Selected transcript of 891 ABC Adelaide Radio Morning show
March 10, 2004
On location shooting in French Guyana for The Old Man Who Read Love Stories:
"Often at night, after being in the jungle, we tended to go out and drink rum and eat lots of beautiful food…we didn’t really sit around talking about this Piece of Art that we were trying to make"
"I’ve always found working on location much easier for me as an actor. It’s more condusive to finding the truth. There’s a lot of distance to travel to a moment of psychological or emotional truth."
On leaving the day-job behind:
"I don’t find it difficult to maintain my sense of self off the set. I don’t take the character with me".
On whether he’d always wanted to be an actor:
" When I was around 9 or 10 I was heavily into playacting and dressing up and, y’know, getting my friends to join in with my imaginary games and also always led a very – even when I wasn’t with friends – led a very dreamy, imaginary life.
But I don’t know when I first thought I would like to…that when I left school, I wanted to pursue an acting career. I didn’t really tend to think in terms about what I was going to do when I grew up. I think I wanted to be a writer actually, more than anything else. By the last couple of years at school, I’d heard of NIDA and was doing a great deal of acting at school and school plays and musicals and decided that I would go to NIDA if I could get in and I did get in and went there straight from school.
I had a Head Teacher in England when I lived over there, between the ages of 10 and 13, and he would screen films in the dining hall in the weekend and some of these films were wonderful. He was responsible for getting me passionately interested in film."
On being Hugo Weaving and whether he gets reminded he’s not Agent Smith or Elrond:
"I don’t think there’s any difference between me and anybody else in the world.
"I think my Dad was always good for me from that point of view. My parents always encouraged me because I wanted to act and they encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do but at the same time it was very important to maintain a sense of self. My Dad made it very clear that it was always important to do that [coughs], whatever that sense of self is, to maintain that, to know who you are and be – or keep trying to be – that person.
"My parents initially were very important, and now my partner, Katrina, my family, my son and daughter: people…I keep returning to them and spending time with them.
"I’m just a Dad who lives in Paddington and hangs out in Darlinghurst and goes shopping and takes my kids to school. That’s who I am. I also happen to work as an actor and try to choose films that I love and am interested in".
On The Lord of the Rings and whether he’d considered that it could have been a huge flop before he took the part:
" I never think ‘is it going to be a success or a flop?’. I read the script and think ‘this is a film I would like to see and I would like to be in it’.
"Some of the best films which have come out of this country haven’t done very well at the Box Office and often films are considered failures when in reality they are not"
How does he define a successful film?
"Something I like seeing [laughs]. Something that illuminates us as who we are – through pure entertainment or an utterly serious piece of work. The genre doesn’t matter".
On whether actors crave an Academy Award as the ultimate success:
"I don’t know – I can’t really talk for all actors. Obviously it’s a measure of success because generally the Academy Award films have been seen by a lot of people, though that’s not necessarily true.
When you look at the list of what’s won, they often don’t stand up, don’t stand the test of time, and compared to some of the films that didn’t succeed, they seem very impoverished.
"They’re not the mark of a great film. It’s part of the star system: they get the money spent on the awards to get you to spend the money on seeing it. And that’s about it".
On advice to young actors:
"Everyone has their own path. Do what’s right for you, try to do your own thing and play your own game and be as good at being yourself as you can: be the best John Smith as you can or the best Hugo Weaving as you can. Be the best that you can. That’s the important thing in life."
On future plans:
"I’d like to work in Australia – more in film but also in theatre…More than anything I would like to work on Australian films, with Australian writers and Australian directors. That’s my main love outside of my family. Um..er..that’s what I’d love to do and continue to be involved with it."
On whether he understands, as a ‘new’ major film star, why so many major film stars isolate themselves on a ranch in the middle of Idaho:
"So much of that world is such a fake one and you know when you’re in that world how false it is and how much is to do with image and how little to do with truth or reality. It’s clear, removed from who you feel you are and I think it can be very scary when you’re in it. And that’s why they want to run away from it".