Australian born actor Hugo Weaving has made a name for himself in some major roles down the years. You may recall him as ‘Agent Smith’ in the Matrix, or the masked revolutionary known only as ‘V’ in V for Vendetta, who saved an entire country from the tyranny of a neo-fascist regime. The ‘Occupy’ movement must love him.
Donning the mask for the role was a simple job for the classy actor but behind the mask of his public persona lies a struggle with epilepsy.
He was diagnosed with the condition aged 13 and has been on medication to keep it in check ever since.
Epilepsy is a very complex condition and comes in a few different guises. Where the cause is known it is referred to as ‘Symptomatic Epilepsy’ and this happens in around 30% of cases. In other cases (around 60%) the cause is unknown and this is called ‘Idiopathic Epilepsy’.
The illness is typified by seizures that seem to occur spontaneously and cause the sufferer to lose consciousness while their body fits and convulses, often accompanied by foaming at the mouth. It is a horrifying thing to see but can be dealt with by staying calm and allowing the victim space and helping them into the recovery position as they recover.
It can be treated with Anti-Epilepsy Drugs (AED) which unfortunately come with a host of unpleasant side effects and often lead to a shortening of the sufferers lifespan. It is estimated that around 53 million people worldwide are currently living with epilepsy.
Like most people though, Hugo Weaving has not allowed such a terrible affliction to stand in the way of his success and his level headed approach to life and work has seen him enjoy roles in massive blockbusters such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, displaying a greatly varied range of ability in style and character.