Interview by Alana Lee
Nobody knows better than Australian actor Hugo weaving that things come in threes – he'll star in the concluding part of "Lord of the Rings" later this year as Elrond, but before that has two villainous turns as Agent Smith in "The Matrix Reloaded".
Why did you give Agent Smith his distinct way of speaking?
We had a five-month training period initially in the first film and we were spending a lot of time with Larry and Andy Wachowski. Larry and Andy have particularly deep, slow-speaking voices. I wanted Smith not to sound like a human being. I wanted him to sound like he was slightly odd, like he was a spaced-out newsreader or something like that. It's great fun to play him.
What surprised you about the sequels?
Structurally, this one surprised me quite a lot. But then actually, in retrospect, there's no real surprise. We get to go into Zion, so we're in a totally different world. The love story is very, very strong in this one. I think you just get a deepening of the understanding of the architecture of The Matrix and you get to meet the architect of The Matrix.
Ewan McGregor recently said that working on "Star Wars" was an honour, but sometimes quite dull because it involved working with a blue screen. Is that something you could relate to working on "The Matrix"?
I think working on "The Matrix" was probably a very different experience. With "Star Wars" they were always working with blue screen, but we were always working on sets. Having said that, there are elements in each scene where you transfer to a blue screen effect, but you always had an understanding of the physical world around you, and there was always the actor opposite you.
On set, did you feel the pressure of having to live up to the original film?
Well, it wasn't a matter of trying to better the first film, but to continue the story. The story was never meant to be completed in one film, but in three, and that was our focus. And it was great to get back together again. You know, it wasn't even like we were starring in a new film, because we all knew each other. So actually, that took a lot of pressure off.
What was it like seeing a 100 of you on screen – and did you just pick up the one pay cheque?
Yes, unfortunately, just the one pay cheque! But I thought the idea of it was very funny. Then, when I first started to see dummies of myself, as Smith, and all these other people dressed up like Smith as well, it was bizarre. But after a while I just got used to seeing all these Smiths and I wasn't Smith anymore. My experience of it, actually, was working a lot with other people. It wasn't until I saw the final film put together when I got the full effect, and I had a good laugh.
How does it feel to be two of the biggest trilogies ever?
I don't know. I guess I judge my films by how pleased I am with the work I do, so it's kind of on another level. If they do well at the box office, then that's great. Then I'm really pleased about that too.