Sydney Morning Herald
October 21, 1987
IN truth, Hugo Weaving has a boyish vulnerability that belies his present role as the dissipated womaniser in the Nimrod’s production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses – a play by Christopher Hampton adapted from an 18th-century novel about elegant over-rich people who can’t get enough sex.
Perhaps because of a dearth of urbane sophisticated actors on Sydney stages, Weaving has been called upon frequently in recent years to play much older men.
"It’s because I’m English, I think," he broods.
"Well actually, I’ve spent more time here than in England, but I had an English education so I play a lot of upper-class people who are generally a little bit nasty.
"That’s the way I’ve been cast.
"It’s starting to irritate me.
"It’s starting to bore me.
"They’ve all been fantastic roles, but I’d like to think people can see me as doing something else.
"And I know that with Valmont (the insatiable Vicomte in Les Liaisons), if I was 40, I would be doing it twice as well because he’s really over the hill. He’s really bored with life, and I can imagine that and do it, but …"
A certain fey ennui distinguishes Weaving’s off-stage style, and with the faint toffie-drawl in his voice, the air of a gentleman actor is complete.
But he is hardly over the hill. Indeed, Weaving, who graduated from NIDA in 1981, has been steadily working his way up with major roles in TV, such as the coming mini-series Melba, directed by Rodney Fisher, and films like The Right Hand Man and Margaret Fink’s last epic, For Love Alone.
"I’ve worked constantly, which is great," he said, "but I think a lot of actors find themselves being slotted into certain types of roles and it’s up to you to break out of them somehow.
"I’ve no idea how I’m going to do it.
"At least in theatre you can stretch ages and looks, but in film, particularly in Australia, that’s where the meat market is.
"On the other hand, with theatre you often feel you’re doing it for its own sake.
"Sometimes theatre doesn’t seem to have any repercussions at all.
"You think: ‘Who is coming to see this, anyway; do they actually like it?What’s the point, why are we all doing this?’
"I don’t think it’s because theatre is past it.
"If you go to London theatre, it’s incredibly exciting. There are so many things going on.
"Perhaps it’s just that Sydney is very small. And too many directors in Sydney have limited imaginations," Weaving said.
Despite a long list of theatre credits, from Private Lives for the State Theatre Company of South Australia, which toured Alice Springs, to Midsummer Night’s Dream last year for the Nimrod, in which he played that old saturnine favourite, Oberon, Weaving’s heart belongs to the world of film.
"I find film more challenging. The whole thing can be turned on its head, scenes are juggled around, something you felt was crucial to the development of the character will be taken out, and it’s very difficult for the actor.
"You have to be enormously flexible, relaxed and trusting, even with people you don’t want to trust."
After six successful years in the business, he admits to the odd frustration.
"You get to the point where you start thinking about getting your own things off the ground.
"I started a script last year with someone else.
"It was very good actually, but we didn’t finish it."
Meanwhile, until November 7, you can see Hugo Weaving elegantly winding bedsheets around swooning females in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which has entered the last weeks of an extended season at the Seymour Centre.