GettyImages.com has an interview with Richard Armitage published March 7 where he discusses an amusing array of topics including the spirited directing style of Peter Jackson, and bloopers he hopes will not appear on the Extended Edition. I’ve organized them below so they can be viewed in the proper order.
angerthas, cirth, david salo, dwalin, dwarves, erebor, essay, futhark, gandalf, graham mctavish, khuzdul, moon runes, news, peter jackson, photos, ring, runes, sword, tattoos, thorin, tolkien, weapons, weta
Michelle Nevins has written a very informative essay, Deciphering Runes in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey detailing the use of various runic systems in the film and related materials. She did a splendid job laying it out in PDF format, and I can find no better way to share it since it is full of runes, which I am not going to try replicating in WordPress.
Please follow this link to open the document – An Introduction to Runes in The Hobbit.
My gratitude to Michelle for being patient with my requests for additions and changes – we kept finding more items to add to the list of known runes. And I’m sure there are even more we’ve missed. In fact, I can think of one now. The runes on the garments of the dwarven craftsmen in Erebor.
These were originally seen in one of the vlogs, and deciphered by Grinman during a discussion on TORn last year. Although we can’t see every letter, we can make a good guess that they spell BROTHERHOOD in Futhark.
In the film you can see these craftsmen (craftsdwarves?) in the flashback in Erebor, but catching sight of the runes may be difficult (maybe on Blu-ray).
There is a wealth of runes visible in the scene in Erebor right before the uncovering of Smaug. I’ve taken a screencap from this video from Weta, and Michelle and I have been able to make out a word or two (maybe), though there are some issues even with these. The large runes on the stairway appear to read THE FOUNDA HAMMER, while below that I think I can make out what looks like ?EREBOR. And there are runes all along the upper landing, which you might be able to read. With the DVD coming out next month this should become much easier to decipher. Please feel free to post any suggestions/corrections in the comments below.
Just hours before I was going to post this I happened upon a brand new blog by David Salo himself. Thanks to the urging of Khuzdul enthusiasts such as the Dwarrow Scholar, Mr. Salo created a site called Midgardsmal to share insights on constructing new words and languages for the Hobbit film. Obviously anyone with an interest in this topic will want to watch his site for future revelations. There is already an interesting explanation of why there are different runic systems present in the film, and more info about the runes on Dwalin’s axes, and whether or not we will be seeing any Angerthas Erebor in the future.
Below are high-res references for some of the examples mentioned in the essay.
[Click to enlarge]
adam brown, afi, aidan turner, dean o'gorman, dwarves, graham mctavish, ian mckellen, lee pace, mark hadlow, news, oakenshield, peter hambleton, peter jackson, richard armitage, steven mcmichael, tami lane, thorin, thranduil, ziegfeld
The U.S. premiere of The Hobbit was held on December 6 at the Ziegfeld theater in New York, as a benefit for the American Film Institute. I decided that after two years of intensely following this production I might as well go to a premiere if possible. This one was pricey, but attainable. With little information given out in advance, there was no telling if any special guests would be attending, so I went into it without expectations. The guest list was announced the day of the event on AFI.com (“Keep it secret, keep it safe” must have been their motto). I was pleasantly surprised when all these folks showed up:
There were also a lot of crew members at the after-party, such as movement coach Terry Notary, and probably many more I did not recognize.
Regular cameras were not permitted at the screening, and taking photos at the after-party was strongly discouraged, so I did not feel any overwhelming urge to push my luck, and left the event undocumented, with the exception of snapping a pic of the tickets which awaited us at Will Call. Finally getting them in hand seemed cause for a minor celebration.
Having passed security, we filed into the theater like a herd of docile sheep while the guests began to arrive outside for the red carpet. Twitter reports gave me hints about who would be joining us, but it was still a wonderful surprise when Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis, two hobbits, a wizard, and most of the dwarves appeared before us in the theater (the only one missing was Ken Stott). After going through introductions, the cast dispersed throughout the theater and we watched the film. My opinions on the film itself will have to wait for another post, and another week. [I have issues with the high frame rate format that I won't go into here, but which affected my perception of the film. Because of this, I'm not weighing in on anything until I can view it in a 24 fps format. This article by a staff member of TORn sums up my feeling on HFR almost perfectly.] But just to give an opposing viewpoint, my friend said they saw nothing at all wrong with it.
Let me say here that this premiere was very different in tone than the ones you saw in New Zealand and Japan. I think the majority of the audience was composed of the rich and jaded (the type who attend benefits rather than fantasy conventions). This audience possessed nowhere near the level of enthusiasm that I’ve seen in almost every other Hobbit-related venue. But of course they were polite, and it probably made the after-party much more manageable because it wasn’t composed entirely of fans such as myself who know all the dwarf actors’ faces by heart, which equated to less competition for their time.
Shuttle buses took guests from the theater to Guastavino’s. Built in 1909, it is now a unique location for private events, but was originally an open space made up of Catalan vaults under the Queensboro Bridge.
Upon entering the gala, it didn’t take long to determine that all the cool people were on the upstairs floor. First off I spotted Oscar winning prosthetics supervisor Tami Lane standing near Aidan Turner and Dean O’Gorman. OMG! (I will omit all subsequent moments of OMG, but needless to say, they happened often). Since I genuinely did not think I would meet these people, I was quite unprepared, and fell into the trap of being starstruck rather than taking advantage of my good fortune and asking them good questions. Blah. Oh well, I’m sure all the questions I might have come up with will be answered in future Hobbit interviews.
Tami Lane was very sweet, and easy to converse with, and I did manage to ask if her work as a dwarf extra made it into the film. She said it had, and that she was the dwarf woman who was about 3 people away from Thorin on the side of a hill. She said you can just see her “big hair”. I don’t know exactly which scene this is, but I’ll be looking for it on the DVD!
Aidan Turner was in a conversation with someone, so I waited my turn to offer congratulations, and mentioned how I enjoyed Kili and Fili’s interactions on screen. He was very cheerful, and introduced Tami, who was still near by, and another makeup artist who he had been talking to (I don’t remember the last name, but I think it might have been Katy Fray). I think I said something like “So these are the ladies who make you look so good” which we all laughed at since that is not a difficult task.
Not wanting to take up too much of anyone’s time, I moved on to Dean O’Gorman, introduced myself and said something along the lines of “Mr. O’Gorman, I promised someone I would try to meet you” (an awkward but true statement.) So we shook hands, and he said “I’m Dean.” Which is lovely, since it implies that I wouldn’t know it already. I said simply that I really enjoyed him as Fili, and hoped we would get to see a lot more of him in the next film. He replied that he hoped so too, since they never really know what will make it into the final cut.
Dean was very nice, but I didn’t want to overstay my welcome, and with the nephews met, it was time to search for their uncle.
I didn’t have long to look. Richard Armitage was ensconced in a shadowed alcove chatting with someone. I only had time for a mental OMG! (sorry, just had to say it) before he looked to us. I was lucky it was a slightly darkened section, because if not, I would have been confronted with this in full light (which would have chased all coherent thought out of my mind):
The truth is, he seemed very approachable, so I shook hands and introduced myself as a fan of his work, and of Thorin in particular. I was a bit gushy and said something like they should consider renaming the film “Thorin”, to which he laughed and said thank you. [In all seriousness, this film focused on Thorin as much as it did on Bilbo, so the idea isn't that far fetched.] My friend was wearing a Noble Collection replica of the Key of Erebor, and Richard held it in his hand and said something like “Oh that’s a nice one,” and then mentioned that he had the original, as well as Orcrist. I asked if it was true if he also had the oakenshield, and he said yes, further mentioning that he helped design it, and was happily surprised it made it into the film. *A bit of a spoiler to follow* In the film, the shield starts out as a solid log which Thorin uses after his shield is broken in battle. They don’t really get into the details of what happens to it after this, but he keeps this log as a good luck item, and it either wears down over the years, or he purposely carves it into a shape that is more manageable. In one scene, the shield slips from his arm and is lost. I mentioned how this really pained me to watch, but that not everyone will appreciate it unless they know what it means to Thorin. Richard was pleased to know that someone else recognized the poignancy of that moment. My friend commented on how emotionally moving certain parts of the film were, but Richard gave the credit back to Tolkien as the source of it all. I got the feeling he could talk about his character and the book for hours without finding it a chore. But of course he needed to go mingle with more than just us. We thanked him for his time, and reluctantly let him go.
I have yet to read a single negative word written about this man by his costars, or his fans, and even in the short time we had to chat, it was obvious he was a genuine and unassuming person. My friend and I were very lucky to have met him.
With the heirs of Durin accounted for, it was time to look for the the rest of the Company.
I noticed that Peter Jackson was seated on a sofa surrounded by loads of people. He may be a casual king, but he is still the ruler of all things Hobbit, and was not very accessible. Just as well, since I doubt he wanted to hear my opinion on HFR.
There were a few others who were hanging out near the center of the room, such as Martin Freeman, Elijah Wood, and Andy Serkis, all of which I never attempted to talk to. Perhaps if I had a lot of patience, but there were more dwarves I needed to track down.
I spotted Lee Pace, and told my friend (who is a big Legolas fan) to see if she could talk to him. She doesn’t follow this movie like I do, and wouldn’t know Lee Pace from Adam, but I told her he was the Elvenking (who appears in the film very briefly). She reports that he was very friendly and pleased to hear that she thought Thranduil’s entrance was impressive, and that she looked forward to seeing more of him in the next one. He joked that he does remember filming a bit more than that, so hopefully she will get her wish.
I had seen Ian McKellen, along with Patrick Stewart (*omg*, sorry) near the center of the room, busy talking to everybody. There was no way I was going to butt in just to say “Hi, love you” to either of them. But my friend managed a brief but memorable moment with Ian, so I’ll just have to live vicariously through her.
I think I said congratulations to Jed Brophy and Stephen Hunter, while James Nesbitt, John Callen and William Kircher were closer to the overly busy center of the room. I’d almost stepped on the train of William Kircher’s wife’s dress earlier, and didn’t want to risk it actually happening.
Spotting Adam Brown near the periphery, I made my way over and told him how adorable he was as Ori. He thanked me for saying so. Seems he is also really adorable in person.
Mark Hadlow was in a conversation when I came up, but stopped to chat. He introduced the person he was talking to as swordmaster Steven McMichael, who was responsible for training everyone to fight on the film. I told him he did his job perfectly since they all looked like naturals. Steven joked that everyone always listened to his lessons, except for Mark. Mark demonstrated his own preferred way of fighting by striking a typical Errol Flynn fencing stance. Not the most appropriate look for a dwarf. I asked him if he found the motion capture work (as one of the Trolls) difficult. He said he had already done similar work on Tin Tin, and that it wasn’t that hard to imagine what you are supposed to be interacting with because Peter Jackson is so good at conveying his ideas to the actors.
I then found Peter Hambleton, who was also very nice and answered my question about which role did he enjoy doing more in the film, Gloin or one of the Trolls. He said Gloin was wonderful, but he also had lots of fun with the motion capture experience.
The people we were sitting next to in the theater were already talking to Graham McTavish, so we joined their conversation. Graham has a great sense of humor, and had been joking about possible scenes for the extended editions, such as all the dwarves bathing in Rivendell, and how much of a shock that would be to poor Lindir coming around a corner and seeing it. In discussing the mess the dwarves made of Bag End, he maintains that dwarves are actually quite housebroken since they ultimately cleaned everything up (except for the broken plumbing in the bathroom, which he asserts was not his doing). I asked if a younger Dwalin was present at Erebor (since I did not see him in the flashbacks) but he said he was at Moria later on, sporting a bit more hair on top. Another person asked if all the actors got tattoos to mark the occasion of filming, but he said they all got rings with secret inscriptions on the inside. He happened to be wearing it and took it off to show us, saying it was made of bronze, which he selected because he felt it was an ancient metal, stronger and more distinctive than gold.
The day before the premiere, the world learned that the infamous Naughty Dwarf Calendar was actually the brainchild of Graham (I missed this bit of news or I would have further grilled him about it). This video by ET.com gives a description of what will never see the light of day, and also more information about the secret of those Company rings.
On that note we felt it was time to call it a night. The whole thing was a once in a lifetime experience which we felt privileged to have participated in. Before leaving NY, we made a pilgrimage to the dwarf mural painted on the side of a building at Park Avenue and 24th street. It is actually pretty impressive in person and certainly worth the extra cab fare to see it.
Video of fan coverage by TORn of the red carpet:
adam brown, aidan turner, andy serkis, balin, bilbo, cate blanchett, christopher lee, dean o'gorman, dwalin, dwarves, elijah wood, fili, gandalf, graham mctavish, high res, hugo weaving, ian mckellen, interview, james nesbitt, jed brophy, john callen, ken stott, kili, mark hadlow, martin freeman, news, peter hambleton, peter jackson, philippa boyens, richard armitage, spoilers, stephen hunter, sylvester mccoy, thorin, video, vlog, william kircher
Traileraddict.com has more Hobbit video than you can handle. Here is a list of all the stuff you can watch to spoil yourself silly before the film, including interviews with the actors while on set, tons of behind-the-scenes moments, and 6 new scenes from the film.
Wonderful as this material is, I won’t be able to screencap any more of it, or make updates on the site, for a few days. I have my own adventure to go on But I will be back at it soon enough.
Video log B-rolls. Tons of behind-the-scenes moments: *spoilers*
Film clips: *major spoilers*
- “Give Him the Contract” (Bilbo takes the Contract)
- “Goblin Chase” (fight in Goblin Town)
- “Wasn’t Talking to You” (Gollum and Bilbo)
- “Nobody Home” (Bilbo greeting his guests)
- “Your Quest” (wargs)
- “Swords” (Elrond names the Gondolin blades)
Quite a few gorgeous images have been released today. I’m going to highlight the dwarf-related ones here, but will be adding the rest to the gallery tonight (including some of Saruman, Galadriel, and the Great Goblin). Some of the ones below you’ve seen already, but probably not in this resolution (click for full-size).
An interview in a French magazine with Richard Armitage gives us a wealth of insight into the character of Thorin, including how he is both like and unlike the character of Aragorn, how his family’s fall from grace affects his attitude, and why he has trouble accepting Bilbo. There are also more fascinating revelations about the physical challenges of becoming a dwarf in Peter Jackson’s world. Several interesting spoilers in this one, particularly for those of you wondering about Orcrist, and what they might show of Thorin’s history.
[Scans by Lady Prisca on Richard Armitage France]
The text has been translated to English by Lexie171170, aka Lillian’s Child on LiveJournal. There are a couple of my notes in the text where I think the original author may have been in error (but who am I to say?)
THORIN, THE LEADER OF THE DWARVES
TO CONQUER A KINGDOM
Although he’s 1.88 m tall and in his forties, Richard Armitage (Heinz Kruger in Captain America) was chosen to portray an old dwarf leading his people against the Orcs of Middle Earth.
What did you do during the casting process to impress Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro and succeed in getting the role of Thorin Oakenshield?
I must say I’ve met PJ but, unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to meet G del T. At first, I was supposed to take part in the auditions for another character, that of Bard, which ended up being played by Luke Evans, but I was also offered the chance to audition for Thorin. The scene I had to play had been specially written for the casting. It was extremely well crafted since it showed different aspects of Thorin’s qualities to explain what the story would be like. I had the chance to spend about two hours with PJ, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens to perform the whole scene for the first time after which I did it a second time when they gave me some new indications. As it turns out, the day we met I’d finished shooting a show and had hurt my back pretty badly during a stunt that very morning! Since the bruising was extremely painful I had had to take a strong dose of pills to put up with it and be able to attend the audition. In retrospect, I tell myself that the way I had to deal with my pain that day brought me closer to Thorin, who had to internalize very painful aspects of his life. Things went really well with Peter, Fran and Philippa in that little room that day. They liked what I did and they chose me, which was a real surprise for, being 1.88 m, I had never expected to be picked to play a warrior dwarf! [He laughs.]
Which are Thorin’s defects and qualities? And what’s his relationship like with his nephews- Fili and Kili- and with the rest of the Dwarves and Bilbo?
Thorin is a truly interesting character. When he’s introduced in the film, we learn he’s carrying a very heavy burden on his shoulders. He’s Prince of Durin’s Kingdom and must avenge the disappearance and death of his grandfather and his father, the King. His mission is to recover his kingdom. He has got very little time to accomplish this huge task and this great responsibility rests only on his shoulders. If he fails and dies, his family’s entire royal bloodline will be dispossessed forever and disappear with him. The vital importance of his mission and the tension it creates in him has repercussions upon his relationship with the other characters. When Gandalf asks him to let Bilbo join the team he’s gathered, Thorin’s furious because he thinks the Hobbit will be the weakest link of the group and will put everyone at risk. If Bilbo is a source of anxiety, irritation and animosity at the beginning of the journey, the rapport between Thorin and him will evolve in a positive way over the three films until they get to trust and respect each other. As regards his personal story, Thorin became Thorin Oakenshield after fighting bravely by his late brother’s side. After their father’s death, Thorin’s nephews- Kili and Fili- have grown very attached to him and, therefore, Thorin’s become their paternal role model. Likewise, Thorin’s very fond of Kili and Fili. He knows they’ve never been to the mountains, that they’ve never fought against a dragon or seen their homeland after Durin’s people were chased away, but he’s indulgent with them. The way his nephews view the unfolding of the journey is very optimistic and innocent. Thorin will therefore protect them during this quest and watch over them to make sure their integration to the group of warriors is a smooth one and that they can help recover that which is theirs: their family’s kingdom.
THE PRINCE OF DWARVES
Considering your character has also got a kingdom to recover, could it be said Thorin is “the Aragorn of the dwarf people” in The Hobbit?
There is indeed this similarity between both characters, but Thorin is a lot tougher than Aragorn. He’s cantankerous and often cross… I found this characteristic interesting and, at the beginning, it was a bit hard for me to determine where it sprang from. I’d say this surly and aggressive side is something all the warrior dwarves share, but Thorin, on top of that, can’t stand the thought that he’s been stripped of his kingdom in such a violent way. In addition, he’s suffered the loss of his rank in the dwarf society, going from the privileged status of a royal family member to that of a wandering warrior. He’s ashamed of such a decline… He believes that if he confides in anyone, he’ll be robbed. That’s why he refuses to reveal to anyone the details of his quest and never shows them the itinerary he’s drawn on his map. At first, Thorin also displays a rather nasty behaviour.
Was it easy to get used to performing all the time wearing lots of prosthetics, amongst them a sort of cap with fake ears? Were you able to understand your co-stars and the directions of the filmmaker?
Actually, it was the main problem I had with my make-up. What is interesting is that once the prosthetics were glued onto my skin and I moved with them they no longer bothered me. On the other hand, the ears- at the beginning- prevented me from hearing my own voice properly and that really annoyed me because I’d modified it a lot to play Thorin. I chose a harder tone, which suited the character’s temperament and allowed him to be understood when whispering and to speak loud for longer periods of time. The problem with the ears is that you seem to be wearing a helmet that isolates you from any surrounding sounds. By trying out different ways of positioning and supporting the ears we found out how to align the fake ear with the external auditory canal of the real one. I was able to hear what I did with my voice and also understand the filmmaker’s directions. Apart from that, since I sweated profusely under the prosthetics, I could usually feel perspiration trickling behind my true ears. Despite these disadvantages, the make-up had a huge impact on me when I looked at myself in the dressing-room mirror every morning. I became the character.
How long did it take to have your make-up applied?
At the beginning of the shooting, it took about three and a half hours, but after getting used to applying it every day, Tommy Lane [editor's note: should this be Tami Lane instead?] and Jennifer Stanfield, my make-up girls, managed to speed up the process and shorten it to two hours. They did a remarkable job. Every detail was exactly the same every time.
Did Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson tell you anything specific about your character during the rehearsals and the shooting? And what suggestions did you make to them concerning your portrayal of Thorin?
All of us spent some time discovering the character when the production of the film started. Philippa, Fran and Peter had a very precise idea of the way they wanted Thorin to behave, and I thought their concept was fantastic because it was clear, perfectly justified, and would allow the character to develop over the course of the three films. The main idea is that Thorin’s a hardened warrior who will come to life little by little as he fulfills his destiny. What’s more, I remember asking them why they’d chosen a forty-year-old guy to play such a role since it might have been more appropriate to cast someone older. They told me they needed an actor capable of showing a lot of energy in the fight scenes and expressing physically all the rage that Thorin gives vent to in order to reconquer his kingdom. We all worked to achieve that, the decisions concerning the way he’d speak and behave and the choices he’d make throughout the story were taken together. It was a very democratic process during which Philippa, Fran and Peter listened to my ideas attentively, while I also found huge inspiration in their suggestions. That allowed me to let myself go completely when acting and to follow the filmmaker’s directions with complete confidence. I knew that Peter Jackson had reflected upon even the smallest detail of a scene and the reactions of the characters. All his instructions were pertinent.
Which are Thorin’s favourite weapons and his special talents when he fights?
Thorin is mostly old school in the realm of combat. To start with, he carries a big axe. Later, when he finds the elven sword Orcrist in the trolls’ cave, this magic object that lights up when the creatures approach becomes his main weapon for the rest of the film. Thorin’s an accomplished swordsman so, since he’s destined to become a king, he’s undergone training in sword handling since he was very young. He fights so well that he could clear a path through a mob of Orcs and decimate them to cross a battlefield! In the appendices of The Return of the King, Tolkien says that Thorin, who was 52 then – a young age for a Dwarf- had led his powerful warrior army during the Battle of Azanulbizar. When Thorin’s shield was destroyed, he used an oak branch to protect himself. That’s how his nickname Oakenshield was born. Thereafter, Thorin kept that piece of wood as a shield and carved it; and this piece of branch became a symbol of pride and honour.
ABOUT DIRECTING AN ACTOR
Did you have your say when it came to your make-up, your costume and accessories?
Yes, at every stage of the process. We did several tests to determine the look of the character, the length of his beard, his hair colour, his hairstyle, etc. We were all convinced that Thorin’s costume had to be conceived for the journey and the fights and not to represent his rank as a Prince by means of sophisticated elements, which wouldn’t have suited the character’s personality.
You eliminate a lot of Goblins and creatures in the first episode of the trilogy, don’t you?
Yes! We have several interactions with Orcs and Wargs like those we were able to see in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. They’re huge beasts that resemble dogs. In The Hobbit, they’re somewhat different, more sombre; with heads that make them look more like wolves. There are also Goblins, something the fans of the book are aware of, since there’s a whole sequence where we fight against them. Goblins are smaller and less heavy than Orcs but they’re a lot faster and more vicious.
Could you give us examples of the different special effects that were used to make you look smaller, from the simplest to the most complex?
At first, during our physical training we were encouraged not to behave as small and discreet people but to make big movements and use all the space necessary. Later, during the first part of the process, when our make-up and costumes were being developed, we had the proportions of our body changed. We wore foam muscles under our costumes to look thicker and to present a heavier and stockier figure. With the aid of the fake ears, the facial prosthetics, the wigs and the beards our heads were made bigger. We also wore huge walking boots that increased the size of our feet. Once all this was in place, they had to shrink us on the screen when we appeared next to an elf or a human being. In most of the cases, the tricks used were quite simple: by playing with perspective, we looked a lot smaller than the actors placed closer to the camera. On occasion we also had to act next to huge doubles of the actors, which measured between 2m10 and 2m20. However, tricks a lot more complex were used to shoot certain scenes, notably with the master/slave system which links a camera dolly mounted on a track as it films the main action on the set with a second camera mounted on another track that shoots an actor performing next to a human or elf against a green screen, in such a way that it’ll correspond to what’s shot by the first one. Once the actor’s been enlarged and digitally embedded, one gets the impression that we’re 1m20 high. Still, we made most of the shots using very simple tricks, such as having Ian Mckellen stand on a wooden box to appear taller.
A TRUE BROTHERHOOD
What kind of a second unit director is Andy Serkis and what was it like working with him?
You know, one of the greatest pieces of news we got when we started the production of the film was that Andy was going to be the second unit director. When someone has spent as much time as him on Middle Earth, immersing himself in Peter Jackson’s vision, one becomes the ideal candidate to carry out that function and do a fantastic job. And that was the case here! He understood exactly what Peter was looking for. To be directed by an actor as accomplished as Andy was a joy. He knows precisely what words to say to you to help you, to give you ideas and inspire you when you’re a bit lost. That allows you to get off to a good start and shoot a new take that will be better than the previous one. It was an extraordinarily positive experience- in all respects.
In The Lord of the Rings, Gimli, played by John Rhys-Davies, became the character who relieved the dramatic tension and made people laugh following the leading characters’ actions: are there similar funny moments in scenes where we see Bilbo traveling with the group of thirteen dwarves?
Yes, and what’s more, it was one of the things that all the crew and the actors who played the dwarves enjoyed very much because, once this group of characters sets off, so many things happen to it that there’s very little room for laughs. The events which unfold plunge everyone into so many dangerous situations that they have to stay focused and serious. That is why we always try to make the most of those little moments where we can inject a dose of humour. Peter is very good at coming up with this kind of jokes. You notice that straightaway during the scene in which Bilbo meets the dwarves when they arrive at his house in Bag End. It’s very funny. Each character in the group of 13 dwarves is part of a micro-family. Therefore, there are several pairs or trios that work separately, and the interactions between these individuals are very charming. Bombur is particularly funny. He’s the fattest of the dwarves. He has one long red plait all in one piece with a curl that links the left with the right side of his face. He’s hilarious and is actually one of my favourite characters.
Can you refer to the “group dynamics” that developed between the actors who play the warrior dwarves both during the rehearsals and the shooting and then backstage?
I believe Peter took a very interesting decision by hiring half of his actors from the UK and the other half from New Zealand. It’s similar to Thorin’s approach when he chooses warrior dwarves from every corner of Middle Earth to make up the group that will carry out with him the enormous mission they have to complete successfully. Most of the Dwarves don’t know one another, just like the actors who had never met before! The age of the actors was another interesting element in our group. The majority was over forty, and there is something beautiful and touching in gathering a group of men who were already experienced, who had a long career behind them and lived together the adventure of shooting The Hobbit. We were together for two years and faced, on occasion, some extreme situations. One of the actors was seventy years old and that didn’t prevent him from running for days on the plains of the southern island of New Zealand! The bonds of solidarity and mutual protection were established very quickly between us. We all looked after one another, made sure the other was OK. The rapport between us was great, and the trials we had to go through contributed to strengthen that complicity. I think the audience will feel it when watching the film.
Which are your favourite Thorin moments that will get to see in this first episode?
Oh, it’s very difficult to choose… I’d say it’s the moment when Thorin finds some information he needs in Bag End and when all the pieces of the puzzle finally fall in place in front of his eyes allowing him to go on the journey he’s planned. It’s one of the key moments in the character’s life. And this song all the dwarves sing together in front of Bilbo is a moment of fervour almost religious in nature, which marks the beginning of their quest towards the Blue Mountains [editor's note: geographically this would actually be "from" the Blue Mountains]. When I recorded this song, I imagined it had been sung to Thorin time and time again when he was still a little baby in his crib, and that also aroused a strong emotional identification amongst the other dwarves. They sing it with all their heart even though the group has just met; they show their steadfast attachment to their community and beyond, to the kingdom they’ve lost. It’s a very beautiful sequence.
Was it sometimes difficult to keep your energy as an actor during the shooting against the green screen of those scenes meant to be finished with special effects? And which was the most difficult scene to shoot?
When one plays a character for such a long time, some of the most important things are knowing how to save one’s energy, staying focused on the role and understanding what one has to do to play the character sensibly. Peter helped us move forward and improve in every take trying out new things. He was always ready to shoot one more take. It was as if he were waiting for the moment for you to tell him that you’d given your best, that you have no more strength left in you to shoot another take, just because he wants one to feel the characters are very tense. Peter also prevents actors from being too “comfortable” when acting because that will become evident on the screen and as soon as the audience notices it, they won’t believe in what we put on scene and will stop caring about what’s happening. As regards the special effects, I’d say that the most complex scene to shoot was the one in which we face the stone giants on the slope of the mountain. We shot that in the studio with a huge wind machine which threw a heavy rain upon us. I was wearing a harness under my costume and was hanging from cables to help me climb down the side of the cliff to rescue Gloin and Oin. When you’re carrying the harness, the padding of fake muscles, the costume, the bags and the accessories in addition to your make-up and wig, and everything is soaking wet and weighs you down, it becomes extremely difficult to stay on your feet while having to withstand strong gusts of wind. It was exactly what the dwarves were supposed to be going through at the time, an arduous and dangerous test. However, it was also necessary to be able to keep going physically to carry out the sequence successfully… When we left the set we thought of weighing ourselves to find out how much heavier the water which was still soaking what we were wearing had made us. We realized then that each of us was moving around carrying a total weight of 25 to 30 kilos of soaked accessories and costumes! Getting through such an ordeal contributed to bring us even closer to one another.
The rumor that The Hobbit films are to become three movies was just confirmed by Peter Jackson on Facebook!:
It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made. Recently Fran, Phil and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie – and a large chunk of the second. We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life. All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved ‘yes.’
- Allocine interviews Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage, and Martin Freeman. Each actor talks about playing their character. Armitage on Thorin: “He’s bringing his people home. He’s coming back to reclaim their treasure and to take his people back to where they belong. So for me, it’s a story of revenge and loyalty, trust and honor. That’s been an amazing thing to try and portray; that sense of a burning ember that’s dying and he has to go and rekindle it.”
- Interview with Richard Armitage on HitFix
Discusses singing dwarves, and finding classical inspiration for his character. Also talks about how they are filming the two movies as one long film and have not decided exactly where to split it yet.
- Brief clips of interviews with Peter Jackson, Ian McKellen, and Richard Armitage (who is now the king of the Hobbits, wouldn’t ya know!) on FoxNews.
- Second part of the LaCosaCine coverage of the Press Conference Q&A with Peter Jackson, Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, and Philippa Boyens.
- Part of the interview with Richard Armitage by TheOneRing.net.
- Part of the interview with Ian McKellen by TheOneRing.net.
- Part of the interview with Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens by TheOneRing.net.
- Gig Patta has three videos on YouTube which cover the same Q&A material with Peter Jackson, Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, and Philippa Boyens which thompsononhollywood posted to youtube (listed below), but with a bit of additional material at the beginning, and some extended interviews with Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen at the end. The audio is still not the best, but clearer in places. Part 1,
- Ian McKellen on HitFix
Explains how the Hobbit will be lighter than LOTR
- There is now additional coverage on Youtube of different sections of the press conference Q&A with Peter Jackson, Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, and Philippa Boyens by thompsononhollywood: Part 1 and Part 2 (audio is not great).
- Peter Jackson on amctheatres
Peter discusses combining the lighter tone of the original Hobbit with the darker Appendices.
- Ian McKellen on amctheatres
Ian talks about how Gandalf can hold his liquor!
- Peter Jackson, Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, and Philippa Boyens at the Press Q&A – 14 mins by LaCosaCine.
Adding material from the Appendices. What it’s like for newcomers Armitage and Freeman. The value of 48 fps for cinema. Ian McKellen about returning to Gandalf. Serkis on coming back to Gollum.
- Brief quotes by Richard Armitage and Ian McKellen on 7News
- Peter Jackson, Ian McKellen interviews by AP
Honest answers about whether Jackson wants to be at Comic-con, and why Ian McKellen would have felt a bit “perverse” about passing on the role of Gandalf again. Also how Gandalf the Grey > Gandalf the White!
- Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman on ITN
They describe the theatre-like quality of filming Riddles in the Dark.
- Peter Jackson on SiriusXM
Talks about the challenge of adapting the book for screen and bringing in material from the Appendices. Assures there will be “glimpses” of Smaug in the first film. Explains how using 3D did not change his overall style of shooting. Mentions Howard Shore’s score.
- Peter Jackson on 3News
Explains about making another trilogy.
- Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage on MTV
Reflections about coming back to work with the old crew, and how everything is close-knit in Wellington.
- Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Peter Jackson, and Philippa Boyens on EW.com
- Ian McKellen on La Cosa Cine
Thoughts on the finished footage, and how 3D in The Hobbit draws the audience in, instead of pushing it out.
- Ian McKellen on Access Hollywood
Describes the difficulties of acting with the new technology required to make Gandalf appear the right scale with the dwarves.
- Ian McKellen on Fandango
Ian describes the agelessness of Gandalf, but that he will be getting involved in “relationships which might surprise the audience”. Oh? Do tell, Ian!
- Andy Serkis on The Hollywood Reporter
Mentions the challenges of being a second-unit director. Describes Gollum’s character in The Hobbit, and the differences in capturing Gollum’s performance between LOTR and Hobbit.
- Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman on Access Hollywood
Talking about playing the Riddles in the Dark scene together, and about shooting in 48 frames a second.
- Peter Jackson on Crave Online
Why he ultimately came around to direct the films from a sense of responsibility, and about why it’s important to the industry to make a film that is best seen in the theatre. Also how the Silmarilion will never be made into a film.
- Peter Jackson on HitFix
On filming more material next year for extended cuts, or a third film.
- Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson on IGN
About adapting the book into two films, and using material from the Appendices of Return of the King.
- Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens on Fandango
Philippa and Peter discuss working as a trio of writers with Fran.
- Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson on TORn
About those hot dwarves…blame Philippa.
- Richard Armitage on IGN
Talks about playing an elf in a Hobbit play at age 11. Also about dealing with the scrutiny of fans during the production, and how they aren’t finished filming some of the fight sequences yet.
He says of Thorin: “He’s the last of the line of Durin to reclaim their kingdom. He has to do it for his people.”
- Richard Armitage on Fandango
Richard talks about how a 6′ 2″ actor can be cast as a 5′ 2″ dwarf!
- Richard Armitage on TORn
The audio quality of this one is poor. Fortunately a transcript was made by Bccmee:
Quickbeam: Hello there, Richard. How’re you doing, sir?
Richard Armitage: How are you?
Quickbeam: Good to see you.
Richard Armitage: Good to see you, too.
Quickbeam: You spent some time with our friend Larry Curtis.
Richard Armitage: I did.
Quickbeam: When he was visiting. It was a little while ago.
Richard Armitage: Yes.
Quickbeam: Actually I was there myself 3 or 4 weeks ago and you were very very busy.
Richard Armitage: Was I? Oh no, I did say hi to you.
Quickbeam: Well you were very “in mode.”
Richard Armitage: Was I in crazy mode?
Quickbeam: Actually you were in “Robert DeNiro mode.” You were very focused. It was fantastic. And I had a nice talk with Mana, your double. He’s an old friend of mine.
Richard Armitage: I so love that with my stunt double.
Quickbeam: Isn’t he great?
Richard Armitage: I watched footage and thought it was me. And it’s nice when you don’t recognize yourself. That’s when you know your stunt double is amazing.
Quickbeam: He’s a tall drink of water, that guy.
Richard Armitage: Yeah, I want to take his number. I want to work with him every time.
Quickbeam: He’s very very cool. I’ve heard from listening to the conversations you had that you read the books when you were very young.
Richard Armitage: Yeah.
Quickbeam: Which fills my heart with joy. And the fans as well would like to know you have an organic connection to the story. We’re really looking forward to seeing the films and it makes all the difference that you know the story.
Richard Armitage: Well I think that when you grow up with characters like this, they change as you get older, they evolve. Going back, I’m 40 years old and they were read to me when I was 7. And it feels different. These characters feel different. And then actually putting the costume on and trying to make that character live and breathe and walk and talk. It’s like you’re given this responsibility to every other person who’s read them, who’s just reading the books for the first time or who has read it when they were 7. That’s the responsibility and you have to own that for everyone. And I’ve tried to take that on, but I’ve only got my own imagination to work with. It’s served me well in the past so I think it will do again.
Quickbeam: I believe it will. From what I’ve witnessed, it’s served you quite well. I was very impressed with everything the team was doing on the set. But let me ask you something about the staying power of myth. Why do these stories have such a holding power on us?
Richard Armitage: That was one of Tolkien’s great achievements. He didn’t really create myths, he created legends. And that’s what his full intention was, to create something that felt like it was of this earth, not somewhere else in the same way C.S. Lewis did. If you read any of the early histories of the evolution series it comes through, you realize that you’re looking for something much deeper, much more English actually.
Richard Armitage: He wants to create a universe that you think may have existed. He created a religion of languages.
Quickbeam: Seventeen original languages Tolkien invented. Which is crazy.
Richard Armitage: And I think his passion for language and the way he used Nordic mythology is why the books feel so real and sustain over a long period of time. And will do. I would be very surprised if any of these stories get remade again. But I think Tolkien will be visualized on film. Maybe Silmarillion or something like that. I mean that would be a great honor to see that come to life.
Quickbeam: It would.
Richard Armitage: And it would be a tragedy if it didn’t.
Quickbeam: Indeed. Well, Richard, thank you for your time.
Richard Armitage: Nice to talk to you.
Quickbeam: Congratulations on all your good work.
Richard Armitage: Thank you.
Quickbeam: Cheers. Well-done. Ladies and gentlemen, that was Richard Armitage. Thorin Oakenshield himself right here on TheOneRing.Net. You guys got to talk to him before anybody else. And look at that. A few yards away from us is Sir Ian McKellen.
A compilation of spoilers for the Hobbit footage shown at Comic-con follow. Each account gives a slightly different take on the scenes.
Update 7/17/12: Added Quint’s report revealing a few extra details, and a report from Cineplex.com which adds just a little more description to the Bag End scene.
- By Emma Badame of Cineplex.com (read the full article here).
- FIRST SCENE: After a short montage of clips (noticeably set to the score from The Last of the Mohicans - a classic!), we focus in on a scene in the Shire and in Bag End. Gathered around a table are 13 dwarves, including their leader Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), and Gandalf. They’re in the middle of debating how best to retrieve their stolen treasure from the dragon Smaug. The biggest problem? The gate is sealed and so there’s no way into the mountain. Gandalf admits that’s not entirely true, while pulling out a key entrusted to him for safekeeping by Oakenshield’s father. But how to find the door? The dwarf passages are invisible and treacherous. “The task I have in mind will require a great deal of stealth, and no small amount of courage,” says Gandalf. “But if you’re careful and clever, I believe it can be done.”
So it’s agreed that they need a thief and Bilbo, silent until now, steps forward and agrees that whoever it is, they should be an expert. The dwarves think he means himself, but Bilbo is quick to assure them he’s never stolen anything in his life. The dwarves agree he’s ill-suited to the job, after all it’s no place for folk who can’t fight for themselves. Bilbo nods in wholehearted agreement. Gandalf does not agree. Pulling himself up to his full height, he thunders: “If I say Bilbo Baggins is a burglar, then a burglar he is.” Now that he has everyone’s undivided attention, he points out (in his normal voice) that a Hobbit would be perfect for the job – they’re light on their feet, and the dragon Smaug won’t be familiar with their scent, unlike dwarves. “There is a lot more to him than appearances suggest,” Gandalf advises, and more in him than even Bilbo himself realises. “You must trust me on this.”
The dwarves relent and pass Bilbo their standard contract required to join them on their quest. As Bilbo peruses the hilariously gruesome contract, Thorin relays to Gandalf that he cannot be guarantee the Hobbit’s safety or be responsible for his fate. Gandalf agrees. The dwarf contract itself? Well it includes a laundry list of clauses mentioning the length of the journey, remuneration, possible funeral arrangements and the indemnification of the dwarves should any “laceration, evisceration, and incineration” occur to anyone undertaking the unexpected journey. Bilbo considers his possible fate for moment before fainting dead away.
- MONTAGE: Another grouping of clips including a sequence with Gandalf walking across a bridge into a less than inviting fortress. “What if it’s a trap?” wonders a nearby dwarf. “Turn around and do not come back. It’s undoubtedly a trap,” Gandalf yells back, walking forward with sword and staff drawn. Cut to Gandalf in series of dark passages, with a monster chasing after him.
- SECOND SCENE: Bilbo encounters Gollum (Andy Serkis) in the goblin tunnels. Bilbo, lost and terrified of the strange creature, holds him off with his sword. “Keep off! keep off! I’ll use this if I have to!” He simply wants to know the way out of the tunnels. “I want to get unlost as soon as possible.” Cue Gollum (and his other half Smeagol) debating what to do with this lost, juicy Hobbit from the Shire. “We know the safe path in the dark. Shut up! We wasn’t talking to you.” Gollum asks if Bilbo likes games and asks him a riddle: “What has roots that nobody sees, is taller than trees, and up up up it goes, and yet never grows?” Bilbo ponders briefly before answering: “The mountain.” Delighted but perplexed, Gollum/Smeagol argue over whether they should play more games with the Hobbit or just finish him off. Bilbo realises his best chance of escape is to play along with Gollum’s game of words and riddles. The wager? If he wins, Gollum will show him the way out. If he loses, “we eats it whole.” Bilbo, surprisingly nonplussed (drew a big laugh from the fans), sheathes his sword and declares it “fair enough!”
- THIRD SCENE: The ethereally beautiful Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) wants to know why Gandalf the Grey choose “the halfling” for this most difficult of journeys. Unlike fellow wizard Saruman who believes in power above all, Gandalf believes “it is the small things, every act of normal folk that keeps the darkness of at bay — simple acts of kindness and love.” He continues: “Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.” Galadriel steps forward and takes ahold of Gandalf’s hand, saying that if has ever any need of her, he only has to ask and she will be there. It’s quite a touching and emotional moment that hints at something deeper between the two, particularly on the part of the wizard.
- FINAL SCENE: Bilbo finds the Ring and, curious, picks it up. Cut to a scene between the Hobbit and Gandalf, where the wizard is concerned that his friend has changed, that he is not the same Hobbit who left The Shire. Bilbo smiles and looks as if he might confess the reason. “I was going to tell you. I found something…” says Bilbo, while grasping at his jacket pocket, his fingers aching to pull out his new treasure but fighting himself at the same time. ”What did you find?” asks Gandalf twice, with some trepidation and anxiety. A pause…and a cop-out as Bilbo moves his hand away from his pocket. “My courage.” Gandalf, clearly both relived and still concerned, says simply, “Good. Well, that’s good. You’ll need it.”
The crowd went wild over every scene, particularly the game of riddles between Bilbo and Gollum – the crowd clearly has a soft spot for Serkis and his familiar creature. There was no doubt that they also lapped up the performances from newcomers Freeman and Armitage, particularly jumping on the lighter touches that Freeman brings to the much younger Bilbo. And in that last scene, Freeman really nails the mix of emotions and warring voices inside the changing Hobbit, while McKellan continues to mine every nuance available in Gandalf the Grey.Jackson stated earlier this week, in an interview with the L.A. Time’s Hero Complex, that Freeman hits it out of the park as Bilbo…and the crowd seemed to be leaning in a similar direction. I’m inclined to agree. Fabulous stuff.
- By Quint of Aintitcool.com (read the full article here):
Unlike the technology focused Cinemacon footage presentation, this one was all about the footage. Shown in 24fps 2D the content was the centerpiece. Jackson chose long sequences to anchor the footage instead of a typical quickly cut sizzle reel.
”The dragon, Smaug (pronounced Sm-Ow-g), has not been seen for 60 years. Eyes look East to the mountain assessing, wondering, weighing the risk. Perhaps the vast wealth of our people lies unprotected. Do we sit back while others claim what’s rightfully ours or do we seize this chance to take back Erebor?!?” says Thorin around Bilbo’s dinner table and then we get that full scene, which leads to Bilbo being hired as the burglar, much to his dismay.
This sequence is the “I cannot guarantee his safety,” bit from the trailer and it really seems to set up the character of the group, especially Bilbo who is eavesdropping the whole conversation doesn’t realize Gandalf’s about to pull him into the adventure.
When he realizes this he panics a little bit, but there is a side of him that wants to go. And then he’s handed the contract and bristles when he’s told it covers the usual stuff “out of pocket expenses, remuneration, funeral expenses.” He quickly looks through the long paper. Mumbling, “… company shall not be responsible for injuries resulting from lacerations, evisceration… incineration?!?”
James Nesbitt’s Bofur then excitedly starts talking about the dragon. “Think furnace with wings!” Bilbo’s head swims and he fights a faint… and loses.
The footage also gave us our first glimpses at two fresh characters. First being Radagast the Brown as played by Sylvester “I’m a Timelord” McCoy. We see him nursing a hedgehog back to life. He’s a ratty figure, long dark beard, side of his head covered in bird poop, big (but not pointy) hat and wooden staff. There was a second shot with him as he lifted his hat and let a few birds fly under it. He’s a great character and I can’t wait to see how he comes across in the film. I dare say from what I saw on location and in this bit of footage I believe he’ll be an audience favorite.
The next big chunk of a scene was Gollum and Bilbo meeting. What was interesting for me in this sequence was seeing how they divided up the scene between Gollum and Smeagol. Gollum wants to eat this hobbit, Smeagol seems overjoyed at having a bit of intelligent company. It’s Smeagol who wants to play the game of riddles and hearing Serkis back in the role is amazing. You forget just how much empathy he injects into Smeagol. I love that guy.
”If I win, you’ll show me the way out?” “(Smeagol to Bilbo) Yes! Yes! (Gollum to Smeagol) And if it loses, what then? (Smeagol to Gollum) If it loses, precious, then we eats it! (Smeagol to Bilbo, matter of factly) If Baggins loses we eats it whole.” Martin Freeman holds this moment, milking it for an appropriate amount of laughs before going “Fair enough” and sheathing Sting.
Probably the most emotional part of the footage was the scene between Gandalf and Galadriel in Rivendell that you see in the trailer. She’s asking him why he invited the Halfling to join the quest. “I don’t know,” he says. “Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. That is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small things, every day deeds from ordinary folk, that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid. He gives me courage.”
McKellen kills it in this scene, if I may be so bold. He shows why Gandalf the Grey is so much more of an interesting character than Gandalf the White. He’s admits his fear, shows vulnerability, but also shows the great power of love. It’s a beautifully written and performed scene and Cate Blanchett shows much grace by her comforting gesture, her brushing Gandalf’s hair out of his eyes. It’s the scene that got to the most out of any of the footage, no matter how cool it is to see Bilbo pick up the ring or the red-headed Tauriel (Evangeline Lily) slicing up some Orcs or Legolas doing a slide through the leaves in Mirkwood, aiming an elvish arrow at our dwarves, it’s the quiet moments of connection like the one between Gandalf and Galadriel that make this feel the most like Lord of the Rings to me.
One more thing to describe before getting to the panel info, another important aspect to this movie is Bilbo’s relationship with the ring and the hold it has over him.
Again, this is a small, character-driven moment between Gandalf and Bilbo. “You’ve changed, Bilbo Baggins. You’re not the same hobbit who left the Shire.” “I was going to tell you… I… found something in the goblin tunnels.” “Found what? What did you find?” Bilbo is fingering the ring in his pocket, finding it hard to tell this wizard who he trusts with his life what he clearly wants to tell him. Gandalf’s interest increases and Bilbo finally says, “My courage.” Which is both true and false at the same time. He did find his courage, but he can’t reveal to the wizard what that courage was born from. It’s an incredibly smart scene and very well played.
Gandalf finishes with “Good. You’ll need it” as we see bits of crazy fantasy threats, like orcs, goblins, a Stone Giant (literally a man-shaped mountain-sized figure) tossing a giant boulder at the fellowship of dwarves on a rainy mountain ridge and the trolls holding Bilbo upside down.
Huge reaction from the crowd, of course. I love being in the Hall when they really get into something. It’s like being at the Geek Superbowl.
- By Adam B. Vary of EW.com (read the full article here):
Footage Screened: We also saw the final day of production on both the second unit — directed by Andy Serkis — and the main unit, including a scene between Bilbo (Freeman) and Gandalf (McKellan) with this dialogue (which was seen, but not heard):
Gandalf: I need a horse!
Bilbo: Why? Where are you going?
Gandalf: In search of answers!
When the dispatch finished, Jackson took to the stage with a cameraphone in hand, shooting footage for an upcoming behind-the-scenes doc about The Hobbit‘s debut at Comic-Con. He introduced what turned out to be a whopping 12-and-a-half minute preview of both films of The Hobbit by noting that the music tracks were temp (and indeed, I picked up one cue from Last of the Mohicans), and that the effects shots weren’t entirely finished (though, boy, most of them looked like they were).
And then we were treated to four full scenes from the films, bracketed by quick montage-y looks at many of the more high action sequences.
Scene 1: Gandalf and the 13 dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), debate whether Bilbo should be allowed to join their quest to reclaim their treasure from Smaug, since it’s not clear if he is clever and sneaky enough to help them break into his secret lair. Eventually, Gandalf stands firm, and Bilbo reads over the “standard” contract to join their quest, which includes clauses noting that “laceration, evisceration, [and] incineration” are possible fates for him. Bilbo faints.
Scene 2: Bilbo meets Gollum (Andy Serkis), looking (slightly) younger than he did in The Lord of the Rings but still very much gripped by his Smeagol/Gollum split personality — they debate whether to eat Bilbo, or play word games with him. Bilbo realizes his best chance of escaping the goblin tunnels alive is to play along with Gollum, so he proposes a game of riddles. If he wins, Gollum helps him out. If he loses, says Gollum, “we eats it whole.”
Scene 3: Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) asks Gandalf why he brought “the halfling” on this most unexpected journey, prompting one of Gandalf’s soul-stirring speeches about how it’s “the small deeds by ordinary folk” that best hold evil at bay. It ends with what I perceived as quite a tender moment between Galadriel and Gandalf, hinting at an unspoken ache in Gandalf’s heart for the attentions of this celestial being standing before him.
Scene 4: We see Bilbo pick up the fateful One Ring, and then cut to a later scene where Bilbo almost confesses to Gandalf about the new item he’s picked up on his way. “I found something in the goblin tunnels,” says Bilbo.
“What did you find?” says Gandalf, clearly concerned.
- By Eric Eisenberg of Cinemablend.com (read the full article here):
The first scene of the footage features all of the dwarfs convening in Bilbo’s house discussing whether or not they should make the trip to the Lonely Mountain to try and get the treasure that Smaug stole from their ancestors. Though there is some question, Thorin Oakenshield (Armitage) manages to get everyone to agree to go with a stirring speech. The problem is that he front gate is sealed, but that’s an issue that Gandalf (Ian McKellan) has an answer to. Out of his robes he pulls a key that he says previously belonged to Thorin’s father. The wizard gives Thorin the key and he stares at it deeply. A map is then brought out and they begin to strategize. They then get onto the subject of needing a burglar and all of the dwarfs turn to look at Bilbo (Martin Freeman), who is at first shocked by the comment and then defiantly says no. Some of the dwarfs chime in saying that they don’t believe Bilbo is the right man for the job either, but the room goes silent as Gandalf stands and bellows, controlling the entire room with his voice. He tells the dwarfs that Bilbo is indeed the man for the job and adds that while Smaug will recognize the smell of a dwarf, he won’t know the smell of a hobbit.
The dwarfs then begin to throw their support behind the little hobbit and given him a contract to sign. As Bilbo leaves the room, Thorin speaks softly to Gandalf saying, “I can’t guarantee his safety nor will I be responsible for his fate.” Bilbo starts going over the paperwork and while the first item on the list is nice – 1/14th of the profits from the mission – things get much worse from there as he reads about the potential laceration and incineration that may result from the trip. He begins to feel faint and Bofur (James Nesbitt) hops up to make things worse. As Bilbo starts to swoon, Bofur talks about being set on fire and being turned to ash, which promptly causes the hobbit to fall to the floor.
The next series of clips were short and gave the crowd an idea of the film’s scope. Kicking off with Gandalf riding a horse across a desert, the montage included shots of Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Christopher Lee as Saruman, and Stephen Fry as the mayor of Laketown. The footage also showed us Beorn’s house as well as a boat riding through icy waters.
And then we got to see another extended sequence. In a scene that wasn’t in the book, Gandalf is getting ready to enter some catacombs and is told by a bystander that it might be a trap. Gandalf tells his friend to leave as “it’s undoubtedly a trap.” We then see him running around the catacombs, his sword drawn, being chased by a mysterious enemy. As he turns a corner the mystery villain leaps and attacks.
And then came time for riddles in the dark. One of the most famous scenes from the book, Bilbo is stuck in a cave when he meets Smeagol (Andy Serkis). Bilbo has his sword, Sting, drawn and he waves it at the little monster, explaining that he wants to know how to get out of the cave. Smeagol then begins to talk to himself (as he has been known to do), leading Bilbo to become confused and say, “I don’t know what your game is.” This excites Smeagol, who gives Bilbo a riddle: “What has roots as nobody sees, Is taller than trees, Up, up it goes, And yet never grows?” The hero answers, “A mountain,” which is the correct answer. But that’s only the beginning. They set the rules so that if Bilbo wins he gets to leave, but if Smeagol wins then he gets to eat Bilbo whole, which the hobbit is none too pleased about.
The footage then cut to another scene not in the book, this one between Gandalf and Galadriel. She questions why the wizard chose the halfling for the mission and he explains that it’s the small things, the ordinary things, that have the power to keep the darkness at bay. She responds in Elvish, “If you should ever need my help, I will come.”
It then quickly cuts back to Smeagol’s cave where Bilbo discovers the One Ring, and then a confrontation between Bilbo and Gandalf. The wizard remarks that the hobbit has changed, to which the hobbit has an answer. “. “I was going to tell you,” he says as he begins to reach into his pocket. “I found something in the goblin tunnels.” He pauses and takes his fingers out of his pocket “…My courage.” Gandalf smiles and responds, “Good, that’s good, You’ll need it.”
It all came to a close with yet another montage, this one featuring all kinds of mythical creatures including trolls, giants, goblins, and a sled being pulled by massive rabbits. The footage concluded with a shot of Legolas (Orlando Bloom) pulling out an arrow and pointing it straight in Thorin’s face.
- From Charlie Jane Anders of io9.com (read the full article here):
The Dwarf Contract
So the first clip we saw took place in the Shire, during a meeting of a group of dwarves along with Gandalf, all sitting around a table with Bilbo standing in the doorway watching them. (First, we zoom in on Bilbo’s house, with a Gandalf voiceover saying, “Far to the East, over ranges, over rivers, beyond woodlands and westlands, lies a single solitary peak. Ravens have been seen flying back to the mountain, as it was foretold.”)
The dwarves are freaking out, because the dragon Smaug has not been seen for 60 years, and people are looking to the East — assessing, wondering, and weighing the risk. “Perhaps the vast wealth of our people lies unprotected,” says Thorin Oakenshield. So do the dwarves hang back, while others take what’s theirs? Or do they take it?
There’s just one problem: the front gate is sealed, and there’s no way into the mountain. Except, says Gandalf, that’s not entirely true. He has an ancient key, which was given to him for safekeeping, and he’s giving it back now. Where there’s a key, there must be a door — and runes speak of a hidden passage to the lower halls. But the dwarf passages, are invisible and impossible to find.
“The task I have in mind will require a great deal of stealth, and no small amount of courage,” says Gandalf. “But if you’re careful and clever, I believe it can be done.”
Everyone agrees they need a burglar — and Bilbo says it needs to be an expert. Suddenly, the dwarves all think Bilbo said that he’s an expert — but he protests that he’s never stolen anything in his life. The dwarves all agree with him that he’s not really burglar material — the wild is no place for gentle folk who can’t fight or fend for themselves.
Then Gandalf does the Thunder Voice and turns incredibly dark: “If I say Bilbo Baggins is a burglar, then a burglar he is.” Everybody is startled and looks as though they’ve just been mind-controlled. Gandalf continues in a normal voice, saying that Hobbits are light on their feet, and the dragon Smaug is familiar with the scent of dwarves, but not so much the scent of Hobbits. “There is a lot more to him than appearances suggest,” says Gandalf — and Bilbo has a lot more in him than anybody realizes, including Bilbo himself. “You must trust me on this.”
So the dwarves agree, and give Bilbo the standard dwarf contract for going on an adventure — full of clauses in which Bilbo agrees to the terms of the adventure, including how long it’ll take. And funeral arrangements. And we glimpse Bilbo’s huge Hobbit feet for the first time! While Bilbo is reading the gruesome contract, the dwarves are muttering to Gandalf that they can’t guarantee Bilbo’s safety — and Gandalf agrees.
The dwarf contract gets more ridiculous — until Bilbo is indemnifying the dwarves for any laceration, evisceration or incineration he suffers from the dragon. “Oh aye, he’ll melt the flesh off your bones in the blink of an eye,” says one dwarf. A dragon is a “furnace with wings. Flash of light, searing pain, then you’re nothing more than a pile of ash.”
Bilbo seems fine for a second, then he faints.
Glimpses of Other Stuff
We saw a quick succession of snippets: Gandalf on his horse. Then Gandalf holding a great sword, which lights up the darkness. The whole company climbs an ornate staircase against a beautiful vista. Somebody is handling a strange-looking rodent. And then there’s a quick shot of Christopher Lee as the wizard Saruman!
There’s Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, looking amazingly shiny. Bilbo is holding a sword and looking at it. And there’s a trapdoor which is opened by a bearded figure who stamps his foot, causing the floor to open up and reveal treasure. Bilbo and the dwarves are riding on a boat through the river. A dwarf has birds landing in his hair, and then he puts his hat on over the birds. [this is likely Radagast -DJ]
Then there’s a sequence where Gandalf is walking into a misty landscape. “Wait,” says one dwarf [again probably Radagast], “What if it’s a trap?”
“Turn around and do not come back,” says Gandalf. “It’s undoubtedly a trap.” He walks forward, sword in one hand and staff in the other. Then he’s inside a maze of dark passages, with a monster hunting him. The monster scuttles around, and Gandalf runs . Gandalf gets his arm scraped, and clutches at it. And then the monster jumps out at him and pounces on him, and they stuggle together [probably Thrain -DJ].
Gollum and Bilbo
Gollum is in a cave full of riches. And he’s looking at Bilbo, who says he’s a Hobbit from the Shire.
“Is it soft? Is it juicy?” Gollum asks. Bilbo brandishes his sword. “Keep off! keep off! I’ll use this if I have to!” He just wants to know the way out of this cave, and he’ll be on his way. “I want to get unlost as soon as possible.”
And then Gollum starts arguing with himself — “We know the safe path in the dark. Shut up! We wasn’t talking to you.” Bilbo is confused and a bit taken aback by the creature arguing with himself — and Gollum asks if Bilbo likes games. Gollum asks a riddle:”What has roots that nobody sees, is taller than trees, and up up up it goes, and yet never grows?” “The mountain,” answers Bilbo.
Then Gollum is torn as to whether to play more riddles or just finish Bilbo off now.
So Bilbo makes an offer — he wants to play at riddles with Smeagol. Just the, er, two of them. And if he wins, Gollum will show him the way out of there. But if Bilbo loses? “We eats it. If Baggins loses, we eats him whole.” Bilbo frowns, but then puts his sword away. Fair enough!
Gandalf and Galadriel
Then we see an absolutely gorgeous scene of Gandalf talking to Galadriel. Why the Halfling? She asks.
“I do not know,” Gandalf answers. “Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that it is not what I’ve found. I’ve found it is the small things, every act of normal folk that keeps the darkness of at bay — simple acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.”
Galadriel takes his hands and tells him not to be afraid — he is not alone. If he ever needs her help, she will come. She touches his face, then touches his hands again, then pulls away and vanishes. Gandalf is left alone by the sunset.
Bilbo finds a certain ring. He looks at it, and picks it up, curiously.
Then we see Bilbo talking to Gandalf — who says that Bilbo has changed. He’s not the same Hobbit who left the Shire.
Bilbo smiles, sadly — Freeman really nails the weird mixture of emotions in this scene. “I was going to tell you.” He reaches for the ring in his pocket. “I found something in the Goblin tunnels.”
Found what? Gandalf asks.
Bilbo struggles, trying to pull the ring out of the pocket but not wanting to.
What did you find? Gandalf asks again.
“My courage,” says Bilbo. He takes his hand away
Gandalf looks concerned, but only says, “Good. Well, that’s good. You’ll need it.”
Then there are glimpses of sword-fighting against giants! Gandalf fighting a giant with his sword, and the giants with their massive rocky scary faces, throwing shit at everybody. Giants scowl at the camera. There’s a massive battle. And we see Galadriel looking lovely and ethereal.
And later, Legolas is aiming his bow and arrow at a dwarf, saying, “Do you think I won’t kill you, dwarf?”
Then more shots of giants laying waste to everything in sight, smashing and destroying. And then Gandalf puts his sword down in the ground, and light comes out of it!
Behind the Scenes
We also saw one of Peter Jackson’s trademark videoblogs, a video diary of the last days of filming on the Hobbit movies — including personalized greetings from all of the Dwarves to the Comic Con audience, from the movie’s set. And we glimpsed some pretty hilarious action, including a dwarf in a barrel being covered with real dead fish until they go over his head. “That was highly unpleasant,” the actor says after filming the scene — then sees the camera filming him, and fakes cheer: “I mean, it was lovely!”
Also, we saw the filming of a scene in a house, where everything is built huge so that the Dwarves and the one Hobbit look tiny against all this massive furniture.
We also saw some amazing shots of the filming in Laketown, with the houses on the water — and a bit where the buildings are on fire, and someone breaks down the door of a house, and a huge fireball comes flying out and throws him into the water. We also glimpsed the Master of Laketown — Stephen Fry! — who seemed very jolly and joked about checking out the Dwarves’ behinds. “I saw you shaking that ass,” says Fry in his plummy voice.
And we saw a few snippets of Bilbo in a room piled high with gold coins and jewelry. (“Oh, no, I’ve lost my wedding ring in there,” a crew member jokes.”) Jackson says that the dragon will be added, about a year and a half from now. And we see Freeman standing there, saying that dwarves are hard to catch, and so are burglars — and then he puts on a ring!
- By Maegwen of TORn (read the full article here):
The Hobbit showreel:
It opens with a sweeping shot of the green hills of the Shire, with a voiceover from Gandalf intoning “Far to the east lies…” Setting the scene of where they are going -– which is Bag End and the dwarves gathered around Bilbo’s table talking about the quest.
An imposing and grim Thorin Oakenshield heads the table: “Rumors have begun to spread,” he says, “The dragon Smaug has not been seen in many years… Perhaps the vast wealth of our people lies unprotected … perhaps it is time to take back Erebor!”
Gandalf produces the key “It was given to me by your father for safekeeping, it is yours now.”
Fili: “if there’s a key there must be a door!”
This leads in to a discussion of the map and what must be done to go after the long-lost treasure. Gandalf looks to Bilbo… “That is why we need a burglar.”
Martin Freeman is wonderful in this scene, playing a hobbit who is as yet oblivious of what is being designed for him. Even as Gandalf professes the need for a burglar, he agrees but doesn’t quite realize that what Gandalf means is HIM.
“He’s hardly burglar material” the dwarves observe as they regard him skeptically. Which Bilbo happily agrees to. Gandalf then rises to full height and in a deep voice, (much like in Fellowship of the Ring when he says commandingly: “I’m not trying to hurt you, I’m trying to help you”) he warns the dwarves that a burglar he isn’t, but a burglar he will be.
Because, he says, Smaug is well aware of the scent of dwarf. A Hobbit will be wholly unknown to him. Bilbo looks appropriately horrified.
Thorin and the others are extremely skeptical: “Very well, we’ll do it your way.”
As we saw in the trailer last fall, Thorin says: “I cannot guarantee his safety, nor will I be responsible for his fate.”
“Agreed,” replies Gandalf.
The reading of the contract is hilarious, as Bilbo goes over the terms and the various dwarves jump to reassure him that it will be painless once he’s turned ash. James Nesbitt, as Bofur, is superbly funny.
Then Bilbo faints. Thunk.
A series of quick shots of Radagast follow
Radagast is full-bearded, rough-looking, with a big hat… which we later see conceals a number of birds. He’s cuddling
a hedgehog and later on we see him racing through the forest on the infamous “bunnysled”.
There’s a quick look at Laketown, which looks amazing. Large boats, almost like pontoons, navigating their way through a warren of canals. We also see the Master of Laketown, played by Stephen Fry.
A brief moment of Gandalf speaking to Radagast: “Turn around and do not come back.”
Radagast responds, “what if it’s a trap?”
Gandalf replies, “It is undoubtedly a trap.”
Radagast does come across as very gentle, as we heard out of Cinema-Con reports.
We follow Gandalf into what could only be Dol Guldur. Looking terrified, he races through narrow passages, as we see glimpses of something ominous racing around either away or following him. Very tight quarters, then suddenly a person we assume to be Thrain leaps out and attacks him.
The riddle game…
Cut away to Bilbo and Gollum meeting in the goblin caves. Bilbo is clumsily waving Sting at Gollum, trying to get him to go away.
“I need to get un-lost a soon as possible.” Bilbo tells Gollum. “I don’t know what your game is.”
“GAMES, WE LOVES GAMES, DON’T WE PRECIOUS!?” Says Gollum, who is quickly slipping between Smeagol and his alter ego.
Bilbo, frightened but up for a small shot at escape, “ Let’s play a game. If I win you show me the way out of here.”
It then segues into the riddle game and after into an expanded look at the scene which caused much speculation when the first trailer was released.
Gandalf and Galadriel come together, with Galadriel saying: “Mithrandir, why the halfling?”
Gandalf responds: “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small things everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? That’s because I am afraid and it gives me courage.”
Gandalf and Galadriel are holding hands but not in a way that is romantic, but more in the sense of a lifetime of friendship and shared experiences. There is longing, but there is sadness. I cannot say that it is “love” in the way most people think of it.
“Do not be afraid, Mithrandir, you are not alone,” in Elvish, with English subtitles. “If you ever need aid, I will come.” And after a long look, she draws away from him, leaving him standing alone, and… slightly lost.
Cut to Bilbo picking up the ring
Gandalf raises his eyebrow and asks, “What did you find?”
Bilbo hesitates and fingers his vest pocket and then drops his hand and says: “My courage”.
Gandalf replies, “Your courage? Good, you’ll need it”.
It’s the first instance of Bilbo’s reluctance to tell the truth about the Ring.
And herrrrrrrrrrrrre we go, on a wild ride of action shots.
BOOM. GIANTS. Ugly, mean, wild and vicious stone giants.
Radagast, racing through the forest on his bunnysled. Yes, a bunnysled. A sled, pulled by surprisingly strong bunnies.
Tauriel, barely shown in these clips, although Philippa speaks highly of her in the Q&A which follows. What we do see is a female, dressed in-brown version of Legolas (description courtesy of Quickbeam), in combat with goblins. Legolas springs out of… leaves? …and joins in the fighting.
Legolas races from the action and comes face-to-face with the party of dwarves, who come to a shocked standstill. “I won’t hesitate to kill you, dwarf,” says everyone’s favorite elf. Warning: We are slightly guessing on the exact quote, due to excessive audience screaming.
More trolls… and then Gandalf is seen standing on a hillside, stabbing his staff into the ground with a blast of morning sunlight.
So that’s a lot to digest at once! There are still some details which haven’t been described by those in attendance, but will probably make their way online once people have a chance to reflect on what they saw.
Richard talks about how a 6′ 2″ actor can be cast as a 5′ 2″ dwarf!
Ian describes the agelessness of Gandalf, but that he will be getting involved in “relationships which might surprise the audience”. Oh? Do tell, Ian!
Philippa and Peter discuss working as a trio of writers with Fran.