Middle-earth News was fortunate enough to be granted an exclusive interview with one of The Hobbit’s scale-doubles, Ravi Narayan. Ravi was the scale double for Kili (Aidan Turner) as well as a stunt Goblin, a Hobbit, and yet another Dwarf.
Middle-earth News: How did you found out about this part? Did you have any prior acting experience?
Ravi Narayan: I first heard about this from my agent (back when I had one). I had no idea Peter was going to do this.
I had done a lot of work as an extra/featured extra on TVC, and I appeared on Shortland Street several times. Some of the movies I had worked on previously were Yogi Bear, Ice, and Insatiable Moon. The more work I did on movies, the more I started to realize that this is what I wanted to pursue. I was learning a lot from being on set and meeting some very talented people.
ME News: What was the audition process like?
RN: The first audition was held in Auckland. This was to see if we met the height requirement and availability. Never had I been in a gathering of so many short people, lol! I fit right in The second audition was fun and held in Wellington for three days. It was a three-day boot camp, like training so to speak, but at the same time it was so much fun. We were assessed on many different skills such as acting, use of swords, and fitness. There were 30 of us I think but I am not sure of the exact number. At this point we were still not confirmed the role. The number was to be reduced to 15 from 30.
I wanted this role so badly that I resigned from my work just so I could be available for this movie, even though I was not given the green light of being accepted. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I did not want to miss out.
ME News: Your official title on The Hobbit was “Kili’s scale double.” However, you also had a stunt Goblin role in the Gollum cave scene. On your Facebook page there are pictures of you as another Dwarf and even a Hobbit! How exactly would you describe your roles that came with the title “scale double” on The Hobbit?
RN: I was always cast as a scale double for Aidan (Kili), so this was my key role and what I worked on most of the time. As time went on, I also did some scale work for another Dwarf. Let’s say I will leave that as a mystery for now. Have to leave something for the fans to ponder upon 😀 I was very fortunate that apart from doing scale work for Kili, I was chosen to play a Goblin role. However it does not end there! I was asked by Peter if I could play a role as a Hobbit extra and I did. I also performed several fight scenes and did stunt work as a generic dwarf. The photos on Facebook are of those characters.
ME News: Since Aidan Turner was Kili, you must have worked very closely with him. What was it like working with Aidan? Any memorable moments or stories?
RN: It was fun. He was always very approachable and we laughed a lot. Really nice guy to work with. I think I had the most fun when we were training with our weapons during stunt training.
ME News: We’ve all heard about the lengthy process it took every morning for each of the Dwarf actors to get ready. Was there a similar process for each of the scale doubles?
RN: It varied really, depending on what was going to be shot that day. We did have some really early starts as well as some late finishes, so it was a mix bag.
That’s a hard one. I generally talked a lot and danced in the makeup room so it took longer for me. I mostly struggled to get in my fat suit. Some how I was very good at getting it on back-to-front.
ME News: What was the most challenging aspect of being a scale double?
RN: Getting used to the idea that I am short (being called a “scalie” all the time). I know I am short and this may sound strange, but I don’t see myself as a short person really. But I got used to it very quickly. It grew on me.
ME News: What were you doing and/or filming on the day you remember having the most fun on set?
RN: Every time I was on set or filming, I was having a blast and I mean that in all honesty. It was so much fun. There was always laughter on sets. I will give you a couple of examples. Once I was so engrossed during a fight scene that I forgot to die on cue even though everyone was yelling, “Die! Ravi Die!” Eventually I had to be tackled by an Orc and was finally brought down. Doing a stunt in Lake-town was fun as I was able to give my own input on how I thought it could work. Every time was a fun time.
ME News: In contrast, which day on set was the hardest?
RN: I personally did not find any particular days to be very hard. I think it came down to our own physical abilities and how fit we were individually.
ME News: How much interaction was there between the main cast and the scale doubles?
RN: We did some training together initially. Whenever we were on set together we always exchanged greetings and talked about what was required of us during the shoot. Sometimes we would meet in between sets as well and have a chat.
ME News: What did you do during any down time on set?
RN: During the down time I always kept up with my training. Went for runs and to the gym. Keeping fit was very important to me as it kept me focused and away from distractions. It also helped in keeping up with the demands of whatever was thrown at us on set. I love training and still continue doing that even now
ME News: When watching the first two movies, are there any parts where you can say “Oh, that was me!”
RN: Oh yeah, definitely. In regards to the scenes where I can be spotted, I think it is more fun when the fans try and guess this, rather than me telling, lol. More fun that way, right?
ME News: What have you been up to since filming completed on The Hobbit?
RN: Since The Hobbit, I have had several photo shoots and was featured in a TV commercial. Also, I’ve been back to my part-time IT work. I appeared on national TV on New Zealand’s Got Talent and have also done three public dance performances for charity events. I also appeared as a judge for a local talent quest.
ME News: You made it all the way to the semifinals on New Zealand’s Got Talent! What inspired you to audition for the show?
RN: I did indeed and totally did not expect that! I am very passionate about dancing and music and I thought that once The Hobbit is over I needed to carry on doing something exciting. What inspired me? Hmm… several things. It was a personal vendetta towards the stereotypical views of the world on physical appearance. I was determined to prove that height should never be viewed as a weakness or interpreted as individuals with little talent or finesse. We are just the same or even better ;-D
ME News: Final reflections on The Hobbit?
RN: Having worked with some of the greatest, it humbles me that I even had this opportunity. I want to thank all those who believed that I could do this. I have learned so much and just want to continue learning more.
ME News: If you could give one piece of advice about life, what would it be?
RN: Just one piece? I could give several, lol. One that I most hold on to and would like to share is – to never to give up on your dreams. If there is something that you really love to do in this world, go at it with gusto and don’t let anything hold you back.