the man in the mask

Surely I’m not the only person who, when watching any of the Lord of the Rings movies, keeps waiting for Elrond to pull a pair of dark sunglasses out of his robes, slip them on, and shake his head at Frodo while saying, “Miiiister Baaaggins!”

Smith Frodo

Hugo Weaving has a remarkable voice, and he embeds his rich, somewhat growly cadence into each character he plays. However, with the distinctive voice goes the equally distinctive face: the twist of the lip, the glinting eyes, the rough edges of the features. Why, then, is the actor buried behind an annoying mask and odd wig throughout the annoying and odd movie that is V for Vendetta? And is it really him at all?

We watched this film the other night, and I can safely say that I never need to see it again. It was … interesting. Natalie Portman emotes all over the screen, and stylized blood flies about. But mostly I kept wondering whether Hugo Weaving was really acting the physical part of V or just providing the voice. Because with the mask perpetually in the way, who can tell?

Heck, I didn’t find out until a few months ago that David Hyde Pierce, not Doug Jones, provides the voice of Abe Sapien in Hellboy. Oh, sure, now that I know it, I can tell, but the dubbing is so perfect that I never dreamed it wasn’t the physical actor’s voice until I began reading about production for Hellboy 2.

So who’s to say that Hugo Weaving plays the physical role of V? Wondering about it bugged me throughout and took me out of the film mentally. Fine, the character’s face is mangled — so is the Phantom of the Opera’s, but you can still see part of the actor and match his appearance with his voice.

It’s silly, I know; but dammit, if I hear Hugo Weaving, I want to see him, too. I want to be able to believe that it’s him behind the mask.

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