I find that incredibly moving – that Kev loves Chuck and vice versa but they don’t necessarily express that in a way that someone we might expect that somebody would. But in many ways, Kev is a very repellent character, and violent, and you want Chuck to get away from him. But by the end of the film, it’s very clear that he’s his father and he wants to help him and he doesn’t want certain things to happen – but at the same time you’re aware that this isn’t going to end well. And I think that ending is quite bleak and harsh and sudden; you shouldn’t be in any doubt that there’s a strong love there, but it’s quite tragic, really. But everyone deals with this film in a different way, and the reception to the film in Australia was quite mixed – critically acclaimed by some people and utterly damned by other because they found it so bleak, saying we shouldn’t make films like this any more. So it depends on how you’re feeling, and what sort of film you’re into, your reaction will be quite different. But ultimately it’s a story of love and a particular relationship at a particular time and a particular place, despite all of the odds. And that’s what make it compelling to me.”