‘Hobbit’ at Comic-Con: Peter Jackson tours the Shire and beyond

July 15, 2012 | 9:50 a.m.

Martin Freeman, center, in a scene from “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” (Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

Peter Jackson unveiled more than 12 minutes of footage from “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” during his Comic-Con panel Saturday, giving fans a glimpse of Martin Freeman’s performance as Bilbo Baggins, a new female character not from the J.R.R. Tolkien universe and some scenes with familiar characters Gandalf, Gollum and Galadriel.

Jackson, who directed “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy before taking on Tolkien’s smaller adventure, was joined on the panel by cowriter Philippa Boyens, Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins), Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Andy Serkis (second unit director and, of course, Gollum), Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield) and surprise guest Elijah Wood, who played Frodo Baggins in the trilogy and did “a bit of work” for “The Hobbit.”

The panel was the capstone of the Hall H lineup this year. Thousands of fans — more than a few in Middle-earth garb — began lining up Friday and camped overnight. (McKellen paid them a late-night surprise visit.)

The roughly 6,500 fans who made it into Hall H were also treated to breathtaking footage from the film, beginning with a scene in which Gandalf recruits a doubtful Bilbo to join a company of even-more-doubtful dwarves in their quest to stop the greedy and terrible dragon Smaug.

In another scene, Bilbo bargains with Smeagol in the cave, risking his life in a game of riddles: “If Baggins loses,” he croaks, “we eats it whole.” We also see Bilbo finding the One Ring and then later concealing it from Gandalf.

The footage also included a light-soaked scene between Gandalf and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), in which the elven queen asks the gray wizard why he picked Bilbo for this quest.

“Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check,” Gandalf says. “That is not what I’ve found. I found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk, that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I’m afraid, and he gives me courage.”

Jackson also screened a featurette documenting the final five days of filming, and fans erupted in cheers as they recognized locations from Tolkien’s book, including the Shire, Lake-town and Rivendell. The featurette showed Freeman scrambling through a mountain of Smaug’s stolen treasure, Orlando Bloom (Legolas) leaping in front of a green screen, Stephen Fry donning his Master of Lake-town costume and Luke Evans performing his own stunts as Bard the Bowman.

The featurette also introduced a Tauriel, an elven woman portrayed by Evangeline Lilly, after the filmmakers began to “feel the weight” of the male-dominated story, Boyens said.

“She brings a very powerful feminine energy into the film,” Boyens said. “We believe that it’s completely within the spirit of Tolkien. … I think you guys are going to fall in love with her.”

Freeman said he “never felt intimidated” by the prospect of playing Bilbo Baggins.

“You can’t really take intimidation or pressure to work with you, because you won’t do your best work or do your best playing, which is really an actor’s job,” he said.

He said he strove for a “lightness of touch,” wit and vulnerability so that the audience could relate to Bilbo and his adventure.

“I’m a big believer of knowing what play you’re in, and in this play, I have to be the eyes and ears of the audience, because I’m the nearest thing to a member of the audience in this film,” Freeman said. “We all have fear. We all have reservations. We all have places that we’re scared to go, whether they’re internal or external.”

– Noelene Clark

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Comments


10 Responses to ‘Hobbit’ at Comic-Con: Peter Jackson tours the Shire and beyond

  1. Sandra says:

    The British actress Daniela Denby Ashe would have been excellent as Galadriel. cate Blanchett looks old and does not have good facial expression compared Daniela.

    • hodge says:

      The character of Galadriel IS old…..a few thousand years. If that occasionally shows in her expressions, it's consistent with the character's backstory. Someone who looked like a dewy-fresh 18 year old would not be believable.

      I am not, however, very please with the addition of a new character who is not in the original story. This is a classic and shouldn't be farked around with.

  2. George kramer says:

    They decided that Tolkien didn't have the story quite right and so they made things up. I don't know how the target audience of Tolkien fans are going to like that. I can say that I don't.

    • g.d.justice says:

      Sorry George, but if you had bothered to do even the smallest amount of research on the subject, then you would have found out that Tolkien was writing an expanded edition at the time of his death, covering not only the original story line but also encompassing the entire 60 year span from the end of the first book up to the beginning of the LOTR trilogy. At the time of the filming of the original trilogy JRR Tolkien's family turned all of these manuscripts over to Peter Jackson so he would have access to supplemental background material. He is using this material to flesh out the movies into what would have been an expanded Hobbit set of books had the author lived another year or two. Jackson is not just " Making things up " and has gone to great lengths to treat the stories with the respect that they deserve.

  3. joann martinez says:

    they have made a movie of the hobbit…..if peter jackson directed, it may well be worth seeing.
    he did very well with the lord of the rings trilogy

  4. Sandra says:

    I can't wait!! It is going to be amazing!

  5. kstone says:

    Martin Freeman is exceptional in everything he does. Peter Jackson deserves credit for recognizing this, as I hear Martin was his only choice. I loved Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy and am a Tolkien fan – these are not mutually exclusive. It's not possible to capture everything that's in the books — these movies are Jackson and his team's well thought out and imaginative interpretation of them.

  6. A.Quick says:

    As with most masterpieces, it is impossible to capture the breadth and depth of the whole story of The Lord of the Rings. Jackson has shown us his vision of the Middle Earth stories and in in so doing has created a altogether close version to Tolkien , while moving us along on Bilbo and Frodo's adventures. Love the book and I love the movies.

  7. Ron Shears says:

    You cannot fail to be impressed with the Mr. Jackson's superb take on these classic tales by this imaginative English author. And if you are? then remove your blinkers, open your imagination and stare in wonder at these masterpieces.

  8. Peter Jackson tours!!!??? That is very amazing at all. I was in the hunt for this type of reading. Love this entry and all information seem to me very inspirational. Thanks!!!!!!!

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