Tag Archives: peter jackson

Richard and I, wondering what’s next?


Production on The Hobbit trilogy, in terms of filming, is steadily winding down; in recent days, many of the actors have tweeted and posted messages announcing they have wrapped on the project. Peter Jackson posted these photos and message today.


Tonight Martin Freeman finished his last shot as Bilbo Baggins. The end of an incredible two and a half years. I cannot imagine anyone else in this role – a character that Martin has nurtured and crafted with love and great skill.
We have… said goodbye to our elves, humans, wizards and now the hobbit. We now enter our final 2 weeks of pick-ups, and it’s wall to wall dwarves. These pick-ups have been gruelling and intense, but I’m so happy with what we’ve been shooting. These next two movies are going to be pretty great!
Benedict “Smaug” Cumberbatch checking out Martin’s Bilbo feet.
I look ahead to the day when the dwarves wrap and Richard, perhaps, makes a little speech on their behalf, and I feel myself getting all choked up. What an amazing journey it has been for these folks, cast and crew alike, and I can only imagine what an emotional moment that will be.
Richard in Thorin gear, posing with his favorite makeup artist, the talented Tami Lane. I think those two have established a firm friendship.
There’s got to be euphoric feelings; that sense of accomplishment, great pride in what you’ve created together, many wonderful memories of experiences shared. Mixed with those must be a certain sadness that it’s  largely over for the actors. (Plenty of post-production work to come, I am sure, by those busy beavers at the studio . . )
Yes, there will be the publicity juggernauts before the remaining films’ premieres and prior to the release of the DVDs, gatherings at Comic-Con and various fan events; still, it won’t be the same. It never is. Life moves on. Richard Armitage moves on.
What’s next? We know from Tweets today by Todd Garner and other involved with Black Sky, the film RA shot last summer in Michigan, that the film was screened last night. No release date yet, but it’s surely looking a lot more promising now.  Don’t know about you, but it can’t happen fast enough for me.

I am in a state of flux myself; still working to get the video production company established, trying to do my best to raise the profile and raise funds for our humane society and all the good it does in our county, maintaining my presence in Armitage World and attending to my pets and husband(who still hasn’t gone to the doctor, and the fever is BACK) and occasionally to this house, which looks like it was hit by the Black Sky tornado.  I now maintain/assist with four FB pages, a business website and blog, personal blog, have Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest accounts, and am about to start rehabbing the Humane Society website.  If I kept up with all this properly, it would be a full-time job, I do believe. But (most of it) doesn’t pay too well. 😉

Now I have been invited to return on a part-time basis to my old newspaper to write a bi-monthly column and do some stringer reporting along the way as I am out and about. They want my name and face and words to be a presence there again; I don’t mind admitting I have missed it. And readers have told me I have been missed. And I will get paid.

I have also been trying to take better care of myself.


And this is true. I am done with diets. Been there, done there, lost lots of weight, gained it all back and a lot more. The extra pounds I am carrying are detrimental to my general health and wellbeing and they exacerbate my FMS, not to mention issues with blood pressure and my heart. I don’t need a quick fix or to follow some crash diet I cannot possibly maintain. I need to make sensible, permanent changes.

I’ve been following the DASH plan, which is designed to help lower blood pressure. I eat a lot less processed stuff, more fresh fruits and veggies, whole wheat breads, low-fat dairy, lean meats, watch the sugar, salt and fat consumption . . . nothing complicated. DASH isn’t a diet as such, yet I have already lost several pounds. I’ve been walking when the weather would allow it and doing some isometric exercises indoors. Overall, I feel better. I am in it for the long haul.

I don’t know exactly what is around the corner for me; good things, I hope. Better days ahead, I like to think.

I certainly don’t know what is to come for Richard Armitage. Another role in a blockbuster film, work in a smaller, more intimate indie, a return to television, to the stage, more voice-over work . . . only he knows. And he’s not telling.  But I don’t expect him to rest on his laurels for too long, that beautiful and talented workaholic.


Whatever paths he chooses on his journey, I wish him well. God bless you, RA. looking forward to seeing you in Black Sky whenever it does happen and to your return as the majestic Thorin in December.  Live your dreams and continue going from strength to strength, my dear fellow. Can’t wait to see what’s next for you!

This. You must read this. Wow.

This is an excerpt from a 17-year-old cancer patient’s Make-A-Wish experience on the set of “The Hobbit.” The link to the entire post is at bottom. The whole thing is well worth reading–what a dream come true for this young Tolkien fan!–but I think this passage was of particular interest. And I found myself laughing and crying and feeling so ulifted. God bless RA and all the cast and crew who helped give Samm such an amazing time. And thank you, Servetus, for sharing this on your blog so I could discover this wonderful story and share it with you all XXOO
photo from tumblr courtesy of DJ at Heirs of Durin

photo from tumblr courtesy of DJ at Heirs of Durin

. . . Then I turned back around to Peter and he saw my necklace move (Which is a keychain of The Key to Erebor, but I broke the keychain part off and made it a necklace because the necklaces are expensive and the keychains have more detail) and Mr. Jackson said “Oh, that’s Richard’s key!” then this little bugger totally tilted his head and gave a little smirk and said “I bet Richard would like to see that.” THIS SUCKER KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING. I LOVE YOU. So then, before I could let myself totally fangirl an make a mockery of myself, I said “I would love to show Richard my key!” and Peter turned to Sebastian and Phil and nodded like a little miracle worker and said “I think Richard would like to see that key.” And off we went!
We walked out of that stage and across the lot to another stage. Phil and Sebastian went with us and said that Richard was just finishing up filming a scene. So when we entered that stage and there was another giant set. It was significantly darker in here than it was in the other stage, but I didn’t care one bit. We arrived and there were more lawn chairs and another TV on wheels thing set up but this one wasn’t on. Apparently it wasn’t working, and they tried so hard to get it working, and I told them it was really okay if they didn’t get it working! And they were like “noo it’s not okay!” But, you guys, it was, because we were so close to Richard Armitage filming that I could hear EVERYTHING.
And I was so close to a camera that I was watching the screen on the camera. I was AMAZING. I watched Richard Armitage ACT. I am proud to say that, it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Inspiring, just any nice word you wanna throw out there, it was that. Then we heard “cut” and I saw him walk off set. And we all know how Richard is a method actor. He stays in character all day. He walked off the set with /the/ meanest look on his face and glared RIGHT at me. I GOT A THORIN STAREEEEEEEEEEEE. Then Sebastian walked over and whispered in his ear and literally it was like night and day. His face went from “imma kill” to “Flowers and tea, yay let’s go play” And I got up and walked over to him. He said (in the mst adorable accent on the planet) Hello there, I’m Richard.” Now guys………I love Richard Armitage ok. Proud member of the Armitage Army like come on look at my blog, so you can imagine what my insides were like when I was standing in front of him.
He was sooo tall compared to me (well I mean everyone is, I’m 5’2) but I was like (in a really dorky tone because I was literally over the moon) “Hello Mr. Armitage!” and I was shaking a little becaUSE RICHARD ARMITAGE. And then he held up two swords that he was holding and was showing them to me saying how they were covered in orc blood and we were touching it together and he was like “Yeah it’s pretty sticky, I have it all over me” and then we had a conversation about something that I can’t say but damn I’m pretty sure it made me seem educated in the world of Tolkien. Then he turned away to look at something and I was like “Can I ask you something?” and he was like “Sure!”
So I asked him if he really played flute or if it was just a rumor, and he was like “Yeah I do, why?” And I said “Well, I play too!” And he was like Oh, really!! What level are you?” Then in my brain I was like Oh awkward because in America (at least where I come from we don’t have levels) so I told him that I have been playing for 6 years, and then he rubbed his majestic beard and was like “You know, you should really check out this Skavinsky piece, it’s one of my most favorite things to play, you’ll love playing it.”
So I told him I would, and then I told him I had to tell him something. I explained how The Lord of the Rings was a huge part of my life growing up in a rough childhood, and waiting for The Hobbit really helped me get through cancer, because it gave me something to look forward to, and I thanked him for bringing Thorin to life so beautifully. I started to get a little choked up because cancer was tough on me and he was like “Oh my, come here.” And pulled me in to a giant bear hug. I thanked him again even though my voice was muffled in his fur shoulder thing. It was such a great moment, and then guess what happened. Typical Samm moment. My earcuff I was wearing was dangly, and had these elvish looking leaves on them, and one of the leaves got stuck in Richard’s wig. IT WAS SO EMBARRASSING. Actually, at the moment it wasn’t because we were both laughing about it trying to get undone. And my aunt told me later that Richard was smiling like an idiot and looked like a little 5 year old trying to get untangled and he said “Oh! I think we may be stuck!”
But now that I look back at it I kinda die with embarrassment lol but I guess how many girls can say their earring got stuck in Richard’s wig? Not many 😉 But after we were unstuck I was like “I’m so sorry!” and he was like “no no, it’s fine, but i really like your earring!” I told him thank you, it’s my elvish cuff, i wore it just for today, and he was like “Aaah! I’m wearing one too, see!” And he pulled his wig hair back with his giant dwarf prosthetic fingers and revealed his dwarven ear cuff on his right ear. Then idfk why i said this i was like “Wow! We’re twinning!” =__= don’t ask my mind wasn’t on earth.  Then he was like “Would you like a picture?” So we took a normal picture together, and then he handed me a sword and my cousin one and he was like “Alright, take a swing at me.” And I was like “????????? I don’t wanna hurt you! I’m really clumsy” and he was like “You won’t, just do it like this” and then he pointed the end of my sword at his chest and he acted like he was getting stabbed, and we took the picture like that and I just can’t believe how creative that was and sdfghjkl RICHARD ❤ So then after that I gave him another hug and said goodbye and then we were off to lunch! . . .
The entire account, including encounters with Orlando Bloom, Aidan Turner, Lee Pace (my side crush on him has simply increased after reading how sweet he was to this girl), Peter Jackson and more is at link below. You Will want to read it all . . .

Thorin The Bad-Ass from Erebor: First Look at DOS



OK, I didn’t get to see the entire event today due to some serious buffering issues. However, thanks to friends and Tolkien geeks out there on the Net, I have seen what is my favorite part: at the very end, Thorin and his company, assembled in a group, with Thorin declaring, “We are the dwarves of Erebor, and we have come to reclaim our homeland!” And you don’t doubt he means every word of it, either. I mean, just take at look at the expression on his face in the screencap above (courtesy of MorrighansMuse at Twitter).   That, ladies and gents, is one bad-ass dwarf.

I do have a clip of the last several minutes of the event (not sure how long it will be around, so peruse it while you can) courtesy of Daily Motion and Bleedingcool.com, which includes that final scene and some other footage including a spooky scene with Gandalf, and a lot of green screen stuff (apparently there is no completed trailer yet). You will catch some additional glimpses of the lovely Thorin.

First Scene From The Hobbit: The Desolation Of… by dm_514f5e7f66d4c

There’s also some interesting blog comments made by Brendon Connell at Bleeding Cool during the live event which help fill in some of the gaps for me.

A couple of thoughts: I think everyone felt the many retakes with Martin in the boat scene were a bit much. Agree with Servetus PJ failed to get his point across about shooting from different perspectives.  Also surprised they didn’t use more fan questions rather than using actor questions. You know that plenty of people had to have submitted questions . . . and I agree with Servetus, that Jed Brophy really is a cutie when you ditch the starfish hairdon’t.

All in all, it seems to have gone pretty well– much better, certainly, than the Twitter debacle.  What did those of you who did get the see the whole thing (or a portion of it) think? Fantabulous, “meh” or somewhere in-between?

(Here’s the link to the blog comments)
And here are some GIFS of Thorin and his men courtesy of Morrighansmuse at Tumblr. They capture what was REALLY important in the whole thing to me, I’d say. 😉



It’s going to be a barrel of fun: RA’s thoughts on TDOS *spoilers*



Richard Armitage Net has the one-page Q&A interview with Richard from Total Film‘s May 2013 issue in its news for today. RA talks about the intensity of working with Sir Peter–a director who “throws down the gauntlet” to everyone working with him, it seems–and some of what we can expect in The Desolation of Smaug. Yes, there is a bit of a spoiler in it, so be forewarned before you read.

What was delightful for me was reading how much of a thrill ride Richard expects the dwarves in barrels scene–orginally meant to be the finale of the first movie–to be. From his description, it does sound pretty exciting and it’s what he’s most looking forward to seeing in the film. And think about it. Wet. Roaring. Thorin. *thud* Works for me!

Click on GIF to see wet, roaring Thorin in action


Reading Richard’s responses makes me happy once more that he got this role and seems so very satisfied with the experience of working with Peter Jackson and making these films. It’s really been a dream come true for him, and possibly “the most important piece of work I will ever do.”

And now I am all the more ready to see the second film. And wet, roaring Thorin. Oh, yeah. Dry is good, too, of course.


In the meantime, RA, I’ll be thinking about you as you get back into fighting shape to film the Battle of Five Armies scene for the final film. Oh, the places you are taking us . . . I truly hope you are enjoying the journey. You deserve it!

The Hobbit 3 release date moved to Dec. 2014: Thoughts?


From Deadline.com

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has pushed the release date for The Hobbit: There And Back Again to December 17, 2014 from its original date of July 18, 2014. This is the final film in Peter Jackson’s trilogy adaptation of the JRR Tolkien novel. Hobbit 3 now avoids going up against X-Men: Days Of Future Past and so far is solo in the December 17th spot. The first film in the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has pulled in $300.9M domestically and $979.9M worldwide since it was released on December 14, 2012. The second installment in the franchise, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, will be released on December 13th.


“So–I will be sticking around a bit longer than expected . . .”

My first reaction to this news was, “Oh no. I’ve got to wait another six months to see the final installment of the trilogy.”

And then I thought, “Well, that’s six months more that I will have before being forced to say farewell to a beloved character *sniff*

*sob* NOT, of course, that Thorin will actually be dead. He’s already proactively been granted So Not Dead status.

Some are saving up funds hoping to travel to the final Hobbit premiere and this will give them extra time. And as someone at Twitter pointed out, July would have been in the middle of winter in NZ–perhaps not the best time for a premiere.

So–what’s YOUR reaction? Thought?

Buying a THAUJ Blu-ray/DVD might earn you a sneak peek at Smaug . . .


According to this new article at CinemaBlend:


Thanks to RA Central for the heads-up on Twitter. Well, I was planning on buying it anyway . . .


Of course, the dragon’s really cool and all that, but–I am kind of hoping to see more of THIS hottie.


I love you, PJ. (Video Blog 9 now at FB)



My favorite cuddly-looking, cardigan-wearing movie director has posted another video blog at his Facebook page. This entry deals with post-production of The Hobbit and proves not only very informative, but highly entertaining. Love the Beard Hair Unit. Pity the poor guy who gets to look at code on a computer screen all day.

And the glimpses of Thorin are quick but plentiful, with screencaps promised by Ali at www.richardarmitagenet.com  later today.

My favorite moment? A glimpse of Richard with his headphones on, dubbing in some of Thorin’s dialogue. “Elves!” Richard says, with a growl of distinct disdain.  Love it.

Once again I love how we get to see more of the village of talents it takes to make a complex film like The Hobbit. Dedicated talents who put in a lot of long hours to make the movie magic happen for us on screen.  But it definitely looks like it isn’t all work and no play under PJ. I love the sense of humor and the feeling of community that seems to pervade in Jackson’s domain.

Thank you, Peter Jackson, for taking us along and giving us so many fascinating and fun glimpses behind the scenes on this incredible journey. And now you are promising another vlog from the premieres! Cool.

I love you, PJ.

The recreation of the entrance to Bilbo’s home at Bag End and a giant Gandalf figure in place for the film’s Wellington premiere. It seems the production staff for The Hobbit are working almost right down to the wire to make the magic happen.

“I had to pick myself up off the floor”: New interview with RA


“With 13 dwarfs in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, audiences are expected by the film trilogy’s end to easily distinguish and recognise each one. 

    But if there’s one dwarf that will be easy to spot from the moment he appears on screen it will be Thorin Oakenshield, played by British actor Richard Armitage.

One reason is that Thorin is the leader and, going on a glimpse I got of the band of dwarfs on set during filming earlier this year, a heroic risk-taker. I couldn’t help but think that Thorin could be to The Hobbit what Aragorn – played by Viggo Mortensen – was in The Lord of the Rings . . .

Portrait of a charismatic handsome prince–young Thorin.

An older, more world-weary Thorin.

Armitage first heard about The Hobbit after Sir Peter Jackson contacted the actor’s agent. Jackson asked if Armitage could read for the part of Thorin. “I thought, first of all, I’m six foot two [1.8 metres] and Thorin’s an old guy. Maybe they want me to read it for a general audition.

“But then when I read what they’d done with the audition speech I realised that they were looking for something quite different. They needed someone who could play a warrior, who could play a young Thorin and old Thorin and also to bring the idea of somebody who could return to his full potential to become a king. That’s when I sat down with Peter and we talked through the journey and the arc of the character – and then they offered it to me. I had to pick myself up off the floor.”

~~excerpts from Tom Cardy’s interview with Richard Armitage in The Dominion Post  (NZ) 11/23/2012

Here’s the link to the rest of this interview: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/culture/7985809/Richard-Armitage-the-warrior-dwarf

Thanks to Heirs of Durin for the heads-up on the new interview. As always, Armitage brings thoughtful, intelligent and good-humored responses to the reporter’s questions.

He also discusses being on pins and needles during the months when he had the role, but the project had not yet been fully green-lighted. RA had to juggle projects, as he was determined that no one else would play the role.

And now, frankly, can any of us imagine anyone else playing the role? Just as Viggo became Aragorn, so Richard IS Thorin.

To all the naysayers, it does appear that Richard, a man in mid-life who is also strong, athletic, fit and accustomed to action-oriented roles as well as detailed characterizations; a skilled actor known for his chameleon-like qualities, is the perfect choice to play Thorin. Sir Peter obviously had faith in him.

Richard mentions the Powhiri ceremony kick-starting the production being an “amazing moment” after those stressful months of being on that knife edge, and I recall how overwhelmed he seemed to be in those opening moments: the flare of his nostrils, eyes shining with emotions, the smile on his face. And then the way he did us all proud with his little speech as representative of the movie’s cast and crew.

You also discover the importance of Thorin’s boots. I knew a broadcast journalist who taped pieces from the waist up. So you couldn’t see that she wasn’t wearing her customary high heels. “For some reason I can’t talk if I’ve got my heels on, so I do those reports barefooted,” she told me with a laugh.  Apparently Richard couldn’t play Thorin without his boots–even if the shot was from waist up! Just shows how importance costuming is to the characterization.

A GIF of RA doing a bit of boot bumping at Dwarf Camp (click on to play).  Richard said he had never traveled so far from home and felt more at home in New Zealand, it all seemed so familiar to him. Funny, that’s the way I felt about London!

Oh, things like this article only make me more ridiculously excited about the film. Just a few more weeks . . .

Handlebar-mustached Thorin? A look at Hobbit concept art


(courtesy of RANet, from a Tweet by Daria/Giz the Gunslinger)

This is a shot of a page in the yet-to-be-released book from Weta Workshop, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles: Art & Design.

 Getting this glimpse of conceptual artists‘ ideas for Thorin’s look in the films is so interesting. I was already looking forward to getting this book, which I have pre-ordered from Amazon; now I am truly enthused. Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles: Art & Design is a sumptuous celebration of the creative vision of Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The book is packed with more than 1,000 images of concept artwork, photographs and development paintings by the artists working behind the scenes to bring Middle-earth to life, who each provide detailed and entertaining commentary that reveals the story behind the vision.

As a bonus feature unique to this book, there is a special fold-out map printed in glow-in-the-dark ink and a giant four-page fold-out of Bilbo’s contract.

Complied by Weta Workshop senior concept designer Daniel Falconer, this is the first in a series of lavish hardcover books written and designed by the award-winning team at Weta, who are working closely with the production team to guarantee that these books will be bursting with insider information and stunning visual imagery.”

So, what do you think of these concepts for Thorin’s look?  How do you feel about that handlebar mustache on the left? How about the braided beard? Are you glad they chose a shorter beard and put those plaits in his long tresses?
 (I have to say the large painting on the right captures Armitage’s intensity rather well . . .)
The book is set to release on Dec. 14 in time for the premiere of the film. Oh, so much to look forward to, my darlings!

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


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?

Passion, Pride, Attitude: A media blogger’s view of RA as Thorin


Nadia pointed out a blog post at (A) musings last night that provides a blow-by-blow review, written by Kyle Pedley, of the latest Hobbit trailer. Pedley loves all things Tolkien and Peter Jackson, and was such a huge fan of the LoTR trilogy he was invited to the premiere of the final film by the UK distributors.

Here is the link to the entire article, which is quite lengthy but also quite interesting.


He made a lot of nice observations about Mr. Armitage, too.  Mr. Pedley, we like you. 😀

I have extracted comments specific to Richard and his performance as Thorin Oakenshield.  The underlining and highlighting are my additions.

(This passage references Thorin meeting Bilbo for the first time at Bag’s End)

In regards to Richard Armitage’s performance, he seems to
have nailed the regal pride of Thorin perfectly, and you can genuinely sense he
is not entirely convinced by the individual stood before him, almost bemused by
Bilbo. The doubt of Thorin and the dwarves is mentioned and touched upon in the
book but in the same light tone as much of the proceedings – it seems Jackson,
Walsh and the team are going to naturally take this a little further and, given
the arc Bilbo and Thorin go on together, this is entirely understandable and
will make for much more dramatic, involving and satisfying cinema

(Thorin delivering his rousing speech to the company around the table)

The conviction and almost ferocity of Armitage’s delivery really lends Thorin an air of danger, which will be key for the events to come in what will likely be the third film now. I just hope he is given some more pensive and personal moments, and again given the calibre of character work the team did with the Rings ensemble, I imagine this to be highly likely, especially now we are looking at a trilogy *angie’s note. I am hoping the same thing*
. I can already sense echoes of Boromir in Thorin, with his distrusting edge, pride and passion for his homeland, the inevitable parallels to the ring with his desire for the Arkenstone and outrage at Bilbo and his redemption in death. Like Boromir, I imagine some of his more tender moments may be exploring his genuine desire to reclaim his kingdom and avenge the wrongs put upon him and his people.
(referencing Thorin’s reply to Elrond’s question about the reason for the quest)
(Screencaps courtesy of Richard Armitage Net)
“WHAT OF IT?” – Again, more front and attitude from Thorin, and I’m pleased his pride is front and centre even to the likes of Elrond. I foresee him becoming quite a favourite with viewers, and Armitage to receive plenty of plaudits and praise for his performance.
It’s definitely not just the besotted fangurlz who are impressed with RA as Thorin.  I am loving this appreciation and enthusiasm for his performance.
And you know what? My prediction is the same as Mr. Pedley’s.  😀
I did chuckle when the writer referred to Aidan as not being particularly “dwarfen” in appearance (he’s waiting to see him in scale before pronouncing final judgement), and Pedley’s assumption that Aidan and Dean as Thorin’s nephews are supposed to be the heart-throbs. Well, yes, that’s true, but . . .
Dear man, not only is Richard Armitage going to receive plaudits and praise for the performance, he’s also going to cause heart palpitations left, right and center.  Because that proud, regal alpha dwarf is HOT.
And now I am more excited than ever to see Thorin and Company on the big screen.

I’m in (deeper) love. Thank you, PJ and RA.


Thorin striking a Heathcliff-like pose. *sigh*

Is it my birthday already??? I want to give Peter Jackson AND Richard Armitage big bear hugs.  Stuff is popping up all over the place and my head is spinning.

The smile. The legs.  The gorgeousness!!

Link to alternate Vblog 8 at allocine, from which the above cap came:

*Sorry, vid has apparently been taken down*


EW’s latest article on The Hobbit: Fans & Facts


In this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, the fall movie preview offers a page devoted to The Hobbit.  I don’t have a scanner here right now so I can’t scan it in, but I can hit the high points for you. While there are no quotes from Richard (yes, the first thing I looked for, I confess) it’s an interesting read and focuses on the fact everything (outside of Bilbo and the dwarves, of course) connected with these films is HUGE.

The shooting schedule, the technology and the expectations of the movie fans anticipating seeing them (and, of course, the budget) are all on a scale “that’s hard to comprehend.”

Martin is quoted as saying that some days filming TH felt less like a film set and more like NASA.  Jackson admitted to feeling a bit daunted at times even before the two films were set to become a trilogy.

“We know we’re making a series of films that people really want to see,” said Sir Ian in the article. “But it’s a big responsibility because you don’t want to let them down.”

Philippa Boyens, however, doesn’t seem worried, saying, “There is no one way to tell these stories—there are multiple ways. People have said, ‘Aren’t you worried about what the fans are going to think?’ And I go, ‘Well, we ARE fans!”

And that fact is one that I personally find reassuring—that Philippa, Fran and Sir Peter are all huge Tolkien fans who are going to do their best to give us three excellent films.

Here are some fun factoids on The Hobbit by the numbers:

450 miles of yak hair used for wigs and beards on the first two films alone (I suspect there are some chilly yaks roaming around the Himilayas)

100 lbs. is the weight of the coat worn by Graham MacTavish as Dwalin (wonder how much Thorin’s coat weighs!)

44 individual hobbit holes created in Hobbiton

More than 2,000 prosthetic pieces—ears, noses, foreheads, hands, etc.—created for the 13 dwarves

6 sets of prosthetic hands created for each dwarf

7’1” is the height of Sir Ian’s scale double for Gandalf, Paul “Tall Paul” Randall (Wow, RA would look short compared to him. Which I guess is the point.;) )

Sir Peter’s latest vlog: my thoughts (part one)


Well, what a day it’s been. Mine started late because I didn’t get to sleep until sometime close to 3 a.m. and was in no mood to rise early. Feverish visions of highwaymen were dancing in my head, I suppose. When the highwayman looks just like Guy, this is not a bad thing.

And then, as I was checking email and Twitter, I saw the news: Sir Peter’s latest videoblog was up! I have the World’s Slowest High-Speed Internet (and of late it seems slower than usual) so I had to allow that video to buffer, watching a few minutes, then allowing more to upload . . . it’s tedious, but some things are definitely worth a bit of tedium, wouldn’t you agree?

I was totally wrapped up in this entry from the word “go.” Often, I must confess, I have mainly been eager for glimpses and sound bites of RA in previous vlogs. Well, this IS called The Armitage Effect, right?

But this time was different. Is it due to having followed along on this incredible journey, getting familiar with the faces behind the making of this huge film project? 

Perhaps it is due to all the coverage of Comic-Con and enjoying the interviews with RA and the other Hobbit folks.


Maybe it’s just that I am now like Pavlov’s dog and start salivating at the notion of watching anything remotely connected with Richard Armitage, regardless of whether or not he can be seen or heard.

It was fun reliving those Comic-Con moments like this.

Whatever the reasons, I was excited and enthused by it all from beginning to end. Multiple sightings of Mr. A as himself and in Thorin guise did not, of course, hurt.

Since this odyssey began, I’ve come to feel a great affection, admiration and respect for Sir Peter Jackson and cast and crew of this film.

And this particular entry is less about Richard—more on him later, of course—and more about my general impressions of the vlog and some of my favorite moments.

I am one of those people who actually likes to read all the credits for a film. It’s sort of my way of paying homage to all the clapper loaders, best boys, gaffers, Foley artists, set decorators, conceptual artists, makeup artists, second second unit directors and all the others who combine their talent, creativity and experience to make movie magic happen.

I really appreciate the fact Sir Peter took the effort throughout the eight vlogs to give us a chance to get to know some of these people and to see their dedication and enthusiasm. As I have said, it takes a village to not only raise a child, but to make a fantastic film such as The Hobbit.

Some (though not all) fav moments:

*Seeing that bowl filled with pencil stubs from all the conceptual drawings from the films and hearing the sense of pride and wonder in the artists’ voices when they speak of going from those drawings to walking within the very sets they have designed really touched the artist within me.  And their work and the work of the set builders and decorators is phenomenal.

*Watching Andy Serkis in action as second unit director. I’ve been a fan of Andy as an actor for quite a while; now I am simply a fan of Andy’s, period. One could say he’s learned from the best. He truly seems to exude the same sort of boundless energy and enthusiasm for his work that we see in Sir Peter. And he seems truly grateful to have been given this fantastic opportunity.

We also found out he plays a mean sax.

I sense the smiles and bonhomie were not merely for the cameras with this project.

*Visiting the amazingly detailed and beautiful set for Dale. I could imagine feeling transported to another time and place walking through those streets.

*Lee Pace. I really, really like Lee as an actor and an all-around nice guy. It was wonderful to see the behind-the-scenes footage of him learning how to walk and move like an elf. Another tall, graceful, talented, good-natured, shy guy of whom I am very fond.

American actor Lee Pace at the ET Post-Emmys P...

American actor Lee Pace at the ET Post-Emmys Party, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Sept. 21, 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*Seeing more of the dwarfs. They really do seem as if they had an absolute blast playing these roles, don’t they?

* “I’ve never worked on such a hairy movie.” 😉 It does appear there could be yaks with chilblains in the Himalayas this winter.

Seriously, the amount of materials and supplies that went into costumes, wigs, sets and so much more is mind-blowing.

*The camaraderie.  I know it’s easy for the more cynical to dismiss those on camera talking of the sense of family and how much they will miss one another as merely part of hyping the film.

 I choose to believe otherwise; I choose to believe they really, genuinely have formed bonds and friendships and they will, indeed, miss working and playing together.  I know how much I came to care for my co-workers and those long hours we sometimes worked, literally putting out one publication at night whilst working on a special project, having said publication printed three hours away and returned to our offices the next morning—and we’d never gone home yet.  Tiring, oh yes—but such a sense of accomplishment and teamwork, too.

(Damn, I am about to start crying. I miss that, you see.)

*The hug of the two sirs. Sir Ian in his Gandalf guise giving a bear hug to Sir Peter. Really touching.  

*Seeing all those people in those final shots. A smiling, happy-looking lot of folks, indeed.

*Martin’s comments about “high-quality people.” I think he’s absolutely right. High-quality people creating a high-quality product.

And I can hardly wait to see the end results of the fruits of their labor!  And just think, this isn’t the last of the vlogs! PJ is promising more post-production goodies for us. Bless you, Sir Peter. You spoil us. ( And have I mentioned I find you, your cardigans, disheveled hair and generally rumpled air incredibly endearing . . .)


Amazing early Peter Jackson film: “Heavenly Creatures”

Heavenly Creatures

Heavenly Creatures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After directing several quirky, gory and darkly witty horror-comedy projects early in his career, the man we love to call PJ helmed this 1994 film,  co-written with wife Fran Walsh. Heavenly Creatures is one of my personal favorites.  It’s categorized as a crime drama, and there is a grisly and shocking murder that takes place in the film. And yet that description falls short of this film, based on a true story, which combines whimsicality, fantasy, kindred spirits and the deep and the sometimes dark and twisted obsessions of adolescence.  As Jackson himself said, “It’s a film about a friendship that went terribly wrong.”

Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey are impressive in their film debut, “Heavenly Creatures.”

Based on the true story of a shocking murder committed by two teenagers in New Zealand in the mid-50s, Heavenly Creatures, filmed on location in Christchurch, focuses on the relationship between two school girls, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme. Pauline, who comes from a working-class home, and the slightly older and more sophisticated Juliet, an English expat from a wealthy family, meet when Juliet is transferred to Pauline’s school.   The more introverted Pauline is drawn to Juliet’s outspoken nature, her beauty and her vivid imagination.

Both girls have suffered from serious childhood illnesses and the hospitalizations they required, and they bond in a special way.  The creative pair paint, write stories together, share their love for Mario Lanza and Orson Welles, and create a mythical fantasy kingdom called Borovnia, based on the plasticine figures they sculpt.   They hope to turn those Borovnian adventures into Hollywood screenplays one day.

Two of the citizens of Borovnia in one of the fantasy sequences in the film.

Even as the two become increasingly involved in their happy fantasy world, real life intervenes as the relationship between Pauline and her mother turns into a constant battleground.  In contrast, Juliet’s family offers a peaceful, more intellectual atmosphere. Pauline spends more and more time with the Hulmes.

Eventually, the two are separated by Juliet’s flare-up of tuberculosis, requiring an extended hospital stay. They begin an intense correspondence, sometimes taking on the personas of the royals of Borovnia and indulging in violent fantasies involving those seen as oppressing them. The clip below is from one such fantasy of Juliet’s that takes place at the sanitarium where she is recuperating.

After Juliet’s health is restored, the relationship between the girls only deepens. Their parents become concerned it is too intense a relationship, perhaps even of a sexual nature (although that is never spelled out and both the women later said it was not a lesbian relationship). Attempts are made to separate the two friends–leading to tragic consequences that will ultimately separate them forever.

The film, which had a very limited theatrical release, was a critical success, ending up on a number of top ten lists and earning an Oscar nod for its screenplay. It was 19-year-old Kate Winslet’s first appearance on the big screen and Melanie Lynskey, a 16-year-old  hither-to unknown with no professional acting experience, is absolutely a force majeur here. It’s a shame her career didn’t develop as well as Winslet’s has.

Melanie Lynskey at the screening of Up in the Air.

Melanie Lynskey at the screening of Up in the Air. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PJ and Fran did extensive research into the background of the story, talking with many of the girls’ former classmates in Christchurch, along with neighbors, family friends, law enforcement and medical professionals. They also studied Pauline’s diary, which gave them great insight into the two girls and their relationships. In the film, Pauline’s voiceovers as read by Lynskey are from the actual diary entries.

We’ve been reading a lot about Weta Workshop and TH films, and it was Heavenly Creatures that led to the formation of Weta Digital. Those imaginative fantasy sequences foreshadow what Sir Peter would go on to do with LOTR and now, TH.

In an interesting sidenote, it was revealed that bestselling mystery author Anne Perry, creator of the Victorian mystery series with Thomas Pitt and Inspector Monk and a longtime favorite of mine, is the former Juliet Hulme. Perry has lived quietly in Scotland for a number of years, caring for her elderly mother.

Heavenly Creatures, at times disturbing and always memorable, gives us a generous taste of the evolving cinematic skill of Peter Jackson. With an intelligent script, strong performances and imaginative direction, it’s an outstanding film and definitely a “different kind of movie.”  Highly recommended.

The theatrical release, rated R, runs 99 minutes and director’s cut, 109 minutes and it’s available on DVD, Blu-Ray and in digitally remastered Blu-Ray as well as Amazon Instant Video (for those lucky enough to have a decent high-speed connection). I’m sure you can also get it through Netflix.