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

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MIRAMAR, New Zealand — The director’s tent. Inside a sound stage or outside on location, it is a constant and central fixture on a movie shoot. It is home base for Peter Jackson and his team.

It is sacred ground – well almost.

The decisions made inside it, by the team, under Jackson’s direction, are crucial to the project where it is determined what will later happen in front of the camera.

So every day, whatever happens to a set or a soundstage overnight, the tent is there set up and waiting for the core of the shooting unit.

Editor Jabez Olssen, Script Supervisor Victoria Sullivan and First Assistant Director Carolynne Cunningham call it home during the shoot. Cunningham is out a lot, Olssen and Sullivan less so and Producer Zane Weiner is always near. Jackson’s assistant Sebastian Meek is in and out at all times, bringing badly needed tea and watching the door from outside to eliminate distractions inside.

Jackson lives on tea and Meek has a talent for having it handy at the perfect moment.

Jackson7SETTING THE SCENE

In April, 2012, as a representative of fandom via TheOneRing.net, to be on set during five weeks of the filming of the Hobbit films. At the time, it was still scheduled to be two movies and the production had just settled in to shoot in studio instead of on location. Much was unknown then, that now is completely familiar to fans.

When I first arrived at Stone Street Studios, the publicity team took me to set, showed me the ropes and left me to my own devices during the rest of my stay to meet folks and get interviews, which was great. No time and no need for babysitting.

I was there to be a good guest and to observe. Two weeks later I was definitely convinced I had no chance of talking to Peter Jackson, except for an occasional, “Hello, how are you getting on?” from him during my time there.

Fans world-wide know from production diaries, how exhausted Jackson gets during the shooting phase of filmmaking. It is important to really understand why.

Peter Jackson is a busy guy. Particularly when he is shooting, there is a lot to do in a day and a lot of people that need to understand his vision in order to do their jobs well; he is the hub of the great spinning wheel.

Peter JacksonHe is the director, a writer and a producer — each a big job on its own. Many films have one of each of those, or several of some, all working together. But Jackson was all of them at once and combining titles didn’t mean there was less work to be done. Just because he was reviewing shots didn’t mean the script didn’t need his touch or that the art department didn’t need his input as a director or the next day’s schedule didn’t need approval. Others were partners on all of these fronts but they also required Jackson.

In a day he might need to meet with the effects supervisor, set designers, concept designers, costume designers, the composer or see actual costumes for approval or changes to name just a few of the many things that require his time. He will confirm the schedule with his Assistant Director, producers and spend time with the Second Unit Director Andy Serkis to make sure all is to his liking. They need sets built, greens grown, sets decorated, concept guys working ahead, materials guys building everything, maximizing actors’ time, feeding all of those people, screening extras, bringing in the right number of prosthetic artists and on and on. In short, there is never a shortage of people who need Jackson’s input to work on his vision and it takes the logistics of, dare I say, planning a battle with five armies.

In short, he has to sign off on pretty much everything.

Those are the reasons “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” and his other Hobbit movies are genuinely Peter Jackson movies. It also means he is booked.

Solid.

THE FINAL HOURS

And so it was, the last day of my time on The Hobbit set, after several assurances that it would happen — it did.

Lunch happened and on the location set of Dale, up on a hill, I was invited to that director’s tent to sit and talk with PJ, just the two of us alone. (One editor asked me if we ate together in the tent but I don’t think so, but why many memories are crystal clear of that meeting, I just have no idea.)

I had been inside before, but not often. The day I shadowed him, I spent several hours, trying to melt into the background. This was his sanctuary and office.

Posted in Alan Lee, Andy Serkis, Characters, Crew News, Director news, Director Rumors, Evangeline Lilly, Fans, Fran Walsh, Headlines, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Locations Sets, LotR Movies, MrCere in New Zealand, New Zealand, Orlando Bloom, Other Tolkien books, Peter Jackson, Production, Silmarillion, Studios, Terry Notary, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Tolkien, Tolkien Estate, Uncategorized, Warner Bros.

TheOneRing.net talks with Orlando Bloom about ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND — We talked to Orlando Bloom in a sound stage on set during filming of The Hobbit movies. Bloom is a massive movie star, more than he is an actor, he is a franchise actor in series of films that have grossed billions. Of all the folks we interviewed I knew him the least (not at all) and he was the most difficult to read.

I recall that he was nervous but reading through the transcription that doesn’t show up at all. We talked a lot about Rings vs. Hobbit a lot here and that wouldn’t have been my choice. But there are no bad questions, it just feels slightly repetitive. However, after seeing “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” I do understand more clearly of what he was telling us. He was forthright and open.

It is worth a mention that Bloom is a physical actor who mixes it up with stuntees and action full bore. He doesn’t hold back.

If memory serves he was in at least partial Legolas clothes with some green pants and his legs were restless.

Other Q&A interviews about “The Hobbit:The Battle of the Five Armies,” include:

Martin Freeman
Dan Hennah
Ian McKellen
Graham McTavish
Lee Pace

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ORLANDO BLOOM: Apologies for munching an apple.

MEDIA: That’s all right.

ORLANDO BLOOM: So, yeah, how’s everyone doing?

MEDIA: Great.

ORLANDO BLOOM: How long have you been here?

MEDIA: Yesterday. We got in yesterday.
Bloom4
ORLANDO BLOOM: How long for?

MEDIA: Saturday morning.

ORLANDO BLOOM: All from the States?

MEDIA: No. I’m from Sydney.

ORLANDO BLOOM: Sydney?

MEDIA: Yeah.

ORLANDO BLOOM: States. LA.

MEDIA: Austin.

ORLANDO BLOOM: Austin?

MEDIA: The One Ring. States.

ORLANDO BLOOM: Oh, yeah.

MEDIA: He exists entirely online.

MEDIA: The district of One Ring.

ORLANDO BLOOM: How is The One Ring?

MEDIA: Honestly, now we’re good. We’re still broke from our last party, actually. But otherwise we’re good.

MEDIA: So, now we’re seeing you out of the full hair and makeup and whatever. How does the process compare this time around, just in terms of duration and ease and whatever, to the first three movies?

ORLANDO BLOOM: To get made up?

MEDIA: Yeah. Have they refined the process so that it’s a breeze now?

ORLANDO BLOOM: It’s about the same for me. I think they simplified it for the hobbit, for Martin, because they came up with those boot ideas which– Actually, I think that was– A great idea by Viggo’s old makeup artist, somebody was telling me actually, funny enough. He came up with the idea for having the feet be boots.

Can you imagine how much time that would have saved? Because on Rings, they had the joint there and it was so visible that they had to– So, yeah, I think it’s– But for me, I just have my ears, and they just pop on and they seal them down in about an hour and fifteen minutes.

MEDIA: It takes that long just to do the ears?

ORLANDO BLOOM: Ears, wig, makeup, yeah.

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, MrCere in New Zealand, Orlando Bloom, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Dan Hennah talks about the designs for “The Battle of the Five Armies”

MCDLOOF EC211Here’s the transcript of an interview with Dan Hennah conducted with TheOneRing.net and a handful of other reporters during a set visit to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

(more…)

Posted in Crew News, Dan Hennah, Events, Headlines, Hobbit Movie, Locations Sets, MrCere in New Zealand, Press Conferences, Production, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, TheOneRing.net Announcements

Martin Freeman talks ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ with TheOneRing.net

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WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND — TheOneRing.net visited the set for a brief time during the final segment of filming, nearly entirely focused on the third film, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” On the day of this interview Peter Jackson was putting his characters through a highly emotional scene toward the end of the film when one or more characters was in grave peril, perhaps the gravest of peril. In fact, the scene puts the grave in grave peril.

But the production wasn’t filming the action sequence. The camera was on the other half of the scene so instead the camera was focused on Martin Freeman playing Bilbo Baggins watching the grave peril unfold. Freeman’s face and voice spoke volumes about what Bilbo was experiencing. As of press time, I haven’t seen the film so perhaps those who have will know what we watched or perhaps it didn’t make the final cut. Either way, it was an acting lesson from a genuine professional.

The year previous I spent extensive time on set and for a myriad of reasons Freeman was the sole interview of the main cast that I failed to get so I was pleased to finally be able to sit down on set, in a tent on a sound stage and interview the guy who played the title character. There were perhaps five other reporters as well. If any of the following questions from the Q&A are bad, please blame them. A foot massage* for those who can spot the questions for TheOneRing.net (hint, it wasn’t the ones about the ring or feet.) A personal observation is that Freeman is often a thoughtful interview who doesn’t deliver canned answers but I find his words here to be particularly engaging. Sadly, the interview, while reasonable in length left us wishing for more. (more…)

Posted in Characters, Headlines, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Martin Freeman, MrCere in New Zealand, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

TheOneRing.net and Lee Pace on set to talk ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”

Lee_PaceMIRAMAR, NEW ZEALAND — In the final few weeks of filming for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” a handful of journalists visited Peter Jackson’s set at Stone Street Studios near Wellington, New Zealand to do a final round of interviews during filming.

The invitation included TheOneRing.net. The pack of journos were given a lot of interviews in a short amount of time with the agreement with Warner Bros. to hold them until just before the final film. The veil is lifted and here is the interview, with minimal commentary. (Assume the less good questions aren’t from TORn!)

We met in the mess hall, empty except for us on a windy day. Pace is even more handsome in person than expected, dressed casually but smartly and he gave very thoughtful answers — as you will read — and appeared to be thinking while he spoke. In fact, at the time the interview seemed extraordinary, especially as he talked about his character. Some of these phrases could be engraved and hung somewhere. Reading through it more than a year later, I hope fans enjoy it as much as I do.

We were fresh from Weta Workshop, Academy Award winner Richard Taylor as well as interviewing Academy Award winner Dan Hennah and having a tour of the offices of the Art Department where we saw concept art and models and props of all kinds.

Here is the conversation: (more…)

Posted in Cate Blanchett, Dan Hennah, Fans, Headlines, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Hugo Weaving, Ian McKellen, Lee Pace, LotR Movies, MrCere in New Zealand, Orlando Bloom, Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Hobbit Fan Contest: Queenstown, gateway to Middle-earth adventure

NOTE: Click on any of the photos and then click again to see a much larger version. We think most of these are worth the clicks.

_MG_0928_smallYou can smell it in the air and see it in the water and there is just no disputing that Queenstown, New Zealand is a special place. The Hobbit Fan Contest winners left some pretty amazing experiences at Rotorua and especially Hobbiton Movie Set to climb on a plane at head to the south island of the two-island nation.

More than one fan wondered aloud, “How can they rest of the trip possibly live up to this?” And then Queenstown worked its charms. The area is heavily saturated with Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film lore. And while there was always tourism for the majestic Southern Alps and the Remarkables set around a ski resort town that also happens to be the gateway of the world, there will long be an impact there from the six episodes of Middle-earth Peter Jackson delivered. (more…)

Posted in Contests, Events, Fans, Hobbit Fan Contest, Hobbit Movie, LotR Movies, MrCere in New Zealand, New Zealand, Orlando Bloom, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Tours

Hobbit Fan Contest winners dispersing all over the world

smaugLOS ANGELES — The contest has ended for the winners to be the ultimate Hobbit fans and watch the in-progress “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” film with Peter Jackson. That happened Thursday in Wellington and by Friday fans were traveling home, slowly spreading out away from Middle-earth and back to the four corners of the globe. Friendship ran deep among the group and the late night Auckland to Los Angeles flight still contained a decent share of the group that saw New Zealand in a whirlwind. The plane was also the famed Smaug-decorated jet and that surely seemed appropriate.

Jackson is back to work on the film, fans are spreading back around the globe, going home after an unforgettable week. TORn has been very busy collecting photos and experiences and will get a big report and maybe some other stories out this weekend. For the rest, three weeks remain until the the world premiere in London. Three weeks for Jackson and his editing team to make final decisions about the film. Three weeks for hundreds or likely thousands of hands at Weta Digital to finish hundreds of shots. Three weeks for Warner Bros. to ramp up its publicity machine and three weeks for actors to get ready to promote the film at red carpets and premieres on several continents.

The ultimate fan contest to bring hardcore fans together to see the final film in Middle-earth was a massive undertaking for Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand and Warners. While not every single detail was perfect, there is little doubt for those who went, the week was the trip of a lifetime. Besides the screening there was an incredible day at the Hobbiton Movie Set, the cultural welcome at Rotorua, all kinds of adventures in Queenstown and then a dash through Wellington with glimpses into Weta Workship, Weta Digital and the rarest of movie experiences with Jackson and company.

Posted in Contests, Events, Hobbit Fan Contest, Hobbit Movie, MrCere in New Zealand, The Hobbit

A magical day at Hobbiton Movie Set features new ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ trailer

Fireworks2HOBBITON — A visit to Hobbiton Movie Set for winners of the Hobbit Fan Contest had, all-in-all, a pretty amazing day — and then they saw the trailer.

For readers who don’t know, the shooting set for exteriors of the Shire in Hobbit trilogy is preserved for visitors on the farm where it was originally used for the “Lord of the Rings,” films. It provides a fully immersive environment that fans worldwide agree is singularly special and it runs tours daily.

So besIt also didn’t hurt that actors Jed Brophy, John Callen, Mark Hadlow and Stephen Hunter surprised visitors at a feast inside the full-service eatery on site: The Green Dragon. Nor did the flowing drink, the plentiful food, the expertly guided tours, but what else can be done to delight 150 of the most die-hard fans in the world?

Have Peter Jackson, by way of recorded video, introduce the just-finished, and last, trailer for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” It brought the house down.

DwarvesIn the very Hobbity party tent behind The Green Dragon all the gathered fans and media were clearly and repeatedly instructed to turn off our cameras so it was obvious something different was happening. Even the most honored guests, the actors were placed in the front but looking forward with the audience.

Matthew Dravitzki, an Associate Producer on the trilogy and a key figure behind Jackson’s team who usually escapes the spotlight, spoke to the fans and introduced the video. He also required that we viewers not share the details, especially the specifics, so you will not read them here. But I think its okay if I say, it’s serious as a heart attack, gloomy as a storm front and as epic as battle of five armies.

And wow, do my fingers itch to type more.

Afterwards the groups of fans, split up for logistical purposes and took the new (to me) night tour around the set. Under the party tree the groups gathered to finally end a pretty amazing day. In fact, it may be difficult to match during the rest of the trip. To say fans were ecstatic is no exaggeration. There were, at several points, tears of joy and disbelief.

GondolaThe day started in the rain at the Skyline Rotorua. Fans and reporters were generously offered the opportunity to enjoy various activities that included wine tasting, a zip line, a luge and a skyswing. Then it was off to the movie set for a day that was absolutely packed.

TORn interviewed the four actors together in a group with hilarious results. We will post it at a later date, depending on how quickly we get the video and quickly I can possibly post it but it’s great fan service from four classy New Zealand gentlemen.

The owner of the sheep and cattle farm the set sits on and his son who run it, Ian and Russel Alaexander, were on hand for interviews as well. TORn didn’t catch up with them, but plenty of media outlets did. In the late afternoon, in the guise of introducing The Green Dragon, fans were led into the room where the actors and executives were enjoying dinner and where media was stationed to grab reactions. As anticipated, tears where shed, hugs were shared and memories were made. Staff working on the event expressed a lot of tender emotions while watching fans enjoy the surprise so much.

I was pleased to have time to mix and mingle with fans — and I met a lot of them and enjoyed it every time. Before long it was trailer time. Despite this group’s appointment this week to screen the actual film with director Peter Jackson, the trailer announcement was greeted with great excitement.

Dravitzki promised a triple showing and delivered. All three times fans hushed each other at the start, not wanting to miss any dialog.

Then it was outdoors for the night tour when fireworks were triggered. Then, off to buses and tomorrow, Queenstown.

Posted in Events, Fans, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jed Brophy, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Meet Ups, MrCere in New Zealand, New Zealand, Peter Jackson, Stephen Hunter, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Tours

New Zealand gives Hobbit winners a grand cultural welcome

AirNZWelcome

ROTORUA — The first full day is in the books in a historic gathering of Middle-earth fans from around the world. And while there were some tired eyes there were lots more genuine smiles and the excitement of anticipation of a fan’s trip of a lifetime. Along with 150 Hobbit fans, about 30 or so journalists met on the tarmac at Auckland airport to get a photo with the pride of Air New Zealand’s fleet, its Thorin-and-company-emblazoned carrier.

The logistics of making just that happen means many buses, many credentials, many places to store luggage and quite a lot of hustle and bustle.

Tourism New Zealand is out in force to get everybody where they need to be as is Warners Bros. and just some of the many faces behind the many travel details that had to come together to bring this world-wide collection together.

BarbadosThe winners are divided into groups that help everybody keep everybody else organized. Credential lanyards are color coded to signify who is who and where they are from. If you arrived from the Americas, including winner Rori Griffith and her father Derek from Barbados, you are signified a Hobbit and get a green lanyard. Australasia are yellow wizards, Asia are blue elves and Europeans are red dwarves. Anybody else instantly transported to the video game Gauntlet? Oh and the media are signified as white orcs. Oh yes, we media are villains! We find our bus with signs and banners with CGI Azog himself and yes, that is me down in the photo gallery taking a self-portrait to demonstrate our similar haircuts. Staff are purple with the ever-present black “staff” shirts. The very helpful and cheerful staff will be present and recognizable in many, many photos I have no doubt. (more…)

Posted in Contests, Events, Fans, Hobbit Fan Contest, Hobbit Movie, Meet Ups, MrCere in New Zealand, The Hobbit

TheOneRing.net will exclusively join with and report on Peter Jackson’s ‘Hobbit’ contest winners

Sunset near Twizel, New Zealand on the day of our story.

Sunset near Twizel, New Zealand.

Peter Jackson held a a world-wide contest for fans with the ultimate prize of traveling to New Zealand to watch “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” with the director. Fans world-wide responded and as promised, winners were announced from the four corners of the globe.

Today we can share the news that TheOneRing.net will be on the trip as well to bring the wonders of New Zealand and the experiences of the winners to fans just as fast as we can type. Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand are giving the winners a Middle-earth experience on the North and South Islands before viewing the film with Jackson. (TheOneRing has not been invited to see the film and will enjoy a nice walk during the screening!) (more…)

Posted in Events, Hobbit Movie, MrCere in New Zealand, Studios, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, TheOneRing.net Announcements, TheOneRing.net Community, Warner Bros., WETA Cave, WETA Digital, WETA Workshop

Luke Evans talks Bard the Bowman and Bard the family man in ‘Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug’

Luke Evans as Bard The Bowman and John Bell as his son Bain.

(Luke Evans as Bard The Bowman and John Bell as his son Bain.)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Ever wonder what you gave Luke Evans for his birthday?  Few realized it, but the staff and readers of TheOneRing.net gave him a present back in April of 2011.

Evans celebrated his 32nd year with a party at Gas Works, a bar and grill just walking distance from Stone Street Studios, the movie lot where Peter Jackson makes movies, including the forthcoming “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

In the mess tent of that set, on the white refrigerator that holds cream and milk and sundry items, near the always playing iPod, there hung a solicitation for all eyes to see: An open invitation from Luke Evans to celebrate his birthday on a Saturday night.  (Regrettably I didn’t take a photo of the fridge.) The invitation was right there in perhaps the most trafficked spot on the lot, available for all, specified for none.

Are on-set reporters invited to cast and crew events?  Advised by somebody from costume that it was absolutely okay (Jasmine I think, a real favorite), I decided to go only if could find a suitable gift from all of us, readers and staff of TORn.  What would you buy an actor on behalf of the largest online Tolkien community?  What does a guy making a living acting in New Zealand and away from home really want or need anyway? (more…)

Posted in Character Q&A, Characters, Headlines, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie FAQ, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Nesbitt, John Bell, Locations Sets, Luke Evans, Mary Nesbit, MrCere in New Zealand, Peggy Nesbit, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Tolkien

Evangeline Lilly explains the challenges of playing Tauriel in Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit’

Part one of this spotlight on Evangeline Lilly and her character Tauriel was published yesterday. Click here to read it.


(Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel.)

(Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel.)

In the first part of this story, Evangeline Lilly discussed her childhood love for “The Hobbit,” and her decision-making process that led her to move her family to New Zealand and work with director Peter Jackson as a character not found in J.R.R. Tolkien’s 75-year-old classic. She plays an elf in the forest kingdom of Thranduil where his son Legolas also lives.

How does an actor differentiate her character in a set of films stuffed full with grand, immortal elves?

“Somebody asked me, ‘Did you study a lot of the other elves? The performances of the elves from Rings to do this role?’ I said distinctly ‘no.’ I intentionally didn’t re-watch the movies because I was afraid of trying to copy someone’s performance and I wanted it to be original.”

bg_jFUFB“All the other elves you’ve ever seen in these movies are at least twice my age, at least twice Tauriel’s age, so they are very wise and they’re very well established in their power and their understanding of the world. I’ve intentionally tried to demonstrate that she’s not there yet. She’s young, she’s only 600 years old and in elven terms, that is so young. She’s just a baby.”

Lilly is even playing some layers of the role in a way she wants those diehard fans to understand.

“I like the idea of playing with a young elf, how would they behave? How would they be different from the aged elves? And I hope that it doesn’t come across as wrong, you know what I mean? I hope it doesn’t come across to people who really know the world as she’s not quite got it down. Because that’s my goal, to not quite have it.

“She wants to be as wise, she wants to be as much of a presence as all of her elders but she’s not. She’s a kid and there’s a part of her that is always a little too excited about things or maybe a little too engaged in the world, the way kids can get. And I think that was something I wanted to tell the really diehard fans.

“I want them to know that she is young so that when they look at the performance and they look at the character they understand the context.” (more…)

Posted in Andy Serkis, Characters, Crew News, Evangeline Lilly, Headlines, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Leith McPherson, Locations Sets, MrCere in New Zealand, Terry Notary, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Tolkien