Peter Jackson and Hobbit Cast Interview
Peter Jackson and Hobbit Cast Interview
Peter Jackson, director of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, was joined by the stars of the epic film of JRR Tolkien’s classic tale The Hobbit to talk about creating an amazing fantasy world in keeping with Tolkien’s vision, why the stars of the film were so keen to be involved in this fantastic project, and also how the cinema-going experience must adapt with new technology to create incredible films for audiences in the future.
The film is days away from being shown to the people who have this incredible connection with the characters that you've brought to life, how does it feel?

Peter Jackson

Well, it's always exciting when the film's about to be released because it's been two or three years making it, and trying to preserve the secrets of the movie and trying to focus on getting the film made. And there's that moment in time when suddenly you have to hand it over to the whole world. In our case, to 25,000 cinemas around the world. I'm looking forward to it, I'm extremely proud of the movie. We're in the entertainment business, we make these films to entertain people, so this is the whole point really, to put it out there.
Richard, being the king of the dwarves - did that role kind of spin into real life amongst your band of merry men that you have here off-camera as well, trying to keep them in tow?

Richard Armitage

There was one improvisation that we did during our dwarf boot camp where we were taken outside, and it was the first time that I actually found the confidence to command a crack unit of troops. We were crouching in trees, and building little campfires, but it was brilliant to feel the support amongst the dwarves, and I think the training process that we went through, the physical work, really bonded us together. I think when we came to work on set, watching out for each other, all of our fellow actors struggling and fighting through on a working day, was really moving for me.
Peter, could you explain the most important parts of this journey, and how you could also have a normal life besides. When do you sleep?

Peter Jackson

To me you have a responsibility when you're making a movie. You have a responsibility to audiences, you're trying to make a film that's worthy of the money that they're going to pay at the door when they go into the cinema. You've got a responsibility to the studio, who are giving you a lot of money and entrusting it with you to make a film for them. You've got a responsibility to yourself; I was an eight year old kid in New Zealand dreaming of making movies one day, and I'm doing exactly what I wanted to do when I was a kid. Sleeping seems like something you should do much later on, you've got to concentrate and get the film done first.

I always feel a little bit guilty, I find it hard to take days off while we're working on a movie to some degree. I try to, because I've got a family, I've got kids, and I try to balance it as much as I can, but you do feel that there is so much responsibility on your shoulders, you should be spending that time doing what you're supposed to be doing, and making the best film you can.
I took my five year old and my eight year old to see it and they just loved it, particularly Andy Serkis, who scared the life out of them. I took blankets with them to hide behind, and they needed them. My question is actually from my eight year old son: he wants to know if you would ever consider making a cartoon series of Sam's further adventures.

Peter Jackson

As much as I'd love to say something nice to your eight year old son, unfortunately that wouldn't be possible because of the rights. The Tolkien estate are very protective of the rights to these stories. Warner Brothers and MGM are able to make The Hobbit, Warner Brothers have the Lord of the Rings, but that's it as far as Tolkien adaptations go.
There was an issue, I think, that Martin Freeman might not have been able to play Bilbo because he was contracted to do Sherlock. Peter, is true that you held off from starting the film so you could get Martin? Martin, can you just take us through that process and tell us how lucky you feel that you actually got to do the movies?

Peter Jackson

Back when we were originally thinking about The Hobbit, Martin was the first person that came to mind, and was the only person that we ever wanted for the role. I imagine we probably spoke to Martin about 18 months before we started shooting, and during that period it was hard for the film to get a green light because MGM, one of the co-rights holders, were having financial issues and was being sold, and it wasn't possible to proceed with the movie until that situation was resolved. We were kind of in a waiting pattern to some degree, and during that period of time obviously Sherlock arrived.

By the time we could formally offer Martin the role, the shooting of the second series of Sherlock was due to land right in the middle of The Hobbit shoot, and we were shooting for about a year and a half. I was in a state of panic I think, we couldn't think of anyone else; to me this piece of casting was absolutely perfect. You're really jeopardising the films, and jeopardising the investment of the films, and audiences' enjoyment, so I was having sleepless nights.

I lay awake one night with my iPad, I'd just downloaded Sherlock and I was watching the second episode at about four o'clock in the morning, sitting there watching Martin thinking, 'God, he would make the perfect Bilbo. What the hell is going on, how did we end up where we are, this is a disaster'. Then I got up in the morning and made some phone calls, and basically the idea which I had, which was pretty audacious really, in the way that the film industry works, was to shoot as much as we could of The Hobbit - start shooting, and then to stop filming and let Martin go back to the UK and do the second Sherlock shoot, and then continue on again. I asked the studio, checked in with Martin to see if he would be up for that, and it was the best phone call that I ever made, quite honestly.
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Content updated: 20/03/2018 11:25

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