Hugo Weaving has played some of the most indelible parts in recent movie memory from The Lord of the Rings series to his iconic role in The Matrix trilogy. Weaving is on screen twice this fall, first in Cloud Atlas and then in the return of Peter Jackson to Middle Earth, The Hobbit.
Movie Fanatic met Weaving for an exclusive interview as he chats playing six roles in Cloud Atlas, as well as giving our readers a front row seat as he reflects on a career that has also seen him killing it in Captain America and V for Vendetta. “I’ve been very lucky to do all of that,” Weaving said.
Cloud Atlas reunites Weaving with his Matrix and V for Vendetta filmmakers, the Wachowskis, along with Run Lola Run helmer Tom Tykwer in the most ambitious film Movie Fanatic has ever seen.
Weaving welcomed the chance to portray six integral parts in the “weaving” storylines of Cloud Atlas, especially because the filmmakers asked the actors to play so many roles which arose out of a film synergy rather than stunt casting.
“They’re not just there to add color and flavor. The film celebrates the cyclical nature of existence and the way things keep repeating themselves and the way structures keep repeating itself, and therefore human souls in some way come back,” Weaving said.
“This sense for us as actors to get to play more than one character in a film, there’s a reason for that… it’s not just a device or whimsy or color. It springs from something that’s in the material. It’s not a bright package that when you open it up contains a pile of (expletive) [laughs]. I think that’s genius.”
He discovered the David Mitchell book six years ago and could never have imagined it would ever make its way to the big screen. “When I read the book, I didn’t see it as a film. It had incredible breadth, sweep and scope and such a puzzle. I loved that,” Weaving said.
It seems the Mitchell novel made its way through the V for Vendetta cast. “I read it around the time we were doing V for Vendetta and Natalie (Portman) had given it to Lana (Wachowski).”
Few actors have worked with the Wachowskis as much as Weaving and although there are some physical changes to the duo, the actor admits they’re still the same barrel of laughs. “Fundamentally they’re totally the same people I met when I first met them -- lots of laughter among us. There are obvious changes in Lana. I met Larry. Larry’s now Lana,” Weaving said.
The actor compares the journey that Larry went on to become Lana to the one the characters of Cloud Atlas go through.
“The themes in the book speak to her -- the bravery someone in that position has to embody in order to deal with what they’re going through and that is true of all these characters in this film. They’re making a choice because it’s based on a belief they have because they can’t believe otherwise. In order to make change and make a difference to yourself, you need to be the person you are... even if that process is an ongoing one.”
When he first met the sibling filmmakers, Weaving compared them to your average college geeks who dream big. “They were finishing each other’s sentences. They’re still the same spirits, although older, but as much as a pleasure to be with as they ever were. I feel exactly the same with them as I ever did,” Weaving said.
Next up for fans of Weaving is his return to Middle Earth and The Hobbit. When asked if he ever thought he’d return to his role as Elrond, the mystical elf leader, he didn’t flinch.
“Speaking of cyclical nature of human existence, Middle Earth keeps calling me back. I think there is no escape from Middle Earth,” Weaving said and laughed.
When the Lord of the Rings filming wrapped, Weaving said he looked at Jackson and said, “I’ll see ya on The Hobbit.” Although Jackson told him that he wasn’t going to do The Hobbit, Weaving knew otherwise.
“We all know that it only makes sense that The Hobbit be made and it has to be made by his studio. He said he wasn’t going to direct it, just produce it. Then, of course, finally he’s directing it. Then it was one film, then it was two, and now it’s three,” Weaving said.
He admitted that there may even be a life after The Hobbit trilogy, the way things have gone. “I’m sure I’ll be back there next year for filming and since there’s a third film… I suspect the year after that too... and possibly beyond.”
When it comes to a career that is filled with blockbusters, one would be surprised that Weaving would like to be most remembered for his work on smaller features. “It’s certainly a part of my working life, and it’s been a very important part,” Weaving said of hits like The Matrix, Lord of the Rings and Captain America.
“But, in many ways, I suppose the majority of film that I would love to do would be much more low budget, contemporary Australian psychological dramas where the characters are vast. If I was working on large budget films like those for forever and a day, that would be very much a major part of my life. It’s just been one facet of my life. A huge joy has been working with Lana and Andy on the Matrix films, V for Vendetta and now Cloud Atlas. This has been a blessing. But, this, Cloud Atlas has been so different in so many ways.”