March 25, 2012
Dangerous games are afoot as Hugo Weaving plays an iconic lothario.
Hugo Weaving is looking fit and sparkly-eyed as he emerges from rehearsals at the Sydney Theatre Company. He’s given up coffee and says he’s never felt better.
”I used to have two double espressos a day. I gave that up, had headaches for five days but now I’m feeling great. ”
It’s a good thing he’s feeling fine because the 51-year-old actor has a huge year ahead of him. Right now he’s preparing for the role of the devilish seducer Vicomte de Valmont in Christopher Hampton’s play Les Liaisons Dangereuses, opposite Pamela Rabe and Justine Clarke. The play was adapted into the 1988 film Dangerous Liaisons starring John Malkovich, Glenn Close and Michelle Pfeiffer, and later inspired Cruel Intentions, a high-school drama flick starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe.
”Valmont is one of the greatest lovers in all literature,” Weaving says. ”The language in the play is really delicious and very seductive, very sexy and exciting. The two main characters are quite monstrous and yet you want to follow their plans and their intrigues. It’s really juicy.”
Theatre audiences were thrilled by Weaving’s drunken yet dashing Dr Astrov in last year’s Uncle Vanya. The play went to Washington where The New York Times critic Ben Brantley described the kiss he shared on stage with Cate Blanchett as ”one of the saddest, funniest, sexiest and most gracefully awkward misfires in the history of kissing”.
”The kiss was different every night and it was always fun,” Weaving says. ”Cate would run across the stage and jump into my arms and we collapsed onto a bed. There was one night where I whacked Cate’s head on the back of the bed and drew blood and I always managed to whack my knee on the floor and I’d hobble around. It was a really playful production.”
Uncle Vanya returns to the US in July for a season in New York. Weaving will reprise his role. ”I learnt to let it all go in that production. Chekhov is so elusive and always changing and lively. I love the unpredictability of that play.”
Weaving’s next film, Cloud Atlas, is already generating Oscar buzz. Due for release in October, the film is adapted from the critically-acclaimed novel by David Mitchell and has an all-star cast including Susan Sarandon, Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, Halle Berry and Ben Wishaw. The epic story has multiple storylines spanning several centuries.
”It was fiendishly difficult but it has great, fabulous actors and a fantastic script,” Weaving says. ”The actors play more than one role and there’s quite a lot of prosthetic changes. We’re like souls reborn through time. It was a wonderful experience.”
Weaving is also involved in the two coming Hobbit films, directed by Peter Jackson in New Zealand. ”I was over there with Cate last year, we went for a couple of weeks just to do a small block. It was great to see everyone again.”
Les Liaisons Dangereuses plays at the Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf 1 from April 5. Tickets $45-$90. Bookings (02) 9250 1777.