‘The Hobbit’ premiere: Peter Jackson, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans talk Smaug

Dec. 03, 2013 | 1:08 p.m.

Members of the cast and crew of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" attend the film's Los Angeles premiere in Hollywood. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Actor Martin Freeman, left, and Amanda Abbington arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Jordan Strauss / Associated Press)

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Jordan Strauss / Associated Press)

Actor Orlando Bloom arrives for the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

Actress Evangeline Lilly arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Jordan Strauss / Associated Press)

Actor Luke Evans arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Jordan Strauss / Associated Press)

Actor Richard Armitage attends the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug." (Mark Davis / Getty Images)

Actor Aidan Turner arrives for the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

Actor Manu Bennett attends the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Mark Davis / Getty Images)

Actor Stephen Fry attends the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug."(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Director Sir Peter Jackson, right, and Katie Jackson arrive for the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

Writer-producer Philippa Boyens attends the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Actor Sean Austin arrives for the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran attends the premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Middle-Earth’s denizens journeyed to Hollywood on Monday night for the world premiere of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second of Peter Jackson’s three films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel, “The Hobbit.”

The film’s stars hit the shrub- and leaf-adorned black carpet in front of the Dolby Theater in Hollywood to fête the latest adaptation of the mystical realm where hobbits, dwarves, elves, orcs and goblins dwell.

The carpet was designed to echo the sylvan realm of Mirkwood, which plays an important role in the new film, set to open in theaters Dec. 13. Dwarf-prince Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his company, which includes Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), travel through the forest on the next leg of their quest to reclaim Erebor, the treasure-filled city under the Lonely Mountain that was usurped from Thorin’s ancestors by the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).

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Jackson said Cumberbatch’s versatility and baritone voice made him a perfect fit for the motion-capture role.

“Smaug has to be more than just a voice,” the director told reporters at the premiere. “You want an actor who can bring a lot of agility and a lot of character to it because it’s important with a dragon to be smarter than Bilbo — I’m not saying that Benedict is smarter than Martin, of course, I’d never say that — but you want it to seem that Bilbo is up against a very, very formidable foe.

“With Smaug we wanted to keep him much more unpredictable [than Gollum] so we literally wanted somebody scary — like the Hannibal Lecter of the dragon world. And Benedict has got such a great voice and he’s got such a great sharp mind that he was able contribute a huge amount to the role.”

To prepare for the part, Jackson joked, Cumberbatch “stripped off and rolled around on a sheepskin rug. It’s true. I’m not exaggerating.

“Benedict got into it as much as a human being could get into a dragon role. He got in there,” Jackson continued. “He’s a remarkable actor, he’s one of those actors that doesn’t come around that often.”

Of course, Smaug isn’t the only nemesis Bilbo and Thorin encounter. The company is pursued by the fearsome pale orc, Azog (Manu Bennett) and his bloodthirsty brood, and they get a little unexpected assistance in giving the evil creatures the slip from Orlando Bloom’s Legolas and Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel,

“I was thrilled,” Bloom said when asked how he felt when he got the call to return to Middle Earth. “Peter’s an amazing filmmaker, and these films are his babies, and to be a part of these again was just wonderful, you know.”

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And since “The Hobbit” is a prequel to “The Lord of the Rings,” Bloom, 36, credits digital “magic” with getting his ageless elf to look even younger.

“Well, I work out, I drink juices. No, I’m joking! That’s a joke!” he said. “I think that’s the magic of digital photography, right? I was very happy that the wig still fit and that I got a chance to be in these movies. It’s a great character.”

Actress Evangeline Lilly arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Jordan Strauss / Associated Press)

Actress Evangeline Lilly arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” (Jordan Strauss / Associated Press)

The woodland elf Tauriel, the captain of the guards of Mirkwood, is played by “Lost” alum Lilly, 34, and is new to the franchise.

“She’s a completely made-up character,” said “Hobbit” and “LOTR” writer Philippa Boyens. “We created her. We did it very specifically because we just felt that there was a lack of female energy in this story. And the truth is Professor Tolkien wrote fantastically for women. He had a lot of respect for women and understood that the most powerful person in Middle Earth is the elf Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) so we wanted to reflect that. We wanted to have a female character as we were able to have in ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ And once we decided that we wanted to do that, it became pretty natural that she was going to be an elf.”

Boyens said Lilly, a self-proclaimed Tolkien aficionado, was a perfect fit for the role. Though, as it goes, when a beautiful women is involved, romance tends not to be too far off. Boyens admits that her favorite scene in the film is between the lithe Tauriel and the dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner), who appears to have a fondness for the beautiful warrior.

“It’s the girly stuff, what can I say,” Boyens said, teasing that the relationship would play out in both the franchise’s second and third installments. “Aidan Turner, who’s just one of my favorite actors to work with, is such a joy. There will be romance of a kind. It does go somewhere for sure, I can say that it does. But it’s a bit fated of course. It was always going to be fated.”

Turner, 30, said he had his work pleasantly cut out for him while shooting scenes with Lilly.

“It’s amazing working with her,” he said. “She’s very sexy so she’s very easy to fall in love with, and she keeps saving Kili’s life in the movie, so it’s easy pickins for him, isn’t it?”

Actor Luke Evans arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Jordan Strauss / Associated Press)

Actor Luke Evans arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” (Jordan Strauss / Associated Press)

Luke Evans, 34, who plays the human Bard the Bowman, said he first got the super-secret script when he arrived landed in New Zealand for filming. The actor came to Middle-Earth from the “Fast & Furious” franchise, which has its very own rabid fan base, though it doesn’t quite compare to that of Tolkien and Jackson’s.

“Fans are amazing, whatever movie it is, they’re amazing,” Evans said. “But ‘The Hobbit’ fans are very unique because I guess they’ve had ‘The Lord of the Rings’ to start with and they’ve kept that torch alight for a very long time. And now they’ve got ‘The Hobbit’ and it’s reigniting their passion and love for the film and for Peter and for New Zealand and we feed off of that slightly so it’s wonderful.”

The actor said he had “loads of one-on-one time” with Jackson, who is known to be very hands-on while working on the films.

“He’s the man. He’s the director. He’s the one with the voice. He’s the one with the amazing information that I don’t know about that he’d impart to me on a daily basis. He’s a wonderful man. He’s fascinating to work with. He’s incredibly full of energy and incredibly committed to the job.”

Turner echoed that sentiment: “He’s the most humble lovely guy in the world and he gives the actor so much freedom. It’s quite liberating to work for him actually,” he said, joking that the most memorable direction Jackson gave him was to “act better.”

The cast and crew is set to travel to Europe for a premiere in Berlin on Dec. 9, Zurich Dec. 10 and Madrid Dec. 11.

“The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” the third and final film in the trilogy, is slated for a December 2014 release.

– Nardine Saad | @NardineSaad | Google+

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