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Hugo Weaving is a Nigerian-born actor who was not exceptionally well known until his role in The Matrix as Agent Smith. The film’s popularity produced an interest in Weaving that he had previously not enjoyed. He followed The Matrix with his performance of Elrond in Peter Jackson’s trilogy adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
Though Weaving is now much more recognizable, his acting abilities prior to these four films were well respected in the acting community. In the early 1980s, Weaving attended and graduated from the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Australia. Other well-known graduates from NIDA include Cate Blanchett and Judy Davis.
Upon graduation, Weaving worked in Australian television, and in several Australian films. Among them, he co-starred with Nicole Kidman in Bangkok Hilton in the late 1980s. He received critical attention and a Best Actor Award from the Montreal Film Festival for his work in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. His willingness to embrace the role of a transvestite and invest it with both passion and humor were equally noted.
1999 would bring Weaving more accolades for his layered performance of the computer program Agent Smith in The Matrix. The role is considered by many to be extraordinarily comic, particularly in the first film, because of Weaving’s deadpan delivery of lines.
Jackson would star in two more Matrix films, which did not recapture the glory of the first film. He was immediately marked by Peter Jackson as the right man to capture the ethereal qualities of Elrond in Rings. Not everyone felt that Weaving interpreted Elrond correctly. He clearly has a strong presence, which dominates his scenes in the film. Tolkien purists, however, argue that Elrond is too grim as portrayed by Weaving.
Weaving followed Rings with the 2004 film Everything Goes. It is his 2006 performance in the futuristic film V for Vendetta that has really captured the interest of critics, since he plays the entire role in a Guy Fawkes mask. He was brought in to replace the original actor playing the role, and most cannot imagine the film without the performance of Weaving.
Weaving adeptly delivers the difficult and tongue tripping dialogue of V, and is able to bring sympathy to what many would find an unsympathetic character. He also shows extraordinary skill at creating emotion behind the smiling mask of a Guy Fawkes, making this an acting tour de force.
Weaving’s performance has certainly generated gossip as to whether he will be nominated for an Academy Award this year. Meanwhile his fans eagerly await his next performance. He will lend his voice to one of the animated characters in Happy Feet, scheduled for release in 2006. He is also considering resuming the part of Elrond in the anticipated adaptation of The Hobbit.