NY Daily News
December 12, 2012
Star from ‘The Matrix’ divides his time into big-budget films, art-house projects and theater work
Australian actor Hugo Weaving plays Elrond in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.’
WELLINGTON, N.Z. — Hugo Weaving comes across almost as mysterious as the ancient elf he portrays in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
In an interview with the Daily News a few hours before the movie’s world premiere in director Peter Jackson’s hometown, the 52-year-old actor seems reflective about returning as Elrond of Rivendell in the prequel trilogy to “The Lord of the Rings.”
“It feels like more than 10 years [since those movies], honestly,” says Weaving, sporting a grizzly beard that makes him look more like one of the film’s dwarves. “But it’s funny, in some ways it’s like slipping an old shoe on. … Certainly coming back here and seeing everyone again felt like no time had passed in some ways.”
Ask Weaving about having seen the film for the first time the previous evening, though, and he immediately reverts to the schoolboy who fell in love with J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.” “I felt like a little kid when I was watching it last night,” he says. “I thought this really takes you back to watching movies with big, wide eyes.”
Weaving has become one of the favorites to play the villain in blockbusters — such as Agent Smith in “The Matrix” movies, the voice of Megatron in “Transformers” or the Red Skull in last year’s “Captain America: The First Avenger.” But the Australian-based actor never intended to become a Hollywood staple.
It just sort of happened after the critical acclaim that came out of his breakthrough turn as a drag queen in 1994’s “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”
He felt uneasy signing on for what would become his signature role in “The Matrix” films, as the indomitable Agent Smith, until he read the now-famous interrogation speech in the script that felt like a scene from a play.
“Feels like I’ve run two or three different strands as an actor,” he says, devoting different parts of his year to national theater and art-house movies in his native Australia and big-budget international movies like this year’s “Cloud Atlas.”
“It’s really radically different worlds that I occupy at different times of the year, and I try to jump from one to another.”
He likes to meander in his career paths, but it’s no surprise Weaving ended up back in Rivendell.
“I always felt like when I left Wellington after ‘Lord of the Rings,’ I always knew I’d be back,” he said.