FANGORIA: Welcome to Fangoria, Mr. Weaving, and thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I understand that you’re extremely busy with the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of “God of Carnage” at the moment, so we really appreciate you giving some of your time to talk all things horror and monsters with us here at Fango!
HUGO WEAVING: It’s a pleasure. No worries. It’s a healthy mix to be doing press for theatre with “God of Carnage” as well as upcoming cinema releases that I have been lucky to be involved with; namely THE WOLFMAN
FANGO: Are you a fan of the horror genre?
WEAVING: I like things that are well written. If the script is good then I’ll enjoy it. If the script is bad or loose or silly then I can’t get into it. However, I think genre pictures such as horror films should be allowed to have a sense of freedom in the writing. But sadly I think genre pictures tend to be looked down upon or overlooked as serious pieces of art. The western, the musical, action films, horror films, fantasy films; I mean they are the founding and starting point of great American cinema yet even though commercially successful and a lot times critically well received, they are never given the proper respect they deserve just because they entertain. There’s a weird resentment toward escapism in intellectual circles which not only happens in film but theatre, too.
FANGO: What can you tell us about your character in THE WOLFMAN, Scotland Yard law official Detective Aberline?
WEAVING: Well, he’s a no nonsense detective who comes into the lives of the Talbot’s by investigating the strange murders that are somehow happening around the family. He was not in the original film from the forties, although after watching that film with Lon Chaney, I kind of liken him to the Claude Reins character. I even tried to do a Claude Reins style voice in pre-shoot rehearsals, but it didn’t work (laughs).
FANGO: On that note, how did the original WOLFMAN troupe (Lon Chaney Jr., Evelyn Ankers, Maria Ouspenskaya and Ralph Bellamy) feed the performances of your fellow cast members?
WEAVING: Everyone seemed to bring their own interpretation of the character to this film. It is a far more gritty movie then the 1941 film as you could imagine. The original film is loaded with that glamour of the Universal horror pictures of the golden age. In this film, everything is on show and that includes the blood, sweat and tears and that most definitely alters the mood and style and totally feeds the performances of the actors. Geraldine Chaplin who is the legendary Charlie Chaplin’s daughter was a hoot to work with and brings so much of herself to the role created by that great character actress Maria Ouspenskaya. But listening to her it’s as if she had channeled Maria. There was something truly haunting about her performance. But I think Benicio did the most studying of Lon Chaney Jr. There are points in the film where he looks remarkably like him.
FANGO: Just from seeing the trailer, somewhat resembles Oliver Reed in CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, a lupine film I adore. Do you have a favorite werewolf movie?
WEAVING: I remember seeing AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON when it first came out and that was really good. A great combination of horror and comedy.
FANGO: That was released the same year (1981) as brilliant werewolf gems WOLFEN and one of my favorite films of all time, THE HOWLING. What the media called ‘The Year of the Wolf’. Do you think this film will join the ranks of the greatest werewolf movies ever made?
WEAVING: To be honest I am not too sure how this film will look at all. I haven’t seen dailies or any rush cuts yet but I do have a feeling it will be brilliant. The director Joe Johnston seems to always have a hit when he’s in the reigns and no doubt this’ll be no exception. I can’t wait to see the film in its entirety. I’m very much looking forward to the premiere as it’s been such a long ride; not so much on the production side but more so in the distribution and campaign.
FANGO: What was working with legendary make-up artist Rick Baker like? And were you in the chair for any prosthetic work?
WEAVING: Rick Baker was charming and a soft spoken gentleman who excelled at his craft. It is dumbfounding what that man could do with materials that have been with the industry forever. His work on the werewolf transformation sequences were astounding, as you’ll soon see. And yes I did get to have some work done but I won’t tell you too much. Lets just say this film has a healthy amount of blood and guts so the make ups go beyond fur and fangs.
FANGO: In your opinion, how much was Lon Chaney’s Wolfman design a reference point for Rick Baker?
WEAVING: He had images galore of those old Universal werewolves, the one with the bad case of side burns too, who was he again?
FANGO: Oh yes, Henry Hull from THE WEREWOLF OF LONDON.
WEAVING: Yeah. Rick wanted to put his own mark on the design but still pay homage to the Lon Chaney Wolfman. He came out looking amazing. Truly amazing. I think Rick Baker is possibly one of the most modestly talented people I’ve met. He is his craft. It’s phenomenal. He is definitely the master of werewolf make up artistry and it was cool to work with someone who originally did the make up design for “An American Werewolf in London”. We shared a few stories and I was kind of like a teenager again asing him how he did what he did with that film. I also found out that that was the first movie to win the Academy Award for Best Make-Up.
FANGO: Was THE WOLFMAN a fun experience? Do you think you’ll return to the horror genre in the future?
WEAVING: It was a good experience, I just wish studios and distributors and press and everything that has nothing whatsoever to do with us actors got their shit together and brought these films to the eager public sooner than later. Films lose momentum and this film has been whetting the appetites of moviegoers, especially horror fans, for too long now. I also want to make note that the fans of horror are possibly the most hardcore and fanatical and lovely. Ever since doing this film I’ve had more conversations than ever. So yep, for sure, I would love to do more horror films, just as long as they’re the right projects.