SDCC 2012: Peter Jackson & Martin Freeman Talk 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'

Monday, 16 July 2012 11:35 Written by  Joel Amos
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SDCC 2012: Peter Jackson & Martin Freeman Talk 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'

The Hobbit made a splash at Comic-Con this year as Peter Jackson announced plans for a possible third film. But when filmmaker Peter Jackson and Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo, sat down to talk about their highly anticipated flick, the conversation first turned to Comic-Con newbie Freeman and his initial impressions.

“Well I’ve never been to Comic-Con before and it was lovely to have that,” he said and smiled. “It’s fulfilling my expectations about what I’ve heard about Comic-Con and exceeding them as well.”

Right before the two sat and talked to the press about The Hobbit, footage was shown in Hall H and Freeman was blown away by the passion for the franchise.

“I was struck by just how emotional people were about the film about anticipating the film. You know each question came with a kind of preamble of what the previous films have meant in peoples lives,” he said. “So you know all clichés aside, it’s a really nice thing to be a part of something that actually touches people genuinely touches people, its quite a lovely thing.”

During the Hall H presentation, Jackson admitted that there could be more Hobbit to be filmed. We asked him to elaborate.

“Well [laughs] it’s very, very premature. We got incredible source material with the appendices because The Hobbit is obviously the novel but we also have the rights to use the 125 pages of additional notes that expanded the world of The Hobbit that’s published at the end of Return of the King. And we’ve used some of it so far and just in the last few weeks we’ve been thinking about the shape of the story. We’ve been talking to the studio and seeing if we could possibly be able to persuade them to do a few more weeks of shooting. What form that will end up taking – the discussions are pretty early,” Jackson admitted.

Specifically, Jackson looks to answer questions that could be raised by the book itself. “For instance with The Hobbit, Gandalf mysteriously disappears for chapters… you know it’s never really explained in any detail where he’s gone. Much later Tolkien does explain it in the appendices.”

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are two very different books – the latter being for adults and the former for children. Jackson sought to keep his tone congruent.

“To be quite honest, I do want to make a series of movies that run together so that if any crazy lunatic wants to watch them all in a row [laughs] there will be a consistency. We are providing a balance,” Jackson said.

After his work on Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Freeman admits having two very different movie making experiences bringing a literary classic to life. “It’s even more green screened this time. They are different apart from the fact that they have a fantastical element to them. They’re literally different worlds,” he said of the two novels turned films.

“This Hobbit experience of this is genuinely unlike anything that I’ve ever done and unlike anything I’m likely to do again – just the breadth of scale and time, being in a completely different hemisphere than I’m used to. It’s like a huge chunk of your life, you know. That alone makes it different from anything else. The budget makes it different. You’re constantly walking onto sets where what your walking on and acting on would have taken up the entire budget of any other film I’ve done. So, just the scale of it is quite phenomenal.”

Freeman also took the role of Bilbo even more seriously than simply playing a lead character… he sees him as much more. “Bilbo serves as being the audiences’ way in,” he said.

“He is the reluctant hero who ends up being heroes by accident. They are archetypal people who stay home usually.”

When it came to filming scenes as a Hobbit, one aspect took a little getting used to – the fact that his species are smaller than all others, particularly the uber-tall Gandalf. “We got
pretty used to looking two feet above Ian’s eye,” Freeman said and laughed.

“Actually, the first time we ever shot a scene with Gandalf, he was in a completely different room, I thought, 'This is ridiculous. Who are these people? Why are they making me do this?’ And then I saw it and went, ‘Wow, this is actually brilliant.’ We rehearsed it and rehearsed it until it became normal. So you’re whole frame of reference of how you work in a film shifts. It becomes rather easy actually.”

Lastly, Jackson commented on the differences technology has provided him and how it influenced the actual filmmaking. For one, Avatar influenced our new and improved Gollum!

“We wanted consistency with how Gollum looked throughout the films, but since Avatar, there have been built a very sophisticated motion control system for motion capture – specifically around the facial system – which Gollum inherited. His facial gestures will be more pure,” Jackson said.

Also, all those miniatures that were built for Lord of the Rings are no longer needed.

“The technology that advanced the most is really the fact that we did a lot of miniature shooting on Lord of The Rings. All the structures of the middle earth were really miniatures. They were quite large. But you’re limited to what you can do with them,” Jackson said.

“Now, all miniatures are done with CG. And now you can do things like sweep over doorways, and all these things you could have never dreamed of doing before. That’s actually one of the most profound differences.”

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