The Hobbit Production History

On 21st October, 2010, Peter Jackson announced that filming for the long-awaited and much-delayed movie would be going ahead. His lead actors would be Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and, as the dward leader, Thorin Oakenshield,  Richard Armitage. Explaining his choice of Richard, he said:

Richard [Armitage] is one of the most exciting and dynamic actors working on screen today and we know he is going to make an amazing Thorin Oakenshield. We cannot wait to start this adventure with him and feel very lucky that one of the most beloved characters in Middle Earth is in such good hands.

A little later in the week Totalfilm reported, responding to some criticism, he added:

Thorin Oakenshield is a tough, heroic character, and he certainly should give Leggie and Aragorn a run for their money in the heartthrob stakes – despite being four feet tall…

In Middle-earth, dwarves are a noble race and have a culture and physical appearance which sets them apart from humans. It’s fun to develop these different cultures for the movie, and we are doing much more with dwarves this time around than we did with Gimli in Lord Of The Rings.

Richard is a powerful actor with a wide range, and we’re very excited to be handing Thorn over to him.

On 12th November, 2012 came the news that Warners Entertainment had included Richard with Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen for Best Supporting Actor nominations. (Thanks very much to Monetsmum and 30Rock for the heads up.)

CHARACTERS & CAST

Thorin Oakenshield
Richard Armitage (Spooks, Strike Back, Robin Hood (BBC series), Vicar of Dibley, Sparkhouse. You can read a summary of his 22-year career in his Biography on this site. You can also find details of his career, including his voice work, on our Career pages.)

“Thorin Oakenshield’s story is one of great daring, pride, revenge, and tragedy. Thorin II hails from a direct royal lineage (the House of Durin) traceable all the way back to the original Seven Fathers of the Dwarves. His clan is also known as the Longbeards.

Thorin’s early years at the Lonely Mountain (Erebor) give The Hobbit its foundational plot and all that happens therein comes from his efforts to avenge the wrongs against his House. At the age of 24, Thorin witnessed the arrival of the dragon Smaug and the slaying of his kin (T.A. 2770). The tragic memory was burned permanently into Thorin’s heart. Twenty-nine years later he fought valiantly against the Orcs beneath the East-gate of Moria at the Battle of Azanulbizar, where he earned the surname “Oakenshield” by using a great oak-branch in a pinch as both shield and weapon.

For the next century Thorin lived with the dwarves of the Blue Mountains (Ered Luin) just west of the Shire, where he became King of Durin’s Folk after his father Thráin’s disappearance. This living situation was considered untenable by the House of Durin, most acutely felt by Thorin, who called it “poor lodgings in exile.”

His desire to seek the vast wealth of Erebor and reclaim it from the dragon was augmented by Gandalf, who promised Thorin the perfect “burglar” to assist. In T.A. 2941 Thorin moved forward with his scheme, bringing twelve dwarves with him (several related directly, such as his young cousins Fíli and Kíli) to Bilbo Baggins’ front door. The Quest of Erebor had begun. …

…Thorin exhibits the most common (and perhaps endearing) traits with which Tolkien imbued his Dwarven race. He was obstinate, willful, yet very strong – characteristics that placed Thorin deeply in peril as much as they helped save him during their journey. Bilbo learns much of the outside world by attentively listening to Thorin’s passion, stories, and songs. Though they seem to have little in common, the two slowly learn to appreciate each other as they brave many hardships. Thorin’s efforts to secure his rightful place on the throne ultimately leads to a new era for Durin’s Folk in Exile.”
(www.theonering.net)

Bilbo Baggins
Martin Freeman (Sherlock, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Love Actually)

“Bilbo has a unique story arc that had its origins in the mind of Tolkien as a private amusement. The Professor thought it was quite funny to send Bilbo, a homebody ‘rural Englishman,’ on a wildly unpleasant adventure for Dragon treasure. The better qualities of sturdy and brave Hobbit-nature are revealed through the course of Bilbo’s journey as the tone of Tolkien’s writing gradually moves from comedic to ‘high romantic.’

Against all odds, Bilbo earned the trust and friendship of his Dwarvish traveling party during the many difficult scrapes of their quest; and he further succeeded in forming lasting friendships with other races (the Elves of Mirkwood and Rivendell, the Men of Lake-town) who had never encountered Hobbits before. Bilbo may never have realized it (in fact, Tolkien didn’t realize it when he wrote The Hobbit), but he was a player in Gandalf’s long-range efforts to rid the North of the Fire-drake, Smaug; seen as a potential weapon that Sauron might later set loose upon the Free Peoples of Middle-earth.”
(www.theonering.net)

Hobbits

Frodo Baggins – Elijah Wood
Drogo Baggins – Ryan Gage (Doctors, Hamlet, Holby City)

Dwarves

Balin – Ken Stott (Rebus)
Kili – Aidan Turner (Being Human, Desperate Romantics)
Fili – Dean O’Gorman (The Almight Johnsons, Nights in the Gardens of Spain)
Dwalin – Graham McTavish (Secretariat)
Oin – John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Bombur – Stephen Hunter (All Saints)
Dori – Mark Hadlow (King Kong)
Gloin – Peter Hambleton (The Strip)
Nori – Jed Brophy (Lord of the Rings)
Bifur – William Kircher (Out of the Blue)
Bofur – James Nesbitt (Cold Feet, Jekyll, Murphy’s Law)

Other Characters

Gandalf – Sir Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings, The X-Men, Richard III)
Gollum/Smeagal – Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings, Little Dorrit, King Kong)
Legolas – Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings, The Pirates of the Carribean, Love and Other Disasters)
Frodo Baggins – Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings, The Romantics, Happy Feet)
Galadriel – Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings, Robin Hood (movie), Charlotte Gray, Elizabeth, Elizabeth the Golden Age)
Radagast the Brown – Sylvester McCoy (7th Dr Who)
Beorn the Shapeshifter – Mikael Persbrandt (Day and Night)
Bilbo Baggins (older) – Ian Holm (Lord of the Rings, 1066, Ratatouille)
Thranduil, the Elvenking – Lee Pace (The Resident, The Miraculous Year)
The Master of Lake Town – Stephen Fry (Alice in Wonderland, St Trinians, Wilde, QI)
Alfrid – Ryan Gage (Hollyoaks, Hamlet)
Azog (an Orc) – Conan Stevens (Mystic Blade)
The Goblin King – Barry Humphries (Dame Edna Everedge, Sir Les Paterson)
Woodland Elf, Tauriel – Evangeline Lilly (Lost, The Hurt Locker)
Bard the Bowman – Luke Evans (Clash of the Titans, Robin Hood [Ridley Scott])
The Voice of Smaug/The Necromancer – Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Last Enemy)

FILMING SCHEDULE

The cast assembled in New Zealand from early January to attend “Hobbit Academy“, learning to ride and fight in costume. The film is to be split into 2 and released in December 2012 and December 2013.

A ‘do not work’ order by New Zealand Actors Equity against the movie, imposed over pay and working conditions, was lifted in October allowing filming to go ahead. However, it took an act of the New Zealand parliament establishing the difference between film contract and employed personnel, together with successful negotiations over the tax concessions to the producers, to enable the film to be made in New Zealand (The Guardian).

Filming was slightly delayed because Peter Jackson was admitted to hospital in Wellington on 26th January, to undergo surgery for a perforated ulcer. He was released from hospital to finish his recovery on 3rd February. Two days later, Hobbiton, near Matamata, the local township, announced it will close for 5 weeks from 14th February. Although this suggests that’s when filming will begin, since Hobbit publicist, Melissa Booth, denied the film had a start date. (The Dominion Post courtesy Stuff.nz.co).

On 6th February, it was announced that principal photography for the Hobbit will begin on Monday, 21st March, 2011.

On 20th March, 2011, various sources, including Stuff.co.Nz reported that filming was on schedule to begin on 21st March. And, the official The Hobbit Blog went live.

On 6th July, 2012, Peter Jackson’s Facebook page posted, “We made it! Shoot day 266 and the end of principal photography on The Hobbit. Thanks to our fantastic cast and crew for getting us this far, and to all of you for your support! Next stop, the cutting room. Oh, and Comic Con!
Cheers, Peter J”

On 28th July, 2012, Dean Knowsley, one of the stand-in actors on The Hobbit production tweeted that the production pick-ups Peter Jackson had scheduled has wrapped up.

**

PRODUCTION TIMELINE

On 2nd March, 2011 a number of sources, beginning with The Hobbit Movie.com website, reported that titles for the 2 films had been registered, The Hobbit: There and Back Again and The Hobbit: The/An Unexpected Journey. As of 3rd March these titles are unconfirmed.

On 22nd April, 2011, Peter Jackson confirmed on his Facebook page that Ian Holm would be returning as the older Bilbo Baggins.

On 24th April, 2011, Peter Jackson reported on his Facebook page, sadly that, due to personal reasons, Rob Kazinsky, cast as Fili, would be leaving the cast.

On 27th April, 2011, the Noldor Blog reported a sighting of Hugo Weaving in Wellington and on 30th Peter Jackson uploaded a pic of himself and “a friend” to his FB page.

Sir Ian McKellen blogged that Martin Freeman headed off to satisfy his obligation to film Sherlock in early May, 2011.

On 1st May, 2011, Peter Jackson announced that Dean O’Gorman will replace Rob Kazinsky as Fili and Lee Pace will play Thranduil, the Elvenking and TORn, picking up a brief note in a Stuff.co.nz article about the new castings, reported that Hugo Weaving’s return as Elrond has been confirmed.

On 5th May, 2011, it was confirmed that Saoirse Ronan will not have a role due to the length of filming.

On 18th May, 2011, Peter Jackson announced 3 new additions to the cast: Stephen Fry will be joining the cast as the Master of Lake Town, Ryan Gage will be playing a ‘conniving civil servant’, Alfrid, and an Orc, Azog, will be played by Conan Stevens.

On 22nd, May, 2011, Peter Jackson gave a message of support and Sir Ian McKellen presented a signed copy of the novel to be auctioned, for the Rise Up For Christchurch telethon. There was also a ‘special (and hilarious) first peak’ at the dwarves costumes.

On 23rd May, 2011, it was reported by several sources, including the BBC, that, backstage at the BAFTAs, Martin Freeman let it slip that Benedict Cumberbatch, currently appearing as Sherlock in the television series, Sherlock, will be joining the Hobbit cast. Neither Martin Freeman nor Benedict Cumberbatch have denied the ‘rumour’.

On 28th May, 2011, Peter Jackson confirmed that Orlando Bloom would be reprising his role as Legolas.

On 30th May, 2011 Peter Jackson began to answer fans’ 20 questions – and included a first picture of Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel brandishing an array of fearsome Elvish weapons. (He clearly intended this to be a feature of his Facebook page. However, no further questions were answered – assuming there were any.)

On 16th June, 2011, deadline.com reported that Luke Evans has been cast as Bard the Bowman and confirmed that Benedict Cumberbatch would voice Smaug the Dragon and the Necromancer.

On 20th June, 2011, Peter Jackson announced that Evangeline Lilly will play a new character – the woodland elf, Tauriel and Barry Humphries will be playing The Goblin King.

On 22nd August, 2011, in an article about Evangaline Lilly’s arrival in New Zealand published in Middle Earth News , a spokesperson for Peter Jackson confirmed that filming had begun again ‘last week’ and would continue through to December.

On 28th October, 2011, it was announced that the premier of the first of the Hobbit movies, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, would be in Wellington in November 2012. The movie’s general release would follow from 13th December.

On 28th October, 2011, the Hollywood Reporter reported that, “110 days of studio shooting have already been completed, with another seven weeks of location shoots around New Zealand, followed in 2012 by another five months of studio shooting. Substantial breaks between those blocks are allowing key cast members to do other projects and gives the production time to work on post-production and digital effects.

Hobbiton at Matamata on New Zealand’s North Island is the location of the hobbit village in the Lord Of The Rings films and will continue to operate as a tourist park once The Hobbit crew depart.”

From 31 October, 2011, for several weeks, Eric Vespe (Quint) a blogger for Ain’t It Cool News and hired as an extra for the movie, began a weekly series of reports from the Hobbit set.

On 14th December, 2011, Gandylon uploaded a YT vid of an early interview with Peter Jackson where he talks a little bit about anticipated casting and filming.

On 9th January, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Netflix will be launching its UK/Ireland operation with a deal allowing streaming of The Hobbit.

On 11th January, 2012, MTV.com posted an interview with Richard about his role as Thorin. You can also read it HERE in our Library where it’s a 2-page interview. Just click on the next thumbnail to read subsequent pages.

On 6th June, 2012, Stuff.nz.co announced the Red Carpet premiere will take place in Wellington on 28th November.

On 31st July, 2012, Peter Jackson announced on his Facebook page that the films will be released as a trilogy:

An unexpected journey

by Peter Jackson on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 1:30am ·

It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made. Recently Fran, Phil and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie – and a large chunk of the second. We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life.  All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved ‘yes.’  

We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance.  The richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, allows us to tell the full story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the part he played in the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting, history of Middle-earth.

So, without further ado and on behalf of New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Wingnut Films, and the entire cast and crew of “The Hobbit” films, I’d like to announce that two films will become three.  

It has been an unexpected journey indeed, and in the words of Professor Tolkien himself, “a tale that grew in the telling.”

Cheers, 

Peter J