Peter Jackson and Hobbit Cast Interview
Peter Jackson and Hobbit Cast Interview
Sylvester, can I ask you about Radagast, because he seems like an incredibly faux-eccentric character to really get your teeth into. Did you enjoy that process of bringing him to life?

Sylvester McCoy

Well, when Peter Jackson and Fran [Walsh, screenwriter] and Philippa [Boyens, screenwriter] offered me the job they said, 'There's a lot of shit in it, it's a shitty part', and I said, 'Well, someone's got to do it!' and I accepted it. For those who haven't seen it, I get very close to birds, [whistles], those kinds of birds, and they kind of...leave deposits on me. And I smell a lot. It was made for me really!
Andy, as well as bringing the fabulous Gollum back to life in this film, with this incredible scene with you and Martin, you also did some second unit directing. What was that like?

Andy Serkis

It was fantastic to come back and rekindle my relationship with Gollum and Sméagol, and getting to play one of my favourites scenes, actually, that Tolkien wrote for Gollum, with Martin. It was the first thing that we shot in the movie, so day one out of 276 was Martin and myself in Gollum's cave, kicking off that scene. The way that Pete wanted to shoot it, it was treated like a piece of theatre, so we basically shot that entire scene time and time again, and it was just incredible to watch Martin begin to find Bilbo's character. We just really enjoyed bouncing off each other and creating that scene.

Just to give a little preamble, I was only supposed to come back to New Zealand for two weeks to reprise the role of Gollum, until a month beforehand when I got an email from Peter saying, 'Would you like to come down and direct the second unit?' It was really special, actually, to get the chance to complete the journey in Middle Earth, and it suddenly grew to two hundred days of shooting. I had the most incredible experience learning from one of the world's greatest filmmakers, with an amazing cast, shooting beautiful New Zealand, in a company of dwarves; it was really extraordinary.
Peter, you're obviously somebody who likes storytelling and you like cinema, you've demonstrated that with the Lord of the Rings movies and now The Hobbit. You've revolutionised the technical side of things as well. Ten years from now, what expectations can we have, how different can things be? Will you be pushing things forward technology-wise yourself?

Peter Jackson

It's interesting, I don't know. I've been thinking about what cinema's going to be like in ten years or twenty five years, and it's difficult to say. There is a degree of jeopardy at the moment with the film industry, with all the alternative ways that people have to see movies now, you know, right from your home entertainment systems, obviously down to an iPhone and an iPad. I mean, I really hate the idea that I'm a director making a film for an iPad. That's kind of depressing, I would go and lie on a beach in Fiji and retire if I thought I was really doing that. It is a time when cinema audiences are dwindling, they're going down, and I just think as an industry we have to be looking at what we can do to increase and enhance the experience of going to a cinema, making people especially come to the cinema.

For one, I don't really believe that we should be thinking that the technology that was created for theatrical presentation in 1927 should still be what we need to be using in 2012. I think we should look at the technology we have available, and say, 'How can we make the experience more immersive, more magical, more spectacular?' Because movies really should be. But it's not just the movie, it's the occasion of going out with friends into a room full of strangers, a dark room, and seeing this huge image on a screen with incredible picture, incredible sound, and being transported into an escapist piece of entertainment. That's what I love about cinema. So it's going to get bigger, it's going to get sharper.

If I was predicting anything, I would say that because of those reasons, I think cinema exhibition and what we're going to be as a society - what we're going to respond to - I think is going to be larger, more immersive experiences. Something like IMAX are doing today, where you're going and you're seeing something that is so huge, and you're not going to be able to stick that on the wall of your lounge, you know, or hold in your hand. It's something that's truly awe-inspiring as an experience.

It's not that the entire film industry needs to make those sorts of films, or even screen movies in that way. I think the idea is that cinema's always had that variety, it's always had different filmmakers making films that are special for them, there's always something, no matter who you are, that you can go and see. There's always a film that will appeal to you, and the variety's important as well.
Sir Ian, I'm sure you're delighted to be back as Gandalf, but I believe you weren't always enamoured with the process of working with twelve dwarves, which meant you spent most of the time in a different room to them. Can you explain that process, and whether you had any breakdowns at any point?

Ian McKellen

I adore all the dwarves, they know that! There is a special dwarf, and he knows who he is [laughs] so enough of that. But the trouble with the dwarves is that despite what they actually are in real life, they have to look smaller than me on the screen. There are a number of devices to accomplish that, and none of them is really congenial to acting, which is about spontaneity, and about looking the other actor in the eye, and working with him or her. Often, in these films, you don't have that - not luxury - but that necessity. And sometimes, cruelly, you are actually not in the same space when you're filming the same scene.

There are two cameras, one recording me large, and one the dwarves smaller, and then by film magic that I don't understand the two pictures are put together, and it's absolutely magical when you see it. But when you're doing it - the first day I rather ashamed myself by grumbling to myself that this sort of filming wasn't why I'd become an actor. And I'd forgotten that I was wearing a microphone so everybody, including Peter, heard. I was rewarded the next day with love, because my little tent where I get made up inside the studio had been decorated overnight. There were remnants of old Rivendell, there was fresh fruit and flowers, and carpets and cushions, dancing boys and girls, and I was made to feel that it was going to be all right. And indeed it was, and we found other ways of doing it.

Peter Jackson

There's also low-tech ways of doing it too. A lot of what you see is Ian standing on a box, so we were able to get up over his shoulder with the camera and make the dwarves look small. And then there's also Ian's favourite technique, which was the dwarves on their knees.

Ian McKellen

[Laughs] Yes, thank you Peter.
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Content updated: 06/12/2019 06:45

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