The Age (Aus), November 3, 2003

Hugo a happy baddie

A wide grin, a cheekily raised eyebrow - a year after wrapping Matrix Revolutions, Hugo Weaving still looks like he really relishes having played "the baddie".

Exuding enthusiasm for the film ahead of Sunday's Sydney Opera House premiere - the first occasion on which he has seen it - Weaving recounted with glee the sense of physical power and dark humour represented by the evil Agent Smith.

"I enjoyed Smith a great deal because they gave him great lines and he's got a sense of humour," he told journalists in Sydney.

"I didn't think a great deal about psychological complexity; the important thing in developing the character was to do with the way in which he appeared and the way in which he sounded.

"He needed to have a humanity that was just off-centre."

Like the first two films in the Matrix trilogy, Revolutions showcases technical innovation combined with tightly-choreographed hand-to-hand combat.

They learned some slick moves, but having slogged through months of intensive physical training and demanding stunt-work, neither Weaving nor his co-star, Keanu Reeves, have maintained an interest in martial arts.

"There's a certain aspect where it's like you should take some time off and live a life," said Reeves, who faced extremely intensive training for his Christ-meets-karate kid character Neo.

"I love work, I live off work, but there is a certain aspect where you have to take a break otherwise you end up in the hospital or something."

Despite his initial surprise at the punishing regime required by directors Larry and Andy Wachowski, Weaving said he had grown to enjoy learning how to fight.

"I loved getting fit, I enjoyed being healthy and fit and we were eating well and millions of people looking after us and massaging us, but it was hard work," he said.

"I wish I could or did (keep it up) in a way, but there's no need to so I don't."

For co-star Jada Pinkett Smith, who plays hovercraft pilot Niobe, the greatest gift of Revolutions and its predecessor, Matrix Reloaded, was a kind of industry colour-blindness.

"Now I definitely get phone calls for roles that are not written as specifically for black women," she said.

"I'm being asked to do all types of things."

Physical blindness was a new experience for Reeves, who spent much of the filming wearing a blindfold.

"My character has his eyes blinded so for a couple of days the make-up covered my eyes so I literally couldn't see, and I enjoyed it, it was interesting," he said.

"I'd be like for 12 hours not being able to see, so ... you get really attuned to sounds and smells."

Reeves also developed his sense of self through exploring the role of spiritual saviour.

"At one point the character asks for peace, ... the revolution of peace without conflict, and the right to life.

"I'm really into live and let live, and you know, no judgment."

The cast said after filming for two years in Australia, they considered the Sydney premiere a welcome reunion and a fitting start to the Revolutions run.

"I have a real friendship with all these people," Reeves said.

"And this is a good spot, I really like being back here."

Matrix Revolutions opens in cinemas nationally on Thursday, November 6.

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Caption: Actors Hugo Weaving, Keanu Reeves, Jada Pinkett Smith and producer Joel Silver meet the press in Sydney. Photo: Robert Pearce




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Matrix Revolutions, The

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Matrix, The , Matrix Reloaded, The , Matrix Revolutions, The




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