The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Stephen Fry has 'never read The Hobbit'



Shagrat
Gondor

Jun 15 2013, 6:17pm


Views: 1444
Stephen Fry has 'never read The Hobbit'

I have to say I'm very shocked by this. His approach of reading just the bits involving his character also surprises me somewhat:

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/movies/news/a490430/desolation-of-smaug-star-stephen-fry-ive-never-read-the-hobbit.html


(This post was edited by Shagrat on Jun 15 2013, 6:17pm)


demnation
Rohan

Jun 15 2013, 6:43pm


Views: 911
Doesn't surprise me

It has been my understanding that most actors tend to not be interested in reading source material regardless of any perceived quality. I'm thinking that some get the same feeling that students get towards required reading in school.

My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself- J.R.R. Tolkien


ShireHorse
Rohan

Jun 15 2013, 6:44pm


Views: 903
Although I must admit

that it's always delightful and satisfying when you discover that an actor is a Tolkien nerd like Richard Armitage, I don't think Sir Ian had read LotR or even knew anything about it before or during filming. He just went from the script he was given and did a marvellous job, I must admit.

I also think that many of the actors in TH know very little about Tolkien and perhaps have not read the book because of the blank expression on their faces whenever the book is discussed in interviews and their ignorance when a question about the book is asked..


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 15 2013, 6:56pm


Views: 834
I'm not sure why you find this shocking...

By this point we have learned that there are hundreds of actors (at least) who have been cast in major roles in film adaptations and who have never read the original source material. It isn't remotely unusual.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jun 15 2013, 6:59pm


Views: 868
I don't believe that is correct

My understanding is that while Sir Ian had not read LOTR before being cast, he read it avidly, and made several suggestions based on his reading. One example that I can think of is that he suggested that it was important that Sam take Frodo's hand when he sees him awake in Rivendell, and that therefore that was added to the script.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Runk Snusgrop
Rivendell


Jun 15 2013, 7:07pm


Views: 802
Re:

Not suprised at all. If I know Fry as well as I think I do, he probably went straight to Oscar Wilde the day he learned to read. He doesn't strike me as someone who's ever read childrens' books, even as a child.



trqn13
Bree


Jun 15 2013, 7:11pm


Views: 798
doesn't shock me

imagine Peter Jackson took a similar approach to the hobbit too,, read a few bits and invent the rest

"Give me your name, Horse Master, and I shall give you mine"


dubulous
Rohan

Jun 15 2013, 7:12pm


Views: 826
That's what I remember reading as well.

He hadn't read the book before he was cast, but he definitely read it later in preparation for the role.

I think it was the same for many, though not all, of the LOTR cast. They came in not having read the book but read either before or during the filming. I remember a similar quote from Cate Blanchett (re:LotR) that she hadn't read the book when she got the role but had "subsequently read it, of course".

But different actors have different ways of preparing for roles. Especially if you only have a small role, you can probably get away with playing the character even without reading the book. I am a little surprised that Stephen Fry of all people hasn't already read the Hobbit ages ago, long before this role even, because I have this impression of him as a man who reads a great deal, but maybe fantasy just isn't his cup of tea. It isn't for everyone.


demnation
Rohan

Jun 15 2013, 7:12pm


Views: 816
I think it's harder for actors already familiar with the source material

I'm trying to imagine how difficult it is for Richard Armitage, who has to contend with his own, vivid image of what's in the book and what is in the script that is given to him. Personally, It doesn't really matter to me what any of the actors think of the source material-positive or negative or if they haven't even read it-so long as they do a good job. And so far, the acting is the one thing I have zero complaints about in these films. (LOTR included)

Btw, it is my understanding that Sir Ian became quite a fan of the book and even made small suggestions that the script writers had forgotten about. ( ah, somebody beat me to this!)

My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself- J.R.R. Tolkien

(This post was edited by demnation on Jun 15 2013, 7:18pm)


Ham_Sammy
Tol Eressea

Jun 15 2013, 7:18pm


Views: 815
Same with Freeman

He did not read the Hobbit until he was preparing for the role and has no interest in reading LOTR although he has seen and liked the films. It doesn't shock me at all and I don't have a problem with it.

Thank you for your questions, now go sod off and do something useful - Martin Freeman Twitter chat 3/1/13


jimmyfenn
Rohan


Jun 15 2013, 7:25pm


Views: 754
yes

darling, he could read the hobbit in his sleep he probably knows the story just by looking at the cover.

i trust him exsplicitly , i thinkits almost more shocking that pj read the lotr when he was younger and didnt think much of it.

"You Tolkien to me?!" - Hobbit de Niro

(This post was edited by jimmyfenn on Jun 15 2013, 7:30pm)


Lusitano
Tol Eressea


Jun 15 2013, 7:27pm


Views: 752
I think

you might be on to something. Sly


It disappoints me when i hear actors say these things, but if the performance is what it should be, thats all we can ask, really.

Vous commencez à m'ennuyer avec le port!!!


Shagrat
Gondor

Jun 15 2013, 7:45pm


Views: 730
To clarify

Of course I'm well aware many actors in these films haven't read the book. But Fry is a different case given his intellect and interest in literature. I'm a least surprised he didn't read the book when on the plane. I would have thought he'd have appreciated it.


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Jun 15 2013, 7:47pm


Views: 756
Given what Peter is doing

it is probably a good thing Mr. Fry ha not read the book.

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Magpie
Immortal


Jun 15 2013, 7:47pm


Views: 745
well, Oscar Wilde wrote children's books...

and Fry read (for audio book) Wilde's collection of story tales so I guess he has read children's stories.
http://www.stephenfry.com/...ildes-short-stories/

Fry also hosted a children's tv show and narrated many children's stories.


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Runk Snusgrop
Rivendell


Jun 15 2013, 7:54pm


Views: 717
Touché!

You know what I meant thouh. Wink



ShireHorse
Rohan

Jun 15 2013, 8:09pm


Views: 725
Remarks

On another point, I read The Hobbit with a class of 12 year olds after I had read and fallen in love with LotR in my teens. I was disappointed and, as an English teacher, saw many, many flaws in Tolkien's work. After numerous readings and discussions with pupils, I have come to enjoy and appreciate it BUT only because I have made excuses for Tolkien, coming up with reasons as to why he did the things he did, in the same way as I have learned to love PJ's films after trying to understand the reasons behind his decisions. Neither writer nor film-maker is perfect and it does Tolkien no favours treating him as a god and PJ as a blight upon this impossible perfection.


(This post was edited by entmaiden on Jun 15 2013, 10:20pm)


jimmyfenn
Rohan


Jun 15 2013, 8:21pm


Views: 702
also

stephen fry narrated all of the harry potter audio books, which are fantastic.

"You Tolkien to me?!" - Hobbit de Niro


demnation
Rohan

Jun 15 2013, 9:03pm


Views: 693
I find this very curious

The making up excuses part, I mean. Can't something be flawed but be just fine the way it is? I mean, isn't every book, movie, etc. very flawed in it's own way? They are crafted by humans, after all, who are well known for being flawed. Three of my own favorite writers-Orwell, Austen and Tolkien-all wrote things that I consider to be very, very flawed, but I also think they are very, very good. I guess what I'm asking is if it's possible to accept something the way it is rather than making up excuses for it.

Sorry if I seem off-putting (and for drifting off topic) but I'm just trying to understand things from a different point of view.Wink

My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself- J.R.R. Tolkien


malickfan
Gondor


Jun 15 2013, 10:51pm


Views: 595
Completely Agree


Quote
Can't something be flawed but be just fine the way it is?



I was just watching Die Hard with A Vegeance a dopey, seriously flawed action film, but I enjoyed it alot, becuase it does what it was intended to do-entertain me, if it were 'improved' in any way then it wouldn't be the same Die Hard, and then I might not be as entertained. A poor comparison I realise (never thought I mention Die Hard 3 on this forum) but I agree with your basic point.


This is not a very interesting signature is it?


bborchar
Rohan


Jun 15 2013, 10:56pm


Views: 590
I don't see why it matters, truly...

...as long as he can read the script :) It's not as if he has a huge part, anyway.


"Go on. Walk on. You must be destroyed."

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malickfan
Gondor


Jun 15 2013, 11:16pm


Views: 593
Well Phillipa Boyens hasn' read The Silmarillion in 25 years, and I seem to Remeber Jackson admitting he hasn't read The LOTR the whole way through since his teenage years, it worked alright for them...

Steven Fry, Martin Freeman, Aidan Turner, Billy Connoly, James Nesbitt...anyone noticing a pattern?

This is not a very interesting signature is it?


Lusitano
Tol Eressea


Jun 15 2013, 11:17pm


Views: 577
For a second

you made me wish i hadnt.

Vous commencez à m'ennuyer avec le port!!!


Ham_Sammy
Tol Eressea

Jun 15 2013, 11:26pm


Views: 563
Exactly

Oh my God. This film is going to be a failure!!! They haven't read the stories! Quick! Get the guards and throw them off the set!

Thank you for your questions, now go sod off and do something useful - Martin Freeman Twitter chat 3/1/13


malickfan
Gondor


Jun 15 2013, 11:28pm


Views: 572
It is kind of Ironic though

Steven Fry is always the voice I hear in my head when I read the Hobbit (i.e it's him narrating the story)-you can't get more english than Fry...

This is not a very interesting signature is it?


Ham_Sammy
Tol Eressea

Jun 15 2013, 11:30pm


Views: 298
Agree!

I can totally hear him in the story! He's perfect!

Thank you for your questions, now go sod off and do something useful - Martin Freeman Twitter chat 3/1/13


shadowdog
Rohan

Jun 16 2013, 4:34am


Views: 266
I think

Sir Ian read the books during filming and was seen on site clutching a copy. Didn't Peter mention Ian bringing up points from the books?


Yngwulff
Gondor


Jun 16 2013, 6:11am


Views: 268
Sir Christopher Lee

Contrarily, has been reading Tolkien since the inception almost, and is quite the Tolkien nerd


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Radagast-Aiwendil
Gondor


Jun 16 2013, 11:43am


Views: 222
Ian McKellen had never read LotR when he was cast as Gandalf

And yet his performance is easily the best of the series, in my opinion. So there's nothing to worry about.

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."-Gandalf


ShireHorse
Rohan

Jun 16 2013, 12:14pm


Views: 211
Perhaps "excuses" is the wrong word, demnation,

and "reasons" is a better one. My training means that I cannot, sadly, read a book without analysing it. If I feel that a book has "problems" and the author is one whom I respect, like Tolkien, rather than just dismissing it as bad writing, I try to find reasons to explain why he wrote that way.

An example would be the way that TH reaches a climax with the death of Smaug - and then continues - not in a small, tidying up way, but for chapters. It startled me the first time I read the book and many of the children I read it with yawned and questioned the structure. For myself and for my pupils, I had to find a reason - and I found quite a few in the end that satisfied all concerned and provided us with some good discussion material about the different ways in which to write a story.

One reason, I felt, was Tolkien's Anglo-Saxon background and I think that the structure of Beowulf is influencing him here where the climax at first seems to be the deaths of Grendel and his mother; but, like TH, the story drifts on further into Beowulf's old age where his final downfall is brought about by pride. The author was saying something more about the heroic ideal just as Tolkien, I decided, was saying more about war and conflict, even if many (not all, I know) children, reading this children's book, found it tiresome. You'll be pleased to know, now that I feel I understand, I now love this part of the book. Jackson, however, will have a tough time convincing his audience, just as I did mine, that they shouldn't lose interest once Smaug is dead.

In the same way as I found reasons to explain what appeared to be bad writing in TH, so I quite easily found reasons to explain why PJ, as a film-maker, telling the story in a different medium, had to make changes in AUJ. Once I understood his reasons, I have come to love the film.

On an added note: after my son had seen the film of Beowulf, he phoned me to assure me that I wouldn't like it since he knew that I had read it in the original Anglo-Saxon and they had messed around with the story-line. (A naked Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother, anyone?) But, I thought the changes were very clever, helped to tie in various disparate ideas from the original poem and reached out to a modern audience. Loved it. Jackson is doing similar things, but without the nudity, LOL!

Thank you for asking that question, demnation. It made me think a bit.


Ham_Sammy
Tol Eressea

Jun 16 2013, 2:06pm


Views: 184
Good Post SH

Agree entirely. For one thing a movie is not a book. The stories are conveyed to the audience differently. A book has many pages to set up a scene. A movie only has a short period of time due to the confines of a running time. This is why, for instance, Bombadil was not in FOTR. Many people railed on the fact that he was not included but honestly, he would not have fit in the overall context of the film. He was great in Tolkien's story, but in film he would not have worked. Also a movie is played to a very varied audience. Young, old, people who like fantasy, those who do not, people familiar with the source, those who are new to it etc. It has to appeal visually to both. In this respect a movie depends on visuals to get the point across.

Changes have to be made to a story to adapt it to film. That's why it's called an "adapted screenplay". I think you kind of have to keep an open mind about the source. I felt the same way about Girl with the Dragon Tatoo. The books and film were different in many respects but I really enjoyed both and same with The Hobbit.

A good example ironically of adaptation is Gatiss and Moffit's Sherlock. They took ACD's stories and characters, set them in the modern era, updated the characters and set them in a context I think that people can related to. It has added an entire breath of fresh air to ACD's original stories as well as invigorated people to read the originals as well as enjoy the modern adaptation. Freeman and Cumberbatch completely relaunched that entire canon with their performances and the writing, although based on the source material, is not a slave to it.

Thank you for your questions, now go sod off and do something useful - Martin Freeman Twitter chat 3/1/13


Elenorflower
Gondor


Jun 17 2013, 4:02pm


Views: 129
LOL

that made me giggle Wink


Elenorflower
Gondor


Jun 17 2013, 4:05pm


Views: 137
I shouldnt have thought

it would make much difference, PJs Master is going to be very different from the book. The Master in the book was a selfish greedy egotist but he wasnt gross neither did he eat testicles, so I dont think the book would have been any help.


Glorfindela
Valinor


Jun 17 2013, 10:54pm


Views: 109
Testicles are considered a delicacy in France (in the category offal)

I once ate them at a cookery photo shoot involving one of the world's best cooks (of the last few decades), who learned all of his culinary skills in France and was very much respected there.


In Reply To
it would make much difference, PJs Master is going to be very different from the book. The Master in the book was a selfish greedy egotist but he wasnt gross neither did he eat testicles, so I dont think the book would have been any help.



(This post was edited by Glorfindela on Jun 17 2013, 10:55pm)


Lusitano
Tol Eressea


Jun 17 2013, 11:52pm


Views: 105
I have eaten testicles before as well

though...i wont say where they came from...Angelic

Vous commencez à m'ennuyer avec le port!!!


Glorfindela
Valinor


Jun 18 2013, 8:53am


Views: 89
Congratulations!

They are certainly tasty…


In Reply To
though...i wont say where they came from...Angelic



aarondirebear
Bree

Jul 26 2013, 2:50pm


Views: 62
no


In Reply To
it is probably a good thing Mr. Fry ha not read the book.


No, it is not.
And there ought to be a law.
Actors, directors, crewmen, writers, everyone involved in an adaptation should be required by law to read the source material.

"Others are inclined to say that any two stories that are built round the same folk-lore motive, or are made up of a generally similar combination of such motives, are "the same stories." Statements of that kind are not true, they are not true in art or literature. It is precisely the colouring, the atmosphere, the unclassifiable individual details of a story, and above all the general purport that informs with life the undissected bones of the plot, that really count." J.R.R. Tolkien


aarondirebear
Bree

Jul 26 2013, 2:55pm


Views: 67
tired cliche


In Reply To
Agree entirely. For one thing a movie is not a book. The stories are conveyed to the audience differently. A book has many pages to set up a scene. A movie only has a short period of time due to the confines of a running time. This is why, for instance, Bombadil was not in FOTR. Many people railed on the fact that he was not included but honestly, he would not have fit in the overall context of the film. He was great in Tolkien's story, but in film he would not have worked. Also a movie is played to a very varied audience. Young, old, people who like fantasy, those who do not, people familiar with the source, those who are new to it etc. It has to appeal visually to both. In this respect a movie depends on visuals to get the point across.

Changes have to be made to a story to adapt it to film. That's why it's called an "adapted screenplay". I think you kind of have to keep an open mind about the source. I felt the same way about Girl with the Dragon Tatoo. The books and film were different in many respects but I really enjoyed both and same with The Hobbit.

A good example ironically of adaptation is Gatiss and Moffit's Sherlock. They took ACD's stories and characters, set them in the modern era, updated the characters and set them in a context I think that people can related to. It has added an entire breath of fresh air to ACD's original stories as well as invigorated people to read the originals as well as enjoy the modern adaptation. Freeman and Cumberbatch completely relaunched that entire canon with their performances and the writing, although based on the source material, is not a slave to it.


You do not HAVE TO MAKE CHANGES! There is no law nor any obligation to conform to some HOllywood standard. A movie adaptation can be failthul, accurate, and good at the same time.
I am sick and tired of the cliche argument of "movies and books tell stories differently" because it holds no water. What part of "movies have to be different" justifies the Bunny Sled?

"Others are inclined to say that any two stories that are built round the same folk-lore motive, or are made up of a generally similar combination of such motives, are "the same stories." Statements of that kind are not true, they are not true in art or literature. It is precisely the colouring, the atmosphere, the unclassifiable individual details of a story, and above all the general purport that informs with life the undissected bones of the plot, that really count." J.R.R. Tolkien

(This post was edited by Hengist on Jul 26 2013, 3:14pm)