July 20, 2014
Hugo Weaving at the Sydney Theatre Company Wharf is playing Macbeth. Picture: Tim Hunter
HUGO Weaving could easily have relocated to Hollywood on the back of films such as The Matrix and The Lord Of The Rings trilogies, but he has never been tempted by the bright lights of Tinseltown.
“For me, my life and my family and my kids have to be more important than chasing some, I don’t know…. (big Hollywood film career,)” he says. “It wasn’t a hard decision. I never wanted to go.”
By living under the radar in Sydney, Weaving manages to avoid most of the trappings of the celebrity lifestyle (paparazzi and the like) but he has done his fair share of LA press junkets and red carpets.
“I refuse to acknowledge that it’s actually important, otherwise it does your head in,” he says.
“It’s nothing to do with me, it’s to do with selling a film, a product. I don’t see it as that but that’s what it is. You are also a commodity.
“I’ve never felt comfortable in that world. I wish I did. To be a megastar and yet maintain a humanity is very hard. But in the end it actually doesn’t turn me on, not really. It doesn’t make me feel good, it doesn’t excite me.”
Luckily for us, that means we see far more of Weaving than we otherwise would.
In between the big movies (The Hobbit, Cloud Atlas) he regularly makes smaller Australian films.
He has two new Aussie flicks in the pipeline — The Mule, which he describes as “a fantastic, nasty little story of a drug mule”, and Strangerland, with Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes, set in a remote Australian town where two children go missing.
“It was great to work with Nicole again. I haven’t worked with her for years,” he says.
In recent times, Weaving has also returned to the stage around once a year for Sydney Theatre Company.
After Waiting For Godot last year, he will play Macbeth at the Sydney Theatre (until September 27).
In an unusual piece of staging, the audience will sit on banks of seating on stage while the action will take place at the front of the extended stage and all over the theatre.
“For the audience, the auditorium is a constant presence,” Weaving says. “It can be really cavernous and bare and empty, so a single figure in that space is very lonely. Or it can be shut down with light and quite intimate and claustrophobic. It opens up all kinds of exciting possibilities.”
After three decades as an actor, Weaving admits “sometimes I just want to push it all away and go and plant trees, which I do”. He and his partner Katrina Greenwood have a property in the Hunter region near Dungog. “But that’s a battle between (acting in the public eye) and wanting to be quiet. Life is short. There are so many things to do,” Weaving says.
“You get to a certain age (he is 54) and you become aware of your mortality and you think, ‘what else could I do, or should I do, or do I want to do?’ But then you come back and start working on a play like this and it is so extraordinary, such a phenomenal piece of writing that seems to contain so much that is unfathomable. “To be able to explore that as a job is a real honour and a privilege.”
MACBETH, at SYDNEY THEATRE, FROM TOMORROW