In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, we meet Thorin Oakenshield’s nephew Kili, a naive, rash, yet brave young dwarf played by Irish actor Aidan Turner. Kili has his own story to tell over the course of the three films. He and the elf Tauriel bring a little romantic relief to The Desolation of Smaug and, in the final film, Kili’s character is developed further as Richard Armitage (who plays Thorin Oakenshield) explains, “In the third film we [Thorin and Kili] had some really kind of sensitive, intimate moments. He’s [Kili] such a heroic character in the first movie and his journey is fascinating and he goes through all sorts of traumas, so it was a real privilege to play that with him [Aidan] and he really gave himself up to it.”
So who is this young actor who takes Kili on this prophetically traumatic journey? Aidan Turner may be a reasonably familiar face on Irish and British TV but he is pretty much unknown to the wider audience of The Hobbit.
I met Aidan recently in London and, yes, he is as lovely in real life as on the screen. The press will tell you of his meteoric rise but he is quick to counter this with a list of theatre credits from earlier years. “From where I’m sitting in the driver’s seat it doesn’t feel as whirlwind and as crazy. I left the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin in 2004 and I did five years of theatre after that,”
Aidan began his career appearing at one of London’s top theatres, The Barbican, in The Plough and the Stars. There followed several years of acting both in fringe and mainstream theatre, as he went from the black vest and snakeskin trousers of Titus Andronicus (in which Sarah Greene, who is now his girlfriend, also appeared) to being suited and booted in Romeo and Juliet.
Aidan says he is no singer and jokes that they turn down his voice when the dwarves sing in The Hobbit. Whilst he isn’t being unduly modest, he will sing if the part requires it. As Christian in Cyrano, he sang a little of Ashton Kutcher’s I’ll Be There for You. And it was fine!
From 2007 Aidan began to get roles in television and, on moving to London in 2008, was cast as Mitchell, a vampire, in the award-winning cult TV show Being Human. There followed Desperate Romantics (his audition tape for which was filmed by his friend and fellow Being Human actor Russell Tovey). A year later there was the critically acclaimed Hattie, in which he was cast with another Hobbit actor, John Bell (who plays Bain, Bard’s son in The Hobbit). Then, whilst filming the third series of Being Human, Aidan heard he had the part of Kili. He says, “There was a fair bit of screaming on my balcony at half-eight in the morning in Cardiff: “Yes! Yes! Oh yes!”
Since wrapping on The Hobbit last July, Aidan has filmed The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, in which he plays the werewolf Luke Garroway. He jokes that he’d like to play a real person at some stage, “I just thought…let’s just do the holy trinity – the dwarf, the vampire and the werewolf!”
Aidan will return to New Zealand in May for more filming on The Hobbit and then there’s the possibility of a sequel to The Mortal Instruments, but he doesn’t mind if future projects are in theatre, television or film. He says, “I do miss theatre. I mean, theatre’s what I trained in and what I did for years…It tends to be a big commitment sometimes, with time and different things and you get tied in with other projects… It’s something I’d like to make more time for maybe next year or something.” And his favourite play? “I don’t know about favourite but ‘Brimstone and Treacle’ by Dennis Potter I seem to remember affecting me in a big way. A fellow classmate gave it to me to read. I was tormented for weeks. ‘Howie the Rookie’,’ A Whistle in the Dark’, ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’
Aidan still lives in Dublin where he can lead a pretty normal life. He says, “People ask about the fame thing but I could walk down the road anywhere in Dublin and nobody would recognise me.” He likes playing pool, photography and listening to The Doors. Obviously he enjoys a night out with his friends and can sometimes be found at Lillie’s Bordello, a nightclub he’s been known to frequent since his Being Human days.
One activity he’ll almost certainly be giving a wide berth is skydiving. James Nesbitt persuaded Aidan to try it whilst out in New Zealand. And did he man-up for it? “Oh! When you say man-up – I screamed all the way down. I had a panic attack on the way down. I couldn’t breathe. Yeah. Yeah. It’s all on tape… I didn’t man-up at all!” I can’t help admiring his bravery for giving sky-diving a go but I admire his honesty for admitting it terrified him even more!
And maybe on the subject of bravery we’ll return to Kili and give Aidan the last word, “He’s heroic alright…there’s lots of fighting involved but I don’t have a heroic end.”
Oh My! I’ve a feeling Kili will be breaking lots of hearts before The Hobbit trilogy is through.
You can read more about Aidan Turner here.
Thanks to TV3, IrishCentral, Radio Times, Irish Daily Star, Film Ireland, Gaiety School of Acting, RTE10
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