Q&A with ‘Cloud Atlas’ star Hugo Weaving

Hugo Weaving as Bill Smoke in "Cloud Atlas."

Australian actor Hugo Weaving is probably best known as one of pop culture’s most dastardly villains, thanks to “The Matrix.” Despite being a perfectly nice guy in real life, he’s re-teaming with directors the Wachowskis — along with co-director Tom Tykwer — in “Cloud Atlas” to double-down on his bad-guy image, playing not one but six antagonists. We quizzed the Australian actor on taking jobs away from other actors, why the Wachowskis think he’s so good at being bad and what it’s like becoming the face of Anonymous.

What was your reaction to the repertory nature of the production, taking on six different characters yourself?

Very excited, I think. I thought it was a great idea. Because in the book there’s this sense of certain characters having this common birthmark and this idea that souls may be reborn through time, so that’s sort of odd. I mean, now it might seem obvious. “Well, obviously then we can cast actors in each one of the stories.” But actually it’s kind of brilliant piece of thought of a way of expanding the themes without knocking them on the head too much.


But do you feel at least a little bad about taking up so many roles in one movie? There are a lot of out-of-work actors, after all.

This does happen. I remember when I was doing, as a kind of experiment, a production of “Hamlet” as the Elizabethans would’ve done it. The only problem with this idea was that it actually robbed all women of the roles, so it was kind of like this. You think, well these are six characters here and I’m playing all of them. Ah! There’s five actors out of work. It was like, yeah, just because Elizabethan theater didn’t have women onstage, it meant that I was playing Queen Gertrude in a production of “Hamlet,” and it’s a fantastic role for a woman but they didn’t get the gig. So it’s happened to me before. (laughs)

Between the “The Matrix” trilogy and the six villains you play in “Cloud Atlas,” do you worry about what the Wachowskis really think of you?

Yeah, but then there’s the other character I played for them, V in “V for Vendetta.” I mean, he would exist very comfortably alongside a lot of [the protagonists] in this film. No, but ever since I first met Lana and Andy, we’ve laughed a lot and enjoyed each other’s company enormously. So I know what they think of me (laughs), and I’m not concerned that they think I’m like these characters. I mean, Lana did say to me the other night, “Maybe we should find you a more sympathetic character to play next time.”

What’s your opinion on Anonymous appropriating the Guy Fawkes mask from “V for Vendetta”?

Yeah, that’s extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary to see that film have an effect with a certain generation of people. In the film, all the people wearing masks — the “We are Spartacus” bit, that one — It’s that sort of idea. Who’s Spartacus? I’m Spartacus. We’re all Spartacus. It’s the same sort of idea, and it’s similarly linked to the ideas in this film. What is an ocean but a multitude of drops? You can see yourself as an insignificant drop in an ocean, but if you’re with like-minded people, then that drop becomes an ocean and swells and becomes a tsunami for change. And I think that was embodied in “V for Vendetta,” that use of the masks. That Guy Fawkes figure has become a mask, and that mask — and it’s absolutely straight out of the film “V for Vendetta” — that mask has become a uniting symbol for people who would desire change in society, and I think it’s pretty extraordinary.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Protesters say new Met Opera is anti-Semitic

Protesters, including a former mayor and governor, gathered outside of the Metropolitan Opera on Monday afternoon to protest the opening of “The Death of Klinghoffer.”

Local

Brooklyn girl's death ruled a homicide

The New York City Medical Examiner has ruled the death of a Brooklyn toddler a homicide. Jeida Torres, 3, was found bruised and unresponsive Saturday…

Local

New York City continues to prepare for Ebola…

New York City continues to prepare for the possibility of Ebola. There have been numerous scares, but no confirmed cases. Representatives from about 150 unions…

Local

NYPD nabs alleged serial bank robber

  The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for multiple Manhattan bank robberies this month. Police have arrested a Brooklyn man they…

Entertainment

We the Economy: Morgan Spurlock's new crusade

If Morgan Spurlock gets his way, you won't be able to avoid We the Economy, the series of 20 shorts films curated by the "Super…

Arts

3 Parody plays lampoon your childhood, adulthood and…

Whether you loved the source material or you're going in blind, these parody plays have something for every audience member. We rate three of NYC's hottest satirical shows.

Gossip

Who has more power: Harry Styles or Amal…

Amal Clooney comes in fourth on The Evening Standard's Most Influential Londoners list.

Music

#AskPaul McCartney reveals his love of American pop…

For an Englishman, Paul McCartney's pop culture tastes would fit right in stateside. The former Beatle (@PaulMcCartney) revealed that he has a real thing for…

NFL

John Idzik: 'We did a ton of background'…

Given John Idzik spent the previous five years with the Seahawks before he joined the Jets last January, there is a comfort level for the organization.

NFL

Jets add sizzle to struggling passing game with…

The Jets’ trade for Percy Harvin may have an air of desperation on the surface, but at 1-6 this season is hanging only by a thread.

NFL

Jason Pierre-Paul: 'We've got to regroup' during bye…

“We’ve got to regroup and figure out what went wrong,” said defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. “When we come back, we want to be a great team.”

NFL

Breno Giacomini: Media blowing up Golden Tate-Percy Harvin…

According to Breno Giacomini, the fight between Golden Tate and Percy Harvin during Super Bowl week was over by the time the lineman turned around.

Education

Is a 'gap year' after high school for…

It’s a familiar script that millions of students follow each year: Graduate high school and then immediately start college. But more and more students are…

Parenting

New news about Kate Middleton's pregnancy

The Palace released a statement about Kate Middleton's pregnancy.

Parenting

Cool book for kids: 'The Princess In Black'

"The Princess In Black" will change the way girls view princesses.

Wellbeing

Gabby Bernstein: The 3 questions I always get

For the last decade, I’ve been writing self-help books and preaching the Gospel of Gabby to audiences throughout the world. And no matter what country…