Silver Star writes: My notes + best recollections, but it’s NOT a transcript, please make that clear!
Good afternoon. Hi. Welcome to “Pippin in Pasadena”. Should we do question and answer or should I just make up a story?
[various audience yells]
Did I hear a perfect C sharp there?
[Billy opens water, is quiet] I forgot where I was for a moment, I’ll tell you what my thought process. I was thinking about this microphone, I was thinking that it’s this big, but then they also make them really small. I was wondering everything be shrunk and still work the same? [holds his fingers rather close together — audience slightly raucous laughter]
[Billy sees the woman wearing the Japanese coat auctioned in the morning.] Is that my kimono? No, it’s not a kimono, I can’t remember the real name for it.
[Japanese person in audience: Ha-pi] Oh, ha-pi, ha-pi.
Q: In Urban Ghost Story, you played an evil character, what is the most fun thing and hardest thing of playing someone so despicable
[microphone cuts out]
It seems if I press my thigh, the mic goes off and if I press the other side, my shirt falls off. [audience laughter and catcalls]
Playing that kind of character … as an actor you get slightly typecast, it’s nice to break out… independent film, the filmmakers have more flexibility while the studios don’t.
In that film, it was hard, there were a couple of kids involved, [rough?]language.. There was some stuff that was even worse that didn’t make film
When you have the character, it comes naturally. It was good fun doing that, I enjoyed that film.
[Billy gets distracted] Ha-pi. I knew it wasn’t a kimono. In Japan, [at the Return of the King premiere] there was a big barrel of sake, You had to break it with a hammer, Pete Jackson broke it. And then Dom tried to jump into it. I had to hold him back. He wanted to bathe in sake. [much audience laughter]
Q. In the blooper reel we saw, there was no Billy and no Dom.
That’s strange, because when I heard they were doing the blooper reels, there’s one that they showed at the wrap party, at the end of principle photography, there was plenty of me and Dom.
When you’re waiting around, you get bored. There was person making the behind-the-scenes film, Dom and I would call that person over and [do a little skit]. There’s one where I locked Dom in the cupboard, [I invited them into my trailer], and all the time I was talking, and there was a tap, tap, tap [mimes tapping]. He’d got me the wrong flavor of Haagen Daas.
Q: What’s the right flavor?
The right flavor: anything with nuts, except walnuts. He got me chocolate, I like ice cream, I like chocolate, but I don’t like chocolate ice cream. [shrugs and makes a face]
Q: Greetings from Seattle. We’re still waiting for you to plant your flag on the space needle.
How high is that? I’m not good with heights.
During Master and Commander, there was a scene, we’re on the top of the crow’s nest. It was supposed to be on the deck, but we got there that morning, and they told us up there. Russell Crowe’s got this big sword, and the space was very small [demonstrates on the stage] Every time Russell Crowe comes by he hits me on the leg with his sword. It was about five hundred feet down, I was holding on with one hand.
[walks to the stage stairs, holds the bannister] I always hold on. [much laughter]
Q: [bit about the Scottish Parliament building]
It cost a lot, I think they got more expensive carpets.
Q: favorite part of Scotland?
The West Coast, Fingol’s cave. I think we should paint up the cave. [bits I missed]
It was lovely to talk to you, quite surreal, but lovely.
[Turns around, sees his back view on the big screen. JUST LIKE ELIJAH, Billy pulled up his shirt and tucked his shirt into the back of his trousers. He played with his hand, wiggled it around, flexed, moved it over his arse, flexed it as though he was going to grab himself, back and forth from his side for quite a long time. Audience screaming, with a notable soprano note to the laughter.]
Q: When Pippin told Treebeard to go south, did he do it expecting something to happen?
Totally that, it was part of showing a character maturing. The writers wanted to show that. Because Merry is trying so hard to convince Treebeard, he’s trying so hard, that, sorry, he couldn’t see the wood for the trees. So after he told me that the Shire could be destroyed, it comes to me [to do something]. I like the idea that Pippin gets the idea that actually changes Treebeard. He’s been listening to Treebeard, he gets Treebeard, he knows he has to do it. After they come out of the forest, he apologizes to Treebeard, he says sorry.
Q: what about your CD?
I just can’t find enough time to rehearse it, we’re writing quite a lot of stuff. Just enjoying it very much.
[Showing off: puts his water bottle in his between his heels, jumps and and flips it up, catches it. Then throws his bottle over his shoulder and fails to catch it.]
Q: what are your future projects?
Quite a few things. I don’t like to talk about things until they’re actually happening. You say you’re going to do something and people ask you why didn’t you do it? You say you’re going to plant a flag in Seattle and they ask why you didn’t, and you have to say “I’m a liar.”
The Scottish National Theatre, I’ve been involved in getting in started, it would be odd not to work there.
[Laughs] “I’ll help you with theatre but I won’t work you”
The French horn. You have to play it with your hand up it, that’s weird. [bit of mime and jokes about the horn] If I was designing it it would have a handle. If I was designing it, it wouldn’t be French, it would be Scottish.
I’m going to tell you a joke, my favorite joke ever. Oh, I’ve talked up so much it’s going to be rubbish.
When I was younger, I had a trumpet tree in my garden. But a man from the council came and rooti-ti-tout. [in American: root-toot-toot-ooot]
You’ll be thinking about it at night, lying in bed, thinking oh, rooted it out!
Q: Dom says you watch Laurel and Hardy movies, what’s your favorite?
Ijust got it, they now have a box set of everything they ever made, five million hours, brilliant. I love that Stan Laurel can light his thumb, if they need a fire. I love Way out West, I love all the movies. I could watch them for hours watching them getting a piano up a staircase.
Peter Sellers, I could watch him as well.
Q: Elijah was talking about pranks, what was the best prank?
Best prank, probably, was the game Tig Tag, not because it was best, but just cos it it went on so long. Three months later, Elijah came up and said “why don’t we ever play Tig?” [audience laughter]
Elijah’s such a lovely guy, open and innocent, it’s almost to easy.
Orlando, you’ve got to be a bit more sly to get him. But we got him.
Q: Could you quote one of Pippin’s lines in an American accent
[In American accent:] I wish I knew how to quit you! That’s not Pippin. That’s Brokeback Mountain isn’t it. [audience laughter]
Pippin is so kind of in that voice, It would be kindof weird to do it.
[Asks questioner to do it, she says “Second Breakfast” in a Scottish accent, laughter all around.]
Q: Come to Oregon and go windsurfing.
I’m going up to plant a flag, paint a cave…
I don’t like windsurfing, you can’t rest, you have to hold onto it all the time. On the surfboard, you can sit, have a chat, a dolphin could come by [makes dolphin jump motion with his hand]
Q: In the scene with Pippin and Gandalf, talking about death, your neck pulses. Did you do that on purpose.
I don’t have that kind of body control. I think it’s just, hopefully as an actor you try to be in the moment you know, and if you’re working with a great actor like Ian… And the lines, the first time I read that scene I cried. The lines written by Tolkien and by Fran Walsh. [mentions issues of dealing with hobbit sizes: camera tricks, green screens.] For that one, we just sat down, and it happened to work.
Q; What scene makes you most proud, what would you have wanted to change?
I’m very proud of that scene with Gandalf. Proud of the relationship of Merry and Pippin, hope it came across. Hopefully by the end when he finds him on the battle field, the relationship has all been leading up to it.
What I’d like to do again, do it again [New Zealand is] a beautiful country
Q: Did you know there’s snow in Chicago?
Let’s go plant a flag!
[Billy moves chair] Repositioning things, it’s like a chess game up here.
Q: no matter how much I’ve watched you on TV, you’re more [adorable?] in person.
Oh gosh, thank you.
Q: If not Pippin, what character would you have liked to have played? And what would it take for a girl to win your heart?
[Billy clowns a little]
I’d like to have done Gollum. That was exciting, the first time that technology had been used, as well as being amazingly written character. When I read the books, it just jumped out.
To win my heart – chocolate, ice cream, but not chocolate ice cream. I don’t know. Strange isn’t it, attraction. It’s chemical, biological, you don’t know [why]. You don’t pick who to fall in love with. [American accent:] Ah wish ah knew how to quit you.
Q: [Brings Seed of Chuckie doll up] Could you make the doll talk?
Cute little fellah.
[Glenn voice:] I don’t know who I am, I don’t know if I’m a boy or a girl.
I’ve never seen one of those. He’s quite the sexy one
[Billy asks questioner:] was that painful that tattoo? I’ve often thought of having a tattoo there [forearm]. Someone, the girl who did my makeup for a long time on the Lord of the Rings, called Margaret, had a boyfriend, who’s now her husband, and they have two kids. [how much time has gone by] He had a tattoo that was great, a mountain that became a wave. It was supposed to go right round, but he stopped, it was too painful.
Q: Do you hate getting asked the same things all the time?
I’m not getting asked the same things over and over. A lot of the questions I’ve been asked today, I’ve never been asked before
Q: How did you go from bookbinding to acting?
I was just bored, really really bored. I used to be a bookbinder, I enjoyed it when I was learning, but then I went to a big place [and was bored.] So I left, hung about down at the Florida keys. It’s a good place to hang about: hot, wet.
[then he got into Drama school and went back to Glasgow]
[I’m missing a bit]
Q: Do you really hate cinnamon?
I hate cinnamon: smell, taste, everything about cinnamon. I don’t mind chewing gum, Big Red, but doesn’t taste like cinnamon. I don’t know why I hate it so much. When I was younger, we were going to Six Flags or something. My cousin made me cinnamon toast that morning, and I was sick on the roller coaster. It might not have been the cinnamon but the two are connected in my mind.
It’s the first thing you smell when you get off the plane in LA, is cinnamon, there’s a cinnabon place.
But if you see me in the street, and say have a bit of Big Red, I’ll say yeah. It doesn’t taste like cinnamon to me, it tastes like anise. I quite like anise.
Q: Do you like World Without Sundays?
What a great band!
Q: What was the strangest or most unusual gift you’ve gotten?
I get a lot of stuff that’s quite strange… I quite like that I mention in an interview that you like something, you get get it. I should say I like whiskey! I said I like scarves, I got scarves for a long time.
Q: Is it harder or easier to play a character based on a book?
Kindof a bit of both, actually. Sometimes it’s nice, you can go back [and check]. If it says in the book the character can be funny, you can be funny. [something about not funny]
It’s also fun, when you have the script, you have the freedom to make it up. A bit of both, really
[back to French horn] If there’s a blacksmith, or a metalsmith, you could make a handle for French horns.
Q What would you play in a marching band?
Is there a French horn? Really? [Something about holding it up.]
Cancel the handle!
It’s not a French horn, it’s a ‘mellophone’.
Q: What instruments do you play?
A little bit of guitar, a little bit of bass, a little drums, a little mouth organ.
I used to have a binatone, it’s a keyboard from the 80s. I can play the theme from Superman, and Beautiful Dreamer.
[teases the questioner, a teenager who plays flute in marching band] It’s easier to carry, can put it in your bag, can’t do that with a French horn, even if you have a handle.
Mellophone, remember it rhymes with ‘deep groan’
Q: What’s you’re favorite Beatles song?
Favorite ever ever Beatles song, that’s so hard, that’s the same like your favorite movie. I like “Something”. I like George Harrison songs, “Two of Us”, I really like. I’m going to say “Across the Universe”, which rhymes with ‘just a slightly bit perverse’
I almost went right off the stage there.
Q: About sound production, ADR, Peter Jackson’s sound awesome. Was Billy’s background with music helpful?
ADR, for anyone who doesn’t know, you’ll film the scene, but have to do additional dialog recording. Because in some scenes, you know there’ll be a fan on to make wind, or other noise. Some actors don’t enjoy it cos you have to re-create the scene. I like it cos you have a chance to revisit it.
I quite enjoy it, even for emotion scenes. Except for, you have to do breathing and such like, if you have to do running scenes [takes deep breath, pants] It’s always at the end of the day, you end up really dizzy, hyperventilating.
I was working with a camera man once, he’d been in the business for twenty five years, and for twenty of those, he’s been waiting for sound. Sound guys are always going “I can hear an aeroplane”
[Effective sound example: in Moria, after Pippin knocks down the skeleton] it was very quiet, you could hear breathing.
Because film is quite a visual experience, people forget how great sound is, but sound makes a movie definitely.
Q: Who was your best friend on the set?
That would probably be Dom. Me, Dom, Elijah, Orlando, we all kinda hung out together. But Dom most, cos his house was closest to me. I had an internal switch, seem to be listening to Dom [nods, looks interested] but really I was listening to my internal music. We liked a lot of the same things, playing pool, watching movies.
Q; Of all you experiences, which would you relive?
So many great things. I loved, after we come out of Moria, on top of that mountain, so beautiful, I can’t even say. It was a place of natural significance, I think I just made that up, I don’t think that’s the real thing, but, natural significance. Not many people were allowed up there, just cameraman, sound, actors, maybe a makeup person. We spent a couple of days up there, beautiful.
Q: How were the premieres?
The premieres are great, but hard work. Doing one in new york, then you have to go to the party afterwards, sounds like fun, but it’s work. But all the crowds, and people energy, the n next day on on the plane…
Q: What was your favorite costume?
The Gondorian uniform, it was sexy, strolling around the set. [strolls across stage] Kicking Viggo, knocking him off his horse. It was really comfortable, the chain mail was plastic, so it didn’t weigh anything. There were a lot of layers, so it took quite a lot of time to get on in the morning and off in the evening. The sword was on this kind of X thing, and it kept slipping down. It’s really annoying, when you’re in the middle of a battle, and it keeps slipping down!
Audience: SPEED ROUND
I thought you said ‘spin round’, like Wonder Woman.
Q: Your music career, when did you start and how?
I played in a band when I was at school, like 14, with some guys, we played music for like 10 years. Actually, two of them are still playing with me now [Audience: awww] I don’t know if that’s worth an awww. [laughter] One of them has a kitten! [Audience: awww]
Q: What is your favorite color?
Q: asking all the actors, because I’m going to paint my house.
Billy: I’m going to paint a cave! [audience laughter]
Q: Last year, Dom told us to ask about ‘door, x, triangle’, what can you tell us?
Very little then. We were in Hawaii last year: dom, elijah, other people, guys from World Without Sundays, random people who were there. I’m not a big playstation player, I get bored. Some of these guys can play until they’re physically sick. [description of the stages of playstation addiction] When they get to that point they can only speak, “cross select zero triangle”! The house we were in the door didn’t close, we had to yell, ‘door’, or a mosquito comes in, bites you, you get malaria…
Q: In the Return of the King, there’s a publicity photo from the Black Gate where Merry is hurt and Pippin is holding him.
The battle at the Black Gates, there, we did a lot of what they call ‘pops’, of battle things happening, which might have been Viggo going through three orcs. And one of the things was that Dom gets hurt by an axe and falls to the ground and I grab him and I’m calling for help. [they decided they didn’t need it] It’s a little piece of battle footage that they used as still.
Q: It’s the opposite of Merry holding Pippin coming out of Moria. [Billy agrees]
Q: About the Fellowship tattoo
I did, actually, but when we got the tattoo, I’m sure everyone knows the nine of us got an Elvish tattoo of the number nine. Because the job has so much to do with feet [I decided to get mine on my ankle]. I was the first one to get it, everyone thought Viggo would go first but he [dithered around] so I went ahead.
Q: Show it?
I made a promise to myself not to show on camera, and there’s at least one camera here. [applause]
What I didn’t think of, was doing it about two weeks before the end of principal photography, it was painful. An open wound, putting on glue! Don’t do that.
Q: Your favorite movie growing up?
When I was growing up, my sort of Lord of the Rings was Star Wars, I loved all the characters. I love comedy, Peter Sellers.
I want to invent a handle for the French horn!