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Going Back to Middle-earth: An Interview with Jed Brophy

I’m very happy to say that I had the chance to ask Kiwi actor and director Jed Brophy some questions about his role in The Hobbit trilogy. Jed, who plays Nori the dwarf, is no stranger to Middle-earth. Not only has he portrayed various characters from The Lord of the Rings films, he’s also a big Tolkien fan! You may know him from one of his roles in the LOTR trilogy as Snaga the orc. Aside from movies surrounding Tolkien’s works he’s appeared in films such as King Kong and District 9 as well as other various TV movies and shows.

It was wonderful to have the chance to learn more about Jed and his career.

Jed BrophyWhat was racing through your mind when you found out that you were cast in The Hobbit and would get to once again “live” in Middle-earth?

Jed: I was overwhelmed actually. I was hoping I would be doing some work on the film but never dreamed they were considering me for one of the Dwarven characters. I don’t think I believed my agent. It was a great day.

You played many characters in the LOTR Trilogy, ranging from a female elf to one of the Nazgûl. Did you have to do a lot of extra training to become familiar with those roles (to walk like an Elf, fight like an Orc etc.)?

Jed: Each race in Middle-earth has their own distinct challenges to portray, and yes, it did take some very special training to get them right. Because the Nazgûl were on horseback for the scenes in the first LOTR film, it required a long period to train both the horses and the riders. I was one of only two riders who had any acting experience, but this I think was a good thing. The riders who trained and rode those horses are part of a very select bunch who did the most fantastic job of bringing these amazing beasts to the big screen. It is without a doubt some of my most prized memories.

Elves are easier in some ways because they are closest to being like humans . They have some magic and a lot of status. They believe they are the pinnacle of the races and so act accordingly. Orcs are perhaps my favourite to play because they are they most challenging physically . My compact but strong frame made me perfect for these parts, and I thank my long association with Richard Taylor and the Weta folk for helping to shape these creatures.

You’ve been to a lot of conventions, what is it like to meet the fans who have such a passion for Tolkien? Any interesting stories you’d like to share?

Jed: I have been to quite a few conventions, and I have to say on the whole the fans are fantastic. Of course, there are always going to be folk that forget that we are actors and as much as we love the work we do, we also need our space. To be honest, I have never had a bad experience, but certainly there have been instances when I have been slightly uncomfortable with the attention to my public/private life. I did get lured to LA along with a couple of others from NZ only to have the convention get cancelled and no tickets home to NZ . It turned into quite a story, but too intricate and messy to get into here.

Jed Brophy - NoriWhat can you tell us about Nori? Do you have any headcanons about dwarves or more specifically your character?

Jed: The headcannon thing is kinda new jargon for me. I have wrongly assumed for instance that Nori went to Moria with Ori, but it turns out he goes with Dain and is still alive there at the beginning of LOTR. I know quite a lot about Middle-earth and the dwarves, but not as much as some.

Nori’s hairstyle is very intricate and I admit I’ve always been curious about it! Can you expand on how Nori styles his hair? Did you have to remember you were “taller” than normal so as not to bump into anything?

Jed: Ahh yes the hair thing. I have fallen in love with my style, but in the beginning I was not so sure. There were many designs mooted back in the start, and it was I believe PJ himself who like that design. It makes Nori very distinctive and for that I am thankful; it also says to me that he is possibly quite proud. He certainly does not care what the other Dwarves think about his hair. It requires an awful lot of maintaining, however, and I do worry where he finds the time. No, I didn’t bump into things because I have preternatural reflexes, hehe.

The Hobbit cast seems very close, like a family from what I’ve seen! What is it like to work with such a wonderful group of people? Did you guys play any pranks on each other during filming?

Jed: Yes we are very close. You usually don’t get this close with a cast you work with, but we have been with each other for over two years now. And its not just the other cast members, but the whole crew. I think It helps that we know we are on a job which means so much to so many folk outside of the shoot. There is a shared responsibility to try and make a great set of films.

But the most important thing is that the production team have gathered together a fantastic group of people… who are also great actors and great technicians and artists and a director who we want to do good for. We like each other and we are in a great film and the nature of the work means we have to back each other up….. daily, and so we do, but yes, we also like to give each other a hard time… it is part of liking each other so much, we know there is no offense intended. It is a very special experience.

I know you can’t reveal much about the movies but have you seen any scenes of Benedict Cumberbatch playing Smaug, and if so, what was your impression?

Jed: No, we didn’t get to actually be in the scene with Benedict, but I was lucky enough to have a couple of beers with him and the lads, and he is again such a great guy. I am in awe of his work, but he comes across as very humble and generous… .and amazing. I think he will be a very impressive Smaug.

What are you most excited for the fans to see in the next two Hobbit movies?

Jed: Well, I can’t really say too much about the next two films. Suffice to say more of the Dwarves kicking everyone’s butts and of course some serious wig work from Nori.

I’ve heard you are quite the Tolkien fan, how were you first introduced to his stories? What do you appreciate most about them and fantasy in general?

Jed:  I was 7 years old when I read The Hobbit and only slightly older when I started reading The Lord Of the Rings, and I have read most of his other works and those of his son’s.

For me, it was Tolkien’s ability to portray human and imagined characters in such depth, in such a vivid way that I could see them. Also, the stories are about sacrifice and honor and choice. All things which are big questions we all have to answer at some stage… just on a much bigger scale. You want good to triumph, and it is down to individuals possibly sacrificing themselves for the good of others. I like to believe we all have that within us.

Do you have any upcoming projects in store? What can you tell us about The Minister of Chance and the character you play?

Jed: Yes I have some exciting projects coming up… that I know of. I am going to jump back on stage later this year to do a show with my eldest son. A play called Unseasonable Fall of Snow… a two hander. Just not sure yet where. I have also been asked to direct a film for a friend of mine, and hopefully we’ll find out if he got funded quite soon. There are other things too, but I cannot comment as yet.

The Minister of Chance is a series of audio drama’s set in a fantasy setting. I play a character called the Pilot who can transport people to places usually unreachable. Even between planets. Possibly between time. He is not entirely human. The series is downloadable to listen to from iTunes.

To learn more about The Minister of Chance be sure to go on their website, and page on iTunes. And to keep up with Jed Brophy follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

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  1. Wow! That’s a gorgeous interview!
    I’m looking forward to watch Nori on the big screen again 🙂

  2. lilymilos says:

    Great interview, Myla! So many great questions and answers. I had no idea he was an accomplished rider. And I love reading about how well everyone on the film gets on.

  3. Great Interview! Jed seems like a really nice guy.

  4. That was absolutely wonderful, Myla! You asked great questions that took his answers into good depth. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I enjoyed this interview a lot! The questions were well-thought out, and Jed’s answers were fascinating to read. You make a great interviewer, Myla.

  6. eviebowman says:

    Fab interview, Myla, especially the bit about the Nazgûl

  7. fantastic interview! Jed is one of my favorites and I loved reading his point of view about filming the Hobbit