Joe LetteriIf you’re a die hard fan of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth adaptations, chances are you probably know the name Joe Letteri. Winner of four Academy Awards, Mr. Letteri has been an instrumental part of bringing the magical world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books to life through the art of visual effects.

Now Mr. Letteri has once again been nominated for his work – this time for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The Los Angeles Times’ Cristy Lytal took some time to ask him some questions ahead of the Oscar ceremony – which will be held on March 2nd. Naturally, the interview focused mostly on the creation of the film’s visual centerpiece – Smaug.

… the [dragon] talking with [the hobbit] Bilbo for me was the key to it, because it really comes down to performance and personality. So when you have a dragon who’s been asleep for like 200 years, he wakes up. He knows there’s someone trying to steal his gold. So he’s hungry, he’s angry, but he’s also lonely. And Bilbo starts engaging him. And what we had to do then is figure out how do you actually make that dialogue feel intimate when it needs to be? Because the dragon’s got a head that’s the size of a bus. He’s about twice as long and twice as wide as a 747. So it’s all heads and hands that telegraph his body language for most of the dialogue scenes.

Click here to read the rest of the interview.