Hugo Weaving certainly knows how to pick a film role. Whether he is roaming Middle Earth as an elf leader, riding a hot pink bus through the Aussie outback in feathers and diamantes, or battling a heroin addiction on the streets of Western Sydney, the lives of his characters are never dull. The same can be said of his latest character V, a masked freedom fighter in the new blockbuster "V for Vendetta" – a film that has propelled Weaving to leading man status in Tinseltown. yourMovies is proud to feature this EXCLUSIVE online chat with the man himself.
Q: Was it a challenge to act behind a mask throughout this film?
HW: Mmm. It’s interesting you should say that because John Hurt, who is also in this film, playing the Chancellor, played the Elephant Man, and then his face was never revealed. So there probably are a few challenges. But generally his was a fantastic performance. And all the emotion beneath that mask came through. Because he’s in contact with the life that character has led and what that character feels.
For me, working in this mask was obviously a challenge. It’s obviously a challenge not being able to express feelings and thoughts through your eyes and facial movements. But you don’t really think technically about that as an actor anyway. You engage with what you’re saying, you engage with the ideas and you engage with the other actor, you engage with what you’re trying to do to them and so there was really no difference between playing this character and any other character, fundamentally.
Fundamentally, it’s exactly the same. But the mask didn’t work if there were little movements like that, or bouncing head movements. It didn’t work when it was just very, very still all the time. Stillness worked occasionally. But we found that punctuating movements seemed to work well, and so did other more fluid movements. It just gave the mask a little bit of life. But if I thought about it technically, it didn’t really work. If I keyed into what he was saying, then it seemed to start to work.
Q: What fascinated you about the film and about the character?
HW: Well, the thing that fascinated me about the character was two-fold. One was the challenge of working that mask and making that work. The second was the character. He was so multidimensional that he was both a vengeful character and a figure of hope. And he was a wounded man and a very theatrical character. So, he meant many, many different characters rolled into one. The other thing that attracted me to the film was the ideas that it incorporated and there were many. And really central to that was this idea that governments should be responsive to the people that they represent.
Q: What was it like working with Natalie Portman, and what does she bring to the film?
HW: Natalie was delightful, and is delightful to be with. She’s a very intelligent woman. She’s very sweet, very, very generous. She’s very kind. And she’s warm, and she’s funny. So, all those things make it very easy to like her. And easy to work with. And she’s a sensitive soul and I think she has a very easy facility with her emotions. So, as an actress, you couldn’t really ask for a better package. And I think she brings all that to the role of Evey. Evey is someone who moves from one place to a very different place by the end of the film. She’s tortured by V, just as V is being tortured by others. He takes her through a kind of rebirthing process, if you like, and she comes out the other end and is fundamentally changed by him, as he is by her. And I think she understood that journey pretty well – not that she’d gone through that journey herself personally, but I think she understood that that was the character’s journey. With such an easy facility with her emotions, and being an intelligent woman, she understands the requirements of the role, and also she understands how to express whatever she needs to from moment to moment, how to be in front of a camera.
"V for Vendetta" releases in cinemas on March 30.