Richard Armitage, who plays Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit has been busy with premieres, interviews and promotions these last few months and is down in Australia just now, promoting The Hobbit prior to its DVD release on 1st May.
So has the world changed for him since the premiere?
“Well it hasn’t really, which is great.” Richard told The Vine, ” There’s been a great response to the film, [but] what’s been really interesting is [Wellington] was the first leg of our press tour. And then going out to Tokyo and all of the other great places – we went to New York, London – just seeing the reception from the fans and seeing the excitement, and realising that it’s the beginning of a three year tour really, for the three films. It’s such a great global reach. It’s one of fifteen films to make a billion [dollars] at the box office, and for me it’s not about the dollar sign in front of it, it’s about how many people have gone to see it, and how many languages it’s been translated into. Which is to me exciting because that book [The Hobbit] was translated into as many languages. And I hope people go and pick up the book after seeing the film. I really do. I haven’t seen it [the film] in any other language, yet, but I’d love to see a Russian Thorin. Because actually when I was doing all my research and I was looking for a voice to sort of get me into the mood for the Misty Mountain Song, I listened to a lot of Russian Orthodox Church music – the basses. So I’d love to hear Thorin in Russian, I think he’d be…fierce.”
Peter Jackson pushed the boundaries filming in 48fps but had he made the film too long?
“You know, I think because [Peter Jackson] is playing the long game with his storytelling, and the third movie is called There and Back Again, I think you need to invest in the story of those dwarves. Because, come the third movie, you need to understand who these guys are, and that they’re on they’re way home, and that the losses that are sustained – having read the book! Not talking about the third or second films!”
The actors who play the dwarves have all talked about the camaraderie both on and off the set. Richard, however, prefers to stay in character on set. He says.
“God. I hate to think that I was aloof! [Laughs]. You know the thing is the prosthetics and the costume were quite uncomfortable, and when you’re in a big group of people who are uncomfortable, it can turn into a ‘who’s the most uncomfortable’ competition. And when you’re in close proximity to other hot people, it can just get hotter. So I sort of did sit with my head down, in a corner, mainly to concentrate, but also to just get rid of the distraction of the costume and really think about what I was doing. Because I felt that I had a lot to do with regards to that character, and I didn’t want anything else to distract from it.”
There is a big hero shot for Thorin in the film, where he sees the orc Azog, who Thorin believes is dead. What was going through Richard’s head when filming that scene?
“… I suppose I was looking at nothing, but visualising something in my head, which is kind of hard to describe. It’s not really about seeing a being; it’s about remembering how it felt when you saw him. So all I was doing was remembering how I felt when I saw him holding my grandfather’s head. So it’s actually my grandfather’s head that I was visualising, rather than the being. But I think that the way Weta has created Azog is really interesting…it’s terrifying.”
And what about his preparation for meeting Smaug in the next movie?
“… I remember having this obsession with [wanting] to know what it felt like to be there on the day that the dragon attacked. And so I was like, “What was he doing in the morning? What happened through the course of that day? And the wind changed, and then this hurricane happened. Where was his father? Where was his grandfather? What did it feel like to go through that day when, effectively, a holocaust struck, or a nuclear bomb hit Erebor?”
Years ago I had visited the memorial museum in Hiroshima and I’d seen what happened, and I had a book, and I took it to New Zealand with me. And, I don’t know, just looking at pictures and getting ideas, because it’s all about sensation: just remembering what that fear was, because we were going to go shoot it. So you just have little flashes: I remember seeing a melted bicycle, and I remember thinking, “Oh yeah, the melted bicycle. A child sat on that bike.” So this is what happened at Erebor: there were women and children there that just got annihilated. I wanted to feel the fear for them.”
Richard’s next film Black Sky is out later this year but has he other projects in the pipeline?
“After Black Sky? Oh I wish I could tell you. Every script that I’ve read has got a book attached, and I think I’ve read five books...There are some big scale projects, and then one incredibly charming book that I love so much. But I don’t have anything confirmed, so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed.
And has Thorin opened doors for him?
“A little bit, yeah, but I’m now swimming in a much bigger pond, you know. I’m going up for roles that are going to big actors, big actors! And I’m in my forties and those big actors have got big CVs. But hopefully I’ll win one of those roles that I love so much.”
You can read more of this interview at The Vine and look out for their impromptu Twitter Q&A with Richard, which they’ll post on 1st May.