Lurker in the Mirk
Apr 12 2014, 4:38am
Since we're basically twiddling thumbs waiting for new stuff, how about some research and analysis?
Character, Set Design, Costume and other behind the scene thoughts from assorted interviews
I found some interviews on characters, design and so on here. Lifting the Thranduil bits for your reading , click on the title to go to the original article (sorry if they're old hat, I don't recall seeing any of it in this forum):
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG DAN HENNAH (Production Design) Q&A
"QUESTION: What was your approach to designing Mirkwood?
DAN HENNAH: We really bought into it the fact that these Dwarves get into Mirkwood and become quite disoriented. We attributed this to the spores from the fungi that grows on the trees there. Pretty much everywhere you look, there is some form of fungus, and these fungi are giving off narcotic spores that the Dwarves are breathing in.
The idea was that we would take the audience into this sort of psychedelic place, so we used a lot of color. Big, old trees with lots of gnarly arms and fungi growing on them, and then on top of that, a lot of color—to the point where, when you walked on the set, the colors were much more garish than they’ll ever appear on the film because of the 48fps effect and the 3D. But the idea was to make it psychedelic and it certainly felt that way walking around in it.
The Spiders in Mirkwood are a mostly digital element, but we had to build some real elements like webs and create an environment in which these Spiders could live without brushing up against foliage and giving themselves away.
QUESTION: What was your approach to creating the Woodland Realm, the domain of Thranduil and the Elves?
DAN HENNAH: Thranduil’s environment is inside a mountain, inside a cave. We seem to have quite a few cave environments in these films. [Laughs]
The Wood-elves come from the forest, and they found a really safe place that they could defend inside this mountain. In the very early days, they found a huge limestone cave system, and they’ve brought the forest in with them. They’ve carved images inside this cave system that they relate to the forest, so all the pillars have become tree trunks. As they’ve developed this underground realm, they’ve decorated it in a way that reminds them of the forest from which they come, and the forest that they are still protecting.
Also, being a cave system inside a mountain, it’s a three-dimensional cave system, not just a flat-bottomed cave. It has ravines and caves below and caves above; walkways and big limestone bridges that run through the middle of it; and lots of huge tree roots that run down into the cave system to pick up water from the rivers that run underneath it. Thranduil’s cave is very complex, and very stylized. It’s very reminiscent of the art nouveau elements we used at Rivendell, but in a much more confined environment.
QUESTION: And this cave system is the setting for the barrel chase that ensues when the Dwarves make their escape?
DAN HENNAH: Right. The Elves buy a lot of apples and wine and various things in barrels from Lake-town or traders passing through. They send the empty barrels back to Lake-town through their system of flumes and channels that they have cut into the hillside and connected to tributaries of rivers. The barrels float, and when they put them in these channels of water, they make their way back down to the river, which feeds them into the Long Lake, where Lake-town was built. So, every few days, they recycle their packaging, so to speak. In the story, we discover this is happening and then Bilbo uses it to help the Dwarves escape."
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG JOE LETTERI (Senior Visual Effects Supervisor) Q&A
QUESTION: How did the sequence with the Spiders come together, and what were the challenges you faced in bringing it to life?
JOE LETTERI: The Spiders were really Interesting because we were trying play with them spatially. Everything that happens with them takes place up in the canopy of the forest, in the treetops. That was Peter [Jackson]’s idea. These Spiders are moving from branch to branch, from limb to limb, using webs to travel through the trees, and we could really play with the three dimensionality of it because everything is happening through space.
That makes it really tricky to figure out the motion, because you’re starting with nothing, in a way. So we’d choreograph the Spiders in space to get the action we wanted towards camera, and then figure out how to move trees, branches, limbs and webs around to be where their feet connected to get the proper action.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG BOB BUCK (Costume Design) Q&A
QUESTION: What was your process for designing the costumes for the Mirkwood Elves, specifically Legolas, Tauriel and Thranduil?
BOB BUCK: Mirkwood is a darker place than Rivendell. Elves are long, lean and very elegant, but there’s more darkness and a sense of danger about the Mirkwood Elves.
When we were talking to Evangeline Lilly about her costume, we discussed how Tauriel is beautiful and earthy, but she’s got a sting to her. There’s a danger about her. There is also a different hierarchy in that world: you have the Silvan Elves like Tauriel, which are the lower Elves, and you have the High Elves like King Thranduil and Legolas the Prince.
We first see Legolas and Tauriel in the forest. Legolas is in his princely robes—the clothes of the court—because when he’s around the fortress, he is a young prince, and so his clothes are more befitting of a prince, rather than what we call his traveling costume, which is more of what you see in The Lord of the Rings movies. There’s definitely a casual look versus a formal look, and that was something interesting to bring into the world of Mirkwood, as opposed to Rivendell, which is more about aesthetics of a people who don’t actually venture out that much.
With Legolas, we had to keep him in the iconic colors and materials that we saw in The Lord of the Rings movies, such as the green suede. You couldn’t lose that iconic quality of Legolas
because that’s what we had established, but you could put a slightly different cut and details on it because time has passed.
With Tauriel’s costume, I used the materials from the world of the Mirkwood Elves. She’s in suede as well. The Silvan Elves have two costumes, a formal one and one for traveling. It’s not actually a formal costume; it’s more like a camouflage for when they go out into the forest. Their main job is to patrol the forest, especially as things are getting stranger with the Spiders presence. It’s autumn time, so they are able to blend in, and this gives them the element of surprise when they are on patrol. These costumes are very autumnal; there’s a very organic quality about them that helps them fit into the trees, the trunks, the branches and the leaves.
When they’re inside the fortress and traveling outside Mirkwood, they wear a traveling costume, and you see Tauriel in various stages of this. When she leaves the Realm, she dons other layers, like a traveling coat.
It’s very important to keep a simplicity and an elegance about these costumes. You definitely had to think about hair and necklines and keeping things quite refined, especially with the Elves. Refined and sharp are words for the Mirkwood Elves. There’s always a bit of a spike about the decoration, a bit of a barb. There’s a feeling of the beauty of nature, but also the danger. You need to keep things pared back and refined so that it’s more about the whole. Sometimes you’ve got to pull back to make the character shine. It’s not about the costume; you’re helping to tell the story.
With Thranduil, we established a bit of his look in the beginning of the first film. He’s got a long, lean quality, which Lee Pace inherently has, being the statuesque, wonderful man he is. He’s got such a great presence and wears clothes wonderfully. Accentuating that long, lean quality was the primary objective, and also giving him a richness and a kingly darkness. He has these big, voluptuous, draping robes that hang off him to create that sense of opulence and grandeur befitting a king. He’s also thousands of years old, so there needs to be an aged tenor, an antique quality about these clothes to show that they have been around for a long time.
It’s great when you have fittings with the actor, but then when you see it with the hair and the makeup, it all becomes one. Thranduil’s hair is so iconic and wonderfully creative, it makes him even longer. When you put that together with his garment, it’s just amazing. It makes it all work.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG RICHARD TAYLOR (Armor, Weapons, Creatures and Special Makeup) Q&A
QUESTION: Can you take us through the scope of what you and Weta Workshop have been working on for the second film?
RICHARD TAYLOR: ...Specifically, we’ve got the new Elves arriving. We’ve got Tauriel; we’ve got the King of the Elves, played by Lee Pace, which is exciting; and the Wood-elves, whom we’ll see in Mirkwood Forest, which is really exciting for us, because that’s a race of characters that we love working on....
QUESTION: What do you consider your biggest challenge on this film?
RICHARD TAYLOR: Oh, there are so many fantastic new things in the second film. We’ve got the Spiders, although we haven’t made them because they’re all digital. We did concept design for them and modeled them...
... Trying to reinvigorate the Orcs and Elves, and do something dynamic and special with them has been one of the challenges for us on the second film. Designing Elves is a really interesting challenge because you don’t want them to appear apathetic and weak as a race by letting their armor get too floral or artistic. It’s very important that they as a race of people look incredibly dynamic and powerful. At the end of the day, they are trained killers. They’re assassins. Yet their armor needs to look almost Renaissance-like in its beauty, perfection and sophistication. You’ve got to find that very delicate balance where it doesn’t look like a 17th century dandy, but still gives the actors an incredible presence, power and vitality, while still looking very beautiful and ‘high art.’
That’s the line that you travel along in designing a race of characters like the Elves, but it’s a delightful line, because it’s a delightful race to be designing. You can appreciate the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter’s vision. Ultimately, getting to design a group of characters like that is nearly euphoric.
QUESTION: Can you talk about the armor and weapons you made for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, particularly the Elves?
RICHARD TAYLOR: We made a significant amount of new armor. Almost all of it, for the lead actors, went through a complex process of development and elimination, then more development and trying different things. We experimented quite comprehensively to give the director and the writers something special. In a way it’s just prototyping, but it’s prototyping at a heightened speed because the deadline’s galloping up on you and you’ve only got access to the actor for so long.
It’s really interesting because people would naturally perceive that a great deal of the work can be done on body doubles. We actually scan the actors and then make molds of their bodies out of polystyrene so we have exact replicas of them in our workshop in the form of polystyrene mannequins. You can’t sculpt a hero’s prosthetics on a generic actor and hope it is going to fit on the lead actor’s face correctly. It’s the same with the armor and the costume; it is imperative that you see how the lead actor carries it, and what the actor’s attitude and essence is.
In the case of Tauriel, Thranduil and Legolas, that is even more critical, because their clothing is so specific and integral to their characters. It’s a part of them. It’s like a skin. On one level you’re designing haute couture, high fashion, because it has to have that level of aesthetic appeal. It’s more about the attitude that the clothes project than it is about the actual garments themselves.
If you are robing a person in regal clothes and trying to suggest that these garments have historical antecedents back through culture and time, they can’t look like they were just made in
the moment. They have to look as though there is a history behind why this character is wearing these particular garments.
We try to weave all of these aspects together and produce something that looks special and memorable to the director and specifically the writers. In addition to Peter, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens are very involved in costuming, especially around these types of characters. They have an unbelievably sharp eye for seeing design, fashion, beauty, aesthetic, balance and color—all these wonderfully complex elements. Your work is being vetted by arguably the best you could hope for. Ultimately, it all comes together through this amalgamation of people: the costume designers, the workshop team, and Peter, Fran, Philippa and myself.
QUESTION: Are there any specific pieces of armor, weapons or wardrobe you created for the Elves that you particularly enjoyed?
RICHARD TAYLOR: The Elves required a comprehensive round of armor and weapons design. With the weapons, one of the things that we wanted to try and play off of was the aesthetic of the forest in which they live, because most of the aesthetic of world design comes from the environment in which you live. If you look at an Italian town that has red-tiled roofs and stone brick walls, it’s because the quarries and the soils of that specific area define it. We try and bring that same ecological imprint into our own design.
In the case of Mirkwood, we looked at things like fungal growths on trees, plate funguses, the way mosses grow and the unique growth patterns that occur in wood. The problem is that if you pursue that line of thought too far, you’ll end up with a quasi-Flintstones meets bush baby look, which is no good. So you have to bring a level of Renaissance, art nouveau, very high art quality to how those graphics are symbolized in the formation of the weaponry.
As you’ll see when you watch the film, the way that Tauriel’s bow is structured—the tip of her arrow, the way the feathers are colored and even the way the shaft of the arrow has been whittled—is to look like it has an organic quality that represents the world in which she lives. As an Elven ninja, everything is at one with the world so that she can disappear into the foliage.
By contrast, the Elven Guards underneath the ground are more extravagant and flamboyant because of Thranduil’s need for grandeur, and therefore they are quite resplendent. They are not as organic as what we saw in the Rivendell Elves, but they definitely have a quality of clinical, highly efficient killers about them, and a master guard that is protecting an important Kingdom.
The auspices of their job have elevated them to this higher ranking that demand that their armor and weapons carry a signature of clinical, capable efficiency, and therefore they have a certain stature. They have a stature that is carried through their armor and their weapons, more so than anything that we’ve put on screen before in the world of Middle-earth. I’m excited to see what people think of these new races that we’ve been developing.
QUESTION: Did any of the actors have specific requests for, or give input regarding, their wardrobe and gear?
RICHARD TAYLOR: Yes, all the actors have input, which is good. One of the lovely ways in which Peter works is that he encourages comment and thought. That’s great for us, because it means that the actors feel a part of the experience and don’t feel that it’s just a fait accompli. It means that you get to interact a lot more fully.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG PHILIPPA BOYENS (Screenwriter/Co-Producer) Q&A
QUESTION: Was it a lot of fun for you to bring to life the sequence with the giant Spiders in Mirkwood?
PHILIPPA BOYENS: Yes, it was. It’s one of the obstacles for the Dwarves. They’re so close to their goal and can almost see the Lonely Mountain, as Bilbo does when he climbs up the trees and gets above the canopy of the forest. They’re so close, yet they have to get through this forest and it’s not an easy thing to do.
We had a lot of fun. Peter especially had a very strong sense that, as it does in The Lord of the Rings films, the old forest has a will of its own. There’s an evil that lies upon the forest now that leads you astray. It’s a very subtle thing. Suddenly you’re lost, and you don’t know quite how you got lost. It’s very creepy. In its own way the forest, in and of itself, becomes very dangerous, which is cool. And then we discover what else is in there, which is equally dangerous … the Elves.
QUESTION: What led you to bring Legolas back into the story, and what it was like to work with Orlando Bloom again, who memorably played the role in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy?
PHILIPPA BOYENS: The decision to include Legolas in The Hobbit Trilogy, even though he doesn’t actually appear in the book, was pretty easy. Our fans would have killed us if we hadn’t. The Mirkwood is his homeland. He is Legolas Greenleaf. He’s called that for a reason, as described in The Lord of the Rings. It is because he is a Mirkwood Elf. He’s from the Woodland Realm. His father is the Elvenking Thranduil, whom we met in the first Hobbit film. So it was pretty much a no-brainer that we were going to meet Legolas if we went into Mirkwood.
It also meant we got to work with Orlando Bloom again, which is always a good thing. He hadn’t changed after ten years—not just in terms of him being such a nice guy, a friend, and easy to work with, but also because he actually looked exactly the same, for which I cannot forgive him. [Laughs] He has the most extraordinary genes. I think he must be, in fact, part Elvish because he fit in his costume from The Lord of the Rings films and still looks like he’s 23, which is the age he was when he first came to us.
QUESTION: There’s an entirely new Elf in this film, which is Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly. What went into creating this character and what does Evangeline bring to the role?
PHILIPPA BOYENS: The decision to include Tauriel came with a decision that we made because we very strongly felt the lack of female characters. Beyond our ability to bring Galadriel into the story, we were pretty much bereft of any other female characters in the book. And what felt most natural was that she should be an Elf.
Once we made that decision and knew that we were going to meet a Woodland Elf, a Silvan Elf, which is quite different from the High Elves of Lothlórien and Rivendell, she started to come to life on her own. She’s more earthy than Galadriel or Arwen. She is in the Royal Guard. She has a job to do, so to speak.
She’s grown up defending the borders of the Woodland Realm. She’s a very skilled fighter. She’s an Elf, so there is a wisdom about her. She’s ethereal, but she’s also more earthy. She’s actually very inexperienced with the outside world. She has very little knowledge of it. So when a Company of Dwarves and this Hobbit come crashing into her world, she’s fascinated by them. Perhaps more so than someone like Legolas or Thranduil, who have experience with the outside world.
Then we had to find the person who could play that role, and that was not easy. We felt very lucky when Evangeline said yes and said she was up for doing it. She is a Tolkien fan. She has always loved the books and loved The Lord of the Rings movies. She was very aware that this was a new character that we were creating, and she wanted to be sure that we were going to do it properly. She became part of that process. She very much wanted to make sure that it was in keeping with the spirit of the books, and in keeping with what she could bring to the character. I think she did that in a spectacular way, and she’s created such a memorable character that I will guarantee you, she’s going to be a favorite.
QUESTION: Can you tell us about Thranduil, played by Lee Pace, and what makes him different from other Elf Lords?
PHILIPPA BOYENS: Thranduil is different. He is the father of Legolas and he resides in Mirkwood, which is a pretty dangerous place. The Elves of Mirkwood are described in the book as ‘less wise and more dangerous’ than other Elves—not less wise as in stupid, but perhaps more reckless, which adds to their danger. They’re more shut off from the rest of the world.
Thranduil is a High Elf, so he is actually very similar to Galadriel and Elrond, the other Elf Lords that we meet in The Hobbit films. But he’s different. The difference being—and here’s an interesting piece of trivia—he fought in The Last Alliance, the battle that opens The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the battle that you see Elrond fighting, when Isildur takes the Ring from Sauron. We know from the appendices of The Lord of the Rings that Thranduil was part of that. He’s very much a part of this world. But after The Last Alliance and the fall of Sauron, he didn’t leave Middle-earth, he stayed in Middle-earth and became the Elvenking, over a race of other Elves called Silvan Elves. They’re the Wood-elves of Mirkwood, which was called The Greenwood at that time.
What’s interesting about that is there is a kind hierarchy among the Elves of Mirkwood. There are the High Elves, which are Thranduil and Legolas, and then there are the more lowly, more earthy Elves, the Silvan Elves. Tauriel is a Silvan Elf. She’s very much an Elf of Middle-earth, whereas the High Elves have come from somewhere else across the seas, and they are slightly more ethereal.
Thranduil was a very hard character to cast. He’s the father of Legolas, so he’s got to be a fairly beautiful-looking Elf. We also needed the stillness, grace and sense of power that Elves possess, that sense of having lived a long time in the world, and of being separate from the other races. There’s always that distance between the Elves and the other races. Not so much with Legolas and Tauriel, because they engage with the world, but there is a sense with Elves such as Thranduil that they are separate from the goings on in the rest of the world.
When we meet him, Thranduil has already made the decision many years ago to isolate his people to protect them; to not engage with the rest of the world or the rise and fall of the fortunes of other races outside his borders. He has shut himself off. This is how he lives. To do this, he has created quite a strict, closed-off world around himself. His rule is law.
We needed to find an actor who could play this character with that sense of iciness, dispassion and ruthlessness. But we also knew that he’s not evil. He’s ultimately still good.
It was very hard to find someone who can bring all that status to the character that Thranduil requires, but yet still engage the audience, still be interesting and able to draw us into his world, how he’s thinking and what he’s feeling. He’s sympathetic in a strange way.
That was a very difficult role to cast. On the way back from England on our casting trip in 2010, we stopped in New York for one reason and one reason only, and that was to meet with Lee Pace. He was the only person we were meeting with in New York at that time. We met with him and by the time he left, we knew we’d found Thranduil.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG CAST AND FILMMAKERS QA
QUESTION: Peter, I wanted to ask you about making three movies instead of two. Did that allow you to make the second chapter more action-packed and what character benefited the most from that decision?
PETER JACKSON: It’s an interesting question. I don’t think any character really benefited from that decision. We didn’t really change a lot. We made that decision after we had shot most of the film. It was a decision based on what we had shot. We just thought we were going to have to somehow cut a lot of this stuff out, or we could reshape it.
Look, what it does is it allows you to let the characters drive the story, because in a novel, the writer of the novel is often the person who narrates the story, who takes you on the journey, and Tolkien’s voice is obviously fantastic at doing that. You feel like he’s right beside you telling you a bedtime story. But in the movie, you don’t want me on screen talking about what’s happening. So, the discipline on a film is you have to have the story told through the dialog of the characters, through the actions of the characters.
We ended up wanting to explore some of the character depth that we had done on The Lord of the Rings films. I was also acutely aware that, ultimately, when this cycle of releasing a movie each year is done, you’re going to end up with six films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey being the beginning and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King being the end, and I did want to have a unity. We wanted it to feel like it was the same filmmakers, basically, going through the story.
People always ask about Evangeline’s character, Tauriel, and why we felt the need to create her. But in The Hobbit novel, they are captured by the Elves and they escape in the barrels. It’s a memorable part of the book, but the Elvenking is not even named. He doesn’t have a name. And it was only later on that Tolkien decided that he should be Thranduil. He also decided that he had a son when The Lord of the Rings was written 18 or 19 years later. He created the character of the son of the King, so you’ve got material there.
But you can’t have a scene in a film that’s a memorable scene and not have just one person as the Elf. We wanted three Elven characters who were all different. That’s the thing, too, is to create characters that have conflict with each other, and have different agendas. Thranduil, Legolas and Tauriel are all on different flight paths, which makes for a much more interesting way for Philippa, Fran and I to write the narrative through their eyes.
... ... ...
PETER JACKSON: I’ve said this to Evangeline, but I have spent more time in her company when she’s wearing the wig and the ears and I look here and find it a bit strange. Because, obviously, I’m much more used to hearing her voice, looking around and seeing the red wig and the ears. That’s actually one of the strange things, because the actors walk on the set ready to shoot. And they go home at the end of the day and I’m just not used to any of this stuff, to see them as humans. [Laughs] It’s rather disturbing. [Lurker: just had to include this bit ]
And... the piece de resistance.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG LEE PACE (Thranduil) Q&A
QUESTION: What was your reaction to landing the role of Thranduil in The Hobbit Trilogy, and had you read the novel prior to being cast?
LEE PACE: Yeah, it was a huge honor and a privilege to get asked to be a part of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth. I was a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings movies. My dad had given me The Hobbit when I was a kid. I don’t remember how old I was, but I have a real strong memory of him putting the book in my hand. He’s from a place calledChickasha,Oklahoma, where I was born, and a Bilbo Baggins is buried in the graveyard there. When we would be walking around the graveyard, you could say, ‘Look, this is where Bilbo Baggins ended up, inChickasha,Oklahoma.’ So I remembered it from that.
And then I got The Lord of the Rings when I was in high school and I remember reading that. Since then, my memory of the book has completely been lost because of seeing The Lord of the Rings movies, and my imagination of it has been replaced by those movies. But, yeah, it was such a huge, exciting thing to get asked to be a part of.
One thing I love about being in the movies is that when a kid will come up to me and want to talk about The Hobbit, I’m like, ‘Have you read it yet?’ Because it’s such a great book for kids to read because you’re never too young to pick up that book.
QUESTION: What was the experience like for you to then travel to New Zealand and join this merry company of filmmakers and actors who have been putting this movie together?
LEE PACE: Honest, if you’ve never been toNew Zealand, you’d better run to get there because it is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been in the world. And I’ve shot some really cool places—India,China,South Africa. I had the good fortune to travel a lot with work, but nothing has been likeNew Zealand. It is such an astonishingly beautiful place. And although I shot most of my stuff on the sound stages, I got great opportunities to travel all over the country. I hiked around toLakeWaikaremoana, around theSouth Island. I hikedAbelTasmanNational Parkand the Northern Circuit around Tongariro. The country never ceases to amaze me. It makes me think of whatAmericamust have looked like before we got to be so many people here.
QUESTION: All of the Elves have a gravity to them, but particularly Thranduil. I was wondering if you could tell me about him.
LEE PACE: After working on his character for three years, I can blabber on and on and on about my boring character research. No, within these three years, there have been so many great inspirations for the character. Of course, there’s J.R.R. Tolkien and his work. And Thranduil the Elvenking was the first Elf that he wrote.
His inspirations are very, very interesting to me. I thought of Oberon, the Fisher King … How do I begin to describe it? The thing about the Elves, the thing about this Elf, Thranduil, is that he’s not like people. They’re not like people. They don’t understand things like people. They’re more like a blizzard, or a very old tree, or a bear, or a tiger. They’re wild things. ‘He was the King of the Elves on the other side of the Wild,’ that’s what Tolkien wrote. He’s an exquisite thing, but he’s wild and dangerous because of his wildness—not because he’s evil, because he’s wild. That was the thing that I found very, very interesting.
One of the first things that I was trying to figure out when I was playing the character, before I even flew down toNew Zealand, is that whereas all the other Elves go West to Valinor, he stays. He remains in Middle-earth, and Mirkwood is restored to theGreenwoodby then. But he remains. He never goes West. He never chooses that passage.
Tolkien has said that he enjoys his immortality, but I don’t even know if he enjoys it because I don’t know if he feels joy the way we understand it. It opens every way I have into a character when you think none of these rules apply, like his understanding of love is different. It’s more profound. It’s deeper. His understanding of pain is more profound. He is tough and cold at heart like a diamond. But he is also sensitive, and I don’t mean emotionally sensitive. I mean, I believe that not a leaf moves in that forest that he doesn’t feel.
QUESTION: So along comes this Company of Dwarves. How does Thranduil see their Quest and Throrin in the context of what’s happening in Middle-earth?
LEE PACE: I’ll take a step away from being the actor who plays Thranduil. I love the Dwarves. I think the story that Peter Jackson tells, that Tolkien tells about the Dwarves, is heartbreaking and beautiful—that this group of brave men go not to reclaim their money, but to make one Hail Mary pass to keep their culture alive. That’s what I think is pretty incredible.
But Thranduil looks at it differently, and I understand how he sees it. That was another big riddle that I was committed to solving—I have to be able to understand why he makes this decision. And it’s not just because he’s trying to kill the party. Look, these thirteen Dwarves come walking through the woods to go wake up a Dragon. What would you do if you had some empty dungeons down there? He stops them. He says, ‘No, kids, you’re not going any further.’ He’s 3,000 years old. He’s fought Dragons. He knows how hard they are to kill. You don’t wake them up when they’re asleep.
QUESTION: He also has the history with Thorin.
LEE PACE: He has history with Thorin’s father, Thorin’s father’s father, and Thorin’s father’s father’s father. He knows them all. And, as you remember in the prologue, there was a little bit of a look between Thranduil and Thorin’s grandfather. What that look is about is, ‘I see all this wealth you’re accumulating, and you’re going to burn. You are hoarding away a mountain of gold, and no good will come of it.’ That’s the wisdom of the Elves; that’s what they know. It’s not his business to tell the Dwarves how to run their lives, but it is his business to protect his people and to survive. That’s the obligation of the immortal.
If you’ve been given the gift of immortality, you’ve got to not be foolish with it. He doesn’t hate. It would be one thing to just be like ‘Dwarves hate Elves and Elves hate Dwarves.’ But there are real reasons why they don’t agree, and that’s one of them, this wealth thing. He’s a natural creature. He doesn’t understand wealth in that way. He doesn’t understand wanting to accumulate it. I guess that means something to the Dragon.
The work of Tolkien is so full of evocative symbols. That’s what makes this movie resonate across the globe the way it does, because it’s not about a New Yorker trying to get to the other side of town. This is about these symbols, this Hobbit on the other side of the Wild. It’s an incredibly moving story about the profound effect one good person can have amidst Kings of Elves and Dragons.
QUESTION: One last question: What was your reaction to when you first put on the ears, and the clothes, and the hairstyling? What did it feel like to look at yourself and see Thranduil?
LEE PACE: It was a little chilling, to be honest. I looked so different from myself. Obviously, I’m not going to play this Elvenking like me. No one wants to see that. But, yeah, it was very interesting. The way the character is designed—he’s beautiful, he’s exquisite. There’s something very ethereal about him. But also unforgiving and cold. We figured that out with the way he looks before I even shot a scene. We would do the costume fittings and I would be like, ‘Yeah, he takes up a lot of space this guy. He belongs on a throne.’
My word! What lovely forearm definition and size, as befitting a legendary warrior! (Source and bigger pic)
Thranduil Appreciation thread III
Thranduil Appreciation thread II
Thranduil Appreciation thread
(This post was edited by Lurker in the Mirk on Apr 12 2014, 4:47am)