The wait is over and the day has finally arrived as the official release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is here! Special guest, Mr. Bilbo Baggins himself, Martin Freeman, answers several questions by Ringeer Peter Genovese, including whether or not he ever read “The Hobbit” before he was cast for the movie, his experience when he found out that he landed the role of Bilbo, mental preparations for playing a Hobbit, and his most memorable experiences on set.
Peter: Did you ever read the Hobbit before you auditioned for this movie?
Martin: No, I didn’t, no actually, especially to you, is the wrong answer! <laugh> I didn’t grow up a Tolkien fan. Obviously I knew of him. You certainly can’t be English and not know that name. No, it wasn’t part of my upbringing particularly but I obviously read it before I started the movie. <laugh> I came into it as an adult.
Peter: Do you recall the moment when you found out that you landed the role of Bilbo Baggins and what was your experience with that?
Martin: Well it was slightly staggered because I had found out that I had gotten the part early on. From the moment that I went on tape for Guillermo, when Guillermo was still director, all the way through for months and months there was no other traffic on the road, you know, it was me and I was being told by the artistic team “we want this to be you, there is nobody else we want it to be” but then it came to the point where I couldn’t do it due to my commitments to Sherlock which was a show I was doing in the UK and so I had to walk away, I had to turn it down, I had to not do The Hobbit anymore which was gutting and a very tedious statement of affairs. But, the real sort of changing call was that I was rehearsing a play in London at the time and my London agent Michael had called me and said that “Peter has rearranged the whole schedule around your availability on Sherlock and that you could do both” so I was delighted of course and very excited and very surprised, yeah.
Peter: With respect to mentally getting into character, did you do anything to make yourself feel smaller with respect to the size of a Hobbit, to get into a smaller frame of mind for the character?
Martin: No, because he (Bilbo) doesn’t think he’s small, of course. He is normal sized. You feel smaller when your house is inundated with Dwarves and bigger people and more imposing warrior figures so that makes you feel small but Bilbo is a very reactive character. Part of the pleasure of Bilbo and part of the comedy of it is in the reaction. I do what I do which probably doesn’t really bare a lot of talking about because it would be very boring but one does what you need to do to kind of feel that you’re something else. A lot of that is physical and a lot of that is just the doing of it. There wasn’t particularly a psychological thing, I just felt a way, I knew the way I wanted him to move and I knew that I wanted him to be slightly tentative and slightly cautious and if you walk around tentative and cautious, after a while, you mentally feel tentative and cautious so that was my way.
Peter: Many years from now when you think back on the experiences of making the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and the upcoming two movies, was there anything that really stuck out with the whole experience that you’ll cherish, whether it be the wonderful cast that you worked with or even just the locations/scenery that you got to experience working at?
Martin: All of the above, really. I saw some beautiful geography in New Zealand, met some delightful people who I hope will stay friends with and got to work with one of the main directors of my time on one of the main books of our time. I’m kind of spoiled, really. And then there’s the films that are coming out, you know, that whole experience of going around the world and opening the films and doing the premieres was on a scale that few people get to see with the sort of madness of that, enjoyable madness, but it is still a kind of madness. All of that is so memorable and I’ll never forget any of that. I’m a very lucky man.
Also, don’t forget to submit your questions to Peter Jackson by today. Here’s more info:
Q&A with Peter Jackson
Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson will host a live first look at “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second film in “The Hobbit” Trilogy, on Sunday, March 24 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern/12pm Pacific at www.hobbit.com/sneak. Just added: The live event will now include a Q&A with Jackson and fans! Video questions can be submitted beginning March 12 through March 19 on “The Hobbit” Facebook page, or through the Vine mobile app using the hashtag #askPeterJackson. Fans can also Tweet links to video questions using the hashtag #askPeterJackson. The live event will be limited to holders of an UltraViolet™ code, available by purchasing “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and 2-disc DVD Special Edition on March 19. Visit thehobbit.com/sneak for more information.
Still eagerly awaiting the precioussss, aka a copy of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey of your very own? Although the release date in the USA is tomorrow, fans in other parts of the world have to wait a little longer. To help ease the wait, earlier today we shared a video of Thorin himself having a chat with a staffer from TORn. Here’s a second video from that press junket: Andy Serkis talks about what he is keen to see in the Extended Edition, what he’s working on next, and with whom he’d rather be locked in a room – Gollum or Smeagol??
Exciting times for Hobbit fans! Last week the Digital Download of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey became available, and tomorrow (March 19th) is the date when American fans can take home copies of the movie on DVD and Blu-ray; plus of course we’re all eagerly awaiting Peter Jackson’s live first look at The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on Sunday 24th March! To help pass the time till then, TORn has some videos to share!
Staffer greendragon was fortunate enough to meet recently with Thorin, Bofur and Gollum – also known as those charming gents Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt and Andy Serkis. They discussed topics such as how it feels to be part of a billion dollar grossing movie, what they hope to see in the Extended Editions, and what went into creating the roles they play. In the first of three videos, here’s what Richard Armitage had to say.
So, we knew that Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield) would be answering your Hobbity questions over on Twitter today at https://twitter.com/TheHobbitMovie, but now Andy Serkis (Smeagol/Gollum) and James Nesbitt (Bofur) are joining him as well. (more…)
Welcome 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!
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.
Tribute.ca brings us this behind-the-scenes special on the making of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We hear from director Peter Jackson and many of the film’s stars about their journey back to Middle-earth. It’s also a good recap of Lord of the Rings with plenty of footage and scenes that you might have forgotten! Check it out! (more…)
With the public screenings now on in New Zealand and England and a day away in the U.S. and Canada, it seems a good time to continue to celebrate Hobbit Week and share some of the footage we gathered on the red carpet in Wellington, New Zealand. And this time instead of speaking to the media in general, they are speaking directly to you, the community that makes up TheOneRing.net. We have saved this footage for just the right time but here in the states it feels like ‘Hobbit Eve’ and there hasn’t been a lull in the media for weeks so it is now or never! Hope you enjoy some short visits and appearances by Adam Brown, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, James Cameron, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Martin Freeman, Peter Hambleton, Richard Armitage, Stephen Hunter and William Kircher. Enjoy!
The danger will ramp up once the Company enters Mirkwood.
Another review from a staffer of TORN long ago, Wee Tanya brings her thoughts to you now.
Warning before you begin: Spoilers abound in this review. Read it or not, it’s up to you.
Tonight I had the extreme pleasure of watching a press screening of The Hobbit on behalf of TheOneRing.net. Not only was I ushered into the screening like an honored guest, but TheOneRing.net’s name is still renown, and I was even introduced by the night’s host to the whole crowd as “Wee from TORn”. Then he grilled me on Tolkien trivia, but don’t worry, I did us proud.
Much like Arathorn I’ve been keeping a low, spoiler-free profile for the past ten years. Life happened, and I managed to drift far enough away from the ride that when I caught up with Peter Jackson’s video diaries, I spent an entire evening watching every one. Fine, maybe I’m not totally unspoiled. But there I sat as the theater darkened, not knowing what to expect at all except for two things: first, that suddenly there were three movies instead of two; and second, that someone actually called the movie boring!
I’d like you all to know that it was not boring, not a jot. The pace is beautiful, lyrical even, and in the middle of Rivendell it slows to the stately walk of Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel. But it might seem slow at first because there is a LOT of tale to tell. Bilbo begins even before “Concerning Hobbits,” back in the dark days of the Silmarillion, and establishes the sacking of Erebor and Dale before we even know what a Hobbit is! In my opinion this was necessary, because it opens up a wider world to stare at (in awe) before the camera pulls back to the familiarity of Bag End. I wanted the camera to pause at every detail of Erebor, because it was stunning. It echoes the designs of Moria from the first movies, but amplified, because it is a Dwarven city at the height of its glory instead of one abandoned.
I admit that my eyes started leaking the second I saw Bilbo put pen to paper, and I have to applaud the larger-story continuity of the first scene. It begins on the very same day as Fellowship of the Ring, and shows Bilbo writing in the Red Book, expanding upon his story (which we all know he finishes up in retirement in Rivendell, so it’s even more touching to see this flow). Ian Holm is the first Bilbo that we see, and he’s perfect, of course. Elijah Wood’s Frodo wanders through, giving the scene even more continuity as we see Bilbo watch him leave — little does Bilbo know, Frodo is off to his own adventure. And then Gandalf shows up, and after that come dwarves and more dwarves, and the story is up and running.
But whose story? I’d like to posit that this movie is actually Gandalf’s story. Ian McKellen’s expressive eyes hold the heart of the plot, which for this movie boils down to, “Did Gandalf do well in choosing this particular burglar for the company?” McKellen must have some kind of meticulous timeline of Gandalf’s life in his head, because he can step back into the role of a younger, less secure, less shiny Gandalf with exquisite ease. Gandalf’s growth as a wizard is what’s tested here, and that stately-walking scene in Rivendel (which might be slow to some) is a fine moment in which we see Gandalf squirming in his seat, while his peers probe him: is this decision to help the dwarves really a good one? Can he back Radagast’s claim that the Necromancer is back, against the (slightly less Palantir-addled) Saruman? We’re not sure, and neither is he.
There are a few set pieces in this movie that all true fans expected, and all of them deliver. I was pleased to hear many songs meandering through Bilbo’s larder (That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates!), and while the cut was more like a fan’s extended version than Hollywood might want, in short: F*** ‘em. Peter Jackson gave me the story that I would’ve bought and watched in an extended version anyway, and I’m overjoyed that a third movie gave him the space to spread out and tell the tale as it was told in the books. Did the set piece with the trolls feel the way it did in the book? Of course. And I even squinted at them to make sure they were in the same position that Frodo finds them in, in Fellowship of the Ring. (SEE, Peter Jackson? You knew we’d keep track.)
As for Smaug, we saw some beautifully filmed teasing, but the Big Bad (ok, Medium Bad; the Big Bad is the Necromancer) is being saved for the final film. In a nice visual paeon to a certain Dark Lord, the movie ends with a thinly-slit reptilian eye. Symbolism, I get it! Other beautiful moments for Tolkien fans abound. Watch for: That Moment when Bilbo stays his hand instead of slaying Gollum. Watch for: The intricately designed beauty of each and every domain, including the goblin kingdom above Gollum’s layer. Watch for: FIGWIT.
I won’t discuss Riddles in the Dark, because it’s perfectly done.
What did I dislike? Well. Radagast was saved from being cute by his Peter Jackson-grossness (is that BIRD POO ON HIS FACE? Oh God of course it is), his plot explicated neatly from the Silmarillion. Radagast was necessary for getting information about Mirkwood over to the rest of the world. It’s a fan’s retelling of how it happened, and I’ll pretend that Fran and Phillipa heard it from local lore, the kind of stories that might appear at the Prancing Pony.
In short, I loved this movie, and I want more. Two more. Fine, take my money, and show me as many movies as you want!
For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, Warner Bros. made TV spot #12 available on their facebook page today. This spot is mostly a re-shuffling of previously seen footage, but we do catch a glimpse of wargs being ridden and Gandalf striking the ground with his glowing staff. The length of this TV spot is similar to most of the others, weighing in at 34 seconds. This is just the thing to get you through to the movie openings which start in less than 48 hours! Have a look.
Editor Note: Arathorn was an original staffer of TheOneRing.net back in the early days of the site. His involvement in the site has waned in recent years due to professional and familial responsiblities. His perspective on ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ is unique as he has remained completely unspoiled and out-of-the-loop for nearly 10 years. Spoilers Ahead!
So, the question you probably want to hear answered is how The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey compares with LoTR. From my perspective, it’s pretty favourable – it worked much better for me than RoTK and FoTR, and probably slightly better than TTT. For context however, this is coming from someone who seriously undermined their enjoyment of LoTR by spoiling themselves rotten – whereas I’ve deliberately kept myself unspoilt for The Hobbit.
The pacing of The Hobbit: AUJ is gentler and more consistent than LoTR – the storytelling unfolds at a much more metered and less rushed pace. At no point did I feel bored – it felt like a leisurely but appropriate telling of the story. Also, where story padding is added, it generally feels that it’s actually dramatically required in order to provide additional context for the ‘real’ story, rather than a jarring and illadvised substitution from the books. For instance, the presence of Radagast is a much-needed and legitimate extension to portray the rise of evil in Mirkwood and Dol Guldur which would otherwise have to be shown as a slightly forced flashback.
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