There’s a passage about half way through The Lord of the Rings where an orc called Ugluk forces captured hobbits Merry and Pippin to drink a hot beverage called “orc-draught”.
Pippin “felt a hot fierce glow flow through him. The pain in his legs and ankles vanished”.
J R R Tolkien could almost be describing coffee. And on a cold morning in 2012, on the set of The Hobbit, it’s coffee that orcs prefer for a pick-me-up.
I witness two orcs, cups in hand, standing next to a tiny coffee cart between the sound stages of Sir Peter Jackson’s studios in Wellington.
As in Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, these orcs wear fighting regalia.
Their makeup and prosthetics look unfinished – in The Hobbit, orc faces are transformed by computer-generated visual effects – but they still look menacing. Not a breed you can calmly approach and ask if they prefer espresso to a flat white or latte.
But seeing orcs outside of Middle-earth – and dwarfs in full prosthetics lining up for lunch in a large marquee close by – are just some of the many double takes that occur while spending two days watching filming on the US$500 million production.