Middle-earth News Assistant Director and Staff Reporter Valdís had the great, good fortune to spend a few nimutes chatting with actor Dean O’Gorman recently at Dragon Con 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Valdis: So, this is your first Dragon Con!
Dean: It is, yes.
Valdis: How is your con going?
Dean: It’s going really well. Everyone’s really friendly and really nice, and they call me “Sir.” Which I really like; I guess it’s a Southern thing, because I’m not a knight. It’s really nice, and it’s a good chance to catch up with Stephen [Hunter] and Peter [Hambleton] as well.
Valdis: That’s terrific! So, I am with Middle-earth News–
Dean: –yes you are–
Valdis: –so we have to talk a lot about–
Valdis: And Fili! So, here’s the first thing that we’d like to ask: Your brother Kili has a runestone from your mother that says, “Return to me.” Does Fili have a runestone?
Dean: No, he doesn’t. Or if he does, he just left it at home, because he was much more responsible, and he knew that he’d probably misplace it.
Valdis: If he had one, what do you think it would say on it?
Dean: Oh man! It would probably say, “Look after your brother, please, and make sure he doesn’t lose the runestone.” (laughing)
Valdis: (laughing) I could completely see that!
Dean: (laughing) Yeah, “be the dad he never had.”
Valdis: So, if the story had ended differently, and Fili had eventually become King Under the Mountain, what would his priorities as ruler be? What laws would he pass? What sort of ruler do you think he would have been?
Dean: Oh my god, well, I think he would have taken a fair amount of leaves out of Thorin’s book. I think Fili would be a pretty fair ruler, to be honest! I think that because of the journey he went through, he has a more balanced perspective on what the dwarves wanted. As you see, Thorin gets very caught up in the gold, but I think that because Fili went through that, he’s not going to be as affected by holding onto the riches like the dwarves do. And you know, he’s a younger dwarf, so he’s of a different generation. I think it’s quite interesting to have the younger characters like Ori, Fili, and Kili because they represent a different aspect of the dwarves. The idea is that as the dwarves get older, maybe they get a bit more stuck in their ways. They are quite jealous by nature, but but the younger characters bring more of an openness, and you see that with the Kili and Tauriel relationship. There’s prejudice towards other races; you know, dwarves are not known for being tolerant of other species in Middle-earth! But they grow to be more tolerant. So I think that Fili would do a good job. I don’t think he’s ambitious, though. I think he feels responsible, and I think he feels aware of his potential responsibilities, but I don’t think he’s as ambitious as Thorin.
Valdis: So let’s turn that question around just a little bit. Now, if Dean were to become King–
Dean: (laughing) Oh my god–
Valdis:–perhaps not under the Mountain–
Dean: Yeah, I wouldn’t want to live under the mountain. It’s way too dark! But maybe Rivendell. With the trees and the water, it’s much nicer.
Valdis: So same thing…what kind of ruler would you want to be?
Dean: (laughing) Just an awful, awful person.
Valdis: (laughing) A despot?
Dean: (laughing) Yeah, a despot. Just totalitarianism! No, no, again I would try to be as inclusive of others. I think the elves bring a sense of tidiness and good haircuts. You know, they really look out for their hair, and dwarves have a lot of hair, and to be honest, I think their personal hygiene could be improved. I think you’ll notice that Fili’s hair is actually more well-maintained than some of the other dwarves, so there’s a little bit of personal pride there. Oh, I don’t know, I’d like to think that I’d be a good ruler, but to be fair, I’d probably get distracted and just go on little adventures if I lived in Middle-earth. I wouldn’t want to stay in one place.
Valdis: So you bring up the hairstyles–
Dean: (laughing) Yeah.
Valdis: –so I just need to ask, were there any of the hairstyles of the other dwarves that as an actor you thought, “I really would like to have that one”?
Dean: Well, I can definitely saw the one I didn’t want was Jed’s [Brophy], because that’s like wearing a pyramid on top of your head. There’s so much hairspray that went into making that stick up like that. Gloin had so much hair that he [Peter Hambleton] just melted every time he put it on. To be honest, I really like Fili’s haircut. I thought it was a good wig. I thought Fili, Kili, and Thorin all had pretty good ‘dos. Adam’s? Absolutely the worst haircut ever imagined. (laughing) And you know Dwalin has that receding hairline, so no, I was pretty happy with what I had.
Valdis: So let’s talk a little bit more about your experiences as an actor working on The Hobbit and moving on to a couple of other things after that also. After that extended time that it took to film The Hobbit–I mean, the better part of two years–would you consider signing on for a role in another film franchise series like that?
Dean: Yeah. I mean, it always depends on what the job is, but if it was anything like The Hobbit, I would have a great time doing it. It’s a surprising amount of work, I think, working on such a big job like that, but it’s really satisfying to work so long and so hard on a job. So yeah, I would. I’d be interested to know what that franchise was.
Valdis: What are the positives and negatives you see as an actor working on those franchise films?
Dean: Well, there’s lots of different things. I think on the positive side, it’s an experience that’s very rare to have as an actor. The budget alone determines an amount of quite surreal aspects–so many people, lots of traveling, they look after you really well, you meet amazing people.
I think some of the negatives are that because it’s such a huge machine, sometimes–What are the negatives? You know, there’s not a hell of a lot of negatives. What I was going to say is that maybe in such a big machine you feel like you don’t have a voice, but actually, they were really great. Me and Aidan would talk to Philippa about some scenes that were originally cut out, but we really liked them, and they ended up getting back in. So, I give credit to Peter, Fran, and Philippa that this film, even though it was on such a huge scale (and obviously Warner Bros. was the producing company), it felt much smaller in terms of everyone’s relationship to each other. It didn’t feel like there was this huge weight of monetary pressure on us–which there must have been, especially for Peter and all of the producers. They were chewing their nails going, “God, I hope people watch this,” which of course they would have. So we didn’t really get the sense of some of the pitfalls of a bigger film. And, you know, it’s Peter’s ship and he steers it, but he’s very inclusive and he likes to make it feel like everyone can relate to each other. There’s not a lot of distancing between departments, which is really lovely.
Valdis: Is there a day that you could point to that was your best day on set?
Dean: Not specifically. I had lots and lots of great days. And if I didn’t have a great day all day, I had a great day at least some of the day, every day, really. Being in the barrels was fun, we’ve talked about that a lot. Being on location was amazing because Aidan and I got a car and could drive around and stay in all these different places and visit various pubs. But specifically one day? No, but sometimes it was just little moments where you’d be on set and someone would say something funny and we’d all start giggling. You know what I mean? I mean, the camaraderie itself was great, so it wasn’t necessarily because we were in a helicopter or because we were on the top of a mountain (even though that was fun as well), but sometimes the greatest moments were just little shared moments between friends. That’s what I really like.
Valdis: Was there a day that you felt was the worst day on set?
Dean: (laughing) We had a couple of hard days. Some days near the end, I think we were getting very tired. Everyone was getting tired; I don’t think Peter slept. (laughing) Ever! I think I saw him at the wrap party, and he’d been up for 48 hours. I couldn’t believe it. He’s amazing.
Again, there were moments that were just physically hard. Like sometimes, you didn’t want to get up at 3:30 in the morning or run through a paddock in a fat suit, but at the end of the day, it’s still pretty cool. It’s not like you’re crawling under a house to fix the plumbing, you know? (laughing) You’re working on a Peter Jackson movie. There’s worse things to do.
Valdis: I’d like to finish up with a lightning round. We wanted to do a quick game of “Would you rather”–
Dean: Ok cool. I’m awful at these, just to let you know, but I’ll give it my best shot.
Valdis: Alright, alright. Would you rather have Martin Freeman or James Earl Jones narrate your life?
Dean: (laughing) Definitely James Earl Jones, because there’s no way Martin could resist saying something–he wouldn’t be able to be nice the whole time–he’d have to say something awful.
Valdis: Would you rather be trapped in a room with puppies or kittens?
Valdis: Would you like to be an Avenger or an X-Men?
Dean: Oh god, my comic book knowledge is so bad. Which one is Robert Downey, Jr/Iron Man?
Valdis: That would be Avengers.
Dean: I would go with Avengers, then. Although, Wolverine’s pretty cool, isn’t he? Maybe Wolverine. Yeah, Wolverine’s pretty great.
Valdis: Would you rather have elephant tusks or seal flippers?
Dean: Do I still have my own feet, as well?
Valdis: I was thinking [seal flipper] hands, but interpret that as you wish.
Dean: Oh ok, well then I’d go tusks, because I use my hands all the time.
Valdis: Would you rather be Fili, The King Under the Mountain, or Anders Johnson, the human incarnation of the norse god Bragi.
Dean: Fili! I love playing Anders, but in terms of people to aspire to, Fili’s more of an aspirational character.
Valdis: Absolutely. Thank you so much. I had a wonderful time talking with you.
Dean: You too! Lovely to meet you.