Fictional Frontiers’s Larry Curtis recently chatted with our pal Sohaib on ‘Fictional Frontiers with Sohaib,’ on WNJC 1360 AM, Philadelphia. Take a gander at the transcript below (thoughtfully written down by Elven once again), Larry and Sohaib chat about the DragonCon 2008 Hobbit panel and much more!

Sohaib: Larry, welcome to Fictional Frontiers.

Larry Curtis: Hey, welcome. Thanks for having me, I really do appreciate it.

Sohaib: A little bit about your background Larry, because it’s funny, Mike and Chris have participated on regular segments on the show for the last couple of moths and we’d love to have anyone form the One Ring on, but I think our listeners would love to hear about your background and how you’re affiliated and associated with the One Ring dot net.

Larry: Sure – well Mike and Chris are two of the four owners and founders of the site and I ran into Chris kind of early in the history of the One Ring and he kind of adopted me is really what happened. I admired the One Ring simply, just like you do, and I really was kind of in awe of the passion that they attacked their website with but they didn’t do it for personal gain and I was so impressed by that, so we just kind of had a meeting of the minds and he brought me on board and as the Lord Of The Rings films kind of unfolded I headed up the efforts for fans to meet kind of line up and gather and celebrate the opening of the films together, and that just evolved into a staff position at the One Ring, so – it’s just been a fun way to pull out my passion and my fandom and balance that with real life – it’s been a good time.

Sohaib: (Laughs) So you must be getting pretty excited about the upcoming films as well … Any new rumours? Because I guess every two weeks we always have, I know things are slowly moving forward, but is there anything of real significance, anything juicy piece of information you could give us and our listeners?

Larry: Anything of substance I can’t ever definitively say. Even when you talk to the guys really involved (um) even people you know will be involved, everybody’s so careful to say “well IF this happens” … I guess until every contract is signed and everything’s finalized, everybody’s pretty hesitant to talk. But there are always rumours which are really fun. One of the things that really a big topic right now is that Guillermo del Toro as the Director (you know) how will he balance his tasks with Peter Jackson, the Producer, and its sounds more and more like it’s really Guillermo’s film – that Jackson’s really going to step back a little bit and let this happen. So, that’s really interesting to me – how these two film makers are going to balance that out. That’s kind of the stage we’re at, it just all kind of what you hear and what somebody says in the press here and there.

Sohaib: Right – When Hellboy II was released, it was released with such critical acclaim that its first week ticket sales were tremendous – it was the #1 at the box office. Then unfortunately Dark Knight came and the Dark Knight wiped out everything, that included Wall-E and a lot of other films, and I wonder if that had any impact – when it happens – I know Guillermo’s not that type of Director who’s going to look at box office totals, but what’s such a project – which was a pet project of his – I wonder if that really is sort of forced him to rearrange his schedule – because I think he probably assumed that, ‘OK, I’m going to be working on the LOTR films, but there’s probably going to be a lot of press and a lot of other things I have to deal with in the upcoming weeks because of Hellboy’ … but then within a week or two it all dissipated. Do you think that that had an impact – the Dark Knight coming in there and wiping out Hellboy, unfortunately?

Larry: Well the whole Dark Knight phenomena it’s really, its’ just breathtaking to watch those box office numbers soar. I don’t think anyone planned for that – not Guillermo and not even the studio’s involved – I think – who could have predicted what would happen. So, however, in answer to your question, I don’t know that the scheduled changed. I did, and I hate to name drop – but I’m about to, I did have a chance to actually talk to him about his schedule, post Hellboy, and he was … well first he was going to take a vacation. His wife had (kind of) demanded, and he agreed to take a week or ten days off which is pretty hard for him. But, then he was going to get into the … I don’t know, if the writing stage for him means putting a pencil on a paper or if it means brainstorming and coming up with ideas, but that was his plan, is to pretty quickly go into that phase where he’s what he called ‘the writing phase’. I mean he was pretty eager to jump right in to LOTR as soon as he could, not that he didn’t love Hellboy of course, but he’s the kind of guy that’s onto the next thing.

Sohaib: Right. What interesting is as I stated, there was such a strong critical reaction to the Hellboy film the sequel, and then the first weeks box office totals were tremendous but then it just – as I said the Dark Knight phenomena came and then it wiped it out – Do you think, I wondered on a subconscious level as a creator of film, a film maker, you wonder ‘Ok, I made a film that did very well the first weekend – like a lot of Summer blockbusters do, and then the audience disappeared – maybe I should not follow that same tact (know know)… or maybe have similar types of jokes or maybe I should change the dialogue around a little bit’ … basically ‘maybe I should not go that same route with my next project’. Do you think that that – I don’t want to say that was a failure of the film, cause I don’t think it was a failure – but I guess relatively – the relative box office failure of the film – Do you think that’s the way he’s going to be working on the script, knowing that like you’ve met Guillermo, you’ve spoken to him – Do you think that’s going to impact the way he works – the script that he produces, do you think that’s going to impact that at all?

Larry: I think the short answer is No – but, I totally agree that the concept of – that’s got to be – even if you’re trying not to – it’s got to be challenging or difficult to see the box office roll in – good first week, you have to hesitate a little, at least has to make you pause and think you know, when that second week comes. And I have heard that even the studio’s were a little shocked by – again, not a failure, definitely Hellboy II was not a failure creatively or financially – but I guess they were a little surprised by that second week.

And I think that any normal person, I think it would give them pause. But I do think Guillermo’s pretty dedicated to his own creative vision and the process of film making that he goes through from writing to directing to casting – all those things, I think a normal person would be more effected, but his creative energy is such, I think he’s shrugs that off pretty quick, I think he just makes films the way that he thinks he needs to make films.

Sohaib: Right, and that what I’m hoping he maintains that attitude – but I’m sure he will with these two films as well. Talk a little bit about DragonCon. I’m not actually going to be able to go there – I was actually planning on going to the convention – I’ve never gone. Hopefully, next year. This year I went to San Diego so that was the big trip for me – Talk a little about DragonCon, cause you are going to be there and I believe you mentioned off the air that you were going to be giving a presentation there as well, is that correct?

Larry: Yeah, that is correct. The One Ring has a pretty long standing relationship with DragonCon both – there’s a track of programming called the Tolkien Track which could be all things, Lord of The Rings books, and films, all kinds of things – we have a pretty long standing relationship with those folks – they really work pretty hard and intensely to provide a LOTR flavour for that convention. There’s lots of other flavours as well but its definitely there – and we try to support that as best we can so this year we’ll be doing a presentation about the Hobbit actually – it’s not official – in fact that kind of what makes it fun – is we can take an unofficial look at the Hobbit and speculate a little, and mix in some rumours – maybe if we’re lucky we can even start a rumour here and there (laughs), and we do it from our laptop on a big screen so it’s not just us talking. I’ll be there with one of the other owners of the One Ring – his names Bill – or Corvar is his onscreen name – he and I will be talking about the Hobbit with some visuals and some actor’s faces and kind of some fun things like that.

Sohaib: OK, and for those of you who are listening online – because we actually screen throughout the entire nation live, our listeners are actually even overseas – but the Convention’s actually August 29th to September 1st in Atlanta, Georgia. If you’ve never been to Atlanta, Atlanta’s a fun city – it’s a humid city, but it’s a very fun city and they, for the last 5 or 10 years actually, I think since, I’m dating myself again here (laughs) since the Olympics Games, I think the city really went through a revitalization – aside from having Michael Vic associated with the city (both laugh) .. So the city’s a wonderful place to visit.

When I was in San Diego, we had a couple of minutes left, I know there was a segment during the Panel about speculation as far as the cast of certain characters – the casting of certain characters of the films – Are we getting any other rumours about Smaug ? It’s funny, I was there (SDCC), Initially, I think one of the first people mentioned was Vin Diesel for Smaug, and I actually liked the idea of Vin Diesel as Smaug – maybe I was actually a minority, but there were rounds of boo’s – are we hearing anything more about Smaug at all – is there anything you’ve heard – maybe if there’s nothing, you could let our listeners in on other rumours other than Vin Diesel, as far as the character of Smaug is concerned?

Larry: Ah – I’m actually one of the people who kind of advocates Vin for that as well In fact in San Diego, after those boo’s, (laughs) I was like ‘Hey, hold on’ – you know, he has a reputation sometimes of (as whatever) as an action star – or whatever, but that guy has a tremendous voice, and if people take a minute to listen to his voice, there’s a film called Pitch Black, if people aren’t familiar with that – he opens that film with some narrative dialogue, and I mean his voice is pretty tremendous. I mean he actually can act, he’s a pretty talented guy – it’s just that he’s so big and bald and buffed that people forget that he’s doing some actual performing through his voice – but as far as more rumours go, Smaug is probably one of the very most closely guarded secrets about the film.

In conversation with Guillermo he’s been very definite that he has a ideas, he has very specific ideas as far as casting as far as how he’s going to reveal Smaug, he has all these visuals are in his head, but of course he’s keeping them to himself – and in my opinion Smaug is one of the real elements that film will succeed or struggle with – it can’t just be a dragon and it can’t just be a creature on film, it has to be a fully realized character that’s not human, that talks, that communicates and is one of the WOW moments of the film, and it will be fascinating to see how Guillermo will direct that, and how he’ll visualize that and how the WETA workshop people will fulfil the visions and how they make him talk realistically and most importantly – the element you brought up – how they cast that and get just the right voice for Smaug, and how they present that.

Sohaib: Exactly – you talk about Vin Diesel and for those of our listeners who are interested in an acting performance … actually I thought it was an amazing performance by Vin was actually in Boiler Room (Larry agrees) which was about an investment banker and basically about corruption in respect to Day (?) Traders and its an amazing film but as far as his acting is concerned I thought he was excellent – and like you said – Pitch Black. You put the visceral image of a dragon with the voice of his character in Pitch Black and it fits perfectly – cause you have to remember, cause what I think people are forgetting is that the dialogue in that film, and even like the iron giant, it’s very minimal, it’s basically you’re doing it with 4 or 5 word sentences – you’re talking about long drawn out paragraphs so to speak, and a lot of the dialogue in the Hobbit, as far as the conversations with and the riddles between Frodo, actually Bilbo and Smaug are not just one or two word answers – once that voice is given off and flow – I think it’s going to be very impressive but …

Larry we have 30 seconds – is there anything that before you head off to Atlanta – because I know this week we’re not going to have our segment but I guess the following week. Maybe we can call in from Atlanta, I don’t know, maybe that’s possible, I don’t know if you’ll still be there on Sunday?

Larry: Yep absolutely, we could do that for sure. I’ll pitch two things in my 25 seconds. One is that the One Ring has the first design of a Dragon by WETA which is actually has nothing to do with the movie but, one of the good people in our workshop Daniel Falconer drew up a dragon and put it on a T-Shirt. So we will have that available at DragonCon, and that of helps pay the bills and keep the lights on for us (laughs). So we’ll have a fan table there. Then the second thing is DragonCon in general is just so cool, it’s so relaxed, its 24 hours, there’s always something to do. It’s kind of a great freak show – and I mean that in a good way – it great people watching. So if anyone can get down there it’s just a coolest thing.

Sohaib: Well definitely Google DragaonCon online and you can check out the website. So Larry, it’s been great – definitely I say, I hope you can do the segment with you in the next 2 weeks from DragonCon ..

Larry: Yeah. That should be easy. Love to do it.

Sohaib: Thanks I’m really appreciative of you coming in and we’ll be hearing from, if not Larry then someone from the One Ring in the next 2 weeks. Thanks a lot Larry.

Larry: Thanks very much!