Michaela Fülöp writes: I would like to offer you an interview I did a few days ago with Bruce Hopkins for FantasyPlanet.cz. As we have it on our website in Czech, of course, I thought it might be nice if people could read it worldwide in English on TORN. I think the interview is very nice, funny and brand new so hopefully you will like it and put it online.

Interview with Bruce Hopkins for FantasyPlanet.cz

Bruce Hopkins, the one and only Gamling from LOTR trilogy, was so kind to find a few minutes to answer some questions from Czech fans!!! I have been collecting these questions for this exclusive interview from readers of the FantasyPlanet.cz website. Find out how Bruce remembers LOTR shooting, what´s he up to and much more!!!

1. I understand that the Gamling role was originally a much smaller part. Then PJ liked what he was seeing and made it bigger. How did you find out? Did he tell you he was going to expand your role?
I was approached by Phillipa Boyens on about the 3rd night of what was going to be about a weeks work for me in the last days of Helms Deep, she informed me that they liked what I was doing and how I worked alongside Bernard Hills King Theoden, so the decision had been made to put me in more scenes with him. As you can imagine, I was a very happy chappy!!!

2. What was it like working with Bernard Hill?
It was wonderful to work with Bernard. Within the first few nights of working with him, I discovered that he was the actor who had first made me aware of how powerful acting can be, about 20yrs earlier. I was still a dancer at that time and got hooked on a british television series called ” Boys From the Black Stuff”. I remember watching an episode and this particular character called Yossa Hughes, was so powerful he made me cry and I found it incredible to think he was just pretending ( acting ) and yet it was effecting me so powerfully. It turns out that actor was Bernard Hill!!! I was blown away to think I was standing beside him all these years later and we were about to defend Helms Deep!!!, and middle earth!!!, very cool.

3. Since I am an Orlando fan: I know scenes are shot out of order and sometimes actors that appear to be in the same scene together actually were not during filming. Were you ever on call for the same scene with Orlando and if so, what was Orlando like between takes?
I had the real pleasure of working not only with Orlando, but also Viggo, Ian McKellan, Bernard and a number of the other actors. Legolas comes to Rohan with Gandalf to enlist us in the cause, so we did quite a lot of filming on the same sets. Between takes Orlando, again like all the core cast, was wonderful. Lots of humour was always present with those guys. One of my first major impressions of Orlando was finishing working on my first day with him, he had the long blonde hair of course. Then after we had all had our make up and wigs removed, I couldn’t believe it he stepped out of his make up bus and was sporting a black Mohawk!!! When I was waiting to be introduced by Peter Jackson to the crowd at the end of the red carpet for the world premier of Return of the King in Wellington, I called my 13 yr old daughter on my cell phoned. She had said to me that I had to tell Orlando that she and her friends loved him!!! ( along with 90% of the worlds female population ) after to handing the phone to a couple of he other actors, Viggo handed it to Orlando and I stood there absolutely loving it as Orlando chatted away to my daughter for about 3-4 minutes. Not only a bloody stunning looking man, but a real nice guy.

4. Did you find the whole New Zealand filming experience as thrilling as the other cast members appear to have? Why?
Yes I found it as thrilling as the others. I have travelled alot around NZ, as I used to be a professional dancer and the dance companies I was in would tour alot. So I was already familiar with the stunning beauty and variety of landscapes and locations. However I was still as stunned by some of the places we worked in. In particular the location for Edoras. One day we turned up and as far as the eye could see everything was coated in freshly fallen snow. In fact the snow had to be melted off the mountain that Edoras sat on before we could start filming!

5. What is your opinion of Peter Jackson not only as a director but as a person? Would you work with him again if the opportunity arose?
I would work with Peter Jackson and Fran any day, just let me know when to turn up!!! He was astounding. The scale of what he was doing would have made most people very prone to a lot of stress. If Peter was stressed, I never witnessed it, and I spent about 50 days working under his direction. Truely inspiring.

6. Orlando was pretty young and inexperienced when he took the role of Legolas. Was he as professional and easy to work with as the older and/or more experienced actors?
I came onto the production after they had been working together for 9 months ( basically half way through the principal shooting ), by that time all of the actors, including Orlando, were such professionals it sat it was awesome to behold and to be a part of.

7. Did Bernard Hill play a big part in the expansion of your role or was PJ already thinking of it?
I really do not know the answer to that question. I think maybe Bernard had been part of the decision to create a role for someone to command the armies of Rohan, but as I say I really do not know.

8. Do you still talk to anyone from the LOTR cast or crew? (e-mail, meet, phone, co-operate on some future project etc.)
Just the Kiwi contingent. I am working with Cameron Rhodes who played Farmer Baggins at the moment. The NZ acting scene is reasonable small so we see each other a few times each year. When I get to visit LA I usually catch up with Sala Baker and have caught up with Elijah, Billy and Dom. I actually had a surf with Billy and Dom one time in LA, that was cool, crap surf but cool to hang with them. I also literally came across Brad Dourif as I was walking along Hollywood Boulevard one day.

9. Were Viggo and Bernard really as comic as everyone makes out?
Yes!!! They were a great combination. Still could be very serious but also knew how to have lots of fun, as did everyone!

10. What happened with Gamling after the battle on Pellenor fields?
As I say, gamling was not written in the original script so there was no ending for his character. I would have loved to see him beside Eomer at the coronation, or having a great death ( like Haldir ) at Pelenor, but there was no room for writing in scenes that were not needed by that stage. So in my world Gamling retired to a ranch in Rohan, where he was bathed daily by scantily clad beauties, while being feed grapes and other such delights as he drank fine mead and had his aching body massaged under the heavens.

11. Have you ever thought about moving from New Zealand? What would you miss most?
The open environment, the glorious ocean and stunning mountains.

12. What was the atmosphere on the set of Xena series? And working with Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor? Do you still talk to anyone from Xena?
Half NZs acting population had roles on various Xena and Hercules episodes, so yes I see many of those people still. I rarely see Lucy as she is based in LA mostly these days. I caught up with Kevin Sorbo at one of the LOTR functions in LA in 2003 and I caught up with Rene at the 10th anniversary Xena convention in LA last year. The atmosphere on the Xena and herc stes was very cool. It was the first real big time production to ever come and set up for a length of time in NZ and when ver you got to work on it you felt privileged. You were also working with people such as Ngila Dickson and Grant Major, who of course went on to become academy award winners for LOTR. Eric Grundeman, who was the producer for those shows was a truely wonderful human being. So it was a great time in the NZ film/TV industry.

13. Would you like to go back to the dancing? What did you like most about it?
I am so grateful to have had the years I did as a dancer. No I don’t really wish I could go back to it. I did do a national tour 6 yrs ago with a company called Black Grace, who took Broadway by storm last year. That was a great way to sign off from my dancing days. It was 12 yrs after I had stopped dancing and started acting!!! And my body was in hell but i absolutely loved it. I had to take pain killers each day just to be able to get to work but it was stunning. I just loved to be lost in the moment of dancing, the challenge to get it right but also the joy of taking your body to extremes.

14. What was the most life changing experience in your life?
Becoming a father, which happened three times in the space of 4 years!!!

15. Who’s the person you most admire and why?
Peter Jackson, for living his life doing what he loves doing. The same can be said for Edmund Hillary ( who with Sherpa Tensing was the first to ascend Mt Everest ), Kelly Slater and all the other surfers who make their living surfing, etc.

16. Since he is currently considered as a very good actor how do you remember Ryan Gosling?
He was a lovely young guy who seemed genuinely grateful for the chance Young Hercules gave him. I enjoyed working with him alot, he was focussed but also able to have a good time.

17. Are there any scenes with Gamling that didn’t make it to the movies? If so, could you describe them?
I am pretty pleased to say most of my stuff made it. A couple of lines did not get through, but the scenes were still there. There was a one scene that got made up on the spot basically, where Gamling comes into the caves behind Helms Deep to tell Eowyn that they must take the people deeper into the mountain. When gamling gets to where Eowyn is, she looks up from where she is helping a woman give birth. Gamling is totally tongue tied and has to look away. It was a pretty strange scene to be doing and as i say was made up at the end of a day of filming. I’m happy it did not make it as i don’t think I did a great job of acting that scene.

18. Could you characterize every member of the Fellowship or every actor that you worked with on LOTR with one or two words?
Ian Mckellen………graciously noble
Bernard Hill………wonderfully real
Viggo…………….mesmerisingly enigmatic
Orlando…………..playfully charming
Billy…………….joyous and truthful
Dom………………mischevious and gleeful
Elijah……………genuine and angelic
John Rhys Davies…..powerful and commanding
Sean Astin………..truely aware
Karl urban………..focussed and dedicated
Miranda…………..committed and gentle

Who am I to summise these people, truely they were all wonderful in my experience with them.

19. Is there any role that you dream of?
I got to play Macbeth a couple of years ago, so another challenge along those lines would be great.

20. Do you prefer theatre or tv/movies? (as an actor)
I love it all. At the moment I am working on a theatre piece, which is best described as physical theatre. It is like film but happens on stage. I am working with my creative gurus, Mike Mizrahi and Mari Adams of Inside Out Productions.

21. Could you describe what would make a perfect day for you? (what would you do, eat, etc.)
Big fruit salad for breakfast and a couple of strong long black coffees. A couple of hours in the surf. Film some scenes for a movie, go for a sunset sail on a yacht, then sit around drinking red wine, maybe smoking a joint!!!, and looking at the star filled heavens above, sitting with friends around a fire by the beach.

22. Do you know if they are still trying to make the Hobit movie or any part of the Sillmarilion?
No I don’t have any information about that.

23. Are the actors and creators thinking about any sort of “LOTR tour” around the world? (perhaps on some aniversary occasion like 5 or 10 years after ROTK premiere or something like that) Would they consider coming to Prague or close to Prague?
It would be a something I am sure various people would have considered. Maybe even more of a personal gathering of the actors and production personnel, but who knows.

24. How do you remember working on Xena, Herc, Young Herc, Back 2 Back?
Yeah it was great although the reality was that each job was usually a few months apart, unless you were core cast.

25. I think that in the episode The Last Stand from Cleo 2525 you were most sexy of your entire film carier. How do you remember this character and how it felt to kiss Vicky Pratt?
It was cool playing Jake. The post production people actually embraced the character of Jake Lawson and made a saying out of the phrase….” No…. I’m Jake Lawson” That was cool. Getting to kiss Vicky was a nice bonus, although her boyfriend was directing that episode!!!


PS from Bruce: If you want to, you can tune into a talk back radio show I do. You can go to www.radiolive.co.nz. I do a show from midnight Saturday till 6am Sundays with my mate. We call ourselves Des and Les. It would be great to have people tune in around the world!!!

Be sure to visit Bruce´s official website at www.bruce-hopkins.com and also www.indipact.com!