‘Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies’: Luke Evans on Bard, battle

Dec. 09, 2014 | 8:08 a.m.
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Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Ken Stott as Balin in "'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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John Bell as Bain and Luke Evans as Bard in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Dean O'Gorman and Aidan Turner in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Smaug, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Lee Pace as Thranduil and Ian McKellen as Gandalf in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Orlando Bloom as Legolas in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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The orc Azog, voiced by Manu Bennett, appears in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Cate Blanchett as Galadriel and Ian McKellen as Gandalf in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Hugo Weaving as Elrond in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Martin Freeman as Bilbo in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Billy Connolly as Dain in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel and Orlando Bloom as Legolas in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Luke Evans as Bard, Mary Nesbitt as Tilda, Peggy Nesbitt as Sigrid and John Bell as Bain in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Peggy Nesbitt as Sigrid and Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Bolg, performed by John Tui, in a scene from "'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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The Keeper of the Dungeons, performed by Conan Stevens, in a scene from "'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Richard Armitage and Aidan Turner in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Mary Nesbitt as Tilda, Peggy Nesbitt as Sigrid and John Bell as Bain in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Luke Evans as Bard in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Ian McKellen as Gandalf in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Todd Eyre / Warner Bros.)

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Richard Armitage and Aidan Turner in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Todd Eyre / Warner Bros.)

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Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel and Orlando Bloom as Legolas in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Luke Evans as Bard in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel and Orlando Bloom as Legolas in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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The orc Azog, voiced by Manu Bennett, appears in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Ken Stott as Balin, left, and Martin Freeman as Bilbo in "'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Lee Pace as Thranduil in the fantasy adventure movie "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny/Warner Bros.)

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Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Ian McKellen as Gandalf, left, and Luke Evans as Bard in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny/ Warner Bros.)

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Cate Blanchett as Galadriel and Ian McKellen as Gandalf in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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John Callen as Oin, Dean O'Gorman as Fili, Aidan Turner as Kili, William Kircher as Bifur, James Nesbitt as Bofur, Adam Brown as Ori, Jed Brophy as Nori, Graham McTavish as Dwalin, Ken Stott as Balin and Stephen Hunter as Bombur in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Todd Eyre / Warner Bros.)

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Martin Freeman as Bilbo in "'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Richard Armitage as Thorin and Martin Freeman as Bilbo in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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The Keeper of the Dungeons, performed by Conan Stevens, in a scene from "'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Luke Evans as Bard, left, and Orlando Bloom as Legolas in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Graham McTavish as Dwalin, Jed Brophy as Nori, Ken Stott as Balin, John Callen as Oin, Dean O'Gorman as Fili, William Kircher as Bifur, Aidan Turner as Kili, Adam Brown as Ori, Peter Hambleton as Gloin, Mark Hadlow as Dori, Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Stephen Hunter as Bombur in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Director Peter Jackson, center, and Martin Freeman on the set of the fantasy adventure movie "The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny/Warner Bros.)

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Peter Jackson, left, and Ian McKellen on the set of "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

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Peter Jackson, left, Luke Evans and Ian McKellen on the set of "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Mark Pokorny/ Warner Bros.)

Adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s 300-page story “The Hobbit” into a movie trilogy gave the filmmakers plenty of room to develop supporting characters into major players, not least of whom was Bard the Bowman, portrayed on the big screen by Luke Evans.

Evans, whose previous titles include “Dracula Untold,” “Fast & Furious 6” and “Immortals,” debuted as the devoted father in Middle-earth’s impoverished Esgaroth in last year’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” The film saw Bard, who possesses the last black arrow capable of killing the dragon Smaug (played through performance-capture technology by Benedict Cumberbatch), smuggling Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his company of dwarves into Lake-town — one step closer to reclaiming their homeland. But Bard’s decision to help Thorin and his company inadvertently leads to the destruction of his home after the dwarves unleash the dragon’s wrath.

“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” which ends the saga, picks up with Smaug’s fiery assault on Lake-town, and Bard finds himself on the rooftops of Esgaroth, eye-to-eye with the vengeful dragon.

Hero Complex chatted with Evans about the scene, his character and what’s next in his career. But reader beware — spoilers (and a dragon) lie ahead.

Luke Evans attends the Diesel Black Gold Flagship Store Cocktail Party during the London Collections: Men SS15 on June 16, 2014. (Darren Gerrish/WireImage)

Luke Evans attends the Diesel Black Gold Flagship Store Cocktail Party during the London Collections: Men SS15 on June 16, 2014. (Darren Gerrish/WireImage)

HC: The Bard you play on screen is much more developed than the character in the book. Did you have a lot of input into his development?

LE: Yeah, a huge amount. I was reminded the other night by Philippa [Boyens], the writer, that it was my idea to make him a widow. He used to have a wife, and then I remember that as I was reading about Bard, I just always thought of him as a widow. And they liked the idea so much that they wrote her out, and she disappeared. Actually Sigrid was my wife, and then they cast the young Peggy Nesbitt and she became my daughter. So things like that. They were always open to ideas, and we all wanted to make the best Bard possible.

HC: So you had a very good relationship with Peter Jackson, then?

LE: Very much so. I would work with him in a heartbeat again.

HC: I understand your first day on set was an action scene?

LE: My first scene shot ever on set in New Zealand was four years ago, and it was the opening sequence of the third movie, on the rooftops. Crazy. That’s what movies are like. They’re never chronologically shot, which is really a massive challenge for an actor to do that. You’ve really got to understand where you’ve gone, where you’re going. It’s very strange.

HC: The opening scene on the rooftops with the dragon and Bard and his son was terrific. What was it like shooting that scene?

LE: Thank you very much. It was very emotional, I have to say. Obviously we didn’t have the dragon. There were no images or anything for us to work from. We were just looking at a cross on a wall at the end of the studio. So Peter played music — really powerful orchestral music —  and it really helped us get into the moment of, you know, we could possibly die right now, and I’m just with my son and keeping his eyes on me. It was really powerful stuff.

HC: Bard’s son Bain is played by young John Bell. What was it like working with him?

LE: Wonderful. He’s just a lovely kid. Obviously we caught him when he was still a kid. He’s now a young man, very tall. It’s so weird seeing him at the premiere. It’s like, my God what’s happening to you? But no, he was wonderful, he was so happy to be on set. Be’s got a wonderful set of parents who look after him, and he just loved every minute of it. It was very exciting.

HC: You also have quite a few scenes with proud kings — dwarf king Thorin, played by Richard Armitage, and Elvenking Thranduil, played by Lee Pace. What was it like playing a human in the company of these gigantic characters?

LE: Oh yeah, surrounded by these egomaniacs. It was very funny, actually. In a way it just made me more working class. I just tried to keep Bard as real and human as I possibly could while also taking into account that he killed a dragon and achieved something way bigger than he thought possible. He was now a leader and had somehow become this unlikely hero.

Luke Evans as Bard in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

Luke Evans as Bard in “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” (Warner Bros.)

HC: At one point in the film, he has the opportunity to be king and turns it down. Why?

LE: He doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want to be a king. He’s not interested in that. His whole objective in his life is to look after his kids and keep them safe and protect them. That’s what Peter always told me; in any of those big moments, it was about him safeguarding his children, and the bigger picture was to find some help for the people of Lake-town. He seemed to have become their spokesman, but no, I don’t think he wants to be a king. But weirdly, the legacy he leaves is that Bain becomes king of Dale and is mentioned in the first “Lord of the Rings.” So cool.

HC: The third film is packed with battle scenes. Were those difficult to shoot?

LE: Yeah, they were. They were very complex. A lot of my fight sequences were with the orcs in the third movie. I’d go to the stunt hangar, and we would learn these stunt sequences with the stunt guys, and I’d recognize all their faces, so I’d know which one was which. And then they’d come to set, and they’d all be in costume, and I didn’t know which one was which. So they had to give me visual signals of which one I’d have to take down first in the choreography, because I just couldn’t distinguish which one was which. So they’d all have different helmets or different shields or different weapons, and then I knew which weapon was coming first. It was very technical stuff, but we got through in the end.

HC: Was it very physically demanding?

LE: Yeah, there was loads of training. I had to keep my stamina. That was the big thing —  the strength and stamina of being able to keep going and going and going, because Peter loves a lot of takes. There was that, and obviously then there was learning the fight sequences and learning the choreography and the weaponry work and stuff like that. And a lot of stuff was done on set. You know, you’d create something, and then you’d come to set, and Peter would be like, “What about this?” And he’d completely change it, and you’d have to be ready to change and adapt and pick it up on the set and then shoot. But I like working like that. I don’t mind that at all.

Luke Evans as Bard, left, and Orlando Bloom as Legolas in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." (Warner Bros.)

Luke Evans as Bard, left, and Orlando Bloom as Legolas in “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” (Warner Bros.)

HC: Is there a particular memory you’re taking away from your experience making these films?

LE: Being at my [32nd] birthday as I celebrated in Wellington, and having all my friends there. Everybody from the crew to caterers to my driver, my makeup artists, to the kids, to all the actors, the scale doubles, they were all at my birthday, and I remember standing on a stage and looking down and thinking, “These people have become my family.” That’s the image I remember.

HC: Is this a particular genre you enjoy working in?

LE: I mean, it was fun. To be honest, I don’t think about the genre. I just think about the role and how enjoyable it was. I’m doing quite a few contemporary movies at the beginning of next year, so it will be different.

HC: What’s next?

LE: I’m going to do Ben Wheatley’s next movie, “Free Fire,” which is really interesting. It’s all very character-driven roles I’m looking at at the minute, and really interesting filmmakers, and I’m looking at lots of independent films. I’m being really choosy about what I’m going to do, and we shall see.

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | Google+

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Comments


2 Responses to ‘Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies’: Luke Evans on Bard, battle

  1. chris says:

    Peter Jackson continues to mutilate Tolkiens works apparently in the latest installment. Bard's character is totally changed from a king in exile to a street ruffian. Obviously the entire story line of the thrush telling Bard about the weakness in Smaug's armor (and thus attributing the key intelligence needed to kill the dragon to Bilbo's burglering) is gone by the wayside due to Jackson's black arrow storyline which is totally inane as it requires us to think that Dale needed to develop some sort of defense (the quadruple limb ballista, the design of which is beyond stupid) against dragon attack and thus we are led to believe that Smaug's attack on Dale was not the first time a dragon had descended on the town. Glorifying the actors that enabled Jackson's utter madness with this trilogy (Evans, Orlando Bloom and Philippa Boyens) sickens me.

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