In his cornucopia of film, television and stage roles Weaving has disappeared seemingly without effort into character, from the likes of the nefarious Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy to the elf lord Elrond in The Lord of The Rings and last year’s brittle crim-on-the-run ‘Kev’ in the Australian indie Last Ride.
This year he adds the dashing Scotland Yard Inspector Aberline to the list, a veteran of the Jack the Ripper murders now lycanthrope skeptic in a darkly gothic re-imagining of the 1941 horror classic The Wolfman.
“He’s an intelligent man,” said Weaving of Aberline during a break in filming, with more than a passing resemblance to a 19th Century Nick Cave, replete with mutton chops and handle bar beard. “He’s streetwise, he’s canny, he can be charming and he’s also incredibly skeptical.”
Weaving joins an A-grade cast including Che’s Benicio Del Toro as the afflicted titular character, Sir Anthony Hopkins as his father and The Devil Wears Prada’s Emily Blunt as the corseted love interest. While the cast remained intact, the production had its fair share of turmoil, with a change in directors, a revolving door of composers and extensive reshoots early last year.
“The reshoots cost $30 million!” marvels Weaving. “They closed off huge parts of London at night. And the paraphernalia…..it was wonderful, incredible stuff. They had a bank of Winnebago’s for the actors and they were huge.”
But Weaving is not your pampered Hollywood type and could be found on the sidelines of The Wolfman set soaking up the atmosphere rather than the spoils of excess in a Winnebago. He’s simply not interested in that side of the industry.
“I don’t really think most actors are or even the big stars,” says Weaving. “I think all that stuff comes with Hollywood agents, it’s something that comes with the territory but I don’t think it’s necessarily come from the actor themselves. Why would you want to sit on your own in a bloody trailer? I’d rather share a trailer with 5 actors or 10, like a green room and then you’ve got one vehicle rather than 10. The waste of money is extraordinary.”
The 49 year old actor is far more interested in making sure he can turn a character – be it hardened crim or werewolf hunter – on and off on cue.
“It’s sort of like being on the western front in World War 1,” says Weaving. “[Soldiers] were in a constant state of readiness or fear or awareness. I’m not saying that being in a film is like being on the western front but it’s to do with energy levels on a set. You need to be prepared to go now.”
While he enjoyed his time in London during the four month shoot for The Wolfman, Weaving – who is rumoured to be reprising Elrond in the big screen adaptation of The Hobbit – says if given the choice, he’d likely choose a small Australian indie over a big-budget blockbuster.
“It’s working with a team on a small budget film that I really love. You just feel much more used and utilised and stimulated and needed and that’s what we all want.”
– Interview by James Mitchell