Once you get past the weirdly silenced bits where his lips move, but there’s no sound (are they hiding stuff from us?), this interview with Benedict Cumberbatch has a lot to offer. His enthusiasm for the character is especially obvious.
Warning for potential movie spoilers! And thanks to Ringer Thranduil05 for the heads-up.
A choice quote from the interview:
Smaug is such a rich character, so vainglorious decrepit, ancient, powerful and yet vulnerable. Huge, just huge. Vast, devlisih, angry. Really, really angry. and very human in his greed and covetousness and his vengeful fury.
He is enormous. He is incredibly quick for something that size, that scale. He breathes fire and he flies.
And as he boasts himself, his wings are hurricane, his tail is a thunderbolt his claws are spears, his teeth are swords and he has a fire that can reduce all to dust and ash. I mean, he’s a one-man army. He’s an utter destructive force of nature. He’s everything you’d ever need in a battle to win it and he’s kinda of a one-man-band when it comes that.
As part of our fundraiser a few months back, Sir Peter Jackson and 3Foot7 kindly showed their support for TheOneRing.net by very generously donating to the website a poster, signed by pretty much ALL the cast from the three Hobbit movies! This is an extraordinary item, and a true one of a kind. The regular movie sized poster shows Bilbo outside the front door to Bag End, and has simply, ‘There … and Back Again’ as text. It’s a beautiful image, and not one which was available to buy. But then it gets even better! Here’s a list of the cast members who have signed the poster – 31 in total:
Richard Armitage (Thorin)
John Bell (Bain)
Cate Blanchett (Galadriel)
Orlando Bloom (Legolas)
Jed Brophy (Nori)
Adam Brown (Ori)
John Callen (Oin)
Billy Connolly (Dain Ironfoot)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug/Necromancer)
Luke Evans (Bard)
Martin Freeman (Bilbo)
Stephen Fry (Master of Lake-town)
Ryan Gage (Alfrid)
Mark Hadlow (Dori)
Peter Hambleton (Gloin)
Barry Humphries (Goblin King)
Stephen Hunter (Bombur)
William Kircher (Bifur)
Evangeline Lily (Tauriel)
Sylvester McCoy (Radagast)
Ian McKellen (Gandalf)
Graham McTavish (Dwalin)
James Nesbitt (Bofur)
Dean O’Gorman (Fili)
Lee Pace (Thranduil)
Mikael Persbrandt (Beorn)
Andy Serkis (Gollum)
Ken Stott (Balin)
Aidan Turner (Kili)
Hugo Weaving (Elrond)
Elijah Wood (Frodo)
That’s almost all the dwarves, hobbits, elves, wizards and men you could wish, with a dragon and a shape-shifter thrown in for good measure! And YOU could be the proud owner of this incredible item! To raise money for TheOneRing.net, to help us keep doing what we do, we’re going to auction off this unique poster on ebay. Bidding will open next week; get ready to buy yourself or a loved one the most incredible holiday present a fan could have!
Artist Pauline Baynes worked as an illustrator for both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. In this feature, Tolkien scholar John Garth muses on how her seemingly effortless ability to capture a scene, and how her art awoke in him a love of literature.
John Garth on Pauline Baynes
It was an illustrator that taught me the joy of literature. True, Pauline Baynes had the marvellous accompaniment of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but as a seven-year-old I drank in the pictures. For me, C.S. Lewis’s Narnia is always her world too, and I wince when I see latter-day jackets with tepid stand-in illustrations.
The impact of Baynes’s tangled trees and underworld caverns, inhabited by medieval figures and mythological or heraldic beasts, was immeasurable. With its nakedly religious denouement, The Last Battle does not quite work for me now – but the Puffin cover’s firelit fray still brings back the thrill of first seeing it. Lewis’s cruel Calormenes are a dated racial stereotype; yet Baynes, raised partly in India, passionate about Persian art, instils them with grace, culture, beauty and physical prowess.
The cover of my first The Lord of the Rings was from a 1964 Baynes: a soft Shire landscape misting into green-grey, with tumbled and tormented Mordor on the back – both framed by trees with furtive creatures among the roots. I’m sorry Baynes never got to work on a full-scale illustrated edition: she does not attempt J.R.R. Tolkien’s realism yet she matches him for sheer wonder.
Born in 1922, she had started at the Slade when war took her away to work for the Army and Admiralty; but she still managed to make some halting first steps as an illustrator. In 1948 Tolkien was shown sample drawings she had been invited to submit for his children’s story Farmer Giles of Ham. He loved her characterful, semi-comical, medievalesque handling.
You might recall that we’ve previously profiled the incredible Middle-earth LEGO dioramas of Blake Baer here on TheOneRing.net.
Now he’s back with his biggest piece yet — a 56-inch-tall model of Erebor made from 80,000 pieces of LEGO that weighs close to 200 pounds! This time he’s working with fellow LEGO aficionado Jack Bittner.
When we saw the first movie last year, we loved it too much not to build a scene from it. Of course, we couldn’t build any thing less than the iconic dwarf city. So here it is, our third and latest collaboration (our first was Amon Hen, our second was Rivendell). We chose Erebor for many reasons, not the least of which was that we love building mountains [sarcasm]. This build was a ton of fun, and we hope you enjoy it. And now, it is our pleasure to present Erebor, the dwarven hall of kings.
We had the chance to ask Blake a few questions about his and Jack’s Erebor diorama. Here’s what he had to say:
TORn: How big is it? Is it your biggest yet?
Blake: It most certainly is our biggest yet at 56″ tall, and close to 80,000 pieces totaling close to 200 pounds of LEGO.
TORn: How long did it take?
Blake: It took my friend Jack Bittner and I close to 400 combined hours to get the model designed, built, photographed, edited, and uploaded.
TORn: How difficult was conceptualizing the design?
Blake: We had the movie to rely upon for reference, so a lot of the design stages was just us watching the movie, haha. It obviously isn’t an exact replica, but it captures the essence of Erebor. We had the general layout of where we wanted Dale, the rivers, the mountains, etc. to be, but much of that changed as we built. We didn’t work off of any blueprints, so we were converting directly from imaginations to bricks, so many changes occurred.
TORn: What inspired the concept?
Blake: Large amounts were drawn from the movie portrayal of the Hobbit. The style of the facade of the gates of Erebor, for example, were drawn from the movie. In addition, representing Dale as a Sicilian-style city with terracotta roofs was drawn from the movie.
TORn: Will you be showcasing it anywhere?
Blake: We currently don’t have any plans to put it on display, but we hope to keep it together for a while so that we can possibly take advantage of any possibilities that may arise. The public unveiling was at Brickfair, VA, earlier this summer, but Erebor hasn’t seen any action To get an idea of the scale, check out the photo below that Blake supplied us. Amazing!
Earlier today, Peter Jackson, Richard Armitage and Evangeline Lilly participated in a Google+ Hangout – answering questions from fans and debuting a new clip from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (which
you can view here). The Hobbit Movies has written up a rough transcript
of the hangout (they describe the quotes more as “summaries”, than exact quotes). Near the end, there’s a transcript of the clip that was shown – so if you don’t want SPOILERS, stay away from that section.
Q: Any pranks on set?
PJ: Ian McKellan loves napping, so I once sneaked up on him while he was napping between takes and yelled “And…Action!” causing Ian to jump up in surprise and straighten up as if he had to act.
EL: There wasn’t really much time to do pranking; the best pranks take place on camera, but we can’t do those much because then we’d be wasting the extremely valuable camera time
RA: When Martin brought his son and daughter to visit the set, I lent Martin’s daughter some of my prosthetic hands, and she waved to Martin with them on.
Q (to PJ): On a scale from 1 to 10, how epic will the Battle of Five Armies be?
PJ: I’d like to say 15 or 25, but then I’d be like a marketer or salesman. If you have three or more clips without any of the principle characters, the audience will zone out, so we had lots of shots of the main characters. There were many storylines coming together even in the middle of the battle, so it’s not just a bunch of action; the battle is almost secondary to the characters.
Q (to RA): The barrel scene looked fun but dangerous; what was it like?
RA: It was filmed in multiple locations. I got caught in a current at one point, got pulled under for a bit and had to be pulled out by two stunt guys since I was wearing all the dwarf prosthetics.
PJ: We had a safety line across the river so that no one would float too far away. Without the rope, I wonder if they might have floated to Australia.
Q (to EL): What was your biggest challenge to playing an Elf?
EL: Being poised and graceful, which is completely different from my normally silly and joking nature. Having to shut up and seem elegant, graceful, and poised was difficult.
Q (to EL): Have you always wanted to play an Elf? Did it live up to your expectations?
EL: Who doesn’t want to play an Elf?
PJ and RA: Not us.
EL: It lived up to my expectations. I was giddy every time I walked onto a new set. I’ve always been a huge LotR and PJ fan. When they first asked me what size prosthetic ears I wanted, I wanted the largest, but they gave me the smallest, which didn’t work out. The whole makeup/prosthetics time for me each day was 2 hours.
RA: Mine was 3 and a half hours.
PJ: I’ve spent more time with Tauriel than Evangeline, so seeing you is unusual to me. I’m used to the actors in their costumes, rather than real life.
RA: I did grow my own beard.
PJ: It looked better like that.
RA: It’s useful for storing stuff like little bits of food.
Host: Did you guys ever want to sleep in your costume/prosthetics to avoid all the time spent to put them on and take them off?
EL: Absolutely not; you couldn’t have paid me to do that. My costume, wig, and prosthetics were nasty after all the action scenes and sweat.
PJ: I’ve seen both RA and EL work themselves to exhaustion.
Q (to PJ): 10 years ago, Return of the King was released; in a few days, the Hobbit: DoS comes out. How did you feel after filming the last scene of the Hobbit movies?
PJ: For many of the film people, they’re done after the filming. For me, it’s just a new beginning; I have to do all the post-production. So, saying goodbye to friends and people you’ve been working with for 18 months is hard, but you can hope to work with them in the future. You enjoy the relationship of working with these people and having mutual trust and understanding.
EL: That natural understand is very rare. Working with PJ was, sometimes, hell, but I realized that both he and I almost always had the exact same visions and goals, which was great.
Q (to RA): How do you find empathy for Thorin, given his actions in the movie?
RA: If he had to stand in court for some of the things he’s done, the promises he’s reneged on …. I don’t think I’d always agree with Thorin. There’s a scene in front of the Mountain where Balin is arguing with Thorin, telling him that Bilbo shouldn’t have to come into the Mountain. Sometimes though, I do agree with Thorin.
EL: Seeing your performance, I realize that the Thorin side must have won; the way you acted, the audience would see some of the things he does as not immoral, but just hard decisions.
PJ: We had to find the balance of Thorin making the hard and controversial decisions he made in the book.
Host: And here’s the new, exclusive, and never-before-scene clip! Editor’s Note: *SPOILER WARNING* (Highlight below to read) Bilbo leads the dwarves to a pantry full of barrels; he orders them inside. [Bofur:] “You were supposed to lead us out, not further in!” [Bilbo:] “I know what I’m doing!” [Bilbo:] “This way.” [Bilbo:] “Into the barrels, quickly!” [Dwalin:] “Are you mad?! They’ll find us!” [Bilbo:] “No, no, they won’t. I promise you. Please, please, you MUST trust me!” The dwarves look at each others, then enter the barrels. The Elf is sleeping on a table, presumably drunk. Bilbo counts to make sure all the dwarves are in barrels. Once they’re all in, Bilbo starts walking away. [Bofur:] “What do we do now?” [Bilbo:] “Hold your breath.” [Bofur:] “Hold my breath??” [Dwarf:] “What do you mean?” Bilbo pulls a lever, and the platform the barrels were on tips, causing the barrels to roll out a hole and into the stream below. As the barrels fall, the loud thumping noises wake the Elves. Bilbo looks excitedly around as the last barrel falls and the trap door closes; he then realizes that he is still stuck, alone, in the wine room. Editor’s Note:*END OF SPOILERS*
Host (to PJ): Are you making tweaks to the movie all the way until the end, when it comes out?
PJ: Ha, no. On the way to the premiere, I had a bag with the hard drives holding the movie, so if anything had happened to me…you wouldn’t have had a premiere.
Two Great Eagles swooped into Wellington Airport’s main terminal building on Monday morning, giving Gandalf a glimpse of the runway.
The sculptures show Gandalf atop one of two Great Eagles, bringing news to the Middle of Middle-earth.
Weighing in at one tonne each with a wingspan of 15 metres, they have been developed by Weta Workshop and Wellington Airport to accompany Gollum in welcoming visitors to the Wellington region and New Zealand.
The creation has been designed and facilitated by Weta Workshop’s creative lead Richard Taylor and Workshop Supervisor Rob Gillies to create yet another unforgettable experience into Wellington Airport.
Richard Taylor, who was overseeing the project said, “we were thrilled to return and create another installation for Wellington Airport. What could be more suitable for an airport in Middle-earth than Gandalf the Grey atop a Great Eagle swooping into the terminal, such an evocative image from The Hobbit and a fantastic and challenging project for our artists to design and build.”
“We are delighted to work with Weta to produce another magnificent sculpture welcoming visitors into Wellington. We’re proud to show our support for the movies – they have done a lot for New Zealand tourism. With Gollum being viewed around the globe and tourists still talking photos of him, we expect Gandalf and the Eagles will make quite a stir,” said Steve Sanderson, Wellington Airport’s Chief Executive.
Art directed by Richard Taylor and Rob Gillies, the sculptures were 3D modelled into the airport display space by Jamin Vollebregt. It was then realised by a team of Weta Workshop 3D modellers, sculptors, model makers, painters, engineers and other specialists using a variety of large-sculpture technologies developed in-house at Weta Workshop.
“We head into an exciting week leading up to the release of the film including the Charity Gala Premiere on December 9 at the Embassy Theatre with all proceeds going to the Island Bay Marine Education Centre,” said Mr Sanderson.
Key facts about the installation:
· Weta molded and cast 1,000 feathers for the two eagles
· The longest of the feathers measure 2.4 metres
· The wingspan of each bird is 15 metres
· The whole installation weighs in at just under 2 tonnes
· Each eagle is suspended from the roof in the Main Terminal Building by 8 cables. Issued by: Wellington International Airport and Weta Workshop