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Hobbit News!

Evangeline Lilly Cast As An Elf In The Hobbit
Evangeline Lilly Cast As An Elf In The Hobbit image

Liv Tyler won’t be in The Hobbit. While her Arwen character is an ancient immortal and thus technically alive at the time this prequel story takes place, Tyler confirmed awhile back that she hasn’t been asked to show up on set. So if you’re looking for a new female elf character to replace the Arwen in these new Middle Earth movies, who do you cast? Evangeline Lilly, of course. She’s like Liv Tyler, except without the Aerosmith connection.

Hobbit director Peter Jackson confirmed her involvement today on his Facebook page. Lilly has been hired to play a character newly created specifically for the feature version of The Hobbit. She’ll be a Woodland Elf named “Tauriel”. That name even has a translation already, because of course that’s how back-story obsessed author J.R.R. Tolkien would have wanted it, were he the one inventing this new elf-babe. PJ says “Tauriel” means “daughter of Mirkwood”. So now you have a pretty good idea of where she lives.

The addition of Lilly is important, not only because she’ll look good in pointy ears, but because it could help solve one of the 4 big story problems we predicted Peter Jackson would encounter in adapting Tolkien’s book for the screen. If Evangeline’s role is big enough, it could help clear up problem #4, which is that the original Tolkien version of The Hobbit contains no female characters. None. In Hollywood, the general consensus seems to be that girls need someone to identify with, if you want them buying tickets.

Evangeline isn’t the only person getting in the Middle Earth makeup chair down in New Zealand. Jackson has also confirmed the casting of actor Barry Humpries, to play the Goblin king. This is a villain character encountered by Bilbo and his Dwarf companions on their journey. You won’t see a lot of him, but he does play a pivotal role in the story. Jackson says he’ll portray the character “in much the way Andy Serkis created Gollum”. In other words, you won’t actually see him on screen, but you will see a computer generated character created based on his performance.

Benedict Cumberbatch Is Both Smaug And Necromancer In The Hobbit

Benedict Cumberbatch Is Both Smaug And Necromancer In The Hobbit image

While it was supposed to be a secret, it was revealed a few weeks ago that Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman’s Sherlock Holmes co-star, would have a role Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. At the very least, however, the report didn’t say who Cumberbatch would be playing in the film, still leaving a bit of surprise. Now that has been ruined as well.

Deadline has it that Cumberbatch will actually be playing two parts in Jackson’s film, though you won’t actually recognize him. The site’s sources say that the British actor will be playing two extremely evil characters, first providing the voice of Necromancer and the dragon known as Smaug. Already on the set providing the voice for the former – the spirit form of Sauron the Dark Lord – Cumberbatch will not only be providing Smaug’s voice but will also be going the Andy Serkis route and strapping on the motion capture suit. Necromancer doesn’t actually appear in J. R. R. Tolkien’s book, but it’s been widely reported that Jackson won’t be sticking entirely to the book, so one can assume that this is an example of a change.

I find it funny that The Hobbit is such a huge production that it can already be filming for two weeks and just now add both Cumberbatch and Luke Evans. Split into two parts, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is penciled in for December 14, 2012, while The Hobbit: There and Back Again will arrive on December 13, 2013.

The Hobbit Casts Luke Evans As Bard The Bowman

The Hobbit Casts Luke Evans As Bard The Bowman image

When we first started hearing word that The Hobbit would be split into two movies, and that a lot of ancillary characters and material would get an expanded place in the story, as a fan I naturally assumed that meant they’d be doing a lot more with Bard. But the movie has been filming in New Zealand for weeks now and, they’ve only just got around to casting the character.

Luke Evans has been cast to play Bard, heir to the kingdom of Dale and a skilled archer who defends his town against Smaug. Later he ends up involved in one those epic, mega-sized Tolkien battles we loved so much in the Lord of the Rings films. Deadline insists that even though he’s sort of a last minute casting they still plan on expanding the character’s role, and I guess that makes sense assuming they’re shooting the film linearly. Bard and the people of Dale don’t really show up until the latter half of the story, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that they haven’t needed anyone to play the character until now.

If you’re looking for a Aragorn son of Arathorn style figure to latch on to in this new Hobbit movie, Bard is likely to be it. Unless of course, you find Dwarves sexy. They do have those beards going for them. Some girls like beards.

Luke Evans was last seen playing a generic thug in Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood. He’ll have a bigger role in Immortals when that’s released later this year, since he’s playing Zeus. You can also catch him in the upcoming Paul W.S. Anderson version of The Three Musketeers, wielding a sword as Aramis.

Peter Jackson Confirms The Hobbit Will Send The White Council In To Battle

With the announcement of the official titles being applied to The Hobbit movies this morning, Peter Jackson is now more willing than ever to start answering our questions about just what he’s up to in New Zealand. We have a lot of questions, and he’s taking them on one at a time through his Facebook page.

Here’s the first one he’s tackling, “Are we going to see the White Council attacking Dol Guldor?”

If you’re not a hardcore fan of Middle Earth that question probably sounded like a riddle. Let me try to break down what the heck this is all about, before giving you Peter Jackson’s answer.

The thing is, a lot of the characters we know have been cast in this movie are not actually in the book it’s based on. For instance we know characters like Elrond, Galadriel, and Saruman will appear in the film though they do not appear in the narrative of the book. The book does, however, make mention of action happening off camera in which Gandalf goes to join a group called the White Council in battling dark powers elsewhere. The White Council is also referenced in the Lord of the Rings movies, it was originally lead by Saruman before he went off the rails and became a tool of Sauron. So the theory here is that Peter Jackson’s movie will actually show us all this off camera stuff happening when the White Council goes to battle evil somewhere else. Is that theory right? Peter Jackson has now confirmed that, yep, it is.

Here’s PJ’s answer:

I’m not going to say just what and when, but I will confirm that both the White Council and Dol Guldur will feature in the movies. And not just in one scene either. Just how to visualise it has been a challenge, but fortunately Alan Lee and John Howe went crazy with ideas, and it should look pretty cool.

To prove it, Jackson includes this image of Gandalf, Elron, and Galadriel on set brandishing their most fearsome weapons.

Expect Jackson to answer more questions from The Hobbit set as things progress.

Riddles In The Dark: 4 Big Story Problems Peter Jackson Must Solve To Make The Hobbit

Riddles In The Dark: 4 Big Story Problems Peter Jackson Must Solve To Make The Hobbit image

After The Lord of the Rings trilogy carved out a place for itself in movie history as one of the greatest film series’ of all time, it was only natural that eventually someone would be interested in turning J.R.R. Tolkien’s other book, The Hobbit, into a feature film. It hasn’t been an easy road, but now it’s happening with Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson in charge and preparing to shoot in New Zealand.

Compared to the challenge of converting Tolkien’s massive, three Lord of the Rings books into feature-length films, making The Hobbit into a movie should be easy. The Hobbit was written first and was really intended as a book for young adults. Think of it as the Harry Potter of its era. While LOTR was written and intended for adults, full of complicated mythology and dense storytelling, The Hobbit is somewhat simpler. It contains all the history and ideology of those other stories, but told in a more stripped down manner and wrapped around a tale without all of the desperately dark and global consequences.

Yet even though The Hobbit is a simpler book, it comes with its own set of unique storytelling challenges. Even in his most basic form J.R.R. Tolkien was an incredibly complicated storyteller, and the journey of Bilbo Baggins presents its own unique problems for anyone looking to transform it for the screen. Here are four of the biggest ones to keep an eye out for as the film swings into production. How Peter Jackson solves them will, in large part, determine whether or not this adaptation reaches the heights of his previous forays into Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

the hobbit1) None of the main characters are involved in the movie’s big, dragon battle.
The Hobbit contains a dragon, a massive dragon, and on film it will be inevitable that once the dragon Smaug shows up, he’ll dominate everything. When something the size of the Empire State building flies on screen billowing smoke and fire, people tend to focus on it. But in the book, Smaug really isn’t the point of the story. In fact none The Hobbit’s main characters are even involved in the final battle with him. He’s defeated by someone named Bard, whom we know nothing at all about until he happens to shoot Smaug in the chest with an arrow. The battle with Smaug happens hundreds of miles away from where the story’s main characters, Bilbo and the Dwarves, are. They have no idea that any sort of dragon versus man battle is happening, and once he’s defeated it’s days before the main characters even find out he’s dead. Yet the battle to destroy Smaug must be shown on screen. It’s too spectacular to ignore. That presents a huge problem for Peter Jackson’s script. How do you get the audience invested in this massive, brutal, fight with a dragon when no one they care about is involved in fighting him at all?

The book solves this problem by not really being about the dragon battle. It’s more about the journey to get to the dragon, and besides, the fight with Smaug isn’t even the book’s finale. After Smaug there’s a big battle involving armies of thousands at the foot of a mountain and in that at least Bilbo with his dwarvish companions are most definitely involved. Yet on film, well you just can’t gloss over a giant, flying lizard full of coals, especially not when he’s engaged in a pitched, midnight attack against an entire town. Without the main characters involved, Jackson will have to find some way to develop Bard, the man who defeats Smaug, more as a character. That won’t be easy, there’s no obvious, direct route to involving him more in the story.

the hobbit2) All of the dwarf heroes are unlikable and generally not nice people.
Dwarves aren’t particularly nice people. There’re not exactly evil, more just selfish and a little bit greedy. With only one dwarf in Lord of the Rings, this wasn’t a problem. Gimli’s cranky, somewhat suspect behavior was balanced out by the other characters around him and, more often than not, the negative aspects of dwarf disposition ended up being dismissed as wry comedy. That won’t work in The Hobbit because, except for Bilbo Baggins, everyone’s a dwarf.

Not just any dwarves mind you, but dwarves on a greed-driven quest for riches, and that means they’re the worst kind of dwarves. At least Gimli had some sort of noble goal in setting out with Frodo. These dwarves are in it purely for the money and, as main characters go, that’s going to make getting to care about them a little tough. They have their moments, but there’s nothing particularly noble about them. Luckily we’ll have Bilbo and he’s everything that the dwarves are not, a far better character than any of the hobbits even in Lord of the Rings. But he’s only one, small hobbit amidst more than a dozen cranky, greedy, disagreeable, bearded, bastards. When Gandalf’s around they keep it in check, but Gandalf is really only with them for half the story. The rest of the time, they’ll have to stand up for themselves and dwarves in their natural state aren’t exactly the lovable hero types.

the hobbit3) The book’s best scenes happen entirely in the dark.
The very best sequence in The Hobbit involves Bilbo’s discovery of the One Ring, the same piece of invisibility-powered jewelry which caused so much trouble in Lord of the Rings, and his subsequent encounter with Gollum whom our hobbity hero finds lurking and riddling in the deep. It’s that sequence, more than any other, which makes The Hobbit such a literary masterpiece and it’s going to be all but impossible to capture on film for the simple reason that there’s almost nothing to see. It all takes place in the dark.

I’m not just talking about any dark, but pitch black, can’t see your hand in front of your face dark. Bilbo gets lost wandering in deep underground caves, and spends several chapters there, stumbling around, running from the footsteps of goblins, and eventually encountering Gollum hanging around an underground, absolutely pitch black, lake. There they have their confrontation, with Bilbo forced to riddle for his life, and he only escapes Gollum’s clutches by cheating and then running and stumbling back through the caves. But there’s nothing to see, because much of the time even Bilbo can’t see. At times Sting may provide some faint light source, but at the truly pivotal moments in Tolkien’s story everything is absolutely pitch black. Are audiences willing to sit in a theater and spend ten minutes staring at a blank screen while two unseen actors engage in a game of riddles? Probably not. Yet it’s partly because it’s so dark, because Bilbo can’t see, because he’s so helpless that those moments are as brilliant as they are. You can’t make The Hobbit without them.

the hobbit4) This story contains no women.
Lord of the Rings wasn’t exactly swimming in female characters, but at least it had Arwen and even when it didn’t, at least we knew somewhere in the back of our heads that Viggo was out there fighting for her love. Peter Jackson greatly expanded her role in the Lord of the Rings movies, in part because he was looking for some sort of female influence women in the audience might be able to latch on to. The Hobbit, however, doesn’t have an Arwen let alone an Eowyn or a Galadriel.

The Hobbit contains no women at all, let alone any sort of romance. In theory I suppose one of the dwarves might be a woman and, you’d probably never know the difference. Dwarvish women are every bit as heavily bearded as the men, and are for all intents and purposes indistinguishable from them. But unless you count a brief appearance from the Sackville-Baggins who attempt to loot Bilbo’s house at the end of the story, there’s not a woman to be found anywhere in the book. That shouldn’t matter, but in an era where The Social Network is attacked for it’s lack of female influence despite being based on real life events about the creation of something by a group of men, you have to wonder how long it’ll be before someone starts screaming sexism at The Hobbit. They’ve already started crying racism. Will Peter Jackson write in a new female character, perhaps gleaned from Tolkien’s extensive ancillary notes, or will he simply go with what he’s got and hope that women will be driven to watch out of their love for his previous Middle Earth films? The latter would seem to be his only viable option.


One comment on “Hobbit News!

  1. Leslie Gornstein
    June 21, 2011

    Peter Jackson has inserted a new character into his upcoming “The Hobbit” two-parter — a character that J.R.R. Tolkien did not write. Repeat: Peter Jackson is messing with the sacred texts. Again. This time, it’s via “Lost” star Evangeline Lilly, who shall don the pointy ears and become a new woodland elf named Tauriel.

    Judas! It’s only a matter of time before armies of dweebs ball up their disapproval into fiery wads of nerd rage and catapult their ire into the blogosphere. After all, when Jackson announced the creative casting of Saoirse Ronan as another made-up elven character earlier this year, talk among the superfans grew dire.

    “To Hobbit purists, this is grave news,” Hobbit Central intoned.

    But according to academics who have studied Tolkien — yes, there are those — purists may wish to step away from their keyboards and let the tar cool. Movies and books are different animals; readers and viewers have different demands. (Translated into superfan-speak: Storytelling in a novel versus storytelling in a film is like, er, the Teleri versus the Noldor. They’re both elves, but it goes without saying that a sea elf is nothing like a deep elf.)

    In truth, the elves of “The Hobbit” novel don’t have much to say. They capture our heroes, who later escape. The elves also go to war, but otherwise we know little to nothing about them on the written page. So is it really any surprise that Jackson has created a new elf to bridge a few gaps in the movie adaptation?

    “The wood elves in ‘The Hobbit’ are pretty underdeveloped,” notes Corey Olsen, a Washington College educator who has a website called The Tolkien Professor. “The only elf who has much of a role is the king, and he’s not even named.

    “It doesn’t surprise me that Peter Jackson would want to invest at least one or two elves with more character, because they are pretty faceless in the book,” Olsen explains.

    So, superfans: Stay thy rage! After all, the rest of the casting is pretty amazing: Sherlock Holmes as Smaug, anyone?

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