March 10, 2015
Hugo Weaving joins RN Breakfast to discuss Endgame, his new play at the Sydney Theatre Company.
FK: Hugo Weaving joins me in the breakfast studio, it’s lovely to have you Hugo, thanks for joining us.
HW: Thank you Fran.
FK: It’s really a year of Samuel Beckett for you, “Waiting for Godot” in London and now “Endgame” in Sydney – why always Beckett?
HW: For me I suppose the whole thing has come out of doing “Waiting for Godot” a couple of years back and that was sort of my first foray into Beckett, and as a result of being involved with that production, which came out of a production of “Uncle Vanya” at the Sydney Theatre Company, as a result of doing that I sort of engaged on, I embarked on a Beckett project of my own, just trying to basically read all of his works because I’d realised I’d seen some of his plays but I hadn’t read anything else of his.
FK: And as you read them, as you become a student of Beckett, what do you think about it?
HW: Mainly the humanity in them and the humour, people imagine he is quite dour and quite serious, but I think his works are incredibly funny. He deals with his own failures and his own stupidity, and he put that into his work, his characters are intensely human and failed, and I think that’s why we kind of recognise and love them.
FK: As an actor, it must be challenging though, just to keep up with that language sometimes, that script is…do you find the best way to treat that is to deliver the words and let the words do the work?
HW: If you imagine that Beckett is first and foremost a poet, which he was and there’s a…people I know have a reverence for poetry as well, but if you understand that he’s essentially a poet and that, that he he felt the poet’s job was not to clarify meaning but to suggest meaning or suggest…stick with impressions of something, then I suppose that’s the best way to approach his work rather than try and pin it down, and put something on it that it can’t necessarily hold, to try and understand the many levels within the one piece and to then move forward incrementally from one moment to the next. So he has, his works have many more highs and lows in them than most people would assume, I think his works are really quite, quite riotously funny at times, but also…
FK: Beckett was sort of like that, he was always trying to cast clowns into them
HW: Oh yeah, he was always interested in Chaplin and the sort of the great clowns of his day. And he famously actually ended up working with Buster Keaton, he cast Buster Keaton, the only film that Beckett was involved in making of his own work was a film which starred Buster Keaton, and Buster Keaton alone. Keaton was a bit non-plussed by Beckett I think but, you know…
FK: Who are you more…are you that theatre actor or are you the film actor who goes in “Captain America” or as I say “Wolfman” or something
HW: I think the majority of things I involve myself with are either theatre or smaller budget Australian films, and occasionally I sort of made forays into bigger budget studio pics coming out of the States and those are often the films that some people know me by because they become very, you know, a lot of people have seen them
FK: They are huge
HW: So…other people have the opposite reaction to you, they go “oh I didn’t know you did theatre” or “I didn’t know you did little, you know, Australian films”.
FK: Do you prefer film to theatre?
HW: Ehm….I’ve been doing quite a lot of theatre of late, but I may well after this Beckett foray, take a little break from theatre for a while because as, I do love film very much here and the film industry is always gonna be struggling in this country, we have a small population, it’s dominated by American product, it’s very hard to be heard but I would always fight for the Australian film industry ’cause I think our stories are particular to us and if you can’t express your own culture what’s the point, you know, so I’ll always be working in this country in film and however that, whatever course that industry takes, that’s what I’ll always be involved with.