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Hugo Weaving News Updates

6/4/15 06:59 pm - 29crowjane - STC's Waiting For Godot Begins London Run; Two New Hugo Weaving Interviews

Sydney Theatre Company's production of Beckett's Waiting for Godot, starring Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh, Philip Quast and Luke Mullins, held its first performance at London's Barbican Center tonight. while we await the first reviews (and, ideally some new pics) I'm going to share two new promo interviews Hugo Weaving gave which appeared online yesterday. So far I've been unable to find print versions, so I'll embed the texts of the online versions. As always, I don't edit Hugo's interviews, as everything he says is very much worth reading... however you should click on the links to the sites of origin too, because both have shared extra-large versions of the photos included below. Alas, none are new pics, but all are either recent (from January's Sundance film fest) or are of the original Sydney production.

The new interviews-- which iriginally appeared online in The Irish World and The Wall Street Journal-- are refreshingly on-topic, thoughtful and fascinating reads. Some people are reading Hugo's comments as some sort of retirement announcement... I wouldn't do that. ;) Yes, he's probably going to take an extended break after a punishing schedule of theatrical performances and indie film shoots over the past few years, but I'm certain he'll return to both in time. His series of annual STC gigs over the past several years WAS probably unique and had a lot to do with Andrew Upton's tenure as Artistic Director (along with Cate Blanchett for the first several years), but I don't think he'll give up the medium which has provided some of his meatiest roles. He's also emphasized his focus on Australian cinema in other recent interviews and has at least two semi-official projects (with directors Glendyn Ivins and Anand Gandhi) that might move forward sometime in the future. He sounds a lot less interested in joining any large-scale Hollywood productions, but this is nothing new, and I'm personally happy to hear him not waver on this point.

Anyhow, always best to let Hugo speak for himself, so here goes:

I’m Waiting for the man
The Irish World (online) 3 June 2015


Hugo Weaving and co-star Richard Roxburgh in a scene from Waiting for Godot.  Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

David Hennessy talks to Hugo Weaving, the actor well known for film roles that include The Matrix and Lord of the Rings, just before he stars in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot at The Barbican in London.

After a successful run down under in 2013, Hugo Weaving is coming to London with the Sydney Theatre Company and the Beckett classic, Waiting for Godot. So positively received was Waiting for Godot, starring Hugo, in it’s previous run that one reviewer gushed that the playwright himself Samuel Beckett, known for being hard to please, would applaud if he had been there to see it.

“Well, that’s lovely,” Hugo tells the Irish World in response. “I don’t know who said that or whether they knew Beckett personally because they would have had to have known him to know whether or not he would have been applauding.

“Look, I would have loved to have met Sam Beckett, just an extraordinary man, extraordinary writer and I’m sure even if he did (applaud), I’m sure he would have lots of notes as well. I’m sure he would have lots of criticism. I don’t necessarily accept that but look, that’s lovely if someone thinks that but, from my understanding, he was a hard taskmaster.

“I think the thing he loved probably about being in theatre was taking himself out of himself and being engaged in a more communal, creative enterprise but having said that, he also was quite firm about the way certain things should be so I’m sure there would be a lot of stuff we’re doing that he would not necessarily agree with.

“I think the spirit of Beckett is the most important thing to try and understand. The specifics of it, the particularities of it are probably going to change with every different actor. Wherever you are in the world, whoever’s playing Estragon, whoever’s playing Vladimir, whoever’s playing Pozzo, it’s going to be a different play and Beckett would have understood that.


Appearing in Waiting for Godot has encouraged Hugo to explore Beckett’s other work. Picture: Lisa Tomesetti

“The more I’ve read of his work, the more I appreciate the way in which he was trying to explore all of these unfathomable, unknowing parts of our existence so if we can in any way capture that spirit..that’s what we’re aiming for anyway. It always feels like it’s a work in progress.”

Waiting for Godot sees Vladimir, played by Weaving, and Estragon, played by another Australian Hollywood star Richard Roxburgh, waiting in vain for the arrival of someone called Godot.

Just this year, Hugo performed in Endgame, again with the Sydney Theatre Company. Prior to Waiting for Godot, to perform Beckett had been a long term ambition of his. He has felt the need to seek out some of his other work: “We decided we would do Waiting for Godot and I thought, ‘I’ve got to learn more about this writer, I thought I’ve got to read him chronologically’ so I started reading More Pricks than Kicks. I started reading and slowly worked my way through his work and then by the time I got to Godot, I sort of had a better understanding of who he was as a writer anyway.

“His work, I absolutely love it and I would rate Watt and Molloy as my two favourites, absolutely love those. I think they’re transformative for the reader and I don’t think many writers affect you that way, I don’t think many writers turn your view of the world on it’s head and force you to read something through a completely different set of binoculars. It’s great and he’s so funny too. I was reading Watt and laughing my head off. It’s not easy to read so you gotta keep going back over things and you slowly start to dig him.”

Hugo was unforgettable in his chilling role of Agent Smith in The Matrix. Other well known roles include The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and V for Vendetta.

However, he has such a huge body of work. He has won three Australian Film Institute Awards, all for Best Actor in a Lead Role for the Australian films Proof (1991), the Interview (1998) and Little Fish (2005). Other awards include a Sydney Theatre Award for his work in V for Vendetta.

Is it frustrating or unsettling to be well known for The Matrix and Lord of the Rings when he has been so productive on other things for more than three decades now? “Not really, it’s just the way of the world, isn’t it?

“I’ve done many many films mostly in Australia, mostly low budget. A lot of the work I’ve done that I’m proudest of has probably not been seen by so many people but I really think there’s some great little films. I always think it’s a shame that those films aren’t seen by a wider audience not because they highlight something that I’ve done but because I think they’re really interesting films but that’s kind of the way of the world.

“Then of course on the other scale you’ve got the larger studio films that I have been involved with that everyone’s seen and decided that’s what I’ve done and in a funny way, they’re a bit anonymous. The majority of my work has been in low budget Australian films and in theatre but every now and then, I’ve jumped into a big studio picture and I’ve been very happy to do that although I would be wary to do that (again), depending on what it is, of course.

“I do look to try to do Australian work which is necessarily lower budget I suppose. I don’t look to do lower budget film but I do look to do look to do Australian film projects and most of them are independent and therefore pretty low budget compared to working on something like The Matrix or like V for Vendetta or Lord of the Rings.”

The Matrix depicted a future where humans were farmed by machines and kept in a realistic but false computer world that kept the entire population distracted. Is it not a film that has a new relevance now with so many people living their lives online? “Yeah,” says Hugo who you would not catch tweeting what he had for breakfast. “I’m such a luddite really. Well, I’m not a luddite but I’d sooner plant a tree than go and make a tweet. I don’t have a Twitter account so my comprehension of that world is pretty limited as well. I have nothing great to add to the debate but certainly people are online a lot and I can only say: Get out and have a walk, enjoy nature, plant a tree and grow some vegetables, look at the sunset, look at the stars and chat to some friends face to face. I love all that.”

Has Hugo spent much time in Ireland? “Yeah, my dad took us, I think I must have been fifteen. I had a fantastic time there but apart from that, my trips to Ireland have been a refuel in Shannon coming from New York en route to the Cannes Film Festival and that’s about it.

“My son has just travelled around Ireland with his girlfriend in a camper van and that’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, go to Ireland and spend time there.

“I think Australians have a great affinity with the Irish. There’s a lot of Irish culture and humour in Australian humour and culture. There’s a big link between Ireland and Australia. I love nature and I love greenery and wild windswept places but I also really dig funky cities and I would love to go to Dublin. I think the Irish people that I have met and known here, there’s just something really lovely about them. I’m generalising of course but I very much like to spend time there.  It’s a place I will definitely come to sooner rather than later and spend quite a bit of time there. I feel very Celtic actually.”

Waiting for Godot, presented by Sydney Theatre Company, is at the Barbican from Thursday June 4 to Saturday June 13. It is part of the International Beckett season there that runs from June 2-21. For more information, go to https://www.barbican.org.uk/.

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Hugo Weaving Takes ‘Waiting for Godot’ to London

The Australian actor reflects on the challenges of Samuel Beckett’s classic absurdist drama

Photo: Hugo Weaving promotes Strangerland at the Sundance Film Festival, 23 January 2015. Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

By JAMES GLYNN, The Wall Street Journal

June 3, 2015 11:52 p.m. ET

SYDNEY—A world away from Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Hugo Weaving is contemplating a hiatus from stage and screen.

“I have a hankering for peace and quiet, tree-planting, growing vegetables, being with nature,” Mr. Weaving says. “That’s where I’m at as Hugo.”

Before that, however, the Australian actor, whose big-screen credits include “The Matrix,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies, will be in London playing Vladimir in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Samuel Beckett’s classic “Waiting for Godot.”

A Beckettian odyssey—Mr. Weaving recently concluded a run of the playwright’s equally absurdist “Endgame”—can weary an actor. “Waiting for Godot,” which runs June 4 to 13 at the Barbican Theatre and reunites the cast of the company’s acclaimed 2013 production, is a real test, he says.

“Beckett has stripped everything out of ‘Godot,’ ” Mr. Weaving says. “It is almost an actor’s nightmare of being stuck on stage and not knowing what to say or even asking, What play am I doing? It is sort of what Godot is, I reckon. There is nothing to say, and the two main characters [have] got to keep saying things or otherwise they would go absolutely mad.”

There is no point in attempting to dramatically reinterpret the play, Mr. Weaving says, as any affectations or devices would simply collapse under the play’s demands for simplicity. “You need to be very delicate with Beckett. His characters are very human, and that’s what makes them so wonderful and so funny and robust in a way,” he says. “You cannot stick anything there.”

Mr. Weaving sat down with the Journal to talk about interpreting “Godot,” the play’s humor, and his recently dark theatrical path, which included a stage production of “Macbeth.” Edited excerpts:

What is your take on “Godot”?

The understanding of the play comes from watching it and being in it, really. I don’t think you can easily sum it up. It’s something that whenever Beckett was asked about, he said it is all in the words, and it is all in the play. So I think the understanding of it is in the viewing and experiencing of both doing it and watching it. Beckett wrote it after the Second World War, and he’d been on the run, hiding in the south of France, having left Paris and been part of a resistance cell and the Irish Red Cross in Normandy. He’d seen a lot of hardship. The Second World War decimated Europe and changed the world. The play expresses something that he realized after the war—that he couldn’t write in the same way. He could not be a knowing writer anymore, and he had to express a lot of his doubt—his inabilities. So I think that the play deals with not knowing, and weakness and failure—and that’s the thing I love about the play.

How risky is it to try and overly define the play?

He is one of the first writers to deal with all those human frailties that many other writers before him had tried to cover up with heroic characters. The beauty of its characters, and the beauty of the play itself, is because of his realization that that is what he needed to write about. It’s possibly a post-apocalyptic world—we don’t know really—and these people are waiting, there is a routine that they go through, and they are spending their time in the best way, trying to avoid the hideous silence that surrounds them. It is kind of a metaphor for life, I suppose, but, really, to try and sum it up is not a good idea.


Hugo Weaving, left, and Richard Roxburgh in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of ‘Waiting for Godot,’ which runs June 4 to 13 at the Barbican Theatre in London. PHOTO: LISA TOMASETTI

Is it important to know who Godot is?

He is a man we never see. Beckett absolutely refused to say who that was. There are obvious religious metaphors, but it would be entirely wrong to suggest that Godot was God. That is just completely wrong. He is just a man they are waiting for, or a person they are waiting for, [or] he is not one person. There are all sorts of theories.

Ian McKellen has said that it isn’t up to actors to tell audiences what to think. Is that the best approach?

Beckett is a great poet, and I don’t think it was his job to clarify things to people. It was his job to suggest things rather as a poet does through language. And similarly as actors, it’s our job to try to in some way find a world that feels appropriate for us, and our existence within that world and portray that, and allow the audience to imagine something for themselves.

Your recent plays all have an element of darkness and speak to universal human questions. Does that reflect your current stage of life?

I haven’t chosen them because of that, no. I was interested some years ago when I thought of doing some more theater with the [Sydney Theatre Company]. There had been a couple of plays I’d done, which were good plays. I had a hankering that if I was going to do a play, to do something that was a great work of art, that I couldn’t ever quite fathom or get to the bottom of. So the great thing about working with Shakespeare, Chekhov or Beckett is that you know it is always going to be slightly elusive, and the journey of it each night is going to be something which in some way mirrors life.

How does this production of “Godot” treat the balance between humor and darkness?

It is a delicate thing. You need to play the character to fit the situation, and then that’s what will make it funny. If you play for laughs, then it becomes obvious that’s what you are doing and then it’s less funny. I try to stick with what Vladimir is saying and thinking and let whatever happens, happen. If people think that is funny, great. There are times when Vladimir and Estragon [played by Richard Roxburgh] enjoy themselves despite the situation. It is a pretty fractious relationship—they are more clowning with each other, but I would not describe them as clowns.

Is there any self-reflection or catharsis coming to you from these roles?

I am at a watershed in my life. [My partner] Katrina and I are re-evaluating who we are, what family means, and what we want to do. I’m at a point of gradual change. Also, as an actor I’m increasingly finding it harder to say “yes” to film projects, because there are certain films that I really love as art forms, but there are a lot of films that I have no time for and I’m not interested in. The majority of films made for the industry are entertainments, and a lot of them are pretty poor at that. So the films that I love are pretty few and far between.

These are weighty roles you have taken on. Do you need time to rejuvenate?

I need to take a break from theater, probably because of the roles I’ve been doing, which I’ve absolutely loved. Theater is really quite exhausting. After we finish in London, I’m planning to take a bit of a break from theater. These plays give you a big workout every night. It is a complete holistic workout, so they do trash you a bit in a way. If I end up planting more trees up on the property, then that is fine by me.

*******

Though there aren't yet any new photos of the production in performance (nor has Hugo done any new photo sessions to accompany the interviews) there are two new great photos taken during rehearsals, both of which originally appeared on Tim McKeogh's Instagram feed. I'll add those below with their original captions:


"Beckett Fest. The Godots and Lisa Dwan. #stcontour" Photo: Tim McKeough via Instagram [L to R: Richard Roxburgh, Luke Mullins, Philip Quast, Lisa Dwan and Hugo Weaving]


"Checking out the space #stcontour #stcgodot" Tim McKeough via Instagram [L to R: Luke Mullins, Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh, Philip Quast]

Lisa Dwan, the actress who appears in some of thee rehearsal photos, is starring in a separate production (Not I/Footfalls/Rockaby) during The Barbican Center's Beckett Fest, and will appear with Hugo on BBC2's new arts series Artsnight, discussing Beckett with host Richard Foreman on an episode to air later this month. The series has a webpage here, where new episodes will probably be available for viewing (probably to UK audiences only) oncethey air on TV. No specific date has been announced, but you can read more at thestage.co.uk.

Strangerland

Though Hugo isn't available to help promote Strangerland at SFF, director Kim Farrant has proven adept at handling publicity without the assistance of her stars; she gave a lengthy radio interview to ABC's Movieland (which can be streamed or downloaded), and talked to The Sydney Morning Herald about her long journey in bringing Strangerland to the screen, including the tidbit that her casting of Hugo Weaving (who's been attached to the project since 2008) helped secure Nicole Kidman's services.

ComingSoon.net debuted the second official poster for the film; I sort of prefer the ambiguity of the first one, but both are pretty great.



Film Mafia's CJ Johnson is the latest to praise the film, calling it "... a terrific beast: it’s got a foot in each of the commercial and arthouse camps, and is entertaining in both. It knows exactly what it’s doing at each and every turn. It is assured, confident and well constructed. It is also gripping, thrilling, creepy and exciting. See it." Of Hugo Weaving's performance, he adds "Hugo Weaving plays a local cop who becomes deeply involved in their situation, and it’s the best role I’ve seen him in in ages. He’s just terrific, at ease and fluid, open and free, as a lanky, robust outback policeman who suddenly has a real case to deal with – along with the accompanying personalities. Over the years, Weaving has seemed to stiffen onscreen, constrained by Elvish make-up and the like, but here, given a wide-open landscape, a nice beard and a generous character, he flows, freely, givingly. It’s a great performance."

Can't say I agree with the notion that most of Hugo's recent film roles have been "stiff" in any way... is it possible this critic has only seen The Hobbit trilogy and not Healing, The Turning, The Mule or Mystery Road? He has the beard in all of those fllms (except The Mule, which required the 80s Porn 'Stache) and they're varied and all compelling. Yes, I will concede Hugo's acting seems more natural when he has the beard. ;)

You can read about the film's original soundtrack by Keefus Ciancia at Film Music Reporter. Strangerland finally has a Facebook page, which you can follow here. And Sneak Peak recently featured a Nicole Kidman interview, taped at Sundance, discussing the film.

Updates soon as we start getting fan feedback, reviews and new pics from Godot's London run 

6/2/15 05:16 pm - 29crowjane - Hugo Weaving Arrives In London For STC's Waitiing For Godot On Tour: Strangerland at SFF

Once again I have to start things off with an apology: my life has been incredibly complicated and busy over the past month. I have posted updates in a more timely manner via my Twitter account, as that seems to be the preferred forum of most of my readers... but I'm still a blogger at heart, so I feel bad when I can't check in here at least once a week or so. Hugo was actually taking a post-Endgame break for a few weeks (or headed straight into rehearsals for the Godot revival) so there hadn't been an onslaught of new Hugo Weaving news until this past week.

Godot In London

Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh, Philip Quast and Luke Mullins have arrived in London for the revival of Sydney Theatre Company's acclaimed production of Beckett's Waiting for Godot at The Barbican. Performances begin June 4 (tickets are still available here... I know a lot of you are already going. ;) Unfortunately it's financially and logistically impossible for me to cross the pond this time, much as I'd love to.)

We have our first new look at the full cast in costume thanks to this photo from STC Company Manager Colm O'Callaghan, who posted it to this Twitter & instagram feed earlier today:


"Our Beckett groupies at the #Barbican #STC #stcontour #LisaDwan #StillWaitingForGodot" Colm O'Callaghan, via Twitter/Instagram
L to R: Richard Roxburgh, Luke Mullins, Philip Quast, Lisa Dwan and Hugo Weaving

A week ago, Australian Actors Equity shared a less formal rehearsal photo of the cast, this one in support of the #SaveOurStories cause, which seeks to prevent legislation which could undermine the Australian film industry by removing incentives/rules which until now have required foreign productions filming in Australia to hire local talent. It's a natural fit for Hugo, who has long championed and supported the local industry, preferred Australian independent film roles and only agreed to participate in the Matrix sequels if they were primarily filmed in Sydney.  You can read more about #SaveOurStories on their Facebook page and here.


"The cast of STC's Waiting for Godot - Hugo Weaving, Philip Quast, Luke Mullins and Richard Roxburgh - join the fight to #saveourstories" Australian Equity via Twitter/Facebook

My favorite new Godot-linked item is this joint interview of Hugo Weaving and his longtime friend, artist Nicholas Harding, whose rehearsal drawings of Hugo's recent STC productions are always a highlight of STC's programmes and promotions. You can read the online version at The Independent and I'll embed the print version (from The New Review) below; for once I'm happy to report both versions are identical, with The Independent sharing a decent-sized embed of Graham Jepson's brilliant portrait of the two.


Minor quibble: Hugo and Katrina have been together since 1984, which is over 30 years, not 20. ;) Would also welcome a cooking or food tourism web series/vlog from these two ever they decide to take an extended break from their day jobs ;)


Obviously taken while Hugo was still in Sydney, at STC's Wharf Theatre complex. Photo by Graham Jepson

I hope to have updates, reviews and any new photos to share soon. STC's news blog has a compilation of many of the recent social media postings and other articles about Godot in London.

For now, enjoy these great fan photos:


"Always nice to see an Elvin king in Fortune Park #hugoweaving" Giddy up Coffee via Instagram
Quite relieved Hugo's given up on trying to give up coffee. ;)


"The boys have appeared on the tube... must mean #STCGodot is getting closer! @BarbicanCentre #ResumeTheStruggle" Lauren Dodds via Twitter

Strangerland at Sydney Film Festival

Though Hugo Weaving's London commitments make it impossible for him to appear at Strangerland's Sydney Film Fest premiere on 5 June, the film is already receiving much more favorable notices than the jaundiced hipster crowd at Sundance managed. Here are a few excerpts, with the usual recommendations that you follow the links back to the sites of origin and read the full text.

Matthew Lowe, The Reel Word: "Strangerland is a haunting film filled with spectral imagery, informed in equal parts peripherally by ancient Aboriginal knowledge, by Australian film, and by not too distant cultural epochs such as the Lindy Chamberlain saga. The disappearance of two children here is less the object itself than a catalyst to examine the psychological decay that simmers just below the surface of a small town’s inhabitants, and how that decay –implicitly connected to the land- is also implicitly responsible for the disappearance.

Something is going on, and none of these characters want to tell you what it is. Strangerland is built on suggestions and implications that are only confronted when the issues are forced, and even then, just barely. Not inappropriately, it has the feel of a sinister reverie, and its questions are more powerful for not having unequivocal answers.

That the film is committed to its own ambiguity is what saves certain scenes –notably, episodes of Catherine’s breakdown- from seeming as arbitrary as they might. It is tempting to say it veers on weird for weirds sake, eschewing logic; but the tone is at least consistent in its progression, in its gradual erosion of psyches.

Likewise, those scenes are the only ones where Kidman verges on overacting; but mostly her performance is welcomingly understated. Playing an Australian disarms her of much the conceit she necessarily adopts playing foreign roles: it leaves her more vulnerable. She is better for it, if occasionally histrionic, but well cast, as are Fiennes and Weaving and the rest.... 8/10"

***

Jason King, Salty Popcorn: "The film is spectacular, hands down I do believe this will be my favourite Australian movie of 2015 and comes across as this year’s THE ROVER. It is easily one of Kidman’s best performances from an incredible career and she eats the screen in this one. Also seeing her and Weaving act together is like seeing Blanchett and Rush, it is a perfect fit and two actors who not only know each other so well but are so comfortable acting together it is almost natural...

As I said earlier Kidman’s performance is just sublime, she gets bloody raw in this movie and goes for it, she appears more comfortable away form the Hollywood studios. Weaving is always amazing, I just love the guy, and his small town cop, thoroughly enjoyable...

The film captures small town Australian desert/ country life perfectly, the dust storm was a bonus and the isolation was uncomfortable. Farrant’s direction was a triumph and P.J. Dillon’s cinematography is a marvel that is matched by the fine wine of Keefus Ciancia’s music that smothers the movie in long drawn out tension oozing in melancholy and desperation."

***

There's also an interesting new Kim Farrant interview at The Brag, which notes that at a recent Australian media screening of the film, "as the credits rolled, not just one but two other journalists were reduced to tears by this superb, distressing debut." Farrant diplomatically discusses the festival receptions to her film thusfar, and her artistic goals in making it.

Strangerland screens on June 5 at SFF with three additional showings (including one with a post-screening Q&A with director Kim Farrant) on the 6th. The film will then tour Australia, mainly via the Palace Cinemas chain, with many websites offering free ticket competitions. (Check my Twitter feed for the latest... or just google Win Strangerland Passes. ;)

Unfortunately, Strangerland's US distributor doesn't appear to have anything so inventive scheduled; they've already announced an 18 August DVD release (!) following what looks increasingly like a straight-to-VOD launch on 10 July (IMDb shows a "limited" release, so there's some slight hope for a few arthouses to book the film.) I'd love to be wrong and will share any UIS cinema dates that are announced, but so far I've seen nothing. Alchemy doesn't even list the film on their website, though they've posted links to the trailer on Twitter a couple of times. I'm never surprised that US distributors treat Australian films (most foreign films, really) this shabbily, but I'm always disappointed nonetheless.

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Though Hugo Weaving is only mentioned in passing, there's a great new promotional article about The Dressmaker (featuring and interview with producer Sue Maslin and a new photo of Kate Winslet, Judy Davis and Sarah Snook) at The Screen Blog.  Maslin also discussed actress Sarah Snook's role, and the film's all-important costume designs with news.com.au .


Archive Updates

I've added a lot of new print material scans to my Hugo Weaving Flickr Archive in the pat week, including the theatre programme for STC's Endgame (and some promo brochures) a 1994 Priscilla press kit. Just click on the links to view the first item in each set, then use arrow keys to navigate, and click on the image to see the full-sized version.


Hugo Weaving as Hamm in STC's Endgame (rehearsals) Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

5/9/15 07:53 pm - 29crowjane - 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.

4/17/15 11:44 pm - 29crowjane - STC Endgame: A Night With The Actors Transcript & New Photos; Performance Photos & Reviews

Once again, our Sydney Correspondent Yvette has some through, providing notes for this complete transcript of the 13 April Night With The Actors event. Actors Hugo Weaving, Bruce Spence, Tom Budge and Sarah Peirse sat for a Q & A session following that evening's performance of Sydney Theatre Company's production of Endgame. Yvette and some other lucky audience members in attendance took some great photos of the event, which I'll also embed. While I've done my best to ensure accuracy, please bear in mind that this is my transcript of another person's notes, so transcribing errors along the way are always possible. If you were at this event and have any corrections to offer, do let us know. As always, my undying thanks to Yvette for her kindness in letting those of us not able to make it to Sydney (or to that specific performance) experience it vicariously.


Sarah Peirse, Hugo Weaving and Andrew Upton     Photo: Yvette/@LyridsMC via Instagram

[Note: Andrew Upton's introduction and initial remarks weren't copied and are thus abbreviated, as are some audience questions. Other remarks are edited for clarity and because, in some instances, they weren't heard properly. Again, apologies. ;)  ]

Andrew Upton: We tried to be true to the text... Inside the play, there's supposed to be a really precise sense of space and time. So that was the process we used on Waiting for Godot. And then in talking to Hugo [about the current season],  we decided we'd like to revisit  the "Beckett Experience" . And it really is quite a distinct experience. The language is so strong, the imagery so rich, and the emotional side is so deep and rewarding. I know  it appears quite bleak from the outside or as you glance off it as a reader or as an audience, but [from a creative standpoint] it's incredibly generous. Incredibly generous language, and constructions and scenarios. So when you're talking about having what we've tried to say in it, which is, just follow the directions. They are illuminating and liberating. They're very, very scripted on the surface, and yet once you get inside them, there's 150 emotions being unpent. And with that liberation...Once you face all of it, there's a lot of philosophy, a lot of cross-referencing, there's a lot of deep-- [whistle from the audience] There's a cricket! [laughter]... there's a lot of detail... that I could not link link any poem to to myself. So we... and just followed the instructions.

Moderator: I imagine that being too literal with Beckett would suck he magic out of it.

AU: Yes...

Moderator: I wonder how much you need to know to create the play, and how much depth, obviously... deciding that Hamm had polio at 13 [for example] and that's why his legs don't work might not fit [Beckett's directives], but how much real-world stuff did you need to hold on to, and how much could you do without ...?

AU: Well, that's a fascinating question, actually. Because that is the great misunderstanding-- other than there being no humor-- around Beckett, is that it's obtuse and unrealistic. And actually it's as it's as realistic and any Chekhov .. it's as naturalistic as any piece of Gorky or Ibsen. It's not crazy, jazzed up ... It's a really, really realistic piece. And this realism inside that needs to be honored quite rigorously by the actors and the director. They can't bend the directions. Because [narrative] "answers" like polio or schizophrenia or depression aren't really enjoyable, and aren't answers that allow you to resonate. So you avoid such prosaic [choices], but they play remains very real about our sense of the apocalypse. About the story of how much Hamm tells, how much that's true. How much truth lies inside. Is it the story of how Hamm has failed, how all of us fail.


L to R: Bruce Spence, Tom Budge, Sarah Peirse, Hugo Weaving, Andrew Upton and moderator Sarah Goodes. Photo: Amber Gokken via Twitter/Instagram

[Upton introduces the cast-- Hugo Weaving, Sarah Peirse, Tom Budge and Bruce Spence--who take their seats onstage]

Moderator: As actors, do you come from the outside in or  do you work from the inside out, and how much truth do you need to pin down [your characters]?

Hugo Weaving: I tend to work from the outside in, I think, because the truth is not apparent immediately. I take [character cues] from the text's architecture in, from observing [the play's] form and structure, and then try and maintain that form, and then slowly illuminate for ourselves something about the internal journey to doom of these of these characters.

Moderator: Sarah, did you find, in the bin--

Sarah Peirse: It was HOT in the bin [laughs]. Yeah, he's right... the architecture of the writing informs the way in which you start to understand rhythms that are within it. And you're definitely surfing some fairly usual territory... [At the beginning of rehearsals] I was reasonably unsure about how it would proceed, but then, actually, if you just keep reading, and keep participating in the process of doing the lines out loud, and listening, in fact, the journey sort of makes itself apparent. That was an interesting experience.

Hugo Weaving: For any of you that play music.. I'm not a musician, but I would think it would be quite similar to being in an orchestra, or being in a small group, and working through a piece of music for the first time. You read music and you observe the score and meter, and the intervals and pauses-- you observe the structure of it, and then, after while, the more you play that, the more you hear that, the more... the reasons you find for it being in the first place start to become apparent to you, and I think that's very true of Beckett.

Moderator: What process did you need to find in the rehearsal room to bring the humor alive, or was the humor something that just bubbled up of its own accord?

Andrew Upton: It's pretty impressive... it's got some of the funniest lines hidden in it, but I do fear that if you read the outside world that is depicted too heavily, [the humor] is easy to lose sight of... "Oh god, it's the end of the world, I'm a goner and there are all of these poor people in bins" [Laughter] But if you're just IN there, a line like 'What's to keep me from going' ... [??]

Hugo Weaving: Even though it's the end of the world, and [the population is] down to four people...and they certainly think about it [being] very hard...Even if you were in that place, you would have to assume... they still have to resist... they can't think about it 24/7, otherwise they'd just go mad. Well, they probably ARE mad [laughter]. They have to pass the time, and disappear into flights of fantasy, I suppose, in order to relieve the terrible boredom and despair. Therefore, it's humorous. It becomes funny, despite... well, it's both. It's a deeply serious play, but it is funny. And I think, [in the worst of it],  the relationships seem to be they key to finding humor. The pairings, and the way those two groups interact with each other. And I think a lot of the initial humor seems to come from that.

Moderator: Tom, what was your experience in the rehearsal room?

Tom Budge: Um... difficult. [Laughs] At first. I found the language-- to read-- it's real exciting and lovely. But I found it really hard to push it into a flow. And it took quite a lot out of me to get the highs and lows of what we had to do. I'm still figuring things out [Laughs]. It's really interesting-- you do have a moment, sometimes, I'm back in my little cave back there, I'm thinking about what we've just done, or something, and I'm thinking that's the truest version of that interaction or something, and then I'll turn that around in my brain [the next time we have to do the play] and think, 'Oh, no! That wasn't it!' It's still evolving, for me, still changing in small ways.

Andrew Upton: It's very, very alive drama.


Night with The Actors photo: Sienna W via Twitter

Moderator: And Bruce?

Bruce Spence: It's my first play in a bin [Laughs] Look, I've found it a superb journey. Mainly, to be really honest,  It was... the text... it's always in the text. That's where Beckett is.  And I'm sure that if you go and see another production of Endgame, it'll be totally different to this one and so on. They're all different, because it's the human contribution that's made. Particularly I think Andrew really has coached lots of textual and dramatic stuff out of us too, so I really give him a lot of credit for that. I've found it a wonderful journey. The comedy, or should I say the humor, just comes out of the moment, out of the language. You don't consciously look for it.  Although Beckett did love vaudevillians, he loved sort of raw comedy, et cetera, you can see that in his sort of logic. But also, I just wanted to make a point: I think Beckett,  Endgame, Godot, et cetera,is part of a long legacy of writers like this. Especially from when the absurdists started writing, people like Beckett, Joyce and Pirandello and a million others. Then you had the logic of The Goon Show. And if you remember The Goon Show, there's this sort of distorted logic in that that's very similar to this, and then on and on, and even to Monty Python, etc, and I think a lot of people, a lot of writers even now owe a lot to Beckett, and that sort of way that he saw the world. That sort of jagged, distorted way.

Moderator: One final question for Hugo and Andrew, before we take questions from the audience: What was the evolution of working together, going from Waiting For Godot [in 2013] to Endgame? Did you develop a shorthand, or did you have to free-fall into it as a whole sort of experience?

Hugo Weaving: Let me answer: working on Godot was very, very difficult. Really the hardest thing that I had ever done, and I think that's true for Richard [Roxburgh] as well. And it was pretty difficult for Andrew. So it was a very, very difficult play, but an incredibly rewarding play, and it was the most extraordinary experience. I really loved working on that, I loved working with Andrew on it, I think Andrew sensed that it was-- I really think Andrew kind of gets Beckett in a great way. So once we picked into that seam, we were talking about perhaps doing another Beckett, and then Andrew suggested we do Endgame. So it really been a logical progression for us.

Andrew Upton: Yeah, I think we took the harder [play first]... it's hard to describe. It is so plain and simple, Beckett's work,  and that's really hard to get. It's hard to play, as actors, it's hard to get it right, hard to get at the dialogue when you're doing so much action,  it's very, very difficult to hold in your hand, very mercurial. And I think all of those terrifying lessons-- those rehearsals, battered as we were, we couldn't...

Hugo Weaving: It was an emotional release, our first weeks.

Andrew Upton: Beckett is demanding.  I think audiences know that, and they weren't expecting tea. It was a very free flowing experience.

Hugo Weaving: The first thing I think I learned doing Godot, that I brought into this [Endgame], was the technical demands of the piece are so acute. And yet also-- you have to observe the structure-- but you need to to be entirely present. And open every second of the play.  And I think that's probably true  with every play, but with Beckett, somehow, much more extremely true than any other playwright. And I think it as a wonderful thing to discover, to bring to this [play.]

Moderator: It sounds like a real leap of faith.

Andrew Upton: Yeah, it's a leap of faith, all right [laughter].


"Watched "Lord Elrond"- Hugo Weaving's play #Endgame . Marvellous performance! Panel was impressive too." Sienna W via Twitter

Moderator: It sounds like a real emotional tumble. You were talking about music earlier [Hugo]...  that at some point you have to let go.

Hugo Weaving: Well, Tamas Ascher, not Andy, was going to direct Waiting for Godot, and he couldn't come for the first week. He was indisposed, so Andrew took over rehearsals for the first week, and we weren't missing him anyway, because Tamas is Hungarian, so everything has to go through a translator, so we thought maybe we'll make the most of this because we'll have a talk alone about Beckett because [Tamas] couldn't immediately come [to Sydney]. And then he didn't come... and it became very clear during the second week of rehearsals that he WASN'T coming. [Laughs].

Andrew Upton: Not at all.

Tom Budge: How appropriate! [Laughs] Because it's CALLED...

Hugo Weaving: And so Andrew took over... and it was a challenge going forward, [though] it's not hard for me have faith in Andrew, that's very easy. That was a very good side effect. But it was suddenly a very different experience and a great experience, doing this play. A very exciting [rehearsal] room. A very open room.


"Happy birthday Samuel Beckett! What an evening at SydneyTheatreCo #Endgame #HugoWeaving #TomBudge #AndrewUpton" Valerie L via Twitter

Question #1 from the audience: Could you describe the role of silence in the play? The silences and pauses seem so 'active'. Was that a conscious choice?

Hugo Weaving: Well, there are pauses that Beckett had, and a Beckett pause probably lasts between three and five 'beats', I suppose, then there are long pauses, and then there are silences that we have. So there are a couple of moments where we observe a sort of full stupid, or dumb silence where nothing is happening at all, almost, I suppose, it's anti-theatrical in a way, but it's a quite interesting place to play... There's a lot going on inside [these characters], but it's when the death...the nature of where they are fills them, that nothing can be said and nothing can happen, so actually, in a way, that can provide desperate, empty silences from the point of view of the characters. But they're full of a lot of internal [reflection].

Bruce Spence: It's like records of music, really. It's the language, it's the dramatic action that's happened before,  the silence, and the dramatic action that might follow the silence. But there are silences and SILENCES. We had... when we were doing rehearsal at one stage, we paused at every pause, and it went on and on and on, and then we realized, 'hang on, that silence is that long, and THAT silence is THAT long, and that silence is THAT long.' [Laughs] That pause is that long. You need to sort of play that out. In all drama, whether it's Beckett or whoever. It's an organic thing. The factor that really determines a lot of that are the individuals that you're working opposite. And so, with the four of us, we sort of combine and create an energy, and that's what creates that music.

Sarah Peirse: But also, essentially, it's the transaction that the performers have with the audience that actually forms the silence... the performers introduce the silence, and the audience is where the silence is met.


Tom Budge, Sarah Peirse, Hugo Weaving and Andrew Upton. Photo: Yvette (@LyridsMC) via Twitter

Question #2: Do you think the dramatic impact of the play has changed in the decades since the play was originally written? Beckett once said, "There are a heap of words, but no drama." Is this still true?

Andrew Upton: I think there's a great deal of drama in Endgame, actually. It's got a gruesome drive inside it that's quite relentless. Made-- only made riveting by this feeling I've sort of whipped into them. [Laughs]

Hugo Weaving: He described it... He said 'Godot is this long play about these awful people' [Laughs].... He said, 'God help me, I can do no other'. [Laughs]

Andrew Upton: [Paraphrased] There is no highly-composed, staged 'drama' in the classical sense, but inherent drama created by the interaction of the characters.

Hugo Weaving: And even in the telling of the story, like Hamm's preposterously long story, is sort of told in four or five voices, so there's drama inside that, there's the storyteller himself, he's kind of acting the storyteller role, and then he's telling the story from a couple of individuals' points of view, and then there's... you've also got a cricket getting comedy gone... that's dark...  there is quite a lot of human turmoil in that drama, if you can only find one.  Beckett was probably saying to all the rest of us not to expect, you know, damsels getting run over by a train [or other stock plot devices.] There's an enormous amount of human turmoil and drama in ALL of Beckett's work, fantastic self-censorship, fantastic celebration of failure, and not knowing, and not being able to carry on. But carrying on anyway.


Tom Budge, Sarah Peirse, Hugo Weaving and Andrew Upton. Photo: Yvette (@LyridsMC) via Twitter

Question #3: It struck me that Hugo didn't move his feet for the duration of the performance. There was no fidgeting. How did Hugo and Tom go about developing the different physical aspects of their characters? Was it intuitive, text-based, individual or mutual approach?

Tom Budge: Beckett states specific things about Clov [in his stage directions, such as his] stiff, staggering walk. And so for the first week [of rehearsals] I had one  fused leg, and moved the other one, so I kind of walked around like that. On the Friday night of the first week, I was back in my hotel room. I was limping. [Laughs] I couldn't bend my leg. So I thought, aw, that's probably going to ruin everything. [Laughs] So I kind of read a lot into his-- Clov's final speech, where he says now that he's so bowed, and I loved the idea that the world is just crushing him. So that when he does fall, he will be fully pushed to the ground.  So I liked the idea of a bent back pushing him down. And that is also symmetrical, so I'm mindful of the physio of it. [Laughs]. That's the idea of of it. So that's why I kind of ended up on that foot.

Hugo Weaving: Again, Beckett [specifies that] Hamm can't walk and is blind. So I decided... he's sitting in a chair, and can't lie down and can't, you know [stand]... that his feet were probably swollen. So we got these very thick knitted socks. My feet do go to sleep. But they're not... I do occasinally find it difficult in the curtain call to walk. [Laughs] But the hardest thing for me was the... not being able to see. And in rehearsal trying to work out whether it was best for me to literally not be able to see, or to be able to see a little bit through the glasses. And.. [the lenses are] painted, so it's like looking at the back of a white wall very close to my eyes. But with little flecks I can see through, which I thought was important, because I couldn't-- It's fiunny. I found it very hard to reference.. I found it very hard to speak. I couldn't reference the visual. I found it very hard to judge logically in [telling] that long story. I found it very hard without any visual references to do. So that was a big challenge for me.


Photo: Yvette (@LyridsMC) via Twittter

Question #4: Just coming off that physicality question, my question is for Bruce Spence: You're a prolific voiceover artist as well as a film and stage actor with a distinctive voice. What are the differences between voice acting and fully embodied roles? How do you approach creating a character with no physical presence?

Bruce Spence: Well, it was hard doing the bin. [Laughs] Obviously I had to thnk about that. Especially in rehearsal it was real hard. This one's much easier. It's the trext that really helps me. It must sound boring to say that, but I don't really, consciously think up a voice. I just look at the script, and also listen to the music of the other actors too. I just work off the text.  And it's it's just [how]  the character that sort enters the situation at the turn of the vocal cues. When you're doing animation [or voice roles where no other actors are present], you're often given a character breakdown. So the character breakdown will often help you find the voice anyway. Once you know the character's journey, et cetera, that will help you find the character's sort of vocal psyche, level et cetera.

Hugo Weaving: The other thing is, in animation, the animators these days actually film actors during the recording, because they want to see the actor's face. They use the actor's face to animate the character. So whatever you're doing, they absolutely... now,  they get try and the actors together to record, or they have you go back and re-record [lines in post-production as changes are made.] But the animators increasingly really want to see the actor's face.  And they get all the actors to do physical stuff, whether you're doing... whatever you're being, whatever creature it is that you're animating. The animators love that.

Bruce Spence: They'll also provide you the drawings too, of your character, to kind of help you with your characterization.


Photo: Sydney Theatre Co via Twitter/Instagram

Question #5: What was Sarah's experience of being the only woman in an ostensibly very 'masculine' play?

Sarah Peirse: I didn't feel particularly... I guess in some respects Nell is not... everybody's representative of beyond themselves,  of beyond their particular character. I didn't feel particularly that the lack... other than the lack of potential of exploring Nell anyway. But she's also... she's the first one to die of these four, so I think that the read became, rather than a gender exploration, it became a journey of her limited returns. So really it was an experience of that rather than anything I think I felt particularly [about her gender.] Other than being conscious that this [relationship between Nagg and Nell] is a long marriage, so there were the rhythms of the marriage that it placed. The sort of irritations and the affection and the companionship and the longevity. And then at times the sort of.. we're ourselves by Hamm being my son, so all of a sudden you're playing or existing between two males, and I felt that that was a... for an older, dying woman whose husband and son were present, they were elements that I was conscious of. But that was not.. I wasn't particularly thinking in gender terms.

Hugo Weaving: It's interesting that you say that too, because I often think of these characters as being of indeterminate gender, unaware, and I think that Hamm overreacts at his mother, being the character of Hamm. So I sense very strongly his relationship to his mother, and also to his father, in his downfall...


Photo: Valerie L via Twitter

Question #6: Can you comment on the set design?

Hugo Weaving: Nick [Schlieper]'s not here... Nick did design the set and the lighting. I know initially he was looking at a lot of pictures of big water towers, and he was thinking of the play as a vertical play rather than a horizontal one.  His set for Godot was a fantastic, open landscape-- for the proscenium, but with a great sense of space. And he was kind of interested in the claustrophobia, the nature of a set like this. Also, I think there was a [person] that used to take refuge in a tower up in the hills just outside Lebanon, just the walls, and I suppose he had that in the back of his mind as well.

Andrew Upton: We had a lot of chats about setting up a peopled space [creatively approaching Beckett's stark set specifications]

Hugo Weaving: Basically he just says 'Two windows. A door. A chair. Two bins. Grey light'. That's really not much. So as long as you have those, don't add too much onto it. Just don't.  You can't stick anything on Beckett, it won't stay. It won't work.

Moderator: That's all we have time for. Thanks to our cast


"Rakish, intelligent and modest as always." Photo: Yvette (@LyridsMC) via Twitter

***

Here are excerpts from the latest review of STC Endgame, with a few new production photos (by Lisa Tomasetti) originally posted to STC Facebook. STC recently posted a gallery of 13 of Tomasetti's performance stills, though not the full range of photos that have appeared in reviews and elsewhere.. so there remains hope we still haven't seen them all.  As always, the full reviews at sites of origin are well worth a look, so just follow the links.



Tom Budge as Clov and Hugo Weaving as Hamm  Photo (all 3 performance photos): Lisa Tomasetti

David Kary, Sydney Arts Guide: "A Samuel Beckett night at the theatre is like no other. One is just taken over by his bold, raw take on life. Even after all these years, one is still gobsmacked, stunned, by what one is taking place on stage. The experience is like being set upon by the coldest, bleakest wind....

One of our finest actors, Hugo Weaving, delivers one of his most memorable performances as one of Beckett’s most cruel, cantankerous characters, the blind tyrant, Hamm... The performances by Tom Budge as Clov, just brilliant, and Sarah Peirse and Bruce Spence, as his incarcerated parents are perfectly judged...

Summing up, this is the kind of play that gives one the creeps. I saw ENDGAME over a week a go, and I am still haunted by it. Hamm’s deeply sadistic nature…Clov endlessly running after him…hunchbacked…climbing up and down ladders…reporting back to him that he has seen nothing....All I can say is…be prepared!"



Maire Sheehan, AltMedia: "Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame makes what might seem tedious mesmerising as the players’ every gesture, word, and expression evoke a range of responses from the tragic to the ludicrous...

Hugo Weaving is mesmerising.  He is strapped into a chair and wears glasses that block out his sight.  He is the one in control, or is he?  He issues orders but he cannot move. The sparse stage setting and directions make Weaving’s smallest gesture highly visible and open to interpretation...

With a limited set and brilliant performances, STC’s production of Samuel Beckett’s absurdist masterpiece is not to be missed. "



Syke On Stage (Facebook): "After Godot, I suppose, Endgame, a one-act play with just four characters, probably stands as SB’s tour de force and director, Andrew Upton, has milked it for everything it’s worth, with his actors displaying the very keenest sense of comic timing...

While the performances that surround Weaving’s are robust, it’s Hugo’s production: suddenly and singularly, his idiosyncrasies and particularities—his Hugoisms—are optimally exploited; his deliberation in diction, declamatory disposition and facial contortions are all exceptionally well-utilised here, making for (at the obvious risk of alliteration) a charismatic, colourful and completely compelling characterisation...

Upton and team have encapsulated Endgame as precisely and evocatively as I can envisage being achieved. This, for mine, is definitive Beckett, the kind of Beckett which Beckett would’ve heartily endorsed. The man whose parents had high hopes of entering their quantity surveying enterprise didn’t disappoint, having become a surveyor of the human condition: marking it up, measuring, calibrating and calculating, so that we might build a chillingly accurate picture of ourselves; our foibles and follies. Upton has dusted it off and made it vibrant, even in its dinginess, all over again."


"Having a chat with #HugoWeaving post #Endgame #play at #STC #theatre . Great #Actor..." Amber Gokken via Twitter/Instagram

Diana Simonds, Stage Noise: "In 2013, the cast of STC's Waiting For Godot  waited in vain for fabled Hungarian director Tamas Ascher to arrive and take charge of rehearsals. He was unwell and, at the last minute withdrew, giving STC's artistic director Andrew Upton approximately ten minutes' notice to take over. The result was a triumph for him and actors Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh, Luke Mullins and Philip Quast... There were some churlish types however who whispered that Upton was somehow merely the beneficiary of Ascher's phoned in instructions via associate Anna Lengyel: that the production surely wasn't really  his work…was it? The doubters should now be eating a large serving of humble pie if they were at the first night of Upton's latest adventures in BeckettWorld...

Fascinating then that the production reunites Upton and Weaving: two men whose great friendship has recently been celebrated in print in the weekend papers. They seem, on the face of it, to embody opposing qualities: Weaving – all grounded gravitas and Upton – all impish flightiness. Yet appearances are deceiving and, of course, the superficial is exactly that. From their close collaboration on Endgame  it might be said that each brings out the opposite in the other, so Weaving's old man Hamm is as capricious as Ariel even though he is confined to a chair and by his blindness. And Upton's overall vision of Samuel Beckett's one hour-50 minutes of waiting for the end of the world is at once as terrifying and hilarious as that unthinkable but logically likely event might really be... They are aided and abetted in the enterprise by a superb team whose expertise is exhilarating in its creativity and attention to detail...

Budge and Weaving bicker relentlessly but the weight of their miserable discontent is leavened by the ability of both actors to feel and extract every drop of humour from a word, a pause, a look, an intonation. The continuing ripples of laughter and outbreaks of chuckles and chortles coming from an audience in attendance at almost two hours of the end of the world is a tribute to the actors and their director in realising the play's craftily concealed possibilities...

Like the moment in chess when it becomes clear all is lost, Endgame  is not easy, but like chess, if surrender is inevitable that's when something else happens. In Beckett's play that something is a play that rewards the capitulation of both audience and actors alike: give yourself up to it and the prize is intoxicating and life-enhancing. The end of the world may possibly be quite similar... Endgame  will sell out and no extension is possible as Upton and Weaving will be leaving for the Barbican Theatre for the restaging there of STC's Waiting For Godot. Miraculously the original cast has been reassembled (Luke Mullins is currently playing Clov in the Melbourne Theatre Company's own Endgame!) and I hope to be reporting on it from London. Meanwhile: this Endgame  is a brilliant production and not to be missed."


A behind-the-scenes look at Endgame's trailer, via STC Instagram

Cassie Tongue, Aussie Theatre: "Last year, Weaving and director Kip Williams turned the Roslyn Packer Theatre (formerly the Sydney Theatre) inside out, and Weaving’s Macbeth filled the gaping auditorium, filling the extraordinarily large space with his tormented Scottish King. This year, as Beckett’s Hamm, Weaving is confined to a chair onstage, and still he fills the room and draws the eye consistently, and he does it with a marriage of harshness, weariness, and a pinprick or two of vulnerability that melts into the darkness, leaving with a mess that lingers. It’s thrilling...

It’s an astonishing performance because of its exhaustive complexity; Weaving’s own brilliance allows him to create a Hamm that radiates authenticity; not quite a broad-strokes tyrant or distant cipher, but someone who dances on the edge of sympathetic before pulling back and ordering instead a cruel command...

Upton and Weaving work well together; in Upton’s Waiting for Godot, which will tour London’s Barbican Theatre later this year, Weaving’s Vladimir was disarmingly good. Here, in Endgame, which Weaving has associate directed, together they creates the tiniest sensations that tend to take a corner of the brain and refuse to be forgotten...

Upton’s directorial touch is never light, it’s too decisive to be light, but between Weaving’s mastery from his chair and Budge’s bent-double pottering, occasionally with one battered bunny slipper and one boot on, and the cracked-white faces of Nell and Nagg peeping and huddling, and the softest sounds of dripping water,  it becomes easy to think he’s not there at all, that this play has stood in its place at the Roslyn Packer for a hundred years, that these four have lived here too long, long before and after Upton showed his hand and shaped this one hundred or so minutes’ worth, and that’s perhaps the greatest compliment it can be given."

***

You can hear Bruce Spence's ABC Radio interview about Endgame and his film career here.

In Other Hugo Weaving News

The Key Man is now available to stream on Netflix in the US.

The Dressmaker is set to complete post-production by the end of June. an early cut is being shown to potential buyers at the Cannes Film Festival this month; according to Inside Film, the distribution right for 18 countries have already been snapped up, and the film will be screened for potential US buyers on 30 April. The film opens in Australia on 22 October and might possibly have its international premiere in September at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Healing has been awarded the ADG Finders Award by the Australian Directors Guild, according to Inside Film. The award is given to the most accomplished submitted film which has yet to receive US distribution. Director Craig Monahan "will accompany the film when it’s screened later in the year for distributors, managers and agents in LA and NY." Ideally this will help the film get deserved theatrical distribution, and might spur Anchor Bay into rehinking its appalling treatment of the DVD release and its laughably inaccurate cover art, which I respect the cast and filmmakers too much to display here. Suffice to say that apart from a poorly color-enhanced image featuring Don Hany and the eagle (a more artistic version of which served as the film's Australian poster art and home release art) NOTHING depicted on Anchor Bay's imaginary cover actually appears in the film. I thought this sort of insulting treatment of foreign films in US home release died out in the VHS era, but alas, no. Let's hope it's not too late to change Anchor Bay's mind. If they release the DVD with that cover, I certainly won't be wasting my money on it... I have already bought the Aussie version. Most of all I'd like to see Healing in the cinema setting it richly deserves. 

4/13/15 07:18 am - 29crowjane - STC Endgame Night With The Actors Post-Performance Discussion; New Reviews

Here's the "Twitter transcript" of Sydney Theatre Company's first Night With The Actors event on 13 April. Cast members Hugo Weaving, Tom Budge, Sarah Peirse and Bruce Spence sat for a Q & A session following that evening's performance.














































And here are quotes from reviews that have appeared since my last entry. They continue to be uniformly ecstatic. As always, I recommend clicking the links for the full texts at sites of origin, particularly if you want more background about the play. Since no new performance photos have appeared (you can see the full batch of Lisa Tomasetti's photos that have been posted in reviews here) I'll intersperse some fan photos.

Jo Litson, Sunday Telegraph and jolitson.com: "The Beckett Estate is famously rigid, requiring productions to stick to the letter of Beckett’s very specific stage directions. Upton and set designer Nick Schlieper have come up with an imposing, monumental staging that abides more or less faithfully with Beckett’s requirements but makes for a far more threatening space than a bare, grey-lit room...

Weaving is in masterful form as Hamm. Legs tied and wearing opaque glasses, his face and arms, and even his tongue at one point, are wonderfully expressive but it’s his extraordinarily eloquent voice that mesmerises, so full of different textures, tones and sounds: velvety one minute, snarling the next. His Hamm is a tyrant but with a jaunty, fruity presence and a wry sense of humour. It’s a compelling performance.

Budge’s performance is all about body language. Bent-over, he performs with a robustly comical physicality. The way he removes the sheet covering Hamm, or climbs the ladder, or interacts with Hamm, suggests well-oiled routines he has developed over time to fill the endless, empty days, while his attempt to get rid of a flea in his pants is priceless...

Endgame is almost unbearably bleak but at the same time surprisingly funny. Upton and his fine cast find that balance perfectly in an engrossing, lively, moving production."


"Very excited to see Endgame at the Sydney Theatre Company!..." Sophie Morgan via Instagram

Catherine McNamara, Concrete Playground: "Andrew Upton’s Endgame is beautiful Beckett. Inasmuch as it invites us to wallow in the great fear and inertia of existence for 110 minutes, till we’re asking (along with main character Hamm), 'Is it not time for my pain killer?'... In my mind, the true wonder of Endgame is the humour that punctuates the pain. The misery is a given, the moments of light and childish hope are the miracle...

Even if revelling in the cyclical despair of the universe isn’t your thing, see Endgame for the sheer display of vocal and physical prowess of the actors. Hugo Weaving as Hamm is immobile from the shoulders down but brings his character to life with wild acrobatics of the voice and face. It is beautiful to hear a master actor tasting language, as if he has forgotten how words are supposed to work, so syllables surprise and fly out unmeasured. He nails the harshness and fragility of Hamm, his constant contradictions and reneging...

Endgame pokes fun at the ‘game of theatre’, with its eternal status struggles and fabrications of time and space. At times Weaving assumes the role of the brooding poet, sending up the agony of creative genius. He evaluates his own monologues and frets the passing of time. He sits, in a weathered throne, in a forgotten castle, in the depths of the earth. A tyrant of emptiness; his kingdom an immense void...

It is worth going along just to see these wonderful actors present a theatre-changing text. In every corner of this uneventful endgame is a comment on life and society. Beckett’s text is quick, captivating and efficient. And at the ‘end’ he’s having the laugh on us. We’re accustomed to momentous things happening in the theatre, but in this world, if you’re crying, you’re still alive.


"Thank you STC for ticking another Beckett play off my bucket list. Brilliant. Superb. I am in awe." Rachael Belle Myers via Twitter/Instagram

Larry Heath, The AU Review: "Directed by Andrew Upton, who also directed Godot with Weaving, has done a fine job of bringing Beckett's well known text to live. The set design by Nick Schlieper is exquisite: the sense that they are deep in the basement of a castle-like structure is well achieved - the building seems to go on forever, while the all important windows on either side give the sense of the nothingness that apparently exists beyond those walls...

Weaving's performance is astonishing and he holds the show together - just as the role requires of him. Given he is confined to a rolling chair, the range (and tongue) he's able to convey just reaffirms how great of an actor he is. There's not a moment that goes by in the one act play - which comes in to just under two hours - that you're not compelled by his performance. And that's down to, almost solely, his voice. As he jumps between philosopher, psycophant and borderline psychopath, his Hamm is theatrical brilliance. Costume Designer Renée Mulder has done a great job at adding to Hamm's eccentricities, and with Hugo as Associate Director of the production, he would have added more than enough of his own take on Hamm's situation to truly embody this typically absurd character...

Endgame in its very nature is a dark tale, with the cruelty of Hamm's character and the rather depressing state of his bin-dwelling parents (pictured above) serving to create an overarching sense of despair to the whole affair. But Upton, Weaving and the cast have done well to balance that with slapstick, typical absurdist humour and performances which seem just over-the-top enough to keep the element of fantasy in the air, while never limiting the power or effect of any scene. A tightrope they walk with skill and care... Endgame in its very nature is a dark tale, with the cruelty of Hamm's character and the rather depressing state of his bin-dwelling parents (pictured above) serving to create an overarching sense of despair to the whole affair. But Upton, Weaving and the cast have done well to balance that with slapstick, typical absurdist humour and performances which seem just over-the-top enough to keep the element of fantasy in the air, while never limiting the power or effect of any scene. A tightrope they walk with skill and care."


STC's posters for the production   Photos: Yvette Wan via Twitter

Ian Dickson, Australian Book Review: "Hamm is often played as a bullying, tormenting and tormented despot, but that is only a part of him. Weaving’s Hamm is wonderfully fantastical. Denied the use of his eyes and legs, he makes the most of his arms, hands, and marvellously expressive fingers, stabbing the air with them or fluttering them like the ripples on a lake. Even his tongue gets a moment in the spotlight. But it is the glorious Weaving voice that truly commands the stage. From sonorous boom to almost whisper, he coaxes every ounce of poetry from the text without ever seeming ‘poetic’. He initiates the often played routines sometimes with relish and at others almost in spite of himself. At the few moments when the anguish that he tries to keep at bay surfaces, he is shattering. This is a great performance and a pinnacle of Weaving’s distinguished career...

If Tom Budge’s Clov is an Ariel figure he is a grotesque misshapen one. Surprisingly eschewing the stiff staggering walk Beckett specifies in the script, Budge skitters around the stage like a hunched over Nosferatu. Less bitter than most Clovs, there is an innocence about him which Weaving’s Hamm gleefully exploits, but when he does erupt he is momentarily formidable. He expertly juggles the huge ladder which he uses to peer out of the high windows, and his routine with the flea powder he uses on himself is a splendid piece of clowning...

An artist for whom the verbs to create and to fail were synonymous, Beckett was surprisingly positive about the original French version of the piece and it remained a favorite work for the rest of his life. This production does him proud... Now messrs Upton and Weaving, can we have Krapp’s Last Tape please?"


STC virtual banner ad, featuring James Green promo portrait of Hugo

4/9/15 08:00 pm - 29crowjane - STC Endgame Performance Photos & Reviews; Hugo Weaving ABC 7.30 Interview


Hugo Weaving as Hamm in STC's Endgame   Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

Now that Sydney Theatre Company's production of Endgame has officially opened, we're getting a veritable onslaught of new reviews and performance pics. The reviews have been almost 100% ecstatic... the only quibbles (from one Stage Whispers review) were about Samuel Beckett's restrictions on how the play may be performed; they praised the acting. (The actors in both Australian productions of Endgame have said that the limitations are part of the point, not something they feel overly confined by. In fact, Hugo and others have expressed that one's true creativity often comes out under such limitations.)

So far over 20 performance images by Lisa Tomasetti have appeared in conjunction with the reviews. (So far STC has only shared one via Facebook/Instagram, but this may change soon.) I'll post a compilation of review excerpts interspersed with these amazing photos, with the recommendation readers click on the links and read each review in full at the site of origin, as most are very thoughtfully written, and I haven't seen such unanimous praise for such a notoriously challenging, bleak play. But first I gotta embed Hugo's new video interview promoting the production on ABC's 7.30, given from the STC set (even using Hamm's ratty armchair).  It's about 7 minutes long and delightful. Naturally people are grabbing hold of Hugo's hedging comments about giving up acting and retreating to Dungog to raise vegetables and taking them out of context... but fans will remember Hugo has often said such things before whe working through a particularly tough schedule of projects and immediately acknowledges he'd probably be itching to work again soon if he did take an extended break. (And he is DUE an extended break.) ;)

Also: some lovely observations on the challenges of Endgame, the benefits of acting, and how acting differs from "pulling faces", a distinction many people in the business have yet to figure out. And the truth behind the Agent Smith vocal performance which, for the 800th time, was NOT inspired by Carl Sagan. (Please stop repeating this nonsense, Twitter trolls. I mean it.) ;)


ABC 7.30

ABC has helpfully provided a full transript of this interview both on 7.30's website and at their Radio National site.

A few of my screencaps:



















Here are those review quotes along with Lisa Tomasetti's splendid performance photos (which appeared via STC Facebook, Suzy Goes See, The Guardian, STC's Endgame supplemental materials and Time Out.)



Richard Parkin, The Guardian: "More than just a formal experiment Endgame is also a searing examination of the human condition, and it is here that this production earns its plaudits. At the heart of Hugo Weaving’s commanding performance as Vladimir in STC’s 2013 production of Waiting for Godot was the human affection he and Richard Roxburgh conjured from Beckett’s infamous tramps. Beckett and love are not two words lightly thrown together, and yet it is the nuanced subtlety and deep emotional energy shared between Weaving as Hamm, and Tom Budge’s Clov that give this production its frisson...

An even darker and more constricted world than Vladimir and Estragon’s, in Endgame Weaving’s Hamm sits front and centre – an ailing tyrant – reminiscent of an ancient world Eastern potentate with toque and gaff for crown and sceptre, clinging to his vanity and worth as the world around him declines... Weaving shines. Despite Hamm’s brutality towards his parents, he still inspires pathos through his flights of grandeur, his lugubrious grasp of loss and his fleeting moments of tenderness for Clov...

Yet it is Budge’s performance that ties this production together. The sheer pain of existence is etched deep into this physical performance, while his resilience and gallows humour provides the perfect foil to Hamm, redeeming him with his love, and allowing Weaving the full gamut of expression...

With Weaving also wearing the assistant director’s hat, it’s apparent the sensibility that he and director Andrew Upton brought to Waiting for Godot is back. And the very humanity of Beckett’s crippled characters is put at the forefront, inviting us all to reflect on the love, power and hurt that binds us together."


Tom Budge as Clov and Hugo Weaving as Hamm in STC's Endgame.  All performance photos: Lisa Tomasetti  

Maxim Boon, Limelight: "Fortunately Sydney Theatre Company Artistic Director Andrew Upton and his deftly assembled cast, led by Hugo Weaving, have achieved an account of Endgame that is wrought with an albeit subtle, yet palpably insightful originality...

Very little here to laugh about, it may seem. However, Beckett’s dialogue, which mixes short, superficially mundane, perfunctory exchanges with bizarre anecdotes, sudden outbursts, incongruously silly gags and simple questions drenched in horrid significance, is full of comic potential. The shear strangeness of Beckett’s surreal scenario yields up humour, sometimes subtle, sometimes pitched at the level of a pantomime. The tangibility of this hinges on the chemistry between this darkly funny play’s two central protagonists, and Upton has happened upon a very successful alchemy in the pairing of Budge and Weaving...

Weaving’s Hamm is erratic, vicious, spiteful and crazed, but also saccharine, flamboyant, sentimental and heartbreakingly frail. When certain lines are repeated, they are deliberately delivered as a verbatim replica of the original, as if these words have been uttered this way, over and over, time and time again like a record stuck in a groove. Despite Beckett bestowing paralysis and blindness on this character, Weaving is a colossal presence extracting an astonishingly rich spectrum of emotional extremities to the point of bathos. While Budge’s Clov doesn’t cover anywhere near the same emotional ground, his simpering, knock-kneed, part-jester-part-Caliban delivery is deeply endearing and makes an ideal foil for Weaving’s more shaded and dominate performance."



Jason Blake, The Sydney Morning Herald: "Andrew Upton's grandly scaled production finds that balance more often than not: the humour is accessible, yet the cruelty in it stings; the pace is brisk without feeling pushed; it is bang-for-your-buck visually impressive (for $115 a seat, you deserve some eye candy, even if it's of the bleakest stripe), and Hugo Weaving, the production's drawcard, is in masterful form...

Beckett denies the actor of his Hamm the use of his eyes as well as legs, which makes the voice of vital importance. Weaving responds to the challenge magnificently with an impeccably enunciated repertoire of stagey growls, tempestuous barks, velvety grandiloquence and wheezy resignation. There's plenty of salty old ham in this Hamm (at one point, his tongue makes a showstopping appearance and it's all you can do not to give it a round of applause) but there's humanity, too...

Tom Budge's shaved-headed, mechanically jerky Clov operates in a fraction of that vocal range, but makes up for it with his agility (despite being bent into a question mark) and the finesse in his clowning. His powdering of an unwelcome flea in his pants is slapstick at its finest... Playing decrepit parents Nell and Nagg Hamm, Sarah Peirse and Bruce Spence rear up from their rubbish bins like bewildered undead. Peirse's voice is exquisite. Spence's face, caked in cracked white, is priceless. Together, they strike the most touching notes in a production that walks you securely to the edge of the Beckettian abyss but never quite leans you over it."



John McCallum, The Australian: "You can play this apocalyptic drama, with its slow slide towards death and finality, for the unhappiness and yearning for an end that the characters keep expressing, and the result can be a very bleak experience. What makes this production so successful is that it is played with a kind of luscious exuberance. We are watching the enthusiastic childlike games of old people trapped in an impossibly grim situation...

The playing style here is full of relish and is often very funny. Weaving’s acting has seldom been better, as he throws himself with apparent delight into each new futile game, joke or story. His hands, arms and face, the only means of expression Hamm has left, move constantly, flailing and grimacing desperately against the dying of the light...

Upton’s production, with Weaving as associate director, does brilliant work with this rich, multi-layered script. It is a myth that nothing happens in Beckett’s plays. Here there is not a line that is not pointed, not a reference that is not hinted at, not an action that does not move us forward...

Forward towards nothingness, of course: that is the point. But as in all of Beckett’s writing nothingness never quite comes. There is just that infinitesimal dwindling. If nothingness ever did arrive then we, or the characters, would be dead. And we can never experience that. That is the final spark of optimism in all his work."


Hugo Weaving and Tom Budge with Sarah Peirse (as Nell)

Martin Portus, Stage Whispers: "This is truly the endgame of life and Weaving plays out the repeated stories, word games and deadpan humour like a real fruity-voiced thespian, a connoisseur of impending mortality working away his busy fingers like a mad Steptoe...

Director Andrew Upton though has elicited fine performances, including from Bruce Spence and Sarah Peirse as the parents.  Here is some relief. Caked in clay, zombie-like but with dark ringed eyes flashing, their Nagg and Nell still share a demented humanity – even if it is now legless and binned."


Hugo Weaving, Sarah Peirse and Bruce Spence (as Nagg)

Ashley Walker, Australian Stage Online: "
Endgame is a brooding and unsentimental meditation on the nature of death. I’ve never heard so much silence in a theatre production. Beckett, who was Irish, wrote all his plays in French forcing himself to concentrate on every word in order to achieve economy of language. It is ten to fifteen minutes, before the first words are spoken. The silence in a jam packed the Roslyn Packer Theatre on opening night, adds to the absurd atmosphere of the production...

Hugo Weaving gives an enchanting performance as Hamm. It is worth closing your eyes for ten minutes just to let his voice wash over you. Voice plays a bigger part in conveying character than usual in the role of Hamm. Hamm sits in his wheelchair the entire time, so it is credit to weaving that he can still command a stage presence while sitting down. Budge remains stooped, as he moves about the stage, speaking in a nervous high pitched tone... Watching a Beckett play is an act of gradual immersion into a lonely and off kilter world."



Suzy Wrong, Suzy Goes See: "The play is both accessible and inaccessible. It challenges the way we read, and how we make sense, in the theatrical space, of language and signs, but it does not intend to alienate. Director Andrew Upton retains the integrity of Beckett’s words, sometimes impenetrable but always marvellous, and creates around them an intoxicating live experience that fascinates at every moment. Unreservedly intellectual, it is no surprise that one can be made to feel out of their depth at times, but the work’s density constantly morphs so that a switch in tone or subject inevitably occurs, and we become engaged again, only more thoroughly than ever, as our capacities gradually grow in their level of receptiveness. Upton’s voice increases in clarity over time, and the piece gains power accordingly...

Hugo Weaving is mesmeric as the hideous and hateful Hamm. Even in a wheelchair with legs bound and eyes obscured behind opaque spectacles, the star is irresistibly charismatic, and completely enthralling. Edith Piaf was said to have declared that she could sing the phone book and make it sound great. Similarly, Weaving captivates us with every word, even when we find our minds struggling to match the depth of what is being expounded. The extreme meticulousness of his approach seizes our attention, and the wild and unpredictable flourishes he builds into every scene and stanza is truly magnificent to witness. Endgame discusses the distinctions between meaninglessness and meaningfulness. Under Weaving’s spell, all that unfolds feels meaningful, and we are encouraged to seek a cerebral equivalent to the emotional sensations delivered to our gut. Also turning in a stunning performance is Tom Budge in the role of Clov, the voluntary slave who waits on Hamm for no straightforward reason. The actor opens the play in a wordless sequence, impressing us with his extraordinary physical expression. Part mime and part dance, the beauty of his execution shines in spite of the depressively ominous context he helps set up. Budge goes on to prove himself sensitive to the needs of black comedy, constantly toying with the delicate balance between morbidity and humour, much to our twisted delight. His dynamic range is quite exceptional, and the character he creates is fascinating from every perspective...

Difficult texts must exist, or our artistic landscape is worth nothing. If everything is within one’s grasp, one ceases to evolve. Endgame is about two hours long, but it contains wisdom from entire lifetimes by several outstanding minds. This production seduces with entertaining touches and intriguing elements, then presents life’s big questions in rarely articulated ways. If its propositions are unfamiliar, revisiting them seems necessary, like a good book that engages and bewilders, it tempts you at its end, to return to the start for another bout."



Jason Catlett, Time Out Sydney: "You’re unlikely ever to find a more enjoyable production of Samuel Beckett’s bleak absurdist drama than this one directed by Andrew Upton for the Sydney Theatre Company. As in Beckett’s earlier and far more celebrated Waiting for Godot, almost nothing happens, repeatedly. Like his later underrated Happy Days, the non-action takes place in some vaguely post-apocalyptic world inhabited by a few bored and bewildered weirdos. They reminisce incoherently, bicker and talk rubbish, doing nothing more significant than putting a handkerchief over someone's head, or moving a ladder pointlessly from window to window. Beckett’s astonishing achievement was to write challenging and truly revolutionary plays within these apparently disqualifying constraints. The wonderful achievement of Upton and his crew here is to make that horrendous landscape of human worthlessness a delight to watch...

Clov’s wheelchair-bound master is Hamm, here played with transformative originality by Hugo Weaving. In a famous but arguably futile attempt to understand the play, the great German sociologist Theodor Adorno compared Hamm to Hamlet, even though the only obvious resemblance is in the name. On paper Hamm is an utter bastard who constantly torments not only the hapless Clov but also his parents Nagg and Nell, who dwell in the same room in matching his-and-hers garbage bins. Any resemblance to the palace at Elsinore, Horatio, Gertrude and her first husband, or to Shakespeare's noble and flowery language, or the Prince of Denmark's heroic dramatic situation, is strictly by stark contrast. Hamm has almost nothing to react to but the void in which he finds himself confined...

Weaving’s achievement is to animate this severely impaired non-hero as a vivacious, almost endearing master of his own universe: king of a nutshell. Fuelled by a bonfire of charisma, Weaving turns Happ's insufferably tedious monologues into joyful entertainment... Beckett’s trick of having Hamm bribe Nagg with a lolly to listen to his stories comes off a treat thanks to the priceless spectacle of the elastic face of Bruce Spence in pancake makeup reacting to his son’s repetitive diatribes...

Beckett's vision of human existence is so absurd that both the audience and actors are constantly tempted to throw up their hands and dismiss it as, well, absurd, but Upton’s crew manage to stick with it faithfully—almost lovingly if that’s possible—at every moment. Weaving seems to be thriving on the grimness, shrouded in his hellish armchair on casters, despite the constant fear that Clov will leave him helpless. Beckett’s carefully constructed machine runs smooth and clear, notwithstanding its outward appearance of a rickety contraption. The STC has done a great service to a masterpiece that is at risk of being overlooked or dismissed as a second rate specimen from a period of theatre that has lost relevance to today. They have made it fresh, stylish, and even fun."



Theatrebloggers, Dinner And A Show: "This could well be one of Andrew Upton’s finest productions. Nick Schlieper’s confined set design, equipped with dripping and reflected water keeps to Beckett’s original intention without falling into the overly familiar. Together the two have created some striking imagery. Endgame is not a play for the lighthearted, though, and without a strong cast the piece would be unbearably tedious. But Hugo Weaving has successfully made this one of the ‘not to be missed’ productions of the year...

Weaving is simply masterful in the role of Hamm; he is cruel and selfish, bound to a chair, unable to stand. Hamm has lost the use of his eyes and for the actor, it is a hard slog. However, you wouldn’t know this with Mr Weaving at the helm. Aided by only voice and gesture, Weaving commands the stage from his immobile position, no small feat. In a word, his performance is faultless as he weaves through the dialogue with effortless musicality, each syllable ringing in our ears, bringing the lyricism of Beckett to life. This is Shakespeare for the existentialist, and Weaving is in fine if not perfect form...

If there was ever a moment to get acquainted with Beckett then it would be now, when a seasoned cast is able to do justice to this challenging piece. This isn’t easy viewing, Beckett demands a lot of his audience, but this is an occasion where the rewards are well worth the effort."



Chris Hook, The Daily Telegraph: "About 18 months ago, Sydney Theatre Company artistic director Andrew Upton helmed a production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot starring Hugo Weaving with Richard Roxburgh...  To say it was a success is something of an understatement — the piece attracted international attention and was invited to a Beckett festival in London later this year. But the production also marked a period of extensive investigation of Beckett’s work by Weaving, which has now born more theatrical fruit in a production of Beckett’s 1957 play Endgame, again with Upton directing. And what a rich harvest it is...

Beckett was understood to have been a fan of vaudeville and this influence underlines much of what is said and the way it is delivered. Each conversation (and actions, such as they are) unfolds as a “bit” in the comedic sense of the word, the sentences flying back and forth until the jousting is done and we move on to the next exchange. Routine is how the characters pass the time, and also what they deliver...

'What is there to keep me here?' asks Clov at one point. 'The dialogue of course,' Hamm replies. It’s what keeps all of us there, because Endgame is strangely, discomfortingly, hugely funny. The performances are extraordinary, even by this cast’s own somewhat elevated standards...

 The heavy lifting is really done by Clov and Hamm and their dynamic is sublime, Budge’s Clov the ideal foil to Weaving’s pompous cruelty as Hamm, who doesn’t miss a beat as he regally dispatches orders and insults, between carrying on with his myriad monologues about what we’re never quite sure. Even sitting in rags, dirty with an unkempt beard and unbecoming head and eyewear, Weaving’s presence is imposing; so regal; his decrepit chair is akin to a throne...

It’s not an easy journey at almost two hours without a break, but Endgame is such a complete theatrical experience that there is a huge sense of having been through something and come out the other side — and being all the more illuminated for it."



Ben Neutze, Daily Review: "Beckett is relentless in his focus and detail, creating epic dramatic worlds out of the most restricted elements. Endgame takes much of what Beckett explored in Waiting for Godot and ruthlessly strips the drama and comedy back to its core. For my money, Endgame is the more accomplished work... There’s still plenty of currency in the tiny glimpses of humanity which emerge as his all-too recognisable characters are staring into an abyss of destruction. Even amongst Beckett’s work, Endgame stands out for how well it encapsulates the human experience of boredom and purposelessness..

But the thing about Endgame is that it’s hysterically funny if it’s done well, to the point that it never feels like too hard a slog despite its almost two hour running time. This production gets plenty of hearty laughter, and there didn’t seem to be much restlessness in the opening night audience. It’s not because there’s a particular comedic approach taken by anybody on or offstage, or any attempt to dumb the material down or inject it with crowd-pleasing action, but because it’s all played for truth, and played damn well. One of the most well-known quotes from the play (and the one adorning STC’s publicity material for this production) is 'nothing is funnier than unhappiness', and this production dwells in the darkest possible darkness, and feels more energetic and alive for it...

Hugo Weaving is brilliantly cast as Hamm, delivering a performance which is at once technical and detailed, focusing on the minutiae of his character’s experience, while embracing the broad emotional sweep of the play. The vocal lines he draws through Beckett’s words are engrossing and musical enough that you could simply shut your eyes and listen...

Over the course of his artistic directorship at STC, Andrew Upton, who directs this production, has proven himself to be particularly adept at drawing nuanced and passionate performances from actors (or at least creating a space that allows those performances to develop and grow) and creating “faithful”, but lively productions of fine plays. His Endgame is no exception, with just a few personal touches which create new resonances... Endgame is actually not staged all that often in Australia, probably due to its reputation as being an impenetrable work. Upton’s production proves how profound, fresh and, dare I say, accessible the play can still be within the restrictions which the Beckett enforces."

STC has compiled an impressive batch of educational resources in conjunction with this production, and made all of it available in PDF form via their website. In addition to exclusive photos of the production and rehearsals (including the Nicholas Harding sketch below), you'll find scholarly background on the playwright (and an explanation of his copyright controls), production posters and study questions. You can find the lot here. You can read STC's compilation of fan feedback from social media on Storify.


Hugo Weaving as Hamm in a rehearsal sketch by Nicholas Harding; from STC's resource materials






All performance photos: Lisa Tomasetti/Sydney Theatre Co

STC shared this amusing GIf animation of Hugo as Hamm, taken from James Green's promo photos:


STC Instagram

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Healing will be screened at Le Festival du Bout du Monde in France early next month. For additional details, go here.

Don McAlpine, cinematographer for The Dressmaker, spoke to about Australian Cinematographers Society this film and his larger career; includes photos from the set.

I'll keep an eye out for any new Endgame reviews or performance images and share any I find here as soon as possible. I'm thinking of adding a few fan images as well. Tickets are still available for both STC Endgame and the Barbican remounting of Waiting For Godot... I can't make it to either (wrong continent) but fans with the resources should definitely hop to it. ;)

4/3/15 09:04 pm - 29crowjane - STC Endgame: 2 New Hugo Weaving Interviews, New Pics & Trailer; Strangerland Heading to SFF In June

We've had a veritable onslaught of wonderful new material in conjunction with Sydney Theatre Co's production of Endgame (starring Hugo Weaving, Tom Budge, Sarah Peirse and Bruce Spence) which is open in previews. (Official opening night is 8 April.) The Guardian and The Sydney Morning Herald both published interviews featuring Hugo. I'll embed both pieces in full because they're well worth a read. The whole of the new material is also nicely timed to coincide with Hugo's 55th birthday, though Hugo himself will "celebrate" with a marathon Saturday of two Endgame performances, and thus probably be too tired to take notice of our celebration. ;)

But first, here's STC's new trailer for the production, featuring Hugo and Tom Budge. Short but sweet, featuring that irrepressible laugh we've loved all these years:


Sydney Theatre Co, via YouTube

Here are a few caps I made:



EndgameTeaser2.png





And here are the two new interviews featuring Hugo; the Guardian's piece is particularly well-done, and includes comments from Luke Mullins, who's currently playing Clov in MTC's rival production of Endgame, and who'll reteam with Hugo, Richard Roxburgh and Philip Quast for Beckett's Waiting For Godot at London's Barbican in a couple of months. I particularly appreciate the fact that questions and answers are included rather than being paraphrased the way some articles do it (including the SMH piece)... Being the context freak I am. ;) No new images with the Guardian article, but if you head to the website and click on the image of Hugo (one of James Green's nice promo images from last year) you'll get a high-res enlargement.

Hugo Weaving Interviews re EndgameCollapse )

I do want to emphasize that I really enjoyed the interview and photos for the SMH article; it's more the "marketing" I object to. Kudos to both interviewers for staying on topic and provoking interesting answers in each case.

The Sydney Morning Herald also posted a nice Andrew Upton/Sam Strong interview by Elissa Blake. (Strong directs the MTC production of Endgame and previously directed Hugo in STC's Les Liaisons Dangereuses a few years back.) This piece features a Lisa Tomasetti rehearsal photo (previously seen on STC Facebook... and here) and a few more of Uptons thoughs on why casting Hugo was a "no-brainer" :  "There's authority and frailty in Hamm but he's also a showman. Hugo has the kind of voice that can shape that for you. And there's also something we discovered while we were doing Godot; a wickedness to his clowning, a glint in the eye. You're not just watching Hamm screw Clov down for two hours. That would be unbearable. Hugo brings a kind of joy to it." I have to admit I'm curious as to why Blake wasn't given the assignment of interviewing Hugo as well, given how magnificently she's done so in the past, even providing unedited transcripts in some cases. (Aaaaah, context!)

Strangerland

After being treated somewhat condescendingly by the hipsters at Sundance, Hugo Weaving's next film Strangerland gets its nex big showcase on much more hospitable turf with a screening at his year's Sydney Film Festival in June. Dates haven't been announced, but I'm desperately hoping they can avoid a conflict with the London run of Godot, because Hugo usually attends the SFF whether he has a film on view or not. There have been over a dozen press announcements about SFF's initial slate of showcased films, including in FilmInk, Cinema Australia and Twitch Film; most simply repeat the text from SFF's website blurb:

"
Nicole Kidman makes a welcome return to Australian independent cinema in this striking film. The teenage children of Catherine (Kidman) and Matthew (Joseph Fiennes) mysteriously disappear from the outback town the family has recently settled in. When local cop Rae (Hugo Weaving) tries to solve the case, he uncovers a dark history with repercussions for him too."

Screen Australia tweeted our first official film still featuring Hugo:



So far the Australian press vibe for the film is very positive. Unfortunately, the SFF's dates (June 3-14) are almost precisely the same as the London run of Godot (June 4-13), so barring an opening or closing night screening (unlikely travel time would even permit that), we may be out of luck in terms of new premiere photos. Though I'm sure Hugo couldn't be happier about "having" to skip a red-carpet event. ;)

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Hugo's second film to open in 2015 (scheduled for 1 October in Australia) will have a tie-in reissue of Rosalie Ham's novel released 11 August. No cover art is yet available, but they are taking pre-orders at Amazon.

The website Home Theatre Forum announced that Anchor Bay is planning a US DVD release for Healing on 9 June, which is welcome news, though I'd be a bit sad if the film entirely skipped a theatrical run here. (Not surprised, though, unfortunately.) I am hoping the alleged cover art seen on the site (to horrifying to cross-post here) is NOT the design they eventually go with. This might be the worst photoshop composite I've ever seen, and Hugo is unrecognizable. Not only has his beard been clumsily CG'd away, he seems to have been age-regressed. Let's hope this is only spec art... the film deserves much better.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HUGO!  :)

3/30/15 07:15 pm - 29crowjane - Last-Minute Endgame Previews, Incl New Hugo Weaving Interview & Nicholas Harding Sketches


Bruce Spence, Hugo Weaving and Sarah Peirse in rehearsals for STC's Endgame.  Photo: Bob Barker/The Daily Telegraph online

STC Endgame

Sydney Theatre Company's production of Endgame, starring Hugo Weaving, Tom Budge, Sarah Peirse and Bruce Spence, opens later today in Sydney. While we await the first reviews and production photos, here are the latest preview articles and other promos released in the past few days.

The most interesting of these is The Daily Telegraph's interview with Weaving, Peirse and Spence. The online and print versions of the piece, written by Chris Hook, both feature the same text and a new photo by Bob Barker (above); the print version (from Best Weekend's 27 March edition, scans below) adds a nice cover photo of the three and a few additional rehearsal pics by Lisa Tomasetti. Not a lengthy interview but it features perceptive comments and stays pleasingly on-topic.





Fans of last year's Drawing Godot exhibit, featuring Nicholas Harding's sketches, etchings and watercolors of STC's Waiting For Godot (2013) will be happy to note that Harding (a longtime friend of Hugo's) has returned to perform a similar task for the current Beckett play. STCs Facebook page recently featured a selection of the new sketches, and more will appear in the programme sold at performances. Those not lucky enough to make it to Sydney can read a few highlights of the programme content (including rehearsal photos, biographical notes and commentary on the play's themes and characters) in this STC Magazine feature. Here are a few of Harding's drawings featuring Hugo Weaving as Hamm:


Hugo Weaving as Hamm, Tom Budge as Clov in STC's Endgame.   Drawing by Nicholas Harding, via STC Facebook





Andrew Upton spoke to The Big Smoke about his take on the play and his role directing the new production. Rebecca Gibney briefly mentions the film in a recent TV interview. And Sarah Peirse was interviewed by themusic.com.au about her role as Nell, and why she's luckier than Bruce Spence as far as trying to squeeze into those trash bins goes. ;) Gay News Network posted a detailed preview of the production.

The Dressmaker

As Jocelyn Moorhouse's new film nears the end of post-production, a handful of preview screenings have been held or are planned at various locations in Australia. There was brief but enthusiastic commentary about one such screening in Melbourne on IMDb and Twitter, but not a lot of information about the film.

New production photos have appeared on Twitter courtesy of Monty Fan, including images of the sets and costumes, and this lovely cast and crew photo featuring Hugo Weaving and director Moorhouse:

 
Photo: Monty Fan via Twitter

Healing

Though no news of an official US release has yet surfaced, Healing did make a splash in its recent Sedona Film Festival screening, winning the Best Foreign Film prize. More details at the festival's webpage.

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Hugo was recently spotted and photographed at a Sydney Art Month event at The National Arts School Gallery, behind a Red Sturts Desert Pea. ;)


Photo: Dick Quan via Twitter/Instagram

Impulse Gamer interviewed Harry Greenwood about his role in the acclaimed miniseries Gallipoli (directed by Last Ride's Glendyn Ivin)

The Guardian's Luke Buckmaster posted a tribute to one of Hugo Weaving's most gripping (and "criminally underseen") films: The Interview, directed by Craig Monahan (who subsequently reteamed with Hugo on Peaches and Healing.) This remains among Hugo's top five performances by most serious fans' estimations; those who still only know his career from its occasional franchise excursions would find it a revelation if they checked it out.

Mystery Road continues to draw positive attention via Netflix and BBC streaming; you can read new reviews at Everything Noir and Cleveland Movie Blog.

Watch this space for additional updates as Endgame's preview performances unfold!

12/30/10 01:32 pm - 29crowjane - Noctus Bonus Scene from Legend of the Guardians

Note: This is an archived entry that’s several 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. Some entries may not be up to my current standards as far as photo source and other credits are concerned; if you are a photographer or writer of a piece that lacks appropriate acknowledgement, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add source info.

Official ad copy about the new Legend of the Guardians DVD release was ambiguous about any Hugo Weaving-related extras... only David Wenham (Digger) is mentioned as narrating an extra on owls in the natural world. But I did notice a "bonus scene" mentioned, and knew at least one snippet of Hugo's narration (and part of a scene) appeared in the film trailer but not the film. I did get the DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack for Christmas, but I don't yet have a Blu-Ray player, and all but two of the bonus featurettes are Blu-Ray only. (To add to the confusion, there are both 3D and 2D versions of the Blu-Ray.)

But, fear not, because someone has taken pity on us fans and uploaded the Rise of the Guardians featurette to YouTube. In glorious HD, at that. ;) As I'd hoped, it is indeed a deleted scene featuring Noctus (Hugo's barn owl character, father of the hero Soren) telling his owlets the backstory of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, including the Battle of the Ice Claws constantly referenced in the film but never shown. (It was a defining moment for both Ezylryb (Geoffrey Rush) and Metalbeak (Joel Edgerton).)  You'll recognize the funny bit at the end from the trailer. I don't think Warner Bros officially posted this, so see it while you can, if you get my drift. This definitely should have been in the film, and effectively doubles the size of Noctus' role. ;)


 I do recommend seeing the film/buying the DVD in Blu-Ray or 3D Blu-Ray if you can, as it's visually spectacular. Have a Happy New Year-- hopefully we'll get official word on The Hobbit and a US run for Uncle Vanya soon. :) 

12/24/11 06:29 pm - 29crowjane - Cloud Atlas Wraps Production, Hobbit Location Filming, New Hugo Scans

Note: This is an archived entry that’s several 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. Some entries may not be up to my current standards as far as photo source and other credits are concerned; if you are a photographer or writer of a piece that lacks appropriate acknowledgement, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add source info.

Here's my Odds and Ends Christmas Entry... though we don't have any new news about or photos of Hugo Weaving specifically, some important items about his two big 2012 films have come out in recent days, so I'll share those without further ado.

First, Cloud Atlas recently wrapped primary photography at Babelsberg studios in Berlin, so the cast have presumably dispersed to their homes around the world for the holidays. Though no stills or behind the scenes pics of the actors have emerged recently, the filmmakers did share this group photo of the directors (including the elusive Wachowskis) and producers with a tantalizing array of props symbolizing each of the story's six sequences. I won't divulge their significance here, as many readers haven't read the novel, but you can learn more at Empire Online, Collider, IndieWire and BoomTron. The photo was originally posted at Empire, but has since made its way to pretty much every other movie blog. ;)



Pictured are (far back) executive producer Uwe Schott, novelist David Mitchell executive producer Philip Lee. Front row:  producer Stefan Arndt, director/writers Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski and producer Grant Hill.

Will Hugo be using any of these props? Too soon to tell, though if the film follows the novel closely, he'll be consigning one of them into a large body of water. ;) Somehow I doubt he'll be playing Papa Song, though, if the balloon likenesses are a match.

Next up: Peter Jackson's released another lovely Production Video (#5 to be precise) just in time for the holidays, with the promise of another to follow early next year. Since this segment is primarily about location filming, there are no glimpses of Hugo or of Cate Blanchett, as their scenes were completed on a sound stage earlier this year. (Some day it'd be nice to see Elrond someplace other than Rivendell, wouldn't it... I guess that'll have to wait for an adaptation of The Silmarillion.) ;) But I defy you not to get misty at Elijah Wood's set tour of the new Hobbiton. Wood recently got a bit testy with the British chat show host Graham Norton when the latter blithely suggested Hobbiton "isn't real"; this clip will give you some insight into Wood's deep feelings about the issue if you don't already share them. I'll also embed the trailer in case anyone's been in a deep coma for the past week and missed it. ;) I think both are sublime, and reassure me that the film(s) will be very much worth the long wait


Peter Jackson, via YouTube



Finally, I have a batch of new Hugo-related scans posted to my Flickr Archive, including the full press kit for Proof's 1992 North American release-- including a lot of photos-- an Oranges and Sunshine preview from FilmInk (featuring extensive comments from Hugo, including his mother's reaction to some of his work) ;), and a vintage 1988 preview of The Dirtwater Dynasty featuring photos and a funny little blurb about Barlow & Chambers (aka Dadah is Death, aka A Long Way From Home.)

Proof Press Kit Photo 1
Photo 1 closeup
Photo 2
Photo 2 closeup
Photo 3
Photo 3 closeup
Color Slide 1
Color Slide 2
Color Slide 3
Color Slide 4
Proof Press Kit CoverPage 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6, Page 7, Page 8

Dirtwater Dynasty Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4

Oranges and Sunshine Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Review

Oh! And here's a new article from the Adelaide Advertiser about next month's AACTA Awards. This critic likes Hugo's chances. ;)


The vet waiting room scene in Proof (1991), from the film's press kit

Happy Holidays everyone! Next year should be particularly exciting for Hugo fans.
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