May 1, 2014
Hugo Weaving talks about the hectic days and relaxing nights on the shoot of the Australian film Healing, also starring Don Hany and Xavier Samuel.
When Hugo Weaving was filming Peaches around a decade ago, director Craig Monahan handed him the script for another project – Healing.
It was inspired by a newspaper article Monahan had read, about a bird rehabilitation program at a minimum-security prison farm in Victoria, and the two got talking.
“I quite quickly got the low down on the whole bird program,” Weaving says.
Over the years, the pair, who first worked together on the award-winning film The Interview, would meet up and chat about Healing, talking through each draft.
“He likes working with me, I think,” Weaving says jokingly of the collaboration.
“Obviously we’ve done three things together, so he will use me as a sounding board to see what I think and (when he) wants criticism and wants feedback, so that’s absolutely part of the process.”
In Healing, Weaving plays Matt, a senior officer at Won Wron Correctional Centre, a low-security prison that prepares prisoners for the transition back into society.
It’s there that he puts Viktor (Don Hany), a man at the tail-end of an 18-year prison sentence, in charge of the unique bird program, which includes helping rehabilitate an injured Wedge-tailed Eagle named Yasmin.
Monahan says the film is inspired by true events, rather than being completely based on them.
“Viktor initially, he was based on one person but he’s more of a composite… of a couple of people now,” he says, as are the other main inmates.
“But Hugo’s character Matt’s probably more real, based on a particular person we met and the program itself is of course real.”
Weaving says the shoot itself was tough. At just five weeks, there was a lot to fit in.
“It was a very, very rapid shoot,” he says.
“And to work with that many characters and those birds.. to pull that off was a real tribute to Craig.”
However after a demanding day’s shoot, Weaving found the evening’s were the opposite.
“Don and I, and (co-stars) Mark Winter and Xavier Samuel, had the great good fortune to be billeted together on this wonderful, beautiful old farm with vineyards and a great retired couple who made their own wine,” he says.
“And so we had a beautiful dog and a cat and we’d sit out at night after work and have a few glasses of wine, sort of debrief the day and prep the next day.
“It was a very lovely experience.”
* Healing releases in Australian cinemas on May 8.