Agent Smith in The Matrix. Elrond in Lord of the Rings. Red Skull in the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger.
Of all the great characters versatile actor Hugo Weaving has portrayed, it was one in an Aussie film that he got the most out of – Lionel in 2005’s Little Fish.
“There are some roles you do so far from yourself that there’s a lot of work to do to understand the character and there’s always a major challenge to understanding someone’s psychology, so for me as an actor that’s always the most interesting thing,” Weaving explains to IF.
“And then the attempt to get there is always a struggle and always difficult so I suppose anything that challenges me to really stretch out of my comfort zone is something that is both daunting and stimulating.
“So something like Lionel in Little Fish would probably be the character I would say would be the thing I have sort of gained the most from in a way.”
Lionel is a former rugby star who is addicted to heroin. The film won several IF and AFI Awards and Weaving netted the Best Actor award at both.
That doesn’t say he didn’t love the other characters he has played in his near 40-year career. The Matrix trilogy’s Agent Smith – probably the character Weaving is most famous for – was right up there.
“I enjoyed working on those films enormously because of the Wachowski siblings – they directed and wrote them – and I loved working with them,” Weaving says.
“I enjoyed that character immensely. During the making of the film we had a lot of laughs.”
Working on 2010's remake of The Wolfman was not quite as enjoyable, however, for the Sydney-based actor.
“It was one of those massive budget films that you sort of wish would move quicker and people would communicate better, where talents wouldn’t be as wasted as much as they were,” says Weaving, who starred alongside Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt.
“It’s always very fascinating working on those big budget films – you learn a lot but they’re also frustrating compared to some smaller budget films where people tend to work better, communicate better and it’s generally a more enjoyable experience all round.
“But it was great to work with people like Anthony Hopkins – he was a wonderful, wonderful man, it was wonderful to meet Emily and work with her and to meet Joe [Johnston] who then directed Captain America too.
“So it was really good people working on that project – extraordinary people with extraordinary talent – but yeah I can’t say it was the most enjoyable experience of my life (laughs).”
We will have more from our chat with Hugo Weaving online before the release of Oranges and Sunshine early next month.