Hugo Weaving revels in role as the unravelling psychiatrist in Seven Types of Ambiguity
The actor mesmerizes in new television series about a kidnapped boy, moral dilemmas and entangled relationships based on the novel by Elliot Perlman
Only one thing’s better than a “whodunit” and that’s a deliciously dark “whydunit”, especially one starring Hugo Weaving, the Australian actor who won a worldwide following after appearing in the Hollywood blockbuster trilogies The Matrix, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Seven Types of Ambiguity, a compelling six-part series from Australia’s ABC TV network, injects Weaving, as psychiatrist Dr Alex Klima, into the middle of an emotionally-charged psychological mystery after a seven-year-old boy, Sam Marin, is taken from his school, only to be found unharmed hours later. But was it
Much to the relief of Sam’s parents – his mother Anna (Leeanna Walsman, remembered for her role as Zam Wesell in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones) and his investment-broker father Joe (Alex Dimitriades, Ghost Ship) – police arrest ex-schoolteacher Simon Heywood (Xavier Samuel, remembered as the vampire Riley Biers in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse).
Ratcheting up the tension further is the fact that Simon is Anna’s ex-lover, and his neighbour and possible partner in crime Angela (Andrea Demetriades, Crownies) has an intriguing connection to Joe.
Soon Dr Klima, now Simon’s psychiatrist, along with Simon’s lawyer Gina (Susie Porter, The Caterpillar Wish), and even Joe’s best friend Mitch (Anthony Hayes, last seen opposite Brad Pitt in War Machine) find themselves spinning in a maelstrom of entangled relationships and moral dilemmas about who’s
What elevates Seven Types of Ambiguity into an epic Rashomonian treat is how each episode shifts to the viewpoint of another character – who may very well be an unreliable narrator – as the drama digs into the rocky emotional terrain of past and present relationships and the calculated risks people take in the name of love.
It’s all based on the critically acclaimed titular novel by award-winning Australian author Elliot Perlman, a master at crafting knotty, complicated characters.
“The scripts are what drew me to it,” says the 57-year-old Weaving, who enjoys the reputation, artistic and financial freedom to take only those roles which interest him.
“It’s lovely to be able to work on something like this. I feel quite fortunate that I can say no sometimes,” he says. “The novel ... is a fantastic piece of work. It’s seven major characters based around this one particular event – and the way in which those different people see the same event in a different way.”
Samuel says: “It’s not very often you come across a character as complex as Simon and who sees the world in such a unique way. I think the project on the whole is really exciting. I read the novel ... and all the characters are so complex.... It tackles all those big things like love and moving on.”
As the psychiatrist counselling the schoolteacher, Weaving’s character also finds himself fighting his personal demons.
“He’s probably the psychiatrist you’d like to go see if you needed a psychiatrist – but at the same time, his own life is falling apart,” says Weaving.
“All the characters are in all the episodes, but Alex’s episode concentrates on the disintegration of his own marriage.”
Weaving, who also delivered a poignant performance as war veteran Tom Doss, an alcohol-abusing father grievously suffering from PTSD in Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge last year, thrives on intensely personal roles that lay bare the human psyche. “I believe we’re all incredibly complex, contradictory beings – and the wonderful thing about this series is that it delves into exactly that. Our complexities. Our contradictions. The way in which we can be one thing one minute and something quite different the next. Presenting one way in one situation, and presenting another way in the next. So, there’s nothing particularly rational about it. It’s just human nature.”
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These days, Weaving’s heart is set on telling authentic Australian stories. It’s hard getting to watch Australian television shows and films beyond the country, says Weaving, whose presence has helped Seven Types of Ambiguity – which first aired in April on ABC TV – go on to attract a wider global audience.
“It’s a problem that all countries face with the dominant film culture of the United States. You just keep on trying to prosecute your own culture and explore that culture with likeminded people.”
When asked recently on News Breakfast, the nationwide Australian morning show, whether he would rather work Down Under or in Hollywood, his adopted homeland won hands-down.
“Yeah, absolutely (Australia),” he says. “That’s who we are. This is our culture. This is the country I live in. I want to tell the stories that come out of this place and celebrate our landscape, our sense of humour and the way in which we speak.
“I think we, as Australians, love to watch our own stories,” he says.
“It’s what makes us who we are. So why would I want to go and do that overseas? It’s great to travel occasionally if you can, but I’d always rather work here.”
Seven Types of Ambiguity airs at 10pm on Wednesday on OSN First HD, Home of HBO
Updated: November 21, 2017 10:38 AM