True-Blue Thorin: How Sir Peter inspired RA’s Characterization

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Peter Jackson doesn’t know this,” Richard Armitage confides, “but I’m using a bit of him in the way I play the character of Thorin. Peter shows and commands great loyalty. That quality–to inspire and be inspired by loyalty–forms an important aspect of my portrayal of Thorin, and it comes directly from Peter.”

~~Richard Armitage in a profile article by Brian Sibley in the Official Movie Guide.

Judging by the many actors and crew members who were eager to return to Middle-Earth to perform and work their creative and technical magic, it would seem PJ does indeed have a loyal following of more than just Tolkien fans. Call it Jackson’s Army.

And the actor chosen to play Thorin has a pretty loyal “little community” of his own.  Lots of loyalty in play here, folks. Hence the “true-blue” in the title of the post, and the blue central to the artwork–blue being a great color for RA and midnight blue, Thorin’s key wardrobe color for the film. And it’s one of my favorite colors–can you tell?

17 responses »

  1. Words like “generous” and “genius” come to mind, too. Sir Peter inspires loyalty, too, like Thorin. How many actors would willingly work in conditions where they needed “chillers” and to have their prostheses “milked”, work sopping wet in barrels with fish, and work opposite voices on poles before a green screen, all in the service of the director’s vision? A huge effort with what look to be magnificent results — oh, yes, I have been Thorinized well and truly now!

    • It was interesting–even Stephen Hunter, who as plus-sized Bombur had by far the greatest amount of extra padding and prosthetics, still said “I can’t grumble because it’s the best job in the world.” Of course, I know this is all promotional material for the movie, so nobody is likely to say “Oh my God, it was the worst time of my life.” Still, they did seem very willing to go through a lot in order to play these roles.

      And there really does appear to have been a genuine camaraderie that formed between all the dwarfs after going through dwarf boot camp together. Apparently some of the guys who were a bit older and/or somewhat out of shape found it a real wakeup call. And poor Aidan Turner admitted he lied and said he’d ridden horses and done sword fighting before–didn’t have a lick of experience in either one! LOL I suspect Richard was not only the most experienced in such matters, he was also pretty much the fittest.

        • I think you’re right, Judit. Swordfighting and horseback riding are just part of it. There’s also learning how to move so that the camera catches the full effect, not like some actors I’ve seen who can’t seem to manage themselves physically and end up looking awkward, their fight scenes looking obviously fake and clumsy.

          • Here’s what Richard has to say about dwarf fighting style: “It’s all about damage and power. There’s not a huge amount of finesse involved. It’s all about the swing, and in a way, having a heavy weapon is very useful because it’s about getting your body behind the weapon and allowing the weight of the weapon to do the damage.”

            I thought that Orcrist looked pretty heavy, and figured it would need to be reasonably weighty to enhance the believability of the fight scenes. RA goes on to say re Orcrist “it’s really heavy and really long (in fact, almost as big as me) and in order to be able to wield it in a rapid series of figure-eight movements, I’ve really had to do some serious work on both my grip and building up my forearm strength.”

            I couldn’t help but think of those delicate wrists of his–I reckon they DID get quite the workout.

            Something else of interest–due to shooting in HD, m weapon blades that would normally be dulled for use in fight scenes had to be kept reasonably sharp or the dullness would have shown up onscreen. So extra care had to be used with some of those close-ups. Yikes!!

            • Yikes is right! Sharp, and with that much weight and Richard’s strength behind the swing, I have no doubt he could cleave an orc in half and barely notice, except for the mess. And then the enemy comes at him — eek!

              • P.S. The historical broadsword, rather than the bastard “hand-and-a half” sword, was almost two of the Lionheart’s yards long and had to be wielded two-handed. The figure-eight swing is historically correct for medieval European style, and Richard is right: the point was power and damage, not finesse.

        • They’ve gone a long way towards making it easier. Not having to focus quite so much on getting in shape and developing the physicality required for Thorin would likely have allowed him more time and energy to devote to getting inside the character’s head.

      • I’ve seen some PR pieces for movies that were not “happy families” on the set, and those interviewed don’t usually say anything damning, but they are awfully reticent and don’t have anything positive to say, either. I remember Harrison Ford saying of one movie that he’d got to the set and there wasn’t a script, not even a few pages. That did not bode well, and the movie was awful.

        • One thing I had already decided from watching the vlogs, which has been reinforced from reading the movie guide, is that Sir Peter really does a tremendous amount of advance planning on these films and works closely with the people who are behind the scenes.

          So when the actors came together they were able to get a good idea of the vision for the project. And they have this director who is so creative and brilliant and enthused about what he is doing. Enthusiasm is contagious. The man really drew me in to get excited about the project as a whole, above and beyond RA’s role in it, and now I am reading about the other actors and all the BTS people with real interest and pleasure.

  2. Blue is really his color, a color that encloses the wait, the magic and the mystery. Peter J. is exceptional, he plans everything in his head. RA is brillant, inspired by PJ for the character of Thorin, really amazing!

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