Between playing Elrond in Lord of the Rings, voicing Megatron in Transformers and — most memorably — intimidating Keanu Reeves as the sinister Agent Smith in The Matrix, Hugo Weaving has been an integral part of three of the biggest film franchises of the past decade or so. The versatile Australian actor also delivered an uncanny Werner Herzog impression as Red Skull in Marvel’s Captain America, will star in the Wachoswki’s forthcoming Cloud Atlas and, of course, is reprising his role as Rivendell’s boss elf in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, due at the end of the year.
Yet being one of Hollywood’s busiest character actors hasn’t stopped Weaving from returning periodically to his homeland for some compelling lead roles, like that in this week’s acclaimed Last Ride — which has been hailed by no less than Roger Ebert as “the performance of a lifetime.” A tough but ultimately moving (and beautifully lensed) road movie directed by Cannes’ short film winner Glendyn Ivin, Ride has Weaving as a grizzled ex-con on the run across the Australian countryside, where he bond with his 10-tear-old son in tow. The film debuted to much praise in its native territory, and this week finds its way to select theaters in the US. We had the chance to speak with Weaving for the release, where he talked about five of his favorite movies.
The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939; 100% Tomatometer)
My five favorite films would change from, you know, day to day, but if you want five of my favorite films, one would have to be The Rules of the Game, by Renoir. A fabulous upstairs-downstairs look at French society in a very particular period. It’s both unbelievably sad and tragic, and moving and funny. And a delightfully humanist film. In fact, a lot of my favorite films are like that.
For instance, A Tree of Wooden Clogs, which would have to be one of my favorite films. A year in the life of a peasant commune in Italy — again, it’s poor souls living through a year, so you’re getting a sense of seasons and hardship and community, and a simple, very basic deprived existence. I think that’s a masterpiece, that film.
Closely Watched Trains, one of my all-time favorite films, by Jiri Menzel. Funny, wry, beautiful, entertaining; and subversive, in its own quirky way. A beautiful film.
A film like If….. Lindsay Anderson’s If…., which I think is a work of genius.
And Barry Lyndon. Anything by Kubrick. [Pauses] 2001… no… Barry Lyndon, yeah. If we’re talking about Australian films, probably something like Ten Canoes. That’s probably my favorite Australian film ever made, actually. I think it’s a great, great film. I’ve probably listed more than five. And then there’s 8 ½… I could go on forever. There are some great films coming to mind, like The Return, the Russian film. [Laughs] I’ll stop.
Last Ride opens in select theaters this week and is available to watch now through VOD.