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The following interviews in Cine PREMIERE magazine with Peter Jackson, Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, and Orlando Bloom were translated from Spanish by Dwalin on Facebook.
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Last One and We’re Done
Goodbyes, last scenes, changes…the actors of The Hobbit: BOFA reveal for us the details that we should know before saying farewell to this unequaled saga.
by Mary Carmen Albaran (@sepulin), from London
Several years ago, when the controversial decision was made to turn Tolkien’s book into three movies, producer and scriptwriter Phillipa Boyens told us, “It’s now or never,” referring to the trilogy as the last opportunity to bring the writer’s entire universe to the screen. And it seems like “now or never” is the general motto of the production, given that even Richard Armitage (Thorin) used those same words to describe his last days on the set. This and the decision to attempt to change the title of the last installment from There and Back Again to The Battle of the Five Armies brought us to London to find out what this epic conclusion holds for us. Also, to find out how different will be the finale of that universe that Tolkien fans know so well.
Caption: From left to right: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom and Luke Evans
Caption: Evangeline Lilly made sure that we will want to know the destiny of Tauriel
For everyone it’s the end of an era, but even more so for those who began this journey over a decade ago. “I spent 4 years of my life in New Zealand,” said Orlando Bloom. “When I got there the first time I was 21 years old. Legolas was my first role, so he has been definitive for me,” he says with fondness.
In the meantime, others are convinced that it’s not really a goodbye. “Just last week I went to record Gandalf’s final lines,” Ian McKellen tells us, “and Phillipa came to tell me, ‘You’ve just said your last words as Gandalf.’ And I hope so because it was a speech and not just, “Let’s go, Thorin!” Then as I was leaving Phillipa called me and said, ‘You may have to come back again next week,’ so for me it never feels like the end of anything.”
What is a fact is that for everyone it was an emotional moment, even for those who enjoy farewells and the ends of eras.
“I like finishing a job, it’s a good moment when I can leave things behind. It’s always worked for me,” Martin Freeman (Bilbo) told us. He went on to say, “My last day on the set was more emotional than I thought. I was working with Richard Armitage and Graham McTavish and at the end of the scene Graham came over to me and his voice broke as he said, ‘It’s been a pleasure working with you,’ and I thought ‘I’m going to break down’. My eyes filled with tears because in the end, I had been working with these people for two and a half years and they were a big part of my life; this whole work experience has been.”
For his part, the leader of the dwarven company revealed his feelings about saying goodbye to Thorin Oakenshield: “I’ll never get to play Thorin again… what’s more, nobody in the near future will play him either. That means that I’ve got to give it ALL or nothing.”
Beyond the Pages
Part of the allure of this third film comes from the decision to change its title, a question about which Luke Evans, who embodies the character of Bard, says correctly: “It’s a very political drama, powerful, that involves everyone. It makes sense to give it that importance. Five different Middle Earth entities involved in the same drama. This chapter of Tolkien’s universe is fascinating. I imagine that when Peter was putting it all together, looking at the histories of each person and the discussions about the war, he was mounting a story that was very wrenching and sad, all these armies trying to reach the mountain. I think this will be a very intense finale, full of death and tragedy and loss.”
Even though we knew the actors would resist, we wanted to get them to talk about their roles in the battle, in order to see how different it would be from the book version.
“What we managed to do with Legolas, very astutely, was to round out the character so you can see what he’s doing in Lord of the Rings. Now he realizes that the elves have to be involved, which tests his relationship with Thranduil (Lee Pace),” Orlando told us, adding that he felt a lot more freedom with the character this time due to his absence from the book.
For his part, Ian limited his comments to Gandalf’s position on the war: “Gandalf was sent to look after Middle Earth, and when the dwarves say they want to reclaim their land and their money, he doesn’t necessarily think that is a good idea. He’d like to be in control, but he’s not … however, as long as Middle Earth is saved, he has accomplished his mission.”
On the other hand, we have seen such a heroic journey with Bilbo that it would be anticlimactic to have him completely hidden during the final battle, the way he is in the book.
“I think Bilbo is like Kofi Anan (Secretary-General of the United Nations) , he just wants to keep the peace. So, he wants to A) not die, B) not let his friends die, and C) not let Middle Earth be destroyed by an apocalyptic war. He’ll do what he has to do to achieve peace, but he’s turned into a fighter. So if it seems like he will do more…well, I wish I could talk about it,” Martin Freeman says with a smile.
But he is not the only one whose character’s role will be developed in greater detail. Richard Armitage told us: “We will see much more of his thought process, we’ll watch him descend psychologically as well as physically into the mountain. He will isolate himself, he’ll become obsessed with Bilbo, and we’ll see him lead his people into battle. We’ll see this heroic side and how it makes everything else unimportant.”
“This is a movie for the fans. The Lord of the Rings reached many people through their curiosity, but this reaches into their hearts,” Orlando Bloom concludes.
Call-out caption: Bilbo doesn’t want to let Middle Earth be destroyed by an apocalyptic war. – Martin Freeman
The expectations are enormous, the climax of a saga that seemed to have ended in 2003, but which was revived and became an unprecedented success, a surprise of our age.
“I got on a train that was already moving,” Freeman says. “I’m an important passenger on that train, but the train was already going down the tracks.”
If there’s one thing that all the cast agree upon it’s that this production has changed their lives; it has allowed them to choose the next projects they undertake in their careers. “Two of my children had birthdays while we were filming, babies were born, people got married…it’s been a big part of our lives,” concludes Evans.
It has also changed our own lives. Millions of fans will be there to see the final installment of one of the most significant sagas of all times. And we can be sure that it will be a battle of epic proportions.
On the Set with Peter Jackson
by Antonio Ponce V. (@Mr_AP) in Wellington
Did the reactions to the first two films lead you to change anything in the third?
No, no. The decision to change from two to three films was made in July 2012, and of course that created a few changes. For example, the scene we’re filming today was always in the script. In reality, what we’re doing is extra things that we couldn’t do before for reasons of time.
Can you tell us a little of what’s happening between Gandalf and Bilbo in this scene?
Well, this is the middle of the Battle of the Five Armies. There are a group of dwarves trapped on Ravenhill, about 100 meters south of the mountain. And someone has to tell them that there’s an army of orcs coming their way, so Gandalf is trying to figure out how to reach them.
Caption: Ravenhill was one of the biggest exterior sets that they built.
What scenes were added?
We more fully developed the history of the elves. More of Gandalf’s story line when he got separated from the Company. We expanded all those parts. There’s a risk that a film can end up being all action scenes, so we wanted to include the stories of each of the characters we’re following during the movie. The intention is, that even though their stories are being filmed as part of a continuing epic, they have endings.
Will we learn more about the Necromancer?
Yes, yes, you will see more…Next question. (laughs)
What can you tell us about Bard?
Evans has a lot of charisma, but he’s also enigmatic. Bard, in the book – at the risk of being criticized for questioning Tolkien – is underdeveloped. He carries out his destiny, but in the end he’s just this guy who kills the dragon. There’s no more to his story. We wanted to give him more of a backstory and connect him to the story of the dwarves, Erebor and Smaug. We wanted someone who when you met him, you didn’t know whose side he was on, whether Bilbo and the dwarves could trust him, or where his interests lay. So we needed someone who could exude this aura of mystery, but still be revealed as a believable hero.
To what degree will this movie be a prequel to The Lord of the Rings?
I think what I have in mind is that in, say 20 years, these will just be six films and that kids will watch them in order without worrying about when they were released. So we are conscious of this, and our intention with this final movie is that it be just that – that it is the connection. Much of the development of this film is meant to prepare the audience to step into The Lord of the Rings.