Delv­ing into the Aussie ac­tor’s heart of dark­ness…

Total Film - - Contents - JM ETA | 28 SEPTEMBER / BLACK 47 OPENS NEXT MONTH.

Hugo Weav­ing. Tak­ing the blue or the red pill?

From the out­landish Mitzi in Priscilla to the kung fu fight­ing Agent Smith in The Ma­trix and the ethe­real El­rond in Lord Of The Rings and The Hob­bit, Aus­tralian star Hugo Weav­ing, 58, is im­pos­si­ble to pin down. Just as adept in indies as block­busters, he’s back wal­low­ing in the mire as Han­nah, a hor­ri­fied sol­dier in potato famine drama Black 47…

What did you make of Black 47 when you first saw the script?

When I first read it, a Heart Of Dark­ness story set in the potato famine… well, that’s bril­liant! Like Apoc­a­lypse Now, it had a very strong sense of trav­el­ling into hell. Han­nah’s in hell at the be­gin­ning. I think he’s worn down by life be­ing a pro­fes­sional sol­dier in ab­so­lute agony and pain.

You moved around a lot as a kid be­fore set­tling in Oz. How did that af­fect your early years as an ac­tor?

At drama school, I had to beg to be given an iconic Aus­tralian role. It took me a while af­ter leav­ing drama school to feel com­fort­able with play­ing an Aus­tralian. Even though it was my coun­try, I hadn’t iden­ti­fied with it as an Aus­tralian and I didn’t sound like that.

How big a turn­ing point was for you?

The Ma­trix

A huge one. But the weird thing was [writer/di­rec­tor sib­lings] the Wa­chowskis had seen me in Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, and that was the thing that made them want to cast me as Agent Smith! But meet­ing them was a huge turn­ing point. We got on ex­tremely well straight away and I in­stantly liked the en­ergy they were on. And the feel­ing was mu­tual. Out of those three films came

V For Ven­detta and then Cloud At­las.

How do you feel about the mask in V For Ven­detta be­com­ing this world­wide sym­bol of revo­lu­tion?

I’ve got that mask! I think I should do some­thing with that! It’s re­ally amaz­ing that the Guy Fawkes mask has re­ver­ber­ated, and been picked up by Anony­mous and protest move­ments all around the world. But the Wa­chowskis have a knack of do­ing that.

You’re not re­ally a fran­chise ac­tor but you’ve been in so many classic ones…

I know, I know… with The Ma­trix, Lord Of The Rings and The Hob­bit… that’s what peo­ple only think of me as! But ac­tu­ally, I don’t see my­self like that. Most of the work I’ve done is ei­ther on stage in Syd­ney or tak­ing plays around the world, or in Aus­tralian films that a lot of peo­ple don’t see.

Was there never a chance to fea­ture in a movie?

Star Wars

No, I wasn’t in­ter­ested. Ac­tu­ally, there was one stage where it was a pos­si­bil­ity, but I was never a Star Wars buff. Not re­ally. A lit­tle bit. I re­mem­ber with Ma­trix, when I heard the idea I said, “I don’t want to do that!” But I’ve al­ways loved se­ri­ously good sci­ence fic­tion, like 2001. And when I read the scenes, I thought, “Oh, this is en­tirely dif­fer­ent. I ab­so­lutely want to do that. I ab­so­lutely want to work with the Wa­chowskis.”

What en­ticed you to play El­rond in

Lord Of The Rings?

Lord Of The Rings was an anoma­lous choice for me. Dress­ing up as an elf? I ac­tu­ally thought it would be fun, and an en­tirely dif­fer­ent thing to do. But also when I met Pete [Jack­son], he showed me a world that wasn’t fan­tas­ti­cal. It was fan­tas­tic cos­tumes and make-up – and I saw some footage – but he was al­ways [pre­sent­ing] the idea that this is a real world at war and the stakes were in­cred­i­bly high.

And you just re­united with him on the up­com­ing

Mor­tal En­gines… Pete’s not di­rect­ing that but ab­so­lutely, that’s his baby. We had lots of dis­cus­sions about the script. A very in­ter­est­ing project. It’s a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic world. They’re in the fu­ture, but they’re re­dis­cov­er­ing tech­nolo­gies from our present which have been lost.

‘priscilla was what made the wa­chowskis want to cast me as agent smith!’

celtic call­ing the adapt­able an­tipodean is next play­ing an irish­man in re­venge tale Black 47.

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