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Archive for January, 2013

THE HOBBIT Nearly Missed Its Special-Effects Oscar Nomination

hobbit_journey_trollsToday Variety has revealed that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey nearly didn’t get nominated for an Oscar in the special-effects category. As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences keeps pushing the nominating process to earlier dates, films released late in the year sometimes can’t be seen by those in charge of voting on which ones will make the final cut to compete for the Oscars.

The committee of 40 experts met on November 28 to come up with a short-list of 20 films that the members of the Academy in the special-effects section could see and vote on by January 3 to determine the final five nominees. Problem was, the committee members had nothing to look at from The Hobbit except its trailers!

The assumption was that this film would be a major visual-effects contender–but that was mainly based on the success of The Lord of the Rings and other Weta Digital work. Not all the members of the committee were happy with including a film virtually sight-unseen. In the end, The Hobbit got its nomination, but as the chair of the committee told Variety, “There will be a post-mortem to review the rules.”

What will probably happen is that the production companies will be pressured to provide sample reels of the effects in their films at a date early enough to make sure that committee members can see them, even if the film hasn’t been released yet. As Variety concludes, “Especially Part 2 of ‘The Hobbit.'”

Posted in Hobbit Movie

Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Orcrist Master Swordsmith’s Edition

hobbit_orcrist_c_lrg Tonight a new item from Weta Workshop has been made available for order: Orcrist, Master Swordsmith’s Edition. If you’re a fan of what you’ve seen on-screen, and want to own an item that is truly as close to what was used in the film as possible, then this item is for you. Peter Lyon, Master Swordsmith, who helped create the amazing weapons you saw used in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, has created another amazing replica in Orcrist. Orcrist is the fifth sword Peter created for Weta giving fans a chance to bring piece of Middle-earth home to their collections. This replica is an outstanding blend of steel with a dragon’s tooth resin  handle molded to look like wood. Orcrist costs $9,900 and when you place your order you can also get the amazing scabbard that Thorin wore in the movie.

Here is how Weta describes Orcrist:

Forged long ago in the lost Elf kingdom of Gondolin, Orcrist, the ‘goblin cleaver’, was a legendary blade, well known to the wise of Middle-earth and infamous among their enemies. Having disappeared for centuries, the sword would reappear in, of all places, a Troll hoard, where, among the detritus and ruin, it catches the eye of Thorin Oakenshield. To the Dwarf, well versed in the crafting of fine weapons, it is a sword of peerless craft, but it is Elrond, lord and lore-master of Rivendell, who is able to name the blade and tell Thorin of its prestigious lineage. No finer sword could a king of any race wish for.

Orcrist was designed by Weta senior concept designer Paul Tobin and made at Weta Workshop in New Zealand for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey by Master Swordsmith Peter Lyon. The fifth sword in Weta’s Master Swordsmith’s Collection, Orcrist takes swordmaking even further than previous swords in the series. The first single edged blade in The Master Swordsmith’s Collection, it encompasses a multitude of sword making, metal crafting and wood working techniques. It joins the previous swords in the series: Andúril, Strider’s Sword, Glamdring and the most recently launched sword, Sting – still available to order!

Orcrist is made with the same attention to detail that the swordsmiths of the lost realm of Gondolin would have required. Peter Lyon took Paul Tobin’s design and created a piece of art and a usable weapon wrapped in one. The blade is made from tempered spring steel and the dragon’s tooth grip is cast from CC60 urethane, painted and sealed under resin. On the cross is the name “Orcrist” etched in runes and the gently curvaceous blade, ground from spring steel, features etched elven runes stating “The Serpent’s Tooth”. On the pommel are four cubic zirconia gemstones inlaid.

The scabbard is made from a combination of white oak and steel and connects to the leather belt with leather straps and buckles. The inscription translates as “Born from the Maws of Dragons I am Always Hungry and Thirsty”. The belt is made from embossed leather with steel buckle, loop and tip. It features straps for attaching the scabbard. Thorin wears his sword on his back and this belt is designed to be worn over the shoulder. This sword and its accessories are the absolute epitome of craftsmanship.

Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, Shop, The Hobbit, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop

Possible fake ‘Hobbit’ DVD cover making the internet rounds

A fake DVD cover for Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey?

A fake DVD cover for Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey?

A cover for the DVD and Blu-ray version of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” has been making the rounds on the internet. The design, as you can see, features Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins as the most prominent figure with Gandalf and Thorin Oakenshield close behind. The other dwarves sneak into the image but not prominently.

It is possible this image was leaked from the studios involved but it seems unlikely and this image isn’t a powerful “buy me” image from the movie. No word from any official channels has surfaced to say this is or isn’t fake so we advise not accepting it as the gospel truth at this point.

If any excellent photoshopping readers out there want to produce some imagined blu-ray covers it would be fun to run a collection of them here, so if you have a submission send them over to Spymaster@TheOneRing.net.

Dates for the initial offering are reported as March 19 with an Extended Edition in October but nothing official has been announced. The film will still be available in some theaters at that point. Date posted by retailers like Amazon are not reliable and have included books that haven’t been written yet previously. When official dates are released, you will find them reported here.

 

Posted in Blu-Ray, DVDs, Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Merchandise, MGM, New Line Cinema, Richard Armitage, Studios, The Hobbit, Warner Bros.

Richard Taylor, John Rhys-Davies tied to ‘Glastonbury’ film

Richard TaylorRichard Taylor and John Rhys-Davies are both connected to the film project “Glastonbury: Isle of Light,” which is in development. Taylor is in place as part of the team that handles design, production and marketing that also includes Star Wars casting director Robin Gurland.

Rhys-Davies recently was in the region and talked about the film and its importance to the region and the help it might lend tourism. You can view that video right here. A full press release about the film can be found here.

Posted in John Rhys-Davies, Richard Taylor

Our Innovative *Live* Weekly Webcast TORn TUESDAY Starts Now!

TORN-Tuesday-300-250Welcome aboard Tolkien fans, Ringer fans, Jackson fans, and all those other fandoms inbetween who love Hobbity goodness! Join us today for our weekly live chat show (last week’s streaming video was a screaming laugh riot; indeed a mob-scene of obscene comedy thanks to our special guests Dominic Monaghan & Billy Boyd!)…. join your host Clifford ‘Quickbeam’ Broadway and Star Wars Expatriate-turned Ringer fan Justin as we highlight the recent news and fun parodies starting to appear in the aftermath of THE HOBBIT: AUJ having taken the box office by storm these past two months! Watch here on our Live Event Page and join in Barliman’s chat. The action starts live at 5:00PM Pacific Time. You can also turn on your camera and join via Stickam here.

Posted in Barlimans, Conventions, Fans, Hobbit Movie, Oscar Parties, The Hobbit, TORn TUESDAYS Live!

TORn Message Boards Weekly Roundup – January 27, 2013

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit MovieWelcome to our collection of TORn’s hottest topics for the past week. If you’ve fallen behind on what’s happening on the Message Boards, here’s a great way to catch the highlights. Or if you’re new to TORn and want to enjoy some great conversations, just follow the links to some of our most popular discussions. Watch this space as every weekend we will spotlight the most popular buzz on TORn’s Message Boards. Everyone is welcome, so come on in and join in the fun!

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Posted in Conventions, Events, Fans, Green Books, Hobbit Book, Meet Ups, Other Events, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion, The Hobbit, TheOneRing.net Community

Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Chronicles: Creatures and Characters

hobbitbookchronicles2creaturesalrg4On the heels of one of the best art books for a film that I’ve had the chance to add to my personal collection Weta Workshop has announced a second book to their art book range for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The second art book for The Hobbit covers the many creatures and characters that help populate Sir Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the first of three movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Within the Chronicles: Creatures and Characters are  quotes from the actors who played the many roles on-screen and this book comes with a size chart, a great way to compare the various sizes of these characters in relation to each other. The book is on sale now for $39 and if you buy now from Weta, you can get a signed copy for your collection. This second book does not ship until April so in the mean time you can still buy the previous Chronicles: Art and Design book for the same $39.

 

Posted in Books, Books Publications, Collectibles, Collectibles, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, Shop, The Hobbit, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop

Collecting The Precious – Vanderstelt Studio The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Art Print On Sale Now

Hobbitreveal_zpsea819190Our friend Jerry Vanderstelt has been given the green light by Warner Bros. to offer the beautiful art print he created for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for sale in his store.  This amazing print is available in several styles for the various budgets we collectors have. Each of the print styles is limited, so be sure to act quickly to get a great collectible for your Middle-earth collection.

The various offerings include:

$450 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Epic Size Collector’s Edition Canvas Giclee – 100 pieces. Includes a character sketch on a separate parchment ( roughly 5 x 7 inches ). Numbers will match. Customer will have the option to choose the name of any character that appears on the artwork for their Original 5 x 7 sketch.
Canvas Size : 29 x 39 actual art with 2.5 inch border all around for Gallery Wrapping.

$350 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Limited Edition Canvas Giclee – 100 pieces. Size : 24 x 32 actual art with 2.5 inch border all around for Gallery Wrapping.

$ 195 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Epic Size Edition Paper Giclee – 2000 pieces. Size: 28 x 36 – ( 26 x 35 actual art size ). Comes with a .5 inch white paper border on top and bottom and a 1 inch border on the left and right sides.

$ 150 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Limited Edition Paper Giclee – 2000 pieces. Size: 18 x 24 – ( 17 x 23 actual art size ). Comes with a .5 inch white paper border all around.

Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, Posters Prints, Shop, The Hobbit

Collecting The Precious – The Bridge Direct’s Azog and new Bolg figures

1hobbitteasePosted by a fan on The Bridge Direct’s Facebook page are pictures of two new figures for wave 2 of their The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey line. It does appear that Azog and Bolg are both a part of their 6″ line, and as we can see Azog is pre-arm loss. Bolg also appears to come with a weapon that his 3 3/4″ figure does not have. These are all just guesses, but Toy Fair in New York is next month and by The Bridge Direct’s comment on their page, we should know more then:

‘The Bridge Direct:You must have some good connections – these are some of the figures we are previewing at New York Toy Fair next month – stay tuned for more details’

Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, Shop, The Bridge Direct, The Hobbit

‘The One Expected Party’ – A Party of Special Magnificence!

If you are on the fence about attending our Oscar night celebration let this whet your whistle a bit…


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Posted in Events, Fans, Headlines, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, Meet Ups, Oscar Parties, The Hobbit, TheOneRing.net Announcements, TheOneRing.net Community, Tolkien

TheOneRing.net and New Zealand Post’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” Contest

Early in October, TORn announced the release of the New Zealand Post’s exclusive commemorative stamps and coins for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Today we’re giving you the chance to win some of the best of these commemorative items for your personal collection.

Simply answer the questions provided in the contest entry form below, fill in your details, and check back here on February 17th to see if your name is among the winners. Entries with correct answers to all questions will be entered into a lucky draw that will result in FOUR LUCKY WINNERS.

If you need any help with answering the contest questions, head over to the New Zealand Post’s Official Website.

The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey LogoNZ Post logo3D RGB

One winner will take home The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Silver Coin with Gold Plating, one will take home The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Ultimate Collection, and two will take home The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Presentation Pack.

Hit the break for the contest questions and a gallery of the prizes you can win.

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Posted in Contests, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Merchandise, Stamps & Coins, The Hobbit

WILD THINGS With Dominic Monaghan Premiere Night Q&A

DominicMonaghan_Spider_640x360Last night in North America marked the launch of the remarkable new nature series Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan; and he kindly agreed to give TheOneRing.net an exclusive sit-down Q&A. The British actor, best known to Ringer fans as Meriadoc Brandybuck, is already receiving rave reviews from The Hollywood Reporter and other press. His show premiered in this country on BBC America and will have a full season of eight episodes at 10:00pm Eastern, 9:00 Central.

With the very funny TORn TUESDAY webcast freshly completed, and Billy Boyd having left the Meltdown Comics studio, Dom took a more reflective moment to sit with host Cliff ‘Quickbeam’ Broadway and discuss his passion for, and desire to get closer to, those creatures least likely to inspire a kiss, yet all the more fascinating for his enthusiasm!

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Quickbeam: Dominic, congratulations on the launch of your new show!

Dominic Monaghan: Well thanks.  Yeah – I’m nervous about the launch, because it’s just me.  You know, it’s not me being incredibly well protected and insulated by a huge trilogy of movies and a big ensemble cast.  And also, it’s something that I feel very protective and precious about – you know, it’s like my little ‘precious’ One Ring.  The natural world is something that I’m passionate about, and something that I want people to be compassionate about, because of the way that I feel about it … so, it’s the first time I’ve really hosted something – especially something that’s a significant portion of my life – and there’s a vulnerability attached to that.  As an actor, you can always say, “Well, they didn’t like my character in Wolverine but maybe they just didn’t like Wolverine, or they didn’t like that character I played; or they didn’t like my character in The Lord of the Rings, but maybe they just didn’t like that character or they don’t like fantasy films … but with Wild Things, if someone doesn’t like it, there’s a pretty high chance that they don’t like ME. And that is something that you have to come to terms with.  And you know, I’ve been an actor for twenty years now, so I’m okay with people saying anything they want about me, but it does put you in a much more vulnerable position.

Q: Well, you created this show, and the heart and the concept comes from your love of the great outdoors, and your affinity for the creatures in the natural world, with whom we share this planet.  How do you feel about the state of conservation efforts, and protection of wildlife efforts?

DM: I did create the show; it’s something that I’m passionate about.  I think the thing that irks me the most about where we’re at right now in our society, is … there’s an automatic rejection of anything that’s put forward as a notion in our society.  So, if someone says, ‘Justin Bieber is great,’ someone will automatically say, ‘Justin Bieber is rubbish.’  And that’s just because you can’t please anyone all of the time.  My issue with the conservation situation is, people say, ‘We need to change the way that we’re behaving because we’re creating global warming and we’re changing our climate.’  And then other people come out and say, ‘Climate change isn’t real, that isn’t what’s happening – we’re going through a natural change in the planet.’  My argument is, let’s say for the sake of argument, global warming ISN’T real – which I don’t necessarily believe – but let’s say it isn’t real; why wouldn’t we make positive changes to deal with our carbon footprint and how much of an impact we make on our planet?  We know for a fact that we create poisons and toxins by working in our industries and by driving our cars and moving our vehicles around.  If those poisons are toxic, they have to go somewhere; and even if they go somewhere that doesn’t affect us, it affects the general balance of our galaxy.  We create a poison, and we go, ‘Here you go planet – or galaxy – deal with it!’  That’s a negative stance to take.  So my whole idea is, you can call us liberal and you can call us mong bean salad eaters, and you can call us hippies – and we wear hemp and all that kind of thing … but what we’re trying to do is the right thing, I think.  It’s the correct way to behave.  Make less waste, be responsible, be positive.  Treat everything living correctly.

Q: And appreciate the synergistic connections you have with other creatures on this planet.

DM: Right.  We have a very ‘overfaluted’ idea of what humans are, and our place on the planet.  And outside of creating technology and art, we don’t really do anything special, I don’t think.  And the most damaging animal on the planet, I would say, is categorically a human.  And the most valuable animal on the planet is probably something like a worm, or an ant, or a small beetle.  Or a parasitic fly, or something like that – because of what they do.  They create fresh air, they till our soil, they pollinate our fruits and vegetables.  Humans don’t even feature in the top fifty.  But we walk around like we’re the bosses and like we know what’s going on … meanwhile ants, millions of them living in very confined quarters … there’s no murder, there’s no rape, everyone gets fed, they look after their kids, they don’t cause a carbon footprint, they take care of their trash.  And we shun them, we throw them off our picnic table!  These are important animals!

Q: Indeed.  What are some of the most appealing animals you’ve encountered, during the first season of Wild Things?

DM:  I really like hymenoptera.  Hymenoptera’s a class in the insect species which is bees, wasps and ants; they all come from the same place.  Essentially, an ant is a wingless wasp from an evolutionary point of view, and bees fit in there as well; highly social, sophisticated societies … they behave in a way that we understand, because we live in highly social, sophisticated societies.  I admire the way that they organize their communities, where they don’t cause as much of a mess as we do!

I wanted to tell those stories, but also I needed to tell – and I wanted to tell – dynamic stories in the invertebrate world, and that led me to things like the world’s largest spider, the world’s most dangerous aquatic insect, the world’s most dangerous scorpion.  Nowadays, you have to stick yourself on the firing line a little bit – which I was more than happy to do, because I love these animals and I wanted to tell their stories.  There’s an element of shocking the audience; but what I talk about with the world’s largest spider is that, for me at least, that has the same cache as something like a great white shark or a bengal tiger.  When you say to someone, ‘I went to find the world’s largest spider,’ they recoil; they go, ‘How big was it, what does it look like?!’  It’s the same feeling as a great white shark.  So I wanted to show that you can go to these places.  It might not be really easy to access those places; but you can go there, you can have an amazing experience with these animals; and they’re not out to get you!  They don’t wake up in the morning and think, ‘Where’s a human?  I need a human to eat!’  Spiders don’t act like that.  If you hurt them or damage them, or come into their territory, they might protect themselves; but they’re not out to get us.

Q:  There’s an interesting approach to telling these animals’ stories; we anthropomorphize them.  We attach certain human qualities to some of these creatures; have you noticed that, while you were making the show?

DM: Yeah, we talk about ‘nasty spiders’ or we talk about ‘vicious snakes’ or ‘man killing sharks’.  These are animals that have unfortunately got themselves into a situation that they don’t want to be in, which is coming into contact with a human.  Sharks do not want to go around us; they’re not interested in going around us.  Not only are we not good eating, but we’re going to cause a lot of trouble for that shark; we’re probably either going to – they think – kill it, or the fishermen will come back and kill it later.  And with these animals like bees and wasps, and scorpions and spiders – all these things that have venom that can hurt us – that venom is very, very important to that animal.  It’s a very sophisticated amount of proteins that they create, and it takes a lot of energy for them to create that venom; so they don’t give it away cheaply. You’d have to really annoy a spider for it to envenomate you, because they use it when they really need it.  So my feeling with people when they talk about, ‘Urgh, bees, they’re so scary!’  – I’m just like, look, if you get away from the hysterical four year old that’s living inside you, that was at one point stung by a bee – and generally, you know, it hurts when you’re a little kid – nowadays if you get stung by a bee, it’s annoying, it’s not your favourite part of your day, but it’s not going to ruin your day.

Q:  What is the coolest, most exotic place you went to visit?

DM: Gosh … hmmm – the geographical place that sticks in my head from the first season was Laos, southeast Asia.  I’ve been to Thailand a few times, loved it; I got told that Thailand was like Laos, fifty years ago.  You know, not very built up; great street food; great people – they’re all Buddhist, very very chilled out, very keen to help; amazing natural flora and fauna everywhere – mountains and greenery.  The main thing that really struck me about Laos was the food; when we were in Vientiane, which is the capital city, we’d wake up and go for breakfast – and you’d have really fresh, spicy fish soup for breakfast.  I love spicy food!  I was like, ‘Ah, this is heaven!’  The people were so friendly, they went out of their way to help you – lovely nature; they all love Manchester United, which works for me [laughs] … and you know, it’s very exotic.  You’re eating stuff that you’ve never seen before – it’s all so fresh…

Q: You can’t pronounce what you’re eating!

Dom628x471DM: Yeah, you just go [points], ‘Can I have that please?’  Yeah, great country.

I really liked Cameroon as well.  Very different, Cameroon.  Lots of red and brown clay everywhere, in terms of the colour scheme of the country.  The people that we went to see didn’t have a lot; they lived in houses where the electricity was turned off at 9pm … they didn’t have an abundance of food or water, or even clothing – stuff like that … [but] so happy, so sweet.  All the little kids just wanted to get picked up, and play, and hang out with you … I was doing silly little magic tricks that they liked … and you know, stray dogs running around everywhere…  The food wasn’t fantastic in Cameroon but the spirit of the people was amazing, you know?  They’re all very entrepreneurial – they genuinely are.  They really have nothing, and you see them making kids’ toys out of little bits of broken wood and rubbish, you know, trash that you would throw out – and these little kids have got these little remote control cars made out of elastic bands and plastic bottles and stuff.  Very, very innovative – I loved Cameroon.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you had, in creating and pitching this show?

DM: I think the biggest challenge pitching the show was convincing the people who were giving me the money that I could do the job; because I think all they’d been exposed to, as a general rule, was me in Lord of the Rings, and me in Lost, and maybe a couple of other things that they might have seen … so they’re probably sat there, being very polite, thinking, ‘OKAY, what does this English actor know about tropical species? And why are we giving him an inordinate amount of money to fly a six man crew to Vietnam or Malaysia … and he gets there and goes, “I’m not doing that, and I’m not doing that – and I’m not eating that, and it’s too hot, and where’s my hotel?” ‘  I think there was a feeling of, ‘What is this even going to be?’

So I would sit in these meetings and just talk at length about my passion about animals, and I think that opened people up a little bit; and then I went to the Malibu mountains with a friend of mine, and we shot footage of me catching lizards and catching velvet ants – this type of wingless wasp – and catching snakes, and checking out animal tracks and stuff – just to show that …

Q: You’re an outdoorsman!

DM: Yeah.  I mean, I like being outside and I go to Joshua Tree a lot; spend some time out there … whenever I’m countries I tend to go into the wilderness and see what’s available.  I know what to look for, where the animals are going to be – and I think people needed to be educated on that.  Hopefully, now that the show is going to be available for an audience, the audience will feel the same way.

I also didn’t want to come across as a professor, because I’m not – or a learned guy, when I’m not.  I’m a very, very enthusiastic animal lover – and if you put me in a biology class in university, I’ll embarrass myself!  But if you put me with a group of people on the street, and they say, ‘Pick a holiday’ – you know, some people might say, ‘Go to Cabo San Lucas,’ or some people might say, ‘Go to Vegas for the weekend.’  But I would say, ‘Where’s the furthest you’ll fly me, that’s the most remote?’  I want to escape – travel for me is all about escape.  I want to go somewhere where I don’t know the currency, where I don’t know the language, where I don’t know the food – and just try new stuff.  I mean, any time I’m trying new stuff, I’m not bored – and I’m very susceptible to getting bored!

Q: Perhaps you’re a kindred spirit with Viggo, who is also a master outdoorsman!

DM: Yeah, he really is a very, very gifted outdoorsman, and unintimidated by being out there.  A true artist.  You know, I think my abiding memory – although obviously he’s still around! – but my abiding thought about Viggo is the artistry of the man.  He’s obviously a very talented actor, but you know, Viggo’s an accomplished poet, a fantastic painter, a brilliant photographer; he acts in different aspects, in theatre, in film; he’s a singer, he’s a writer …  I was inspired by his … almost need to get out his art.  And he continues to be like that.  I saw him in London, in this hotel room – and he just had stuff everywhere!  Letters and posters and paint and scarves and DVDs and books – and he’s passing me this  – ‘Read that!  Watch that!  Do this!  Here’s that!’  Every time you see Viggo, you walk out with stuff; you’re like [mimes arms loaded with stuff], ‘Yeah, alright – I’ll see you in a week – I’ll check this stuff out!’   He’s an inspirational guy.

Q: One of the animals that you encountered in the preview [for Wild Things] was the monocle cobra.  It was surprising that you were looking for some other creatures, and accidentally stumbled across this deadly snake!  Unexpected… and you had a six-man crew with you.  Did anybody encounter any bites; what danger was your crew in?

DM:  We were lucky enough to not get tagged by the monocle cobra!  I think what happened was, we were in the paddy field looking for this giant water bug, and I noticed when we were in the paddy field that we were rustling mice and rats out of the paddy field … because they sleep there in the daytime. They’re nocturnal species, obviously.  And I noticed a little [makes rustling noise] moving in the paddy grass, the paddy rice – and I thought, ‘What’s going on there?  Oh, that’s probably a mouse – and that’s probably a rat…’  And it happened two or three times … and we were flushing – we were walking, and we were flushing these mice out of this field as we were spreading apart … and what happened was, when we got to part of the end of the field, this snake was coming into the field, thinking, ‘What is going on here?’  There’s three or four mice running around in the middle of the day – and that’s unusual.  You’ll hear me, at the start of that scene – I say to the cameraman, ‘Go that way, go that way, go that way!’  And that’s me saying to my entire crew – who were all behind the cameraman – ‘Spread out!  Go FAR that way!’ – because it was a venomous snake, and I knew it was a cobra.   And as soon as the crew is safe, and my only concern now is protecting me, then I can attempt to control the situation – but I can’t control five other grown men, you know!  So you’ll hear me in the show going, ‘Move back move back move back!’ – and that’s me talking to the crew all the time!

dominic-monaghan-wild-things-bbcaNo-one got hit by the snake, but my medic, who’s an ex-military guy and has been in a few combat situations, was stung by a bullet ant when we were in Ecuador, and they’re aptly named, because it’s supposed to feel like you’ve been shot by a bullet – and he spent two days in bed!  He got stung about 11am, left that day – he was like, ‘I feel awful, I’m going to have to go and take care of this’ – and we didn’t see him until a day later; so all that day he slept, the next day he was in bed sleeping, and then we saw him the day after that!  We were like, ‘Are you ok?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I spent two days essentially feeling like my thumb was being constantly hit by a hammer, just pounding, pounding…’  And he took a fair amount of anti-inflammatories and anti-histamines, and it didn’t do any good to him!

Q: I’ve never heard of this creature!

DM: The bullet ant!  It is a formidable looking ant!  It’s big, it’s scary looking – they’ll come at you!  I have one on a stick in the Ecuador episode, and they’ll jump as well – so I’m constantly looking at the camera, looking at the ant, looking at the camera, looking at the ant… [laughs]

Q:  Here in America, I grew up watching a show called Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.  And Wild Kingdom was THE thing to watch, when you were a kid in the Seventies; we didn’t have any other nature documentaries. There were no other shows covering the natural world. It was fascinating!  Even though they covered the basics – you know, the great mammals of the Serengeti – things that we’ve seen over and over again since then; but it created in me a lifelong fascination and affinity for the beasts and the birds and the natural world. And I think that’s why a lot of us Ringer fans feel so much towards Radagast; as we feel connected to those descriptions of the natural world in the books.

DM:  Yeah, you and I have had almost the same journey with our natural history.  When I was younger, I was brought up on David Attenborough and Jacques Cousteau – it was the same.  There was a very small amount of nature shows being made, and the ones that were being made were high quality – but it was maybe once every couple of months you’d see something.  There’s much more around nowadays. The interesting thing about the ‘good guys’ in The Lord of the Rings – certainly the Fellowship, everyone associated with the Fellowship, everyone associated with the alliance against Sauron and Saruman – they’re all connected to the earth. Hobbits are very connected to the earth; men are; wizards are; elves are; dwarves are. Dwarves are probably the least so, but even dwarves have a connection with the rock and the stone and the mountain; elves love forests; humans spend a lot of time … I mean, Aragorn obviously lives in the forest, he’s an outcast. Arwen controls water; the hobbits know where to find stuff in the forest, and how to eat off the land.  And obviously, the relationship with Treebeard is significant.  So, I think Tolkien saw that there is a real positive, good element to being connected to your world, to knowing about your local environment – you know, the trees and the plants and the animals and the birds, and how it all works.

Q: Fantastic!  I wish you huge success with the North American launch of your show.

DM: Oh thank you.  Me too!

Q: I’m really excited to see some of the places that are way off the beaten path – as you described – because of the discovery of something new, that you don’t have every day in your life.  Many people go through life in the drudgery of the same routine, without ever discovering new things; it is so uplifting, it will raise your consciousness of the world you’re in – and I applaud you on that.

DM: I appreciate that alot.  And thanks for giving me your time.  I think that, nowadays, it’s very hard to – not necessarily shock people – but to wake people up out of that feeling that they’re in; nothing is that interesting anymore, and nothing is that shocking, because they’ve seen everything on google, and they can access everything so quickly.  And I think we’re losing that almost childlike enthusiasm about things that genuinely awesome.  You know, we bandy around the word ‘awesome’ a lot – a hotdog is awesome, or my trousers are awesome or my shoes are awesome – but the natural world, the way that our planet works, the way that our universe slots into place so beautifully — that is genuinely awesome.  And I’m hoping that if people watch the show, and they explore around, they’ll find things like a spider’s eye awesome; or that fact that a bumblebee can fly. Awesome.

Q:  Thank you Dominic.  We’ll see you on the show – BBC America, 10pm Eastern, 9pm Central, Tuesday – Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan.

DM: One episode a week for eight weeks – and then we’re in talks right now to do the second season… and I’ll bring Billy Boyd with me for the second season!  [laughs]  I don’t think we’d get  much work done to be honest…

 

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT — the official BBC America site for Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan.

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