Welcome to this months “Getting to know you” Q&A, this month we’re talking to the amazing and wonderfully talented couple, William and Nicole Kircher.
Kelvarhin: Nicole, you’re a wife, mother, singer and manager, how do you manage to juggle it all? What do you think of all the fan attention?
Nicole: My husband is in every sense of the word my partner. So he is my support and when I’m down and troubled he is there – I think those are lyrics of a famous song… Ah! James Taylor!. I love the fan attention because their enjoyment is what William works for.
Kelvarhin: William, how do you choose which roles appeal to you, and what was it about Bifur that made you accept the part?
William: I like playing characters that have a hidden agenda. It is the best fun to get inside a role that has depth and imagination. I have played quite a few policeman and I have played quite a few villains… so I’ve been on both sides of the law, so to speak! I like playing roles with authority, wit, irony, humanity and (when it is a villain) a sprinkling of reasoned cruelty. I accepted the role of ‘Bifur’ because to be chosen by one of the greatest Directors in the world to be part of this project was a life-changing experience. Who would turn down the chance to go down in history as one of the thirteen dwarves in The Hobbit ?
Kelvarhin: Has it been hard on either of you as parents or your children with the success of The Hobbit and all the traveling and promoting of the film that you do?
Nicole: Our children have enjoyed their Dad being in the Hobbit immensely. As a family we are all very proud! It has been a little bit hard on our two kids at home when we have to travel a lot. Only because they have (so far) not been able to come along. BUT we are going to pay them back with a trip to Los Angeles next year. It has to be said they also have great adventures here at home in New Zealand as we have big sisters, inlaws and friends all helping out!
Kelvarhin: Nicole, you have such a dynamic personality, high energy and warmth about you, have you ever considered acting along with William?
William: I would love that because Nicole is a great actress.
Nicole: Well those are lovely words, thank you… can I add excitable, intense and often inappropriate? LOL. You know, I have not considered acting with William. He has directed me over the years in cabaret-style theatre. I think I would like to do comedy with William. He is a very funny and talented comic actor.
Kelvarhin: How is it working together in a band?
William: Absolutely fantastic, sexy fun at times… tough and argumentative at times… but ultimately a rewarding and beautiful arrangement… (bit like marriage)
Nicole: I love it when the harmonies all come together – and I like the funny improvisations that happen between the Dreamers on stage and the audience, William manages to bring the beast out of me at times…sigh!
Kelvarhin: William, how do you build and prepare a character? Do you do research? Or take it from the script?
William: I glean all the cues that I can about the character from the script. I research like crazy… I take everything from the script and all other resource material that might be relevant to my character. I look at the journey of the character through the story and (my) relation to the other characters in the story… and the I work and work on developing my character. Then I rehearse as much as possible… before I walk on set!
Kelvarhin: How did the collaboration between the designers, weta, costume etc work in help in creating the character Bifur?
William: One of the most incredible things about working on the Hobbit is to have been associated with such an incredible group of Artists. The creative talent involved in these films is just astounding. ‘Bifur’ is the result of a group of incredibly talented individuals. The make-up design, the costume design… Richard Taylor and his team at Weta all working toward the same vision… and all very much under the creative guiding vision of Peter Jackson along with Fran and Phillipa. The most exciting thing of all is that my own actual, physical look was also part of this experience. They literally moulded ‘Bifur’ around my own face and body. A funny story, is that when I went in for my first make-up check with Peter King they shaved my black and white goatee off. It was a bit of a shock.. because I had the goatee for some quite a few years… and I thought this first meeting was just for a discussion. Directly after that I went over to Weta Studios and met with the design team and had lots of photos done etc. In that meeting I realised they were going to look at some of my own features and incorporate that into the character. When I got home I discussed this with Nicole… “they shaved my beard off… maybe I should send a photo of how my beard grows black and white!”… so I sent a photo and said “please forward this on to the design team”. Months later when I was introduced to Bifur… I saw they had given him a ‘salt and pepper’ beard. I was so proud to see that he had my own colouring!
Kelvarhin: A few of the fans have asked how you both met?
William: We met while I was doing a tour of an incredible theatre show by John Godber called “Bouncers”. The show sold out all around New Zealand. Nicole was working as a professional actress in a children’s theatre company in a town called Hamilton. “Bouncers” came to her town and we played in the theatre that Nicole was working in. Nicole had been living in America and I thought she was a brash, loud young American… She was also (and still is) young and beautiful. She told me I made her laugh with my fake tap dancing and looked like a handsome Italian! We didn’t mean to fall in love… but we could not keep away from each other. She also made me wait!!!
Kelvarhin: This is from Julie James at Red Carpet Tours, “Hi William and Nicole, we are so thrilled that you will be our guests at our Desolation Costume Party this December 11th. From your experience last year at the Premier Costume Party what was it like meeting the fans? Some people have have travelled from all around the world to be in Wellington for DOS and to meet you on the 11th Dec, how does this make you feel?”
William: It is very humbling to meet so many lovely people who appreciate the work you have done. I have done a few conventions around the USA and Europe this year… and the thing I have learnt the most… is how nice people are. I love the fans… lovely people… and I love the fact that they enjoy sharing and appreciating the passion that has gone into these films. I am really looking forward to seeing you guys on the 11th December at the Roxy!
Kelvarhin: What was the very first thought in your mind, when you first saw yourself in the mirror dressed as Bifur? And how did you feel when you first stood next to all the other fellow actors dressed as the Company of Dwarves?
William: It was the strangest experience… I had been working out for months losing weight… then they put it right back on me! My fat-suit did it’s job very well… made me fat with a big butt! Actually the costumes were very cleverly designed to lower our centre of gravity and make us look smaller. So I looked in the mirror and thought with a shock “hold on… I look fat and short”… then of course I realised that was the whole point! When we all started together together in a group with our new faces and ‘shapes’ it was incredible… but even more amazing is that we started to identify with each other with our new faces. It became so normal, that when we saw each other with our ‘real’ faces… we took some time to adjust.
Kelvarhin: One of our message boarders is a neurosurgery professional and asked the following; Bifur particularly is close to my heart because of his specific brain injury. I think it was portrayed – once we grant the fictional survivability – so perfectly that I have a question about the research that went into the role. So I wonder, William did you get information from the production crew on the areas injured and the effects it would have, did you do your own research or a combination of the two?
William: The very first time that I saw the design for Bifur I was taken back for about 5 seconds. When I first saw that he had an axe buried in his head… I thought “uh oh”… but then… instantly I thought about it on a deeper level… I realised that, as an actor, this was fantastic. It gave me a whole range of material to draw on and build into the character. It was an Orc axe… so this gave me a history. Something violent and tragic had happened in Bifur’s past. He and presumably his family had been the victims of an Orc raid. I also went straight home and started to research how an injury like that may affect a person. Ironically I found that this kind of injury can happen even now… and people survive. Check it out on the internet! That is how we came up with the idea that Bifur would only speak an ancient form of Dwarvish… that the frontal lobe injury he suffered, means that he has a form of “foreign language syndrome”. I researched victims of strokes… and looked at how it affected their speech, movement and thought processes. Peter also wanted Bifur confused and “zoned out” at the start of the journey. Like he does not quite know where he is half the time!
Kelvarhin: Why does Bifur have an axe embedded in his head?
William: Hey… why not? Seriously though… Bifur and his family were the victims of an Orc raid many years before. The injury was so severe they could not remove the axe without killing him… so he had to learn to live with it. Look it up on the internet and you will see… it happens even now.
Kelvarhin: A lot of the gang asked can we see your band?
William: Yep here we are on You Tube