Sohaib: It’s been too long definitely, Larry Curtis from theOneRing.net – Larry, welcome back to Fictional Frontiers.
Larry: Well thank-you. It’s always good to be on and to be with you.
Sohaib: I guess we should go right to the biggest news that’s come right on down the road over these last couple of months, and that’s the revelation that The Hobbit films we thought were going to be a prequel and bridge film are in fact going to be if I’m not mistaken their going to basically split the Hobbit into 2 parts. Is that correct?
Larry: That is correct. It’s pretty easy to image this is a little bit of a leak, but it’s easy to imagine that writing team of Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens and they started to dig into the material, and they looked at all the things available to them and they discovered how rich the Hobbit is – and say ‘we’re going to be cramming the movie if we try and put it in one and then somewhat invent material to make the bridge – this story is so rich this is our two films’, and I feel pretty comfortable saying I think that’s how it fell into place – they just found out they had so much good material.
Sohaib: So were you happy to hear that they had decided to go this route versus the bridge film.
Larry: Well I think either road would have been very interesting, I mean it would be interesting to see how they attempted to tie the two together a little more directly. There obviously will be overtones in the Hobbit of the Lord of the Rings that will loom out there in the distance even if it’s never mentioned, of course in the film, but either way would have been interesting, but I guess, yeah – I’m a little gratified to really see the Hobbit explored. The imagination of these film makers – and no reader should feel like that’s an exploitation of the book, it’s just that film is a different medium – but the imagination of these storytellers and these film makers there’s plenty of things there. There’s all kinds of great creatures and spiders and characterizations and it will give them a little more chance to flesh out all the dwarves and a little more Gandalf, and a little more exploration of the relationships between these characters. And I would say, just because there are 2 Hobbit films, doesn’t mean that some of the off-screen action during the Hobbit like when Gandalf disappears I still think that could easily and probably will be incorporated into these films.
Sohaib: So the question I have then is that for some time we have been speculating about the return of certain cast members, do you think that this is going to maybe put a lot of these rumours to the wayside, or do you think we may indeed see a Viggo or Orlando Bloom in one of these two films? Is it still possible to still see them in there and if so, it would obviously be in very limited capacity.
Larry: Well yes, I think it almost goes character by character. I think it was always a stretch to say that any of the Hobbit characters would show up unless they were extremely little children, which wouldn’t probably serve the story, it would just tickle audiences, and actually maybe not tickle all audiences; it would bother some, but there are characters that are a natural fit. It does make sense. Orland Bloom – his character showing up for a moment of two even having a little dialogue makes perfect sense – certainly that’s possible. Viggo Mortensen, his character – in fact he’s in New Zealand this week, perhaps for unrelated things, perhaps not – his character certainly Strider/Aragorn being older and being active in Middle-earth before Lord of the Rings, he could definitely have a part in Lord of the Rings, it would be completely logical it would not be a stretch it would fit in nicely with the story. Gandalf of course is absolutely essential in the story – but all the counter-bit parts I mean MTV, and this isn’t a criticism of them, but they would ask Sean Astin or Elijah Wood ‘hey are you going to be in the films?’ and they’d say ‘oh of course we’d be delighted to’ but that would never make sense, and especially now – it does not really make sense at all.
Sohaib: If you were a fly on the wall, or someone who could actually participate in actually working on this script – where do you think the ideal breaking point, the midpoint, for the 2 films?
Larry: You know that is a fun question to mull around, I mean it’s often debated on message boards and not just at theOneRing, but there as well. I’ve heard a lot of good suggestions and of course it’s important that each story has a little bit of a conflict and then a climax that gets results. If I had to vote and don’t hold me to this if they call me in and ask me to consult I might change my mind, I would favour the escape from the Elven King Realm in barrels. I think putting the Dwarves in barrels and putting them door to the river would make a nice ending to a first movie.
Sohaib: So as far as visual effects are concerned I suppose the big drawing points are going to be the Riddle sequence in the Cave (Larry: ‘yes’) between Bilbo and Sméagol, obviously Bilbo going in to the vast chamber of Smaug and then I’m assuming probably the battle at the end of The Five Armies.
Larry: And yeah, the way I have divided things, and actually I can’t think of any great divisions where both of those scenes that you mentioned aren’t both in the second film. The Smaug scene especially, I really feel like so much hangs on that whole interaction, because we have to feel the menace of Smaug and yet understand his clever playful nature, and its Bilbo’s heroic moment when he matches wits with the Dragon, an ancient creature. So it’s pretty intense.
I think I have a little bit of design – pretty unknown news about the Dragon actually – Guillermo hangs out on our message boards every once in a while and he lets little gems drop from time to time, and he has mentioned – you and I have even talked about it before – Mike Mignola has been to New Zealand and Guillermo reported that he really energized the design team, and Lee and Howe are still there but, but Mignola was there but someone cleverly asked if he had worked on Smaug a little bit – and Guillermo didn’t say he hadn’t, and in a way he didn’t say he had, it’s assume to believe that he probably did. But to have Alan Lee and John Howe and Mignola kind of tackle the Dragon problem together.
Sohaib: That’s very exciting and very interesting because Mike Mignola style is very distinct – and for those of us who are fans of the Hellboy films and the comic as well – he has been a visionary in the comic industry for some time – but he’s very different in tone from (I don’t want to say almost the picture book styling’s of the picture book masters that were involved on the original films), but it’s almost modern pop-culture-ish kind of art versus storytelling artistic (?). How do you see the two working together?
What do you think, do you think it’s going to be a mishmash of the two, I think it’s going to be something that highlights the inner workings or the Spirit of Tolkien from the past leading to what we hope to see with fantasy in the near future.
Larry: I think you’re really onto something. It is a bit of a mix, and their styles are not the same – which I feel is really is a positive for the film. I love that Guillermo – he’s mentioned lots of times that artists inspire him as much as writers for all of his works or as a film makers that artists are key to him (I’m going to throw in some other names in but) Mignola’s style is clearly different and one thing I love about what he does is he’ll draw monster A and he’ll draw monster X and you can tell that he drew them both but they are completely different in their execution and how the thought process – you can see his thoughts in the creatures. I think it’ll be really exciting.
I guess the safe choice would have been to keep Alan Lee and John Howe exactly as they worked on Lord of the Rings Film and kind of replay that. But I don’t think that’s the best way to make a film, I think you need to reenergize, and Guillermo of course has people that he trusts. He has Spectral Motion actually working on the films, they’re in the concept art stage, and of course WETA Workshop is still involved – Mignola is there – a guy named Wayne Barlow – I don’t know if you’re familiar with him, but he’s worth a Google (www.waynebarlow.com) he draws a lot of very alien, in fact he has a book called extra terrestrials and then one about Hell – where he really emphasizes how – It’s called Inferno – how different, how non human are all these demons are that are in Hell. Anyway, all these things are quite different – I think I’m leaving out a comic book artist as well, there’s another one – but anyway Guillermo really gets his team together and really tackles from a new way all the visuals of Middle-earth. And, he’s very open. This is a stage where anything can be, they can bounce ideas, they can collaborate and be energized, so I just find it tremendously exciting.
Sohaib: I’m really excited as well and you know especially given that here at Fictional Frontiers we’ve had so many other takes on Dragons not just in films but in literature as well – it’s a real challenge because dragons have been seen in so many ways up until this point I was concerned that we were going to see some more of that fantasiful take and I’m glad to see that Mikes going to be involved or we’re hoping involved from those hints you have given us have led us to believe. And I think it’s going to reenergize not just the team itself but it’s also going to re-energize those of us who – I don’t want to say we’ve been there done that, we love the original films, to me they’re the best films ever put on celluloid, but I think you really need to bring something different, you don’t just want to regurgitate what’s come before, even though it is a prequel film.
Before we head out Larry I’m going to be in San Diego, you’re going to be in San Diego, what in the store for fans who hope to have another tORN panel to attend?
Larry: Well I do know that Guillermo del Toro will not be at San Diego. But I do know WETA Workshop will be there, and they’re always full of interesting things, and they’re not so famous that they’re unapproachable either which is great. I mean you can take a minute in San Diego and say Hi to some of those guys and they’re really cool. There is a little bit of a rumour that a very significant figure involved with the Hobbit films that will be in San Diego – I think I might have all that information cut off from me forever if I throw a name out – but people who are there should watch the schedule for a really significant figure from the production of the Lord of the Rings to show up in San Diego. Its actually sold out – all four days at ComicCon, you and I are lucky to be there, and I owe you a drink, we’ll have to sit down – but people should watch, and event those people who can’t, should watch the internet there’ll be some major impact splashes.
Sohaib: So there will be a tORN panel though correct – is that what you guys are working on?
Larry: Yeah that’s correct. I should probably try and promote myself better. Calisuri, one of the sites founders and I, and perhaps one or two other people will be doing a presentation about the Hobbit – lots of visuals, we’ll show some of the artwork of these artists I’ve mentioned even the ones I didn’t mention. And we may even have a little surprise – a video here and there in the presentation. It promises to be fun. And last year it was a tough ticket to get – it first thing in the morning, the line was out the door and they turned several hundred people away – so watch those schedules, plan ahead. Hopefully they’ll give us a bigger room this year.
Sohaib: You guys definitely deserve to have a bigger room. I was at the panel last year – a lot of fun speculating on the cast amongst other things. I’m really excited about going to San Diego – this is the first I’ve heard about Mikes possible involvement with the film and to me being a comic fan and as I mentioned before being a fan of the Hellboy films, I’m really becoming more and more excited about the Hobbit film. And another reason on a side note is because James Cameron with Avatar towards the end of the year is going to be really raising the bar so we really need to see something incredibly special.
Larry it’s been great. I want you to come back in 2 weeks; can we do another segment in 2 weeks?
Larry: Yeah there’s tons to talk about including Guillermo’s book and all kinds of things – I’d love to come for sure.
Sohaib: Ok Larry we’ll see you in 2 weeks.