Hugo Weaving plays inspector Aberline in Joe Johnston
Q: How did you get involved in this project?
A: I was sent the script and I really enjoyed the writing. Then I saw it had a fantastic cast and agreed to be in it.
Q: What did you enjoy about the script?
A: I thought it was the right take on the story.
Q: The cast is quite impressive…
A: And all of them were really easy to work with!
Q: Benicio Del Toro is the protagonist and one of the producers of The Wolfman. What did you enjoy about working with him?
A: He is just a very easy guy to be around. I first met him during a meal we had in London, and I thought he was delightful. To be honest, I actually would have liked to have spent more time with him and Anthony.
Q: What was Anthony Hopkins like?
A: He is also a very warm man, and fascinating! He does all these different things. He is an artist and a pretty good musician too. Anthony Hopkins is always so interested and attentive with you - which is such a great quality that not many people have.
Q: And how is Emily Blunt?
A: She is fun, sassy and great to be with!
Q: Talk to us about your character.
A: Inspector Aberline is a very circumspect, intelligent and hard-working detective from Scotland Yard who doesn’t believe in werewolves at all! He is set up in the story in a classical way, because he appears as the rational policeman from London who walks into a country pub surrounded by superstitious locals. I enjoyed where Aberline was at each point, and in many ways I believe he acts as the eyes of the audience.
Q: Are you superstitious?
A: Not really, but I also think there is much more out there than meets the eye. There are many things we don’t know, and that’s why these films are interesting, as they talk about those fears. We demystify things through science and knowledge; but there are all sorts of fears, like the fear of darkness or the unknown – which are essentially the same thing – that propel movies like The Wolfman.
Q: How did you prepare for the role? Did you revisit some of the classic werewolf movies?
A: I did go back and look at the original The Wolf Man from 1941; but I didn’t have much time, so I mostly focused on the script and talked to Joe Johnston about my role.
Q: What do you believe Johnston brought to the project as a Director?
A: I like Joe because he has a great sense of humor. This was a big project, but he seemed to be able to synthesize all the different elements with great ease. We would talk through things and then move on to do them without any fuss. That’s what it should always be like…
Q: Set in Victorian England, The Wolfman has a very classic feel to it.
A: To go in that direction was the best decision they could have made. The dialogues were also a lot about what wasn’t being said, and there is something very classical about that. And from an esthetic point of view, Victorian gas-lit London is a wonderful location for the movie.
Q: And the period of time when the story takes place is also relevant.
A: Yes, because it’s when the modern era was fast approaching, but people were still very superstitious. So, it made sense to have a skeptical scientifically minded detective taking one view and these very superstitious people on the other end.
Q: How would you describe the look of the film?
A: It’s very evocative, dark, moody and romantic. I believe the whole art department is one of the stars of this movie.
Q: The costumes certainly play their role.
A: They are impeccable! And wearing them on some of those locations and sets made it all much easier. It was fascinating to be out in Greenwich late at night with hundreds of extras beautifully dressed and all those carriages and horses.
Q: It must be a luxury for an actor to be able to shoot a film where the action takes place.
A: Yes, and it gives the film so much. I’ll never forget the first day we were up in Chatsworth House, with its dry stonewalls and light-dusted snow on the hills. It was just beautiful!
Q: Would you say that Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, which is the Talbot family manor in the movie, is another character?
A: It is a very important character, because it makes the film what it is. And the sets were so exquisitely detailed, with areas that the camera didn’t even go to.
Q: What makes the werewolf such an iconic monster?
A: Maybe because it asks us to what extent are we animals or can we control our animalistic desires and emotions. It also touches the possibility that we may question if civilization makes us put shackles on ourselves.
Q: Do we all in a way have a werewolf inside us then?
A: I think we all have an animal inside us, and the notion of controlling it is important. But werewolves probably came into being precisely because it’s easier to blame an animal than another human, though some of the greatest things we fear can actually be other people.
Q: This myth also taps into our fascination with the moon.
A: And I believe we don’t fully understand the influence it has on us. I think the moon is really beautiful and I do occasionally have a bit of a howl at it when I’m out in my farm in Australia.
Q: The Wolfman is a classic horror tale, but it also has humor.
A: It does, and Joe Johnston was very clear about the need of those flashes of humor throughout The Wolfman. The drive of a movie like this is to maintain the tension and then release it at the right moment, and one of the ways of doing that is through humor. Hitchcock would do it too! And off camera we also had some laughs. Just being an actor shooting films is kind of a child-like activity, so you have to laugh about it every now and then. I think it’s important not to take oneself too seriously, especially in this profession.