WHOWeekly Magazine (No.487)
July 2, 2001
As he prepares for The Matrix 2 and 3, the versatile Hugo Weaving, now gracing movie screens in the Australian romantic comedy Russian Doll, talks to Julietta Jameson.
It must be weird talking about Russian Doll since you’ve been preparing for The Matrix 2 and 3 in the States since October.
It’s always weird to talk about your past movies because as an actor, you kind of leave it behind.
"We did Russian Doll so long ago …"
How did you prepare for your role as a private investigator in Russian Doll?
"I found out a bit about it but really only what was necessary for the script. What was more central to the script was the fact that he wanted to be a writer and he wanted to be in love and find the right woman.
I didn’t believe [director] Stav [Kazantzidis] when he told me that most private investigators still use a lot of video cameras through people’s windows, but they do. It’s all about chasing people’s partners. Maybe people feel they need to know everything and then arm themselves and work out what they’re going to do before they say to their spouse, ‘I know all about you and I’m going to do this.’ They want the upper hand.
Having information about our lives is really important. That’s what it’s all about really, bringing some power back."
Well, Russian Doll deals with some of this stuff.
"David Wenham’s character is a person who drags everyone into deceit. You know, we can be so cruel to each other in the name of being kind. ‘I don’t really want to hurt that person so I won’t tell them what I really feel’. So then you leave that person living in a fantasy world and they do start making decisions based on premises that aren’t real.
It’s so cruel."
So when are you back in Australia Hugo?
We have to be back by the end of June. I think tax reasons, but I’m not sure. Not my tax, but the film has to be going in Sydney.
What about your training? How many hours a day do you train?
We train from ten till four. I’m very fit I have to say. I’m really healthy. I look pretty good.
You’re feeling a bit spunky?
I’m feeling a bit spunky, yes, but I really don’t know much about martial arts, actually. I’m trying to learn a particular fight and I’m trying to learn choreography, like a dance piece really.
If you have to do a dance for a film or for a play, you learn that and you make it look as if, ‘Wow! You can do that so well,’ or ‘Wow, he does that Kung Fu so much, he must be brilliant at martial arts.’
But actually, you’re useless. You just learn the moves." (laughs)
So we’re not heading for a Van Damme-esque period in your career?
"Those guys are probably as useless as me. They’ve got stuntmen who look pretty much the same as them who do all the hard bits and get pummelled and they step in for the close-up. Maybe that’s not true.
I don’t know, but the reason why we’re training so long for The Matrix is because the fights have become so much more complex than the fights for the last one. We are doing two films and the choreography is more extraordinary than the last one and more extraordinary than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It’s the same choreographer. So it just means there’s a lot to learn, a lot to do and a lot to get on top of and sometimes you think you’re not getting on top of it at all and that may well be true, so you might work out another way of doing it.
But by and large, as well as learning particular kicks and punches, we’re doing a lot of wire work. So you’re kind of flying and jumping and punching in the air and landing.
There is a lot to do and a lot to learn and a lot to do to make you look as if you’ve done it for many years."
And then of course, there’s the acting! But that’s not important.
(Laughs) "That’s just up to you to do that. That’s my main focus. Obviously, not in terms of the time dedicated, but to me it’s more important than anything else and I’ll do my best at the Kung Fu but it’s not really where my main interest lies or my main focus as an actor.
And also, we’ve established this character so it’s not like starting from scratch with the acting. We do know the world and we know where we are and we’ve all worked together before so theoretically that should make it all easier. Although, funnily enough, the second time around, there’s different pressures on you and different expectations you put on yourself. I suppose what I’m saying is, I can’t wait to start because the build up has been so long. I actually can’t wait to just jump in at the deep end.