Hugo Weaving has dozens of memorable roles from Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy to Elrond in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. His dignified appearance and strong voice have made him a favorite go-to actor in Hollywood. His most recent role is Thaddeus Valentine in Mortal Engines, a fantasy adventure where mobile cities compete for the world’s remaining resources.
Stephen Lang is best known for his many military roles in Hollywood films. He played Colonel Quaritch in the Avatar franchise, General “Stonewall” Jackson in Gods and Generals, and Colonel Biggs in Hostiles. In Mortal Engines, he plays Shrike, the last of an undead battalion of soldiers.
Screen Rant: Hello, gentlemen. This is a very big film. What were your first impressions walking onto these sets?
Stephen Lang: They’re big.
Screen Rant: Were you familiar with these stories at all? With the Mortal Engine stories or series?
Hugo Weaving: Not prior to reading the script. But obviously by the time we were on set we were familiar with them. But, no, the first-- I'd heard of them. I’d heard they were actually very popular books. But I hadn't read them. So, my first introduction was reading the script. And it was absolutely wonderful. So, I enjoyed that read enormously. And then went back and started.
Screen Rant: This is another big franchise film for you. You've done these big franchise films and you've worked with Jackson and his team. What's it like being isolated over here in Wellington or wherever you are in New Zealand to work on these films? In such a condensed, closed off area from the rest of society? Is that a positive? Or is it…
Hugo Weaving: I mean, Wellington, one of the great things about being in New Zealand, it is kind of that. You are on an island, or two islands, in a part of the world that seems very distant from everywhere else. Of course, when you're there, it's the center of the universe. And there's a certain-- There's some sense of… There’s a very unique cultures there. And they’re very creative people, very welcoming, very can do, very experimental as well. So, it's always a great pleasure to be there.
Screen Rant: That's awesome. What was it like seeing your completed character on the screen? Were you involved with the process of developing Shrike?
Stephen Lang: Yes. The process of developing Shrike was very collaborative. Of course, when I first got to the set, I was beginning my work. And part of the beginnings of my work, has to do with looking at the work that's already been done. The character renderings by people who have been thinking about this and sketching this, and sculpting this, well before I came on the scene. And then, the task I think for all of us involved in the creation of this role, is one of dialogue and collaboration. We all know we're working towards the same objective. Which is to make the most complete, alluring, frightening, terrifying, deeply felt character that we possibly can. And the folks at Weta, they’re old hands at this. So, I have tremendous-- I didn't come into this with any wariness or any trepidation at all. Because I know that their brief has always been to take the work that the actor does and to articulate it as honestly and authentically as they can.
Screen Rant: So, with a big epic story like this, there's a lot of comparisons to, even though they started making this 10 years ago, people want to compare the dynamic of this film to what's happening in the world today. Do you address that at all? What's your takeaway on that?
Hugo Weaving: Well, of course, Philip Reeve, wrote the books in response to the world in which he was living. And he wrote them for young adults to somehow express what their fears or what their hopes might be within this landscape. So, I think any science-fiction or fantasy world, or any post-apocalyptic world, that's created by writers, necessarily reflects the world in which we live and the worries that we have about the world in which we live. It has to.
- Mortal Engines (2018) release date: Dec 14, 2018