Margaret Pomeranz interviews director Glendyn Ivin and actor Hugo Weaving.
MARGARET: What did you see in Kev, tell me, that attracted you to this role, because he is such an ugly character?
HUGO WEAVING: Yeah, he is, but he’s also very conflicted. I mean, and in the script he’s conflicted. It’s very clear to me that he’s someone who is on the run from something. You don’t really know what that is, and he’s dragging his son along with him, and obviously he’s got a problem with controlling impulses and his temper and anger and he’s a particularly hard-bitten man who’s spent time inside and a hard life, you know, but then there are other elements to him.
The more I was reading it – sort of, you’re seeing his sense of humour, his genuine love for his son, his desire to give his son a better life than he – to be a better father to his son than his father obviously was to him, and so it was the complexities and the conflict within the character, to me, that were really interesting.
What is the mask that, sort of, Australian males present and what are the realities and what are the weaknesses that they try to hide and what are the things that they hate about themselves that they get angry about revealing and what are the things that they can’t dare show and so that was the thing that interested me in him.
GLENDYN IVIN: Forming a relationship with someone is more important than just having the best actor you can and so I was – when we first met, it was really – and I’m sure it was for Hugo as well, but it’s more like that initial meeting felt like it was more like let’s suss each other out and see if we can talk to each other.
And I think we just ended up realising that we share a sensibility and emotionally we’re attracted to the same sorts of films and I think he saw some of the similar stuff in the script that I was really wanting to do that isn’t actually on the page.
Dealing with Hugo, because he’s such a great actor, and then dealing with Tom, who’s this fresh little kid who’s never done anything, it was really interesting sort of watching them work with each other as well.
Like, Hugo you could go off and talk about subtext and character for days or hours on end and Tom it was really direct and, like, he had a concentration span of a 10-year-old so he didn’t really want to know any of that stuff.
But I could see that Hugo and Tom – I definitely – I mean obviously Tom learnt a lot from Hugo but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that Hugo learnt something from Tom, as well. I mean, kids are just present and they just are and I think that’s 90 per cent of what an actor tries to do is actually be in the moment.
MARGARET: There are scenes that are very confronting with that kid. Now, how do you, as a filmmaker and as a responsible person towards a kid…
GLENDYN IVIN: Yeah.
MARGARET: ….how do you deal with that?
GLENDYN IVIN: Tom was really worried about it and we – you know, obviously we devised a way that we could be as rough as possible to him and, you know, he wasn’t going to get hurt at all. Like, at all.
But what was surprising there was that emotionally it was really draining for him and for Hugo as well, because at that point in the film they were really close together. Like, so it is just a really hard thing to do. I don’t know. It’s a tricky thing for me to talk about, because I just felt like you have to just treat it in a very real way but at the same time not hold back and not just suggest that this is what’s happening.
So actually try and see it in its entirety for the length that these things happen and in that sort of brutality. But with all the film trying to find a way of – you know, it’s really brutal but try and find a very tender way of approaching that.
We came up with this term in pre-production where I was like, you know, it’s – I don’t want to make this this beautiful film, and I don’t want to make it a brutal film but maybe we should make a "brutiful" film. I’ve tried to find a way that it sits in the middle. Like, you’re seeing all this horrible stuff, but it’s being presented in a way that doesn’t have this pretty veneer over the top of it, but it’s sort of not being presented in this sort of gritty kind of harsh way, as well.