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Hugo Weaving is in Cloud Atlas (Tom Tykwer, Wachowskis, 2012) in half a dozen parts, one for each of the six stories, in each case playing a villain, so it’s not an inappropriate time to look at the parts of his career.
I’ve seen his first two major films only recently. He’s good from the very beginning, carrying The City’s Edge (Ken Quinnell, 1983) without any false steps—leading a feature-length film at the age of only 23 is an impressive achievement. He has to share the film with Sam Neill in For Love Alone (Stephen Wallace, 1986) but not usually the screen, and his unpleasant character makes an impression on the movie as well as on young Helen Buday’s central character. He does share the screen with Russell Crowe in Proof (Jocelyn Moorhouse, 1991): it’s them against Geneviève Picot. Over her character theirs win; and it’s a draw between the two young men in the acting stakes. In that film HW takes a traditional acting test—playing a blind person: he passes. Everyone saw him in Priscilla (Stephan Elliott, 1994) so I don’t need to comment on that. But not everybody saw The Interview (Craig Monahan, 1998) in which he beats Tony Martin, both as character and as actor—and Martin is very strong in his role. (I’m leaving out a lot of work in this very brief survey.) Then there’s a romcom, Russian Doll (Stavros Kazantzidis, 2001) and … it’s all over. Weaving gets his first part in a Peter Jackson film, and doesn’t need to act in small dramatic films ever again. After all the Lords of the Rings there are all the Matrices, and now all the Hobbits. ... However, in between HW still finds time for admirable work in such small films as Last Ride (Glendyn Ivin, 2009) and even on TV as a cannibal in the opening ep of Rake in 2010. I’m particularly looking forward to Mystery Road, a new film from Ivan Sen due out this year. [I wrote this in 2013.]
And so it goes. Hugo Weaving is a superb character actor with expressive features and a useful voice. He has a long way still to go, and we may not have seen his best.
Update. The most recent of his films I have seen is Healing (Craig Monahan, 2014). Another workmanlike performance. I recently asked an actor friend why Peter O'Toole never got an Oscar. He said: because he was always good. Hugo Weaving is like that.
Another update. Weaving says he admires Ivan Sen (as I do) but I'm sorry he played a role in Loveland (2022) which is not good. Not even Weaving can retrieve the film from failure.
Garry Gillard | New: 24 August, 2014 | Now: 31 March, 2022