QUESTION: What was the greatest challenge for you to act in this film?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: I think the greatest challenge of taking on Thorin was to attempt to make such a physical transformation feel real. Our body shapes change. We wore a considerable amount of padding, huge boots and a facial prosthetic which at first was kind of limiting. It meant that you had to animate your own face more to make sure that the expression that you were feeling inside was being transported through the makeup. So that was a physical challenge. In terms of the character I think layering the character with this inner fear of driving sickness and madness and the horror of what happened in the mountain; but at the same time show his dwarves the face of a leader that was not afraid, that was something that fascinated me.
QUESTION: Had you been a fan of the books? Did you grow up reading the series?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: I read “The Hobbit” when I was 11 years old. Then when I was 13, I was in a stage production, a very local piece of theater with no money. Gollum was made of paper, I remember that very clearly. I was paid 15 pounds a week. But that led me on to read “The Lord of the Rings.” Then I watched the animated version, which was never finished, in the ’80s. I remember being very frustrated that it was never finished. Then, of course, Peter[Jackson]’s trilogy defined the entire cannon in Middle Earth and that was incredibly fulfilling. I went back to read Rings again after that.
QUESTION: Do you feel that there’s a certain sequence or scene that stands out as your favorite part of the film?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: From my viewing of it, or from my playing in it?
QUESTION: Let’s take it from your viewing.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: The sequence I found incredibly moving is the sequence at the end when the eagles pick up the injured party and take them to safety. I think all of the ordeals that this crew has gone through and the terrible dilemma that maybe their leader is dead is traumatic. There’s this incredibles oaring sequence of stillness. It feels like some kind of salvation; I was moved to tears when I saw that moment because it’s such a relief after such extreme circumstances.
In terms of what was the most important moment for me to film, I think my first time on location,which was being directed by Andy Serkis. I was helicoptered to the top of a mountain where there were no roads or no power cables. There was no sign of any human life there. There were just three of us dwarves with some food in a backpack. He did 360 degree helicopter shots all day. So we were left alone in character. I remember feeling absolutely immersed in the character. It’s in the prologue; I’m thrilled by that.
QUESTION: Would you describe yourself as a method actor?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: No I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t describe myself as a method actor. I think other people apply that label. I think I’m a concentrating actor. So in order to do my work in the course of a day, particularly with a character like this I have to concentrate. So it’s about staying in the scene, staying with my head in the scene and attempting to keep the character with me. It doesn’t mean I can’t have a conversation or go and make a cup of coffee. But I actually stay with the character for 18 months.
QUESTION: Other than your own character, who’s your favorite?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: I think my favorite character has to be Mr. Baggins. He’s the heart of the story. He’s the character that the audience fall in love with and follow on his journey. They fear for him, they hope for him. He’s endearing and hilarious to watch.
Oh, Richard, it’s not just Bilbo with whom audiences fell in love. Thorin has his own legion of admirers, too. Thank you for all you did to bring him to life for us. (HD screencaps courtesy of Heirs of Durin and DarkJackal–thanks!)
- Dwarf love for the Leader of the Company: Comments from HobbitCon (thearmitageeffect.wordpress.com)
- “I like it to be real” Richard’s Hobbit interview with Steven Samblis *UPDATED* (thearmitageeffect.wordpress.com)