Peter Jackson and Hobbit Cast Interview
Peter Jackson and Hobbit Cast Interview

Martin Freeman

I was amazed and delighted when that phone call came. I was back in London at the time, and I'd already sort of said goodbye to The Hobbit, I'd had to pass. It was boring, really dull and boring to not do it, I remember very clearly I was actually going to go and see Benedict Cumberbatch in a play at the National Theatre. I had this very long, involved conversation with Michael, my agent. I remember saying, 'We're going to have to let this go, aren't we?', and he went, 'Yeah I think we are, sorry', and I was like, 'Ahh, okay'. I've never really been one to dwell on things, onwards and upwards and all that, but I would rather not have had to do that. By the time - however long it was later - I was rehearsing a play myself, and I got a call from Michael again saying, 'It's back on', I said, 'What do you mean?' and he said, 'Well, Peter's rearranged it'. So, I was amazed.
What was the timeline between those two points?

Martin Freeman

I can't remember, probably weeks? I'm not sure, but suffice to say I was extremely surprised. I took it as a huge compliment, and still do.
If you look at The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, there seems to be some similarity in structure with the first Lord of the Rings film. Is that Tolkien, or was it obvious for the structure of the script?

Peter Jackson

It's Tolkien, in the sense that the stories start in the Shire in a fairly innocent way, and Bilbo has a situation where dwarves invite themselves to dinner, and obviously Rivendell's part of the book as well. In a way, the similarities kind of end there, the story obviously goes in a completely different direction as the next two films proceed.
Can you compare Peter Greenaway with Peter Jackson?

Martin Freeman

They're both different kind of lunatics! I remember Peter Greenaway was the first time I'd ever been directed over a loudspeaker, and at the time I thought, 'This is ludicrous, this is madness'. Little did I know that would be my everyday experience. Although Pete [Jackson] does come out of his tent actually - he ventures out and has a little chat, but a lot of the time you're used to hearing this voice of - I won't say God [laughs]. To be honest, any film director who makes it their business to kind of follow their own path has to be driven, and has to be ridiculously focussed, and they both are. There's better sandwiches on a Peter Jackson film.
To all the people who were involved in Lord of the Rings: I remember talking to you about ten years ago and getting the feeling that there was a very special atmosphere on set, with big friendships, and also you can see this on the DVDs. How would you describe the atmosphere on set this time, was it similar or different?

Ian McKellen

I found it very similar. Behind the camera, they all seemed to be old friends. Peter and his team, [DoP] Andrew Lesnie, the cameramen, the person who did my make up was the same guy who did it last time. Emma, who looked after my costume, was the same person. In front of the camera, yes there were new people, but the whole tone of the film was exactly as it was before, it was like a very, very expensive home movie. That sense of having fun, but knowing why you were all there and wanting to be with each other.

The big improvements were the actual buildings; most of the interiors of Lord of the Rings were filmed in an old paint factory, which wasn't heated, it wasn't air-conditioned, there wasn't sound proofing. You were next to an international airport, and you had to do the takes in between the planes taking off, which is why every single word of Lord of the Rings, as far as I'm concerned, was added later. This time we were in state-of-the-art studios that James Cameron and Steven Spielberg queue up to use. And as for lunch - these are important things when you're filming! Not in a flapping tent threatening to blow over in windy Wellington, but an actual building. And I quite agree about the sandwiches, the best food I've ever had on any job, and that's another reason to go to New Zealand.
Jumping between London for Sherlock and New Zealand for The Hobbit, how did you handle that, how did you wind down, and prepare for different roles, and do you have any tips for other upcoming young performers?

Martin Freeman

I handled it just by the glee of being able to do it really, I felt very lucky that I'd spent the last couple of years doing two jobs that I adore. Two very different parts, two very different universes, and in two very different parts of the world. I didn't really get a chance to unwind, I spent 2011 being quite knackered. I was in New Zealand from January to May, then literally straight off into Sherlock and then straight back into this, and yeah, it was very, very tiring. But with all things when you're tired for the best reason, and you're doing something you love, you get through it. It made it easy, the fact that I didn't think I was going to be able to do The Hobbit, but the fact that I could do both was fantastic. And as for tips for upcoming performers, in all honesty I've never really asked for any and I've never given any, I wouldn't know what to say other than, erm… just follow your dreams.
I've heard that Viggo Mortensen slept with his horse during the filming of Lord of the Rings in order to get into the role. Did any of you do anything like that, did any of you sleep with your horses?

James Nesbitt

I kept asking my horse but it kept saying no!

Ian McKellen

They were too busy sleeping with each other.

James Nesbitt

In your dreams, McKellen.

Ian McKellen

You said follow my dream!
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Content updated: 18/07/2019 09:54

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