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Peter Jackson talks ‘Hobbit: BotFA’ and all Middle-earth with

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Smaug of course is animated while his movements are famously done by motion capture, via Cumberbatch as adapted by Weta Digital. Middle-earth films advanced this science and art in the last decade as much as any film or set of films. The folks working on Jackson’s film are pioneers. Andy Serkis, a key figure, advanced the process and it was heavily used on Hobbit films as well. Serkis was of course, directing the second unit when he wasn’t (for a week) reprising his role as Gollum.

Jackson2Jackson talked about Serkis with high praise, including as a Second Unit Director. But similar comments can be found in other interviews . There is another movement expert, less familiar to readers. His name was heard often during my interviews and I wanted to know how movement coach Terry Notary came to be on the production for Jackson.

“Well, I met Terry in Los Angeles when I went over to work on Tintin. Steven (Spielberg) had hired him to be a movement coach on Tintin which was motion captured so I wasn’t there for very long but I spent about a week on the set when we were doing motion capture and I got to sort of do a bit of work with Terry and with the actors.

“When it came time to plan this movie, you know just a couple of months before we were starting to shoot it, we started to think about how good it would be to have a really good movement coach to work with everybody.”

Notary worked daily and consistently with all the races and backgrounds in the films and received high praise from every corner. For me, his name came up over and over from people like Evangeline Lily, crediting him with helping her in a big way.

“They (characters and races in the film) have to conduct themselves in a certain way,” Jackson said. “So he directs extras really as much as anything and he does movement with the actors and he’s always thinking about how to make a human being move and react like an Elf, like a Dwarf, like an Orc and he’s a terrific asset to the film. Very, very clever. And he’s a perfect personality for it too. There isn’t anything I have been able to throw at Terry that’s fazed him. He’s always you know, ‘Okay we’ll make it happen.’ “



Why this Elf warrior?

“It was really to create dynamics,” Jackson said. “We couldn’t give up the opportunity of having Thranduil in this movie and having shot his son in The Lord of the Rings, not to actually make Legolas part of the story.”

Even the most ardent Tolkien purists have to admit that Legolas had a natural place near his father.

“We just thought this is an opportunity that’s too good to miss. So, we wanted to create an Elvish female character partly because of the lack of female characters in The Hobbit and secondly we thought it opens up the story so that it allows us to explore interesting story ideas to do with the relationships between Elves and the Dwarves and the politics within the Elvish world that we otherwise wouldn’t get to explore.

“It just allows you to take that relatively simple linear narrative that Tolkien wrote and kind of create subplots and Tauriel is very useful for creating subplots. It allows us to explore other ideas, other things, other aspects of, which I think it will just open up the film and make it more rich. And Evangeline is terrific.”

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