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Peter Jackson talks ‘Hobbit: BotFA’ and all Middle-earth with

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Peter Jackson Production Diary


So what about these actors then? From Jackson’s early career when he cast the unknown Kate Winslet in 1994’s “Heavenly Creatures,” — a film that was a major stepping stone to her international stardom and Academy Award recognition — to his eventual pitch-perfect Rings cast, with another stellar bunch for Hobbit films, he gets essential casting right.

Peter Jackson stands on the set of Lake-Town

Peter Jackson stands on the set of Lake-Town

But this film with its Elves and Dwarves and Wizards and Hobbits and Men was a tough challenge. Bilbo had to perfect. Smaug had to be just right. Thorin Oakenshield required some specific balance and a complex performance.

“We have a great group of actors,” he said. “You know at the end of the day you can write a character and you can imagine a particular personality or a sense of what this character is like but there’s always a moment — and this happens with any character that we ever write, no matter whether it’s a leading character or a small character — there’s always a moment where you literally are handing that character to the actor for their care and attention and that’s very much what we’ve long since done.”

But what about that large group of dwarves?

“You probably could dig out old interviews I was doing during ‘The Lord of the Rings’ press time when people would say: ‘So are you going to move on to The Hobbit next?’ And it was always the 13 dwarves that terrified me, because how do you structure a movie and structure scenes around such a large ensemble? But I think we’ve done it and I think we’ve done it in a very entertaining way.

“There is a point where they put their makeup on and they put their fat suits on and they put their wardrobe on and you’re literally saying: ‘You’re in charge of this character now. You’re in charge of Dori or you’re in charge of Oin or you’re in charge or Ori and it leaves my hands to some degree. We’ve just got a great group of people who are making those characters and bringing them to life.”



Another crucial part of two of the three films deal with perhaps the most influential character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s literature, the dragon Smaug. Often imitated, he filtered through popular culture, leaving his mark on everything from Dungeons & Dragons to other contemporary cinema. Smaug made a template so widely used that he became the dragon.

“Well, in a funny way I don’t think it’s as much about what he looks like, I mean, obviously he’s a dragon so you know, you’re going to be working in the world of a dragon design but it’s his personality, his character, he has to be scary.”

And, we as an audience aren’t done with him. He has a big, hot job in the final film as well.

“I wanted to have somebody who is a truly commanding presence, who is unpredictable, slightly psychotic and that way, you don’t know whether you trust him or not and he’s seductive. You know, there’s a personality there that is, to me, that quality and the way that the audience feels when in the Smaug scenes is a lot more important than what he actually looks like.”

Benedict Cumberbatch and Weta Digital seem to have met the demands of the character who is yet to be seen as the flying furnace and mechanism of annihilation that he is.

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