Childhood & Early Life
Hugo Weaving was born on April 4, 1960, in Nigeria, to English parents Anne and Wallace Weaving. He was the second of the three children in the family. His mother worked as a tour guide and a teacher, while his father was an acclaimed seismologist. His father’s work took him to different places from time to time, and as a result, Hugo spent most of his childhood traveling around Nigeria, England, and Australia.
Soon after Hugo was born, the family moved to England for a while, before moving to Australia for work. The family also had a brief stay in South Africa. Hugo started acting while studying at ‘The Downs School’ in England. His first acting stint was as ‘Captain Asquith’ in the play ‘The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew.’ He enjoyed studying history and scored high grades in it consistently.
In the mid-1970s, the family moved back to Australia, where Hugo started attending the ‘Knox Grammar School.’ The family lived in Sydney, and by then, Hugo had developed a keen interest in acting. Following his high-school graduation, Hugo decided to learn acting professionally and got enrolled at the ‘National Institute of Dramatic Art’ (NIDA) in Sydney.
Following his graduation from ‘NIDA,’ Hugo started looking for steady acting work. It was not difficult for him, as ‘NIDA’ is known as one of the most respected acting institutes in the world, with alumni such as Geoffrey Rush and Mel Gibson.
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Straight out of ‘NIDA,’ Hugo made his acting debut with a small role, as a student, in the film ‘...Maybe this Time’ in 1981. He then appeared in bigger roles in films such as ‘The City’s Edge’ and ‘For Love Alone.’ All of these were small Australian films and mostly remained unanimous following their release.
He made his TV debut in 1984, with a role in the miniseries ‘Bodyline,’ which featured him in the role of an English cricketer. Following this, Hugo appeared in several miniseries, such as ‘The Dirtwater Dynasty’ and ‘Barlow and Chambers: A Long Way from Home’ (also known as ‘Dadah Is Death’).
In the early 1990s, Hugo finally started gaining recognition for his roles in films such as ‘Proof’ and ‘Reckless Kelly.’ ‘Proof’ was screened at film festivals and thus brought Hugo worldwide exposure for the first time.
In 1993, Hugo appeared in starring roles in films such as ‘Frauds’ and ‘The Custodian.’ The following year, he got a breakthrough role in the film ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.’ His role as a drag queen in the film brought him international fame. In the years that followed, he gained prominence as a voice actor, lending his voice to the film ‘Babe.’
In 1999, he received a career-defining role. He was cast as ‘Agent Smith,’ the main villain in the science-fiction/action film ‘The Matrix.’ Owing to its existential content and path-breaking action sequences, the film is known as a cult classic. Hugo’s portrayal as a stiff, stoic evil character brought him superstardom in Hollywood.
He reprised his role of ‘Agent Smith’ in two subsequent installments, titled ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ and ‘The Matrix Revolutions.’ After receiving several nominations for his role, he starred in many key roles in Hollywood films.
In 2001, he bagged another major role. He was cast as half-elven lord ‘Elrond’ in the film series ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ The series had three films, with each film releasing after a year’s gap. As the trilogy became iconic, Hugo became a well-established Hollywood A-lister. All three films were major global hits.
In 2004, Hugo was seen playing the lead role in the multiple award-winning short film ‘Everything Goes.’ He then moved back to Australia to star in the indie film ‘Little Fish,’ co-starring with Cate Blanchett in the lead role. The film was a big critical and commercial success and brought many awards and nominations for the cast and the crew.
In 2005, Hugo rejoined the directors of ‘The Matrix’ to star in their film ‘V for Vendetta.’ He played the role of an anarchist named ‘V,’ who wore a mask throughout. Although his face was never quite visible in the film, apart from a few early scenes, his body language and voice modulation were enough for him to receive unanimous appreciation for his role. The film became a cult classic.
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Hugo received critical acclaim for his roles in the films ‘Last Ride’ and ‘Oranges and Sunshine.’ He lent his voice to ‘Megatron,’ the main villain in the ‘Transformers’ film series. In 2011, he joined the ‘Marvel’ cinematic universe when he was cast as ‘Red Skull,’ the main villain in the film ‘Captain America: The First Avenger.’
In 2012, he joined hands with ‘The Matrix’ and ‘V for Vendetta’ directors, the Wachowskis, for the experimental indie film ‘Cloud Atlas.’ The anthology film featured Hugo in several characters. Tom Hanks led the cast in the film. It has earned cult status over time.
In 2013, he played a key role in the film ‘The Turning,’ for which he received several award nominations. The 2014 Australian comedy–drama film ‘The Mule’ was another major critical success for Hugo.
In 2015, he earned one of the leading roles in the Australian film ‘The Dressmaker,' starring alongside Kate Winslet.
Of late, Hugo has appeared in critically acclaimed roles in films such as ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ and ‘Jasper Jones.’
He has produced the films ‘Ship of Theseus’ (2012) and ‘Russian Doll’ (2001).
Family & Personal Life
Hugo has been in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend, Katrina Greenwood, since 1984. The couple has two children: Harry and Holly.
Several members from his family have ventured into acting, such as his son, Harry, and his niece, Samara Weaving.
Hugo suffered from epilepsy, as a teenager. However, his condition was not too severe. He overcame the condition when he turned 18. In spite of this, he remains sceptic about it and refuses to drive even to this day.
In 2004, Hugo joined ‘Voiceless,’ a non-profit animal protection charity, and has been actively involved with them ever since.