‘Mortal Engines:’ Hugo Weaving & Stephen Lang on Understanding vs. Labeling Villains

     December 18, 2018

When you’ve got a post-apocalyptic scenario where resources are scarce on your hands, you’re bound to have characters that take a more villainous approach to surviving and accomplishing their goals, and in the case of Mortal Engines, that’s certainly the category that both Hugo Weaving‘s Valentine and Stephen Lang‘s Shrike fall in. Valentine is a high ranking London official who wants to see his traction city thrive, even at the expense of others, and Lang steps in as Shrike, a character who’s half man and half machine built to kill, known as a “resurrected man.”

The two have “big bad” written all over them, and perhaps their actions warrant the title, but neither are being evil simply for the sake of being evil. There’s an added complexity to their situations as their malice comes from a place that may not be excusable, but it is understandable. I recently had the chance to sit down with Weaving and Lang to talk about their experience making Mortal Engines so opted to dive into their approaches to playing big screen villains and the value of understanding these individuals rather than just labeling them. Hear about all of that and more in the video interview at the top of this article.


Image via Universal Pictures

Mortal Engines is playing in theaters nationwide right now. For more on the film, browse the links below:

Here’s the official synopsis for Mortal Engines:

Hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, a mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), emerges as the only one who can stop London — now a giant, predator city on wheels — from devouring everything in its path. Feral, and fiercely driven by the memory of her mother, Hester joins forces with Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), an outcast from London, along with Anna Fang (Jihae), a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head.


Mortal Engines is the startling, new epic adventure directed by Oscar®-winning visual-effects artist Christian Rivers (King Kong). Joining Rivers are The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies three-time Academy Award®-winning filmmakers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, who have penned the screenplay. Visual effects are created by a Weta Digital team led by Ken McGaugh, Kevin Smith, Luke Millar and Dennis Yoo. The Universal and MRC adaptation is from the award-winning book series by Philip Reeve, published in 2001 by Scholastic.

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