Hugo Weaving Talks The Wolfman - CanMag (09feb10)
Hugo Weaving Hunts The Wolfman
“The strength of the science fiction genre, particularly, is that it actually is a way of looking at who we are now by putting us in a future environment, like with V for Vendetta, and enables us to talk about where we are now,” he said. “You’re talking about things that we’re always interested in. I think all these genres have a particular strength to them because they’re actually deeply interested in very basic human considerations. This horror genre has to do with the extent to which we are civilized, the extent to which we can repress our instincts and how we control those things. They also talk about the deep-seated fears that we might hold as individuals and as a society. Fantasies do that as well. In a more fantastic film, you can highlight certain things about who we are now. If a film isn’t really talking about who we are and what our psychologies are, they we’re probably not interested in it. We’re interested in our own natures. So, they all have a similarity, even though the structures of them are quite different.”
You might also notice a similarity in Weaving’s voice, although he wasn’t trying to say “Mr. Anderson” again. “It probably reminded you because it’s the same actor, but I certainly didn’t think about that. One was an English detective and the other one was a strangely constructed character from nowhere, really. If you’re talking about a style of speech, there is a deliberate nature to both of those characters. That’s certainly true. Smith is much more controlling than Abberline. In a way, Smith has something in common with Benicio’s character, in that he ends up being taken over by human feelings that he doesn’t want to have to deal with. But, Aberline was an English copper, really.”
His look was distinct in the pantheon of Weaving’s creations too, with a handlebar moustache to boot. “Abberline is based, pretty loosely, on Detective Inspector Abberline, who headed up the White Chapel murders of 1889, which became known as the Jack the Ripper murders. I thought I’d better do a little bit of research into the real man to see if there was anything pertinent about him that could be used in the film, and there was a little bit, but not a great deal. The most important thing about using Abberline in this film was that it immediately, in the viewers mind, leads you to start thinking about London streets and that whole horror that was Jack the Ripper. It adds a great bit of flavor. But, the one thing I did take from the real Inspector Abberline was the mutton chop whiskers, which was based on a sketch that I had seen of him. So, that was my input into the visual character.”
In a sense, he’s the film’s villain because you’re rooting for The Wolfman. In reality, if there’s a Wolfman around, you probably want Abberline on the case. “I don’t think about things like that. Unless you’re playing the villain who’s obviously the villain, and that’s part of your job description, I tend not to see characters in terms of being good or evil. I just think about, ’What is it that they’re trying to do?’ In a way, Benicio’s character is fighting himself, and so is Abberline, so they’re both actually fighting the same thing. They just don’t know it. His struggle is an internal one, with his own demons, passions and desires, and Abberline is the much more rational one asking, ‘Who perpetrated these murders, and how are we going to catch the murderer?’ I never saw it in terms of them being on opposite sides, really. It’s set up, in the initial meeting, that Abberline probably, being a detective, is going to suspect the brother of the murdered heir to the family estate, of course, because he’s the most likely suspect. Beyond that, I never really saw them as being in opposition to each other. I think the interesting thing about the genre is that a man is in opposition to himself. That’s what makes Benicio’s character interesting, painful and tragic. It’s an internal struggle. To what extent are we civilized, and to what extent are we animals? Well, we’re animals who have become civilized, so there’s an interesting battle going on in all of us because we are civilized, but we’re also animals.”
The Wolfman opens to theatres on February 12th.
For the trailers, posters, stills and more movie info, go to the The Wolfman Movie Page.