Having caught Skase, having dashed from Steve Irwin, and having had his name blueprinted as one heck of an actor to watch, good bud Lachy Hulme is finally getting the notice he deserves. Sure, he’ll be overlooked by a swag of special effects in "The Matrix Reloaded", but hey, he’s in there. We talk to Australia’s Own ‘Lachy’ about being part of Silvers Grand Magic Circus.
tell me a bit about your character in Matrix
I play "Sparks," the operator on The Logos — the smallest, fastest, and nastiest ship in the fleet. You’ve got "Niobe," the captain, played by Jada Pinkett-Smith — who is by far the best pilot in Zion. Nerves of steel. Then there’s Ghost, the first-mate, played by Anthony Wong — kind of the ultimate assassin of "The Matrix" universe, a Zen-warrior killing machine. And then there’s "Sparks," who although he may be the most brilliant operator on any of the ships, he also happens to be a filthy coward who will say and do anything to avoid a dangerous situation. He’s also a total smart-ass, so it’s perfectly cast, now that I think about it.
Were you required to do much in the way of physical work, action scenes etc…if so did u get hurt?
I think my previous response takes care of that one. Obviously, no. All the ship’s operators are free-born in Zion, meaning they can’t exist inside the Matrix. So basically, I’m in the rear with the beer, which in "Sparks’s" case is the perfect place to be.
what were some of the hardest sequences in the film…was anyone hurt?
Every scene was the hardest scene to film. You have no idea the level of mental and physical endurance required to sustain yourself in a project like this. From my point of view, it was the mental challenge of keeping six-hundred pages of script in my head — meaning all the videogame stuff, plus the scripts for the two movies, even the stuff I wasn’t in. I became kind of like the "encyclopedia" for some of the other cast members, because I memorized all this stuff. Shows you what kind of life I have, right? Too much time on my hands. But the physical stuff, the fighting and the action, that wasn’t my problem. For that, you’re talking about guys like Keanu and Hugo, and Fish and Carrie-Anne. Those guys busted their collective asses for two-and-a-half years! I mean, I can remember days when we were shooting in San Francisco, and I’d be putting my feet up having a grand ol’ time making the videogame, and then you’d see Keanu getting carried — literally carried — to a little kiddies wading pool that they’d filled with ice. He’d lie down in it and they’d smother him in more ice, the poor bastard was so wrecked from the fight scenes he was shooting. And believe me, Keanu Reeves is no wimp. He’s a big guy, he was in great shape. But smashing the shit out of one hundred Agent Smith’s day-in day-out can take its toll, I guess.
Who did the martial arts training on the film, and what did this involve?
All the training and choreography was handled by Master Wo Ping and all of his Hong Kong guys. I’d hang around on set and watch them work — which is an experience in itself, believe me — and shit, man, do they work the actors hard. These Hong Kong guys, they’re not mucking around. They are there to work, and they will not stop until they get it right. Take after take after take. And then, of course, there’s those pesky Wachowski brothers to deal with. They do have a "slight" reputation for wanting things to be perfect.
how does the new matrix differ from the first film?
Bigger, better, bolder. They’ve taken everything to the next step — more action, more drama, more plot-twists, more mind-bending philosophy, more love story, more everything. I truly believe — and I know that when people see the films I won’t be shot down for this — I truly believe that "The Matrix Reloaded" will go down as the greatest sequel since "The Godfather Part II." Completely different types of movies, of course, but in terms of surpassing the original "Matrix," Andy and Larry have delievered beyond what anyone could possibly imagine.
This is a huge role for you. are you nervous about it opening and the reception you’ll get as sparks?
Well, "Sparks" isn’t a huge role in the scheme of things. I mean, the bulk of my work is in "Enter The Matrix," the videogame, which was also written and directed by Andy and Larry. In "Reloaded," I’m just hanging in the background waving to mum — but the plotline to "Enter The Matrix" runs parallel to "Reloaded," so it’s kind of like a separate movie in itself, but a movie that you can play. Like the title says: "Enter The Matrix," with the emphasis on "Enter." So, aside from all of that, am I nervous? Are you kidding me? This is "The Matrix," for chrissakes! How could I be nervous, man? I’m just proud to be associated with it, even if it’s in a very small way.
You did the video game. what did that involve?
Well, like I say, the game is like a whole other movie. When I first auditioned, I had no idea what I was getting into. I figured, I’d be happy with maybe one or two cool little moments in the films — whatever they’re offering, y’know? I mean, I’d carry a bucket of water on a "Matrix" film, I’m that big a fan of the first one. So I audition, and I get cast, and about three weeks later I’m there in San Francisco, and I still haven’t read the scripts yet, right? Basically, I have no fucking idea what I’m supposed to be doing. So I meet Andy and Larry Wachowski, and we’re having a chat about the character, and I’m gathering from the conversation that I’ll maybe be working on the project for, like, a month, max. And then Andy says to me: "You know about the videogame, right?" And I’m like, "Well, yeah, I’ve heard about it, I know you’re doing some sort of game thing, so what’s the deal?" So they start telling me about this game — and I shit you not, I was stunned. The scope of what they were talking about, I seriously thought that these guys were insane. In essence, every single moment of the game was going to be performed by the cast. Now, that might not sound like much to you at first, but this is the first time in history — and possibly the last time — that something like this has been attempted. I’m talking about that when you play the videogame, that is the actual cast — every movement, every moment, every line of dialogue — all done on a Motion Capture soundstage especially built for this project. And on top of that, Andy and Larry had written the whole thing, including over one hour of totally new footage shot especially for the game. So you play the game, and then you go into these new scenes which link in to the movie, and then you’re back into the game play which is also all linked into the movie, so you end up with "The Matrix Reloaded" and "Enter The Matrix" as one giant production. So I turn to Andy and Larry and say, "Well, how big is my part in the game?", and Andy leans back in his chair and holds his hands about six feet apart and he just stares at me and goes: "Biiiiiggggg." So that night, I’m back in my hotel room, and I finally read the scripts for the two films, and just like I figured, I’ve got a few cool little moments. And then I open this monstrous package which has all the game scripts in it, and there’s hundreds and hundreds of pages to be shot — and I’m on just about every fucking page! So: Let me put it this way: In the two films, I shot maybe a handful of scenes. But I worked on this project for fourteen months. The rest of the time was on the videogame. Like Andy Wachowski said: "Biiiiiggggg!"
have you got just as big a role in "revolutions"?
I’ve got a bit more to do in "Revolutions" that I do in "Reloaded," but if you want all the "Sparks" action — basically, if you want to see what an absolute mental case this guy is — then get the videogame, my man!
Whats your fave scene from the first film?
I’m hard put thinking of a scene that I don’t like from the first film, to be honest with you. But if I had to single out one moment that really convinced me that the first "Matrix" was destined to be an absolute classic, it was the Dojo fight between Neo and Morpheus. When I saw that, I was completely sucked-in. They had me. From that point on, "The Matrix" could do no wrong. That’s probably why I got on the phone to my agent about five minutes after the film had ended and asked him, "Are these bastards gonna do a sequel or what?!"
Whats next for you?
I’m currently working on a project with Jada Pinkett-Smith and Phil Oosterhouse, who’s kind of like Andy and Larry’s right-hand man. It’s called "The Jonestown Boys," a very dark, very scary thriller that Phil and I are writing, and Jada and I will be in. Obviously I can’t say too much about it, but I’ve been in L.A. for about three months working on it, and we hope to get it all up and running later in the year. The project was sort of "born" when we were shooting in Sydney. Phil wanted to do something with me, and Jada and I were talking about maybe doing something, so the three of us basically fleshed out an idea that I had a few years ago and turned it into this great concept. I mean, it’s a huge step for me to be working with those two, and really flattering to be asked, quite frankly. And also, I’ve just been cast as the late Australian artist Albert Tucker in Philippe ("Communion") Mora’s biopic about Tucker, Sidney Nolan, and John and Sunday Reed during World War II. One of those great untold stories that’s finally going to get its due. Very, very emotional stuff. Awesome script. We’re shooting around mid-year, and I finally get to do another movie in Melbourne, my home town, which should be a blast.
THE MATRIX RELOADED Opens May 15th
– CLINT MORRIS