Ringer Spy Elven was kind enough to transcribe the ‘To be Continued’ interview from last weekend. This latest episode features news on ‘The Hobbit’ casting, our back-and-forth with del Toro about Smaug, and Pandemic’s LOTR: Conquest!
Transcribed by Elven
WNJC 1360AM – ‘To Be Continued’ Radio Show with Sohaib and Stewart.
With Michael Regina Onering.net
Philadelphia: – Sunday 11th May 2008 – 7.30pm
Sohaib: We’re moving along here from the OneRing.net . They are the experts on all things Middle Earth. Mike?
Michael: Hey you guys! How you doing.
Sohaib: Welcome back to our bi monthly segment.
Stewart: Thanks for being patient Mike.
Michael: Hey no problem. Thanks for having us.
Sohaib: So Mike it’s been 2 weeks since we last spoke and quite a few things have been happening in the lands of Middle Earth. Maybe you could give us a little update on what news might be of interest to our listener.
Michael: Well we’ve had a few interesting things this week. We’ve had a back and forth with Director Guillermo de Toro over our message boards. We were posing several questions regarding the character Smaug, and how would they portray him in the film. And we had some interesting casting announcements, where basically Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis have both basically confirmed that they will be in the films …
Michael: and we had a big announcement from EA’s Pandemic studios these are the guys behind Star Wars Battlefront I & II. These guys are developing a game called LOTR Conquest which will be a huge battle game featuring many, many battles from the entire trilogy of films and books. So It’s pretty interesting.
Stewart: Ah – That sounds really cool!
Sohaib: It’s actually a little bit troublesome for me, because I think if you’re married or have kids or if you have other responsibilities, maybe a job, you might be out of that after the game comes out because you’ll be spending all your time playing that.
Stewart: No troubles for me ….
Michael: (laughs) Definitely. There’s going to be some lonely (wo)men out there (laughter)
Sohaib: So your going back to Guillermo’s interview or actually not interview but you know going back and forth on the message boards and had eluded to Smaug. My fondest memories are (were) actually of the Hobbit that came out in 1977 – the Jules Bass / Arthur Rankin animated version of the film, and I remember Smaug so well in there. For those who are not familiar with Smaug maybe I’m sure our LOTR fans are obviously very very familiar with Smaug, but Mike could you give us a little information on who Smaug is for non LOTR fans, cause we’re actually trying to bring them in as well?
Michael: Yeah well basically the story of the Hobbit is Bilbo Baggins being recruited by Dwarves to help them recapture gold that has been taken from them by Smaug the Dragon. And what Smaug has done in the past was, he has destroyed the local towns and villages near the Misty Mountains and he has basically horded over this treasure, and has proclaimed himself sort of the keeper of this treasure, and basically he kind of just sleeps with it (laughs), and just keeps it there with him. And he’s a sort of a very sinister character, very dangerous and basically something you’ve never seen before in LOTR which is a dragon, because by the time we see the 3 films, Fellowship to the Return of The King, Dragons are all but extinct. But the time of the Hobbit there are still a few remaining, and Smaug is one of them.
Sohaib: Right. And obviously there was the Nazgul in the LOTR films and the novels as well, but like you said the Dragons are pretty much all but extinct in the new film (ahh) the Hobbit (correction). What type of titbits of information did he give you, what kind of feel are they going with the Smaug?
Michael: Its actually quite interesting because right now everything is in this sort of conceptual stage. And one of our writers on the One ring Larry Curtin, posed the question where he said – What kind of take will Del Toro take with this character, who is essentially going to have to be a CGI character who’ll be voiced by someone unknown, yet we still don’t know. But how will they portray him in this film? Will he just be this big bad meanie, or will they actually give him a breath of life and give him character and all kinds of formations for what he will do. I’m not going to ruin the story for anyone who doesn’t know.
And Del Toro came back and answered a lot of our questions a lot of our query’s and pondered and told us that basically “He doesn’t want Smaug to be the Dragon in the Hobbit Movie he wants Samug to be THE Dragon of all Dragons ever seen in any film before and after. So he’s really trying to make his staple (?) on and he knows that the Smaug character is actually very important to the story of the Hobbit so he really wants to nail that down carefully. And he’s really in the conceptual phase of it right now so. But I think he’s really going about it the right way. He says – I’m just reading the quotes here – he says (to him) “Smaug is the perfect example of a great creature defined by his look and design”, and very importantly he said “by his movement and the subtle hints of who he is and where he’s coming from”. So I think he’s actually going about it the right way in trying to think the way the character might think, instead of having this mean lizard that goes around killing people ..
(Station ID announcement)
Sohaib: I don’t think Guillermo is going to have that gentleman as the voice for Smaug …
Sohaib: I hope not …
Sohaib: I know that you had on the One Ring website some photos of the Dragon from Dragon slayer , and to me from all the Dragons I’ve seen in any medium, as far as the visual mediums are concerned, that Dragon was always the most fearsome, and to me the most impressive, even though it was done in go-motion , I know it wasn’t done with GI. What’s your take on it – Do you think Guillermo going to go that same route?
Michael: I’m not sure actually. He’s the type of director that I wouldn’t be surprised that they made a full scale version of an anamorphic Dragon that they can actually move his head and scales and tail or something like that. But there will be – if you read the Hobbit you’ll know that there will be some action scenes that will definitely require extensive use of CGI so we’ll have to wait and see which direction he wants to go. He has to actually bite his tongue. He said he’s love to tell us more but he doesn’t want to spoil it for all of us. But he definitely said he’d be posting on the OneRing and letting us know more about it as it comes along.
Stewart: Well a lot of the time I think he – Guillermo mentioned this at the New York Comic Con – that sometimes he looks to use both a combination ..
Michael: Definitely. You just have to look at the past films he’s worked on and July 11th will bring us Hellboy II, so that’ll be sort of his recent fantastical work that he’s created, so it’ll give you a kind of insight of maybe what the Hobbit would look like.
Sohaib: so CGI Lake Town possibly an actual full size Smaug .. (laughs)
Michael: You never know…
Sohaib: Is WETA going to be doing the effects for the films also? I know we touched on that last time but are they going to be going to any other houses outside of WETA, or is it just strictly WETA?
Michael: It really depends on their scheduling and if they’re caught up. I mean a lot of effects houses actually farm out some stuff to other effects houses just for scheduling purposes and they’re just way too bogged down. I know WETA did very few special effects for the X-Men film and this sort of stuff is kind of standard in the business. Where as you wouldn’t hear WETA saying much that they’ve – they wouldn’t really be boasting that they’ve done stuff for X-Men just simply because it’s very, very few effects they would do compared to doing all the effects for LOTR or King Kong or something like that. So who knows if they would need to farm some stuff out – it remains to be seen.
Sohaib: I’m mean obviously WETA is an Academy Award Winner special effects studio with this resume including the LOTR films as well as King Kong …
And for those of you who are interested in asking Mike some questions about the films, please do call us on 8562271360 or 8562327077 …
Stewart: Mike, I’ve been thinking about the video games as you’ve been talking and my ears perked up when you said the guys who did Battlefront – I mean do you have any idea of what type of game play like there’s going to be in it?
Michael: Yeah! Absolutely, I had an exclusive interview with the director Eric, who goes by the nic-name Giz, who gave us basically quite a few screen shots that you could check out on the OneRing.net , and he actually let us know quite a bit about the game. One of the interesting elements that he mentioned was that we would be able to play almost any character on the forces of good and the forces of evil, so that’s going to be kind of a really cool bonus. And there’s almost every battle scene in the LOTR books or films are going to be available for you to play. And they actually have a real cool “What if” scenario where they said What if Frodo failed, and the ring could get into Sauron’s hands, and what would happen to all of Middle Earth. And you have to get to play Sauron taking over Middle Earth and destroying Rivendell and Hobbiton and all these places. And it really kind of gets your darker juices flowing just to have a little fun with it.
Stewart: Sohaib’s gaming right now – he is really excited about this game …
Sohaib: I’m not saying I’m not a fan of video games – I know I spend enough time on other hobbies that if I enter this realm, I know I’m going to be in a lot of trouble, but it seems like I’m going to be in trouble – that’s basically what it comes down to (laughs)
Michael: Yeah its really cool – they actually told me another really cool bit of information – you can read the whole interview on the One Ring.net – but they’ve actually mentioned that the gaming consoles have become so powerful now that they were able to take the models for the Nazgul and the Ringwraiths and all these thing – excuse me they are the same things – but you know the Fell Beasts and all those things – and they were actually able to take the WETA models and just plonk them into the video game, and give them the AI of the video game. So it’s literally the exact same character the same creature from the film as in the game as well. And they hope to do that with the scene built models from Rivendell and all these kind of things as well – so it’s actually really, really cool – because it is pixel for pixel the exact same thing, so it’s like playing in the films themselves.
Sohaib: What’s the launch date on this – is there a tentative launch date?
Michael: mm. They’re aiming for a Fall launch date, nothings been nailed down yet, and they’ve just announced it this week, so hopefully they’re going to be able to make this launch date. And they did let us know that it’s going to be available for PC Xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo DS, so it’s going to be pretty widely available to anyone out there.
Sohaib: Fantastic. And I know on the OneRing.net you’re going to actually continue to have screen shots from the game as the month’s progress correct?
Michael: Yeah actually we want to do more, we want to have forum chats or chat-room chats with the designers and do more screenshots and contests and do all kinds of stuff and were hoping to announce a few more interesting things soon.
Sohaib: I know off the air you alluded to the game, and that. You mentioned something about a narrator. What’s going on with that – is there any information you can provide – you peeked my interest definitely when you mentioned it – but someone you said we were going to be familiar with – and is there any other information you can provide without having to face legal action?
Michael: They’ve been so tight lipped – they didn’t even mention it to me (laughs). But they did say from the films a big name talent will be used as the main narrative for this film. And once they have all the ‘I’s dotted and the ‘T’s crossed that they’ll be able to announce to us who this character would be, who this voice actor would be thats going to be doing this. So stayed tuned for that because it should be really interesting.
Sohaib: Its so funny, it seemed like a short time ago for a while there, LOTR fans were compelled to go over the same DVD’s again that they had in a collection – there prized possessions obviously in their mind – and now theres so much happening. It seemed like theres going to be information weekly if not bi-weekly, so I think its going to be alot of fun these next couple of weeks, these next couple of months and years that …
Michael: Yeah! Absolutely, its going to be a few years of fun. It actually reminds me of back in 2000, when we were initially starting this stuff up with New Line Cinema, and they were saying “ah don’t worry – 2002, 2003, 2004 ..” and now here we are 2008, and were just kind of starting all again and you know we have all these years to look forward to – LOTR movie stuff, LOTR games, and all kinds of different things going on.
Sohaib: Exactly. It really truly is the Return of The King so to speak …
Michael: (Laughter) It is definitely ….
Sohaib: Well Mike again, thankyou so much for our bi-monthly segment. I guess we’ll be in touch with you in the next 2 weeks – again I wanted to navigate everyone to the website www.theonering.net and they are the definitive experts on all things related to the lands of Middle-Earth and not just Middle-Earth but also the works of Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, and even the cast members of the film – and Mike, again, Thankyou so much.
Michael: Not a problem. Thanks so much guys.