EXCLUSIVE – Peter Hambleton (Gloin) chats with TheOneRing.net
GD: Some critics of The Hobbit films might say there is too much CGI, too many special effects. That’s a matter of taste, of course; but when you look at, for example, The Desolation of Smaug, there are moments where Jackson really allows an actor time and space to do something. Look at the scene in Mirkwood, when Bilbo gets his ring back from the giant bug which comes out of the ground; Bilbo’s reaction when he takes the ring off, and realises how it has affected him, is a wonderful moment – and it is striking how much time Jackson allows for that reaction.
PH: Exactly. That’s a great example, and I can think of a couple of other favourite moments of mine. Martin is extraordinary. I’m sure you’ve heard this – he will never do a line reading or a moment the same way twice. That basically reveals to me that he’s a great artist. Everything he comes up with is really fascinating and magical – but he’s always looking to extend himself and give Peter so many options. I like comparing it to a great musician: you see them perform, and they’re in total command of what they’re doing – but a great jazz musician can also improvise across a theme, and create magic that way. There are some beautiful examples, like the one you mention, in Martin’s performance; also there’s a great shot in the first film, where the dwarves have snuck out in the morning, and he’s left alone in his house, and he has his back to us. Somehow, through his back, we sense that he’s going through a moment. Also that beautiful bit at the start of the barrel sequence in The Desolation of Smaug – where he’s got us all in the barrels, and we go down the chute, and then the floor tips up again. He’s left alone – and he suddenly realises, ‘Oh crap, what am I going to do…?’ [laughs] Again it’s the body language – the great actors, like Ian McKellen, are actors right through their entire body, their toes and fingers and scalp! Martin is phenomenal.
GD: He’s very Chaplin-esque – or like Buster Keaton…
PH: Oh yes, good note – I would agree with that! We’re Buster Keaton fans in this house! No, Martin’s right up there for sure. Also, the huge weight of that role, and the time and effort involved… I’ve seen him under pressure and having his moments, but he exudes the joy of working, as well – he’s a lot of fun to be around! Oh look – it gets boring after a while, because I can’t stop raving about those people! [laughs] The caliber of the people that Peter and Fran and Philippa put together, without exception, is just stunning.
GD: I don’t think they put a foot wrong in casting. I don’t necessarily always agree with the choice of how a character is portrayed on the movies; for example, I’m not sure at the moment about the way that they’ve portrayed Thranduil. [I’m reserving judgement until we’ve seen how he plays out in the final film!] But given that it is their choice for their Thranduil, Lee Pace is perfect in his execution of that.
PH: Yeah he’s stunning. I assume that you’ve been a fan right through The Lord of the Rings films – and a Tolkien fan prior to that? So you’ve got a very comprehensive sense of that world in your head, but that’s the beauty of it as well – that there are people who are so passionate about the world of Middle-earth in all its forms. But you can appreciate, in terms of the craft of movie making, it’s a particular ‘animal’ or thing that’s being created, and it’s not always going to chime with what’s in your head.
GD: And it shouldn’t – the aim isn’t to put a book up on the screen for people to look at. They’re creating a film – it’s a different medium, a different telling of the tale.
PH: I’m glad you see it that way. Thinking about actors… I mentioned Ian [McKellen] before; I was lucky enough to see him on stage – well, I saw him do his solo show on Shakespeare, which was just divine. I then saw him in Waiting for Godot, which toured here. That’s a really great example of an actor who’s got it all going on – and even at his age, it’s physically like he’s electrically charged, through his body, right through his feet and into the floor. Everything that he does – and it was in a big theatre – it’s that craft of keeping you enchanted, because every part of him is alive. His sense of the audience, of course, was wickedly alive as well.
GD: You said earlier in this conversation that you miss The Hobbit; what happens next with The Hobbit for you? Has there been any discussion of pick ups for the third film?
PH: No. My understanding at the moment is that the job is pretty much done for us, in terms of being in front of cameras. I’ve been told that could change, but I haven’t heard anything. My ill-informed speculation is basically that, with the battle scenes, they might require some more stuff, but it will be combat and most likely to involve stunt people and green screen, CGI, stuff like that. So my expectation is that we’ll gather together for more media stuff, at some point and somewhere! And all that amazing promotional machine will continue, and give it the biggest profile of anything ever, as we hit December this year! [laughs]
I’m happy to say that we’re going to HobbitCon in Germany – a good number of the other dwarves are going to be there, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the guys! It’s been a while, apart from my New Zealand brothers – Callen, Hadlow, Kircher and Brophy – we’ve seen each other occasionally. But we formed a really strong bond, and it’ll be great to gather together again. It’ll be a lot of fun for everybody.
GD: For the cast, this was an experience that nobody else can ever really comprehend…
PH: Yes, that’s right.
GD: But the fans do take great ownership of these movies; they feel a certain possessive pride in them. What intrigues me is that, in a way, the fans’ relationship to these films doesn’t change. It’s been more than a decade since the first Lord of the Rings movie, but the fans are still passionate, they still watch the films, they still gather at conventions… Whereas the casts’ relationship to the films does move on, as they take on different jobs, etc. What do you think it’s going to be like for you when it’s really all over, when you’ve completed the final media circus; how much will The Hobbit remain part of your life? Will it recede into the past?
PH: It’s a good question. I have a feeling that it will always be a huge part of our lives. I mean, there’s the fan convention scenario, which some of us are learning about gradually, as it unfolds. From time to time there will be a request to appear somewhere, for the fans – and that’s an important thing, and for some of us (hopefully) will also be some sort of an income stream, that we’ll have to manage intelligently.
But also I think your original point about the fans’ ownership of it – I think they’re entitled to it. It’s very important. It’s something again that I only had a very vague sense of coming into it; but very early on, when we went to TheOneRing.net party just a few days prior to the premiere of the first film, here in Wellington, I started to see the huge passion of the fans. Since then, at some conventions such as HobbitCon, and Armageddon here in New Zealand, it’s really opened my eyes to how extensive the fandom is, how far people will go with their passion. And the fact that the success of the franchise is very intelligently built on that – as I understand it (and I’ve seen examples of it), Peter Jackson and his whole team tuned in very quickly to the fan base that was there, in terms of Tolkien; and then obviously they thrilled people with The Lord of the Rings movies, and established a really strong relationship with the fans, from very early on. (I hope you see it this way!) And they’ve continued to honour that. So the success of the franchise – as it continues – is very much built on really enthusiastic fans, and a really positive communication between them and the movie makers.
GD: It’s true. Back when they were filming The Lord of the Rings and TheOneRing.net was first set up, for a brief moment the relationship between the website and the studios was antagonistic…
PH: Well it always has the potential to go like that, doesn’t it? But I think wisdom as prevailed…
GD: Well, I believe it was Peter Jackson himself who had the smarts to go, ‘Hang on, we could be using this!’ At that time, the internet wasn’t as we know it now; now PJ has his own facebook, there’s the official Hobbit facebook – but at the time, TORn was really the only internet interface between the studios and the fans. The fans loved it, and the studios made smart use of that connection, so it was a win-win situation…
PH: And that makes a lot of sense to me, that Peter was on to it very quickly; because for all his standing as a great artist, and a charming person, he’s also very savvy. Cunning as a fox, I would say! [laughs] They’re very smart operators – I really admire them. And to kind of put the seal on that – again, that party that we went to that TheOneRing.net threw in Wellington – there were a few of us there, and it took us about twenty minutes to get in the front door! That was my first experience of signing autographs and things! But people were charming. And then, later on in the evening, as a surprise, Peter and Elijah Wood showed up – and the whole place went off! It was like the roof just lifted off – it was like rock stars! And of course they stood up on stage with microphones, and talked to the fans like they were family, and cracked jokes – and it was very warm and relaxed. Just great. It was a real revelation to me.
GD: We love it when you guys come to our parties! We had another party in Los Angeles this year, for the Oscars – a much smaller one than we normally do, really just a get together in a pub. I didn’t go – as I’m over on the East coast – but I was sitting at home watching the Oscars on telly, and I got a phone call from Craig Parker [Haldir], to say, ‘Hey, Adam [Brown], Dean [O’Gorman] and I are in LA, and we wondered if it would be ok if we went along to the party tonight?’ And I said, ‘Of COURSE you can! The fans would love it!’ So they rocked up to the pub, and of course everyone was just thrilled.
PH: But isn’t that cool? That there’s room for that kind of spontaneity – and that tells you how much the cast and other members of the team really value and appreciate the fans.
GD: Without giving away anything you’re not allowed to tell us, is there a moment in particular in the third film which you’re really looking forward to everybody seeing?
PH: There are so many! There’s a moment – without spoiling it – which is towards the end of the story… selfishly, for me, Gloin gets a moment with Bilbo, which is really heartwarming. I won’t go any further than that; but it’s been so much a part of our lives, you really want to feel that your little story with your little dwarf gets rounded off nicely!Posted in Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, John Rhys-Davies, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Peter Hambleton, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: There and Back Again on April 18, 2014 by greendragon