IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Hugo Weaving Talks 'The Mule,' 'The Hobbit: TBOTFA,' More 'Matrix' Movies, and Not Playing Red Skull in 'Captain America: Civil War'

Sunday, 30 November 2014 18:17 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Hugo Weaving Talks 'The Mule,' 'The Hobbit: TBOTFA,' More 'Matrix' Movies, and Not Playing Red Skull in 'Captain America: Civil War'

Actor Hugo Weaving has had pivotal roles in some of the most successful movie franchises of all-time!

Weaving is probably best known for playing the creepy Agent Smith in The Matrix trilogy. But he also played Elrond in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as the recent The Hobbit trilogy, which will come to an end with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opening in theaters on December 17th. As if that wasn’t enough, he portrayed Steve Rogers’ archenemy the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger. Weaving can now be seen playing another great villain in the new Australian crime drama The Mule, which opens in theaters on November 21st. 

The Mule was written by Angus Sampson (Insidious: Chapter 2), Leigh Whannell (Saw), and Jaime Browne, and was directed by Sampson and Tony Mahony. The film follows Ray Jenkins (Sampson), a first time drug mule that is caught by a questionably ethical law enforcement officer named Croft (Weaving). John Noble (TV’s Fringe) plays mob boss Pat Shepherd, the man whose drugs are in Ray’s stomach. Shepherd holds Ray’s partner Gavin (Whannell) responsible for retrieving his drugs through any means necessary. Meanwhile, Ray and Croft come to an unspoken mutual understanding that might just save both of their lives. 

I recently had the absolute pleasure of speaking with the great Hugo Weaving about his work on The Mule, as well as The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, more Matrix movies, and not playing Red Skull in Captain America: Civil War. The talented veteran actor discussed his latest movie, how he got involved with the project, his character’s unusual moral compass, working with two directors, returning to Middle-earth for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the possibility of appearing in another Matrix movie, and why he will not be reprising his role of Red Skull in Captain America: Civil War or any other future Marvel films. 


Here is what Hugo Weaving had to say about The Mule, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, more Matrix movies, and not playing Red Skull in Captain America: Civil War:

IAR: To begin with, how did you get involved with The Mule? Did you previously know actor/co-director/co-writer Angus Sampson, or were you just sent the script and then decided that you wanted you be part of the project?

Hugo Weaving: I had not met Angus before. I had the script sent to me. I read it, loved it and responded very quickly. I first met Angus when we had a read-through for part of the rehearsals. I knew a number of the other actors before. I had worked with Noni Hazlehurst, Geoff Morrell, John Noble and Ewen Leslie. Most of the actors I had worked with. I had never met Leigh (Whannell), Angus or Tony Mahony, the other co-director. I just responded to what I thought was a very smart and funny script. I loved the character. I thought he was great. It presented a type, but actually there was room for a specific person or character in there. I thought I would enjoy it enormously, and I did.


At first, it’s not really clear if your character has any morals, but then it becomes very apparent that he does have his own specific moral code. Can you talk about that?

Weaving: He is what I would call an old-school cop. If you think about 1983, the actual federal police force had just been set up at the time. So it would have been largely a state police force. There was a lot of corruption in Australian police around the time. But having said all of that, if you think about the circumstances as we are watching them in the film, we know that this guy has heroin in his stomach. The federal police pick him up and they are pretty sure he has it as well. He refuses an examination and they then take him. They are by law allowed to hold him for a short period of time. They do keep going down the legal avenues to extend that period of time because they are pretty sure he will not be able to hold on very long and have to produce the evidence. He is lying to them. They know he has got it in him. Croft bends the rules at all times in order to catch his man. That is definitely not considered the sort of thing you should do anymore. There are many more protections for suspects, which is a good thing. But back then this would have been absolutely standard procedure in a way. My character used a more physical interrogation technique, which does not necessarily happen anymore. But at the same time Croft, although he bends the rules, he will not break the rules. He will not break the law. The Australian police had a history of bending rules and maybe even breaking them to get someone because they know he is guilty. Croft would do anything to secure what he thinks is justice for the situation. But he would not go as far as killing someone. At the end of the film, he actually forms this unspoken alliance with someone who is the last person you would expect him to do that with. Croft has an old-school attitude and actually possesses old-school virtues. I always liked that about him.

Obviously you are no stranger to working with co-directors after collaborating with the Wachowskis on The Matrix trilogy. But what was it like working with two directors on The Mule, when one of them is acting in scenes opposite you?

Weaving: It was great actually, a situation that could have been full of major problems. You’ve got Tony, who was employed by Angus earlier to be the director on a set while he is acting. That could have been an incredible imposition of someone when you are trying to direct but that did not happen. Tony is very smart and has a great eye. He is very calm and a very easy-going, intelligent man. Angus did not push their weight around at all. There was a good open discussion about seeing any difference of opinion, which is talked about in a very easy way. It was an incredibly relaxed set I was incredibly impressed by the way in which they managed that. Tony was very much the director on the floor. Angus was just one of the actors, and so was Leigh, who was also a co-writer and executive producer. They both managed to say what they wanted, as did all of the other actors. It was a set full of permission at the time and camaraderie. It was very well managed.


I recently saw The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and I think it’s the best film in The Hobbit series. What has it been like for you as an actor to return to “Middle-earth” and make this new series of Tolkien inspired films?

Weaving: It is a constant return really. It was just another return to middle earth. We went over there a while ago to do The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It had just been announced that the one film was now going to be two. We got over there to do one, and they gave us the script for the second one. I really only had a couple of scenes to be perfectly honest. The shooting for me was over in a relatively short period of time. Now it seems like a while ago. When I left, I was told that it would again be a trilogy. I then did not know whether my scenes, which were originally in the second film, would be in the third Hobbit film. I assumed they would be once I saw the second movie and noticed I wasn’t in it. So that is what I have pent up in me to be honest. I am looking forward very much to seeing the final film.


There have been some recent rumors that the Wachowskis are considering making a new Matrix trilogy. Have they discussed that with you, and do you think Agent Smith would return for the new film?

Weaving: I would be surprised, but I do not think it is impossible. If they had a good idea, or if there was something they mulled over that was a great idea, then it is a possibility. They would not go ahead with something unless they had an idea in which they thought about pretty smartly. I have not talked to them about that. I still remain very good friends with them. I would love to work with them again of course, whenever. If they had a fabulous idea, then sure I’d do it. I suspect that it is not true, but it might be.


Finally, when we spoke while you were promoting Cloud Atlas, you mentioned that you were not interested in reprising your role as Red Skull in any future Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Have you considered changing your decision, and has Marvel Studios contacted you about returning for Captain America: Civil War?

Weaving: My views have not changed. You never know what might or might not happen. But my views have not really changed. I certainly have not had any conversations with anyone about that. No change at all on that landscape. I was talking to you about another Matrix, and I doubt that would happen. But there are always circumstances. Certain circumstances do change, and there is always a good reason to revisit or reinvestigate something. It may not be worth following, but it is always good to keep your options open and your mind open. Having said all of that, I have not really changed my opinion about not wanting to do another Captain America. It was fun to do. It was a very great thing to do in many ways, but I suppose my focus is more likely to be elsewhere, but who knows.

The Mule opens in theaters on November 21st. 


The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opens in theaters on December 17th. 


Captain America: Civil War is scheduled for release on May 6th, 2016.


To watch an exclusive clip from The Mule, please click on the video player below. 

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