Hugo Weaving’s is the voice of reason in the new remake of The Wolfman: As Inspector Abberline, he tries to bring law and order to a rash of murders on the moor. But Weaving hints at a criminalist future for his Wolfman character, and reflects on returning to Elrond in Guillermo del Toro’s The Hobbit.
Q: Did you watch any previous portrayals of Abberline, such as Johnny Depp’s take on him in From Hell?
A: I had. I’d seen From Hell, I’d see Michael Caine in Jack the Ripper, but I didn’t want to reference those other movies too much unless it was just to evoke a particular style. The reason why Abberline and Ripper are even mentioned in The Wolfman is that it evokes a whole other world for you. When the film is set in Blackmoor, you can feel The Hound of the Baskervilles; and when the film is set in gas-lit London, you’re in Jeckyll and Hyde territory. So setting the film in the Victorian era and using Abberline as a character helps conjure up pictures of all sorts of other films associated with the genre.
Q: Speaking of genres, you’re not usually associated with horror as much as scifi and fantasy…
A: Maybe for certain people. I’ve really only done two films — both trilogies, both big budget trilogies — that I would consider scifi, so certainly not to my mind. I suppose I’m best known for The Matrix? I try to vary the work I do and take on different roles. The problem is that I think we endow actors with all sorts of qualities we see in them from their previous work and perhaps their private lives, and that becomes a dilemma. There are times when your past characters get in the way, and you want to be able to disappear into the [new] character.
Q: And yet you’ll be taking on the role of Elrond once again in The Hobbit. Do you look forward to being able to explore that character through fresh eyes?
A: One thing that films can’t usually do, that television series like Mad Men can, is give you enough time for a character. Certain things can only be revealed over a period of time. And with The Hobbit, since it’s set before The Lord of the Rings, the only characters who can appear are immortal or ageless, so that’s Elrond and Gandalf. Only this time, the book is different. It’s a more innocent world, and a slightly different time, so Elrond’s concerns are going to be different. He’s more of a star-gazing dude in the book. So I would assume it’s going to be a little less heavy.
Q: You haven’t read the script yet?
A: No. I’d be interested to see what Guillermo del Toro is going to bring to it, what material they’re going to bring in to expand the second Hobbit, and what that will do to the character.
Q: What would you want to see happen to any of the other characters you’ve ever played, if there were further sequels to them?
A: I don’t know! With Abberline, if they were to do a sequel to The Wolfman they would have to come up with a really great story — something about the internal journey of the character, because here you have a man who is a lawmaker and what does he have to do to reconcile that. But there won’t be any other Matrix films! Agent Smith is gone, you can rest assured about that. [Laughs]
Q: Not to be too spoilerish, but if there were a sequel to The Wolfman, it would have to center around your character…
A: That’s what’s so interesting about that whole movie, with this exploration of all those animal instincts we have, and the so-called beast busting out, it’s really a psychological dilemma, isn’t it? And here you have Abberline, who is supposed to be the rational one, as the investigator who is upholding the law, as the investigator who had looked into the Ripper murders. He’s the last one you’d want perpetuating even more crimes!
Q: A lot of critics recently put both the Lord of the Rings and Matrix trilogies on their lists for the top movies of the decade. How do you feel about that?
A: I don’t know! I don’t normally associate them with myself — I enjoyed Agent Smith enormously, but he’s the brainchild of Larry and Andy Wachowski. And Elrond, that was very much Peter Jackson’s baby. They’re the ones who made the impact, not me. Like Agent Smith, I’m just one of many agents who helped create those illusions. [Laughs]