The New York Times
By DAVE KEHR.
November 12, 2003
Hugo Weaving, the Australian actor who plays the memorably malignant Agent Smith in the "Matrix" trilogy, did not join the hoopla surrounding the release of the final episode, "The Matrix Revolutions."
He has work to do instead. Since Oct. 22 Mr. Weaving has been onstage in his hometown, Sydney, in the Sydney Theater Company’s production of Tom Stoppard’s 1982 play, "The Real Thing." The run, largely sold out, continues through Dec. 21. By then Mr. Weaving will also have missed the promotional frenzy surrounding the final chapter of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, in which he has a substantial role as Elrond, the elfish Lord of Rivendell.
"It might be a happy coincidence, but it’s just a coincidence," the soft-spoken Mr. Weaving said by telephone from Sydney. "It was something I agreed to do last year. I certainly don’t tailor my work to suit press junkets or anything like that. I mean, I’m an actor, and I like to work first and foremost. And if that means I can’t promote a film, then tough. What’s most important for me is the actual work, rather than the promotion of it."
For Mr. Weaving, film has some advantages over theater. "With a large theater, there is a necessity to make a performance travel to everyone in that audience," he said. "You risk losing an intimacy, which you can achieve, or hope to achieve, on film. That’s something I find increasingly attractive. I’m more interested in being, really, rather than performing. I’m interested in the minutiae of human psychology, and that seems to travel better in a small space."
Human psychology, though, has little bearing on Agent Smith, an evil computer program that takes the form of a slender, sinister man in sunglasses and a black suit. "With something like `The Matrix,’ psychology wasn’t really part of the brief," Mr. Weaving said. "We’re talking about something much broader. To be a villain and to enjoy myself — those were the two obvious things I had to do. There’s an element of cartoon in the style, so I wasn’t really thinking deeply about the psychology of that character."
"But certainly," he added, "I’m more attracted to a complex psychology, and if that character is a distance from me, then I’ll attempt to find out more about that person and what that person would be thinking or what they’d be doing with their day."
"The job becomes more like a detective tracking down and trying to understand particular thoughts and emotions a character might be having. I find myself moving closer and closer to that other world, to that other person."