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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
New 'Collider' video interview with Benedict Cumberbatch about his role as Smaug

Registered User

Nov 22 2011, 2:30am

Post #1 of 23 (1777 views)
New 'Collider' video interview with Benedict Cumberbatch about his role as Smaug Can't Post

Hello all. I've long enjoyed visiting this website, and thought I'd finally take the chance to join in!

Of course I come bearing gifts. Here's a new interview with Benedict Cumberbatch where he talks about his preparation for the upcoming role of Smaug, including confirmation that he will begin filming in a month's time:


On a relevant side note, Benedict won an Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actor last night for his performance in Danny Boyle's 'Frankenstein', a role which he mentions in this interview as proof that he will be suited to the motion capture work required for the Smaug role.

(This post was edited by ejayye on Nov 22 2011, 2:39am)

Tol Eressea

Nov 22 2011, 3:08am

Post #2 of 23 (702 views)
still have no blooming clue how on earth this Mo-cap will be pulled-off. [In reply to] Can't Post

I just hope it will be AWESOME

The Blue Wizards = Enigma = Great topic for Fan Fiction (proper fan fiction of course)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Nov 22 2011, 3:15am

Post #3 of 23 (677 views)
Well, hi, and welcome to TORn! [In reply to] Can't Post

And what a "mathom" to start off with! Thank you for that dainty, I hope Cumberbatch will be able to tell us more about his Smaug experiences as the filming progresses! Smile


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915

Grey Havens

Nov 22 2011, 3:32am

Post #4 of 23 (665 views)
Thank you for this [In reply to] Can't Post

First off, kudos to Cumberbatch for pronouncing Smaug's name correctly. I'm hoping that when he said he was "taught" to say it that way, he means that PJ and the dialect coaches told him to do so. In which case, I can breathe easy.

The fact that he's so enthusiastic about it has me grinning like an idiot. I'm ridiculously excited to see what he's going to do with this.


Nov 22 2011, 5:02am

Post #5 of 23 (715 views)
Am I reading too much into it? Sure... [In reply to] Can't Post

It sounds to me... at that part where BC talks about going down in January... that the way he mentions "They've been shooting the first film" makes me think Smaug is mainly in the second one.

Now I'm not saying that Smaug won't be seen AT ALL in the first film - or that they're not going to be still shooting bits and pieces of the first film all the way till the end of principle photography (even if it's not in "the plan" watching the LOTR EE behind the scenes has shown me that they won't be done with the first film until it's actually released in cinemas) but it just sounds like Smaug's real role starts in the second one.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it - but I don't think so. Besides, most of us on here seem to the think the first movie will end before they get to the lonely mountain anyway. But this interview kind of confirmed it for me.

"Tim... Canterbury... Canterbury Tales... Chaucer... Shakespeare."

Grey Havens

Nov 22 2011, 5:21am

Post #6 of 23 (696 views)
Not surprising in the least [In reply to] Can't Post

It's possible we'll see glimpses of Smaug during flashbacks in Film One, but he is definitely a Film Two character.


Nov 22 2011, 10:53am

Post #7 of 23 (579 views)
Ray Winstone Mo-Capped the dragon in Beowulf [In reply to] Can't Post

It just gives a fluidity to the animation. I would have preferred a mo-capped puppet like the banshees in Avatar, but we'll see how this works.


Nov 22 2011, 2:31pm

Post #8 of 23 (501 views)
Thanks [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't get the video to play. All I get is the trailer for Hugo and then it freezes. Can anybody help.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Nov 22 2011, 2:40pm

Post #9 of 23 (551 views)
I can't imagine how WETA will pull it off... [In reply to] Can't Post

... but I have complete faith in them. They're the best in the business afterall.

Just like PJ and WETA broke new ground with Gollum's motion capture on LOTR, I think after The Hobbit, they'll have broken new ground with using mo-cap effectively for beasts as well Cool

Registered User

Nov 22 2011, 3:11pm

Post #10 of 23 (507 views)
Alternate video [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi, this nice person on youtube has uploaded the same interview here:

Hope that helps! However, if that still doesn't work for you, there is at least a transcript of the interview found at the Collider website.

Registered User

Nov 22 2011, 3:18pm

Post #11 of 23 (491 views)
Thank you [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for being so welcoming :)

I cannot wait to hear more about Smaug, as when I come to think of it the filmmakers have really told us nothing yet about what direction they're going to take with his portrayal, apart from the technical aspect of mocap being used and the hiring of Cumberbatch. The great thing about Cumberbatch, though, is that when I've seen him give interviews here in the U.K. he tends to get very passionate about subjects and ramble on with a lot of detail!


Nov 22 2011, 3:34pm

Post #12 of 23 (444 views)
Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

That worked. Smile Thanks

Oleander Took

Nov 22 2011, 4:28pm

Post #13 of 23 (491 views)
Welcome ejayye and thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

I saw it yesterday after my sister dragged me out of bed, just to see it.Laugh, i was quite zombie at the time.

Now that you mention his role as Frankenstein, my sister (again), has always told me that one of Benedict's pictures as The Creature could be useful to understand his bodywork for Smaug,


And to round the Evening Standard Theatre Award ceremony information, look who was there having a little chat with Ben/Smaug Wink





The direct links will take you to the full sizes. Credits to Deareje in Tumblr for the Awards pics (via my sis).

"There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something."

(This post was edited by Oleander Took on Nov 22 2011, 4:32pm)


Nov 22 2011, 4:48pm

Post #14 of 23 (490 views)
Know we know we'll have a "talking" dragon [In reply to] Can't Post

And not the telepathic speech thing a' la Eragon. I can't imagine them going through the trouble of mo-capping him if they aren't going to be having him actually delivering his dialogue through his performance and not just a voiceover.

I seem to recall we came by information previously suggesting this, but this is still good news too me as it makes it more certain we won't have the telepathic speech. I could just see Bilbo saying "Dude! Get out of my head!"

Registered User

Nov 22 2011, 4:59pm

Post #15 of 23 (481 views)
Villains United [In reply to] Can't Post

You're most welcome Oleander - it's so nice to finally join in.

That image really does suggest similar body work to that which Cumberbatch is preparing for Smaug, and also implies he'll have few qualms about donning the skintight mocap suit!

And it's lovely to see him getting on so well with Stephen Fry. I wonder if Stephen's moustache is for the Master of Laketown? Plus, combined with the fact that Barry Humphries was hosting the ES Theatre Awards as Dame Edna, it seems we had a full house of Hobbit villains!

The Shire

Nov 22 2011, 5:26pm

Post #16 of 23 (446 views)
so where the first movie will end? [In reply to] Can't Post

from this interview and all the video blog i think the first movie will end with the escape from the elf of mirkwood with the barrels, what do you think?

It's possible we'll see glimpses of Smaug during flashbacks in Film One, but he is definitely a Film Two character.


Nov 22 2011, 5:51pm

Post #17 of 23 (478 views)
Bard may be introduced in Part One... [In reply to] Can't Post

Recent news items indicate that Bard may first appear at the end of An Unexpected Journey, perhaps as the guard captain who greets Thorin and Company at Lake-town. My guess is that this will be the point at which the story breaks.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.

Tol Eressea

Nov 23 2011, 1:06am

Post #18 of 23 (337 views)
Smaug bad guy in movie [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm pretty sure Smaug will barely be seen in movie one and the main bad guy in movie two. where as the necromancer will be the opposite Main bad guy in movie one and the white council business with him will wrap up with ousting him from DolGuldur at the end of movie one with maybe a scene or 2 of White council stuff after they have gotten rid of the necromancer never referring to him as Sauron, then movie 2 will open with Thorin dreaming of Erobor and Smaug taking the lonely mountain from the dwarfs... I for one can NOT wait to see Smaug in all his glory they may tease us with maybe a claw or eyeball or something to make us drool in movie one though

Tol Eressea

Nov 23 2011, 1:52am

Post #19 of 23 (342 views)
Bard in film one [In reply to] Can't Post

I also think we will see Bard in the first film, I'm not sure about him being captain of the guard but I think he will be there. good way to intro him and not give away too much.

Heres how I see the film spitting...
Bilbo rescues the dwarfs from Thranduils prison and after floating down the river they finally arrive at Laketown. while the men of Laketown are getting the Barrels out of the water Bilbo is watching quietly from a safe distance. upon bringing up the last barrel it smashes onto the dock and a battered, drenched, beaten and bruised Thorin crashes down raising himself almost as if he is going to stand giving a kingly type speech that "the true king under the mountain has returned" and then collapses onto the dock unconscious. Bard and several other men of Laketown are watching with bewildered looks on their faces and break open other barrels to find more dwarfs. Elves of Mirkwood are protesting saying that they are the Elf Kings prisoners and should be returned to him, the captain of the guard decides they should be taken to the Master of Laketown instead, the elves leave. Bilbo rejoins the Dwarfs as they are mending somewhere in Laketown at the end we see Bilbo standing on the docks of Laketown looking up at the lonely mountain, storm is coming in with Thunder and lightning in the distance getting closer and just before Bilbo wishes he was at home in his cozy hobbit hole (like in the book) we hear what could be thunder or it could have been a dragons roar coming from the mountain. mixed the same way Gandalf and Saruman's voices were in the Two Towers when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli met Gandalf the white. it would end the films with a bit of drama and then calm things back down, making you want part 2 as soon as you leave the theater.
Film 2 would start with a flashback of Thorin dreaming about Erobor and Smaug taking the lonely mountain. showing lots of glimpses of wingtips, shadow, and flames maybe an odd tale shot swooping thru but never a full shot of Smaug. making you want to see him so bad you can taste it. and just as you want more Smaug Thorin wakes from a dream almost fully refreshed in a nice bed in Laketown. maybe woken by Bilbo or Bard saying the Master of Laketown wants to see him.
or thats how I would end film one and begin film 2 anyways


Nov 23 2011, 12:57pm

Post #20 of 23 (241 views)
Personally, I'd stick a bit closer to the book. [In reply to] Can't Post

Your description of the end of An Unexpected Journey is too reminiscent of the Rankin/Bass animated film--especially with Thorin declaring himself and then collapsing in exhaustion. Bilbo can free the Dwarves as he does in the book and they can reach Lake-town as a group.

Tolkien already described Bard as a captain of the town guard. It would be a simple matter to make him the same captain who escorts the company to the Master of Lake-town. This introduces him to the audience earlier and opens up opportunities to flesh out his personality and background for the filmgoers.

As to how There and Back Again should begin, I imagine that we will start off by returning to the framing device of Frodo and the older Bilbo. The rest depends upon how Part One left things.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.


Nov 23 2011, 3:53pm

Post #21 of 23 (249 views)
Smaug shouldn't be revealed too early [In reply to] Can't Post

I think we really shouldn't see Smaug at all before Bilbo does. When he goes down into the mountain where Smaug lies, with that weird mixture of emotions, we should be just as curious as him about the looks of the dragon.

If there is a Film 2 prologue with stuff about Smaug attacking Erebor, it should be done as in the flashback in the animated version. Aerial shots from Smaugs's perspective are possible, or just a shadow that passes over the mountain, some stuff like that.

He should not be revealed until Bilbo meets him. Yes, that's late in the 2-film adaptation, but I hope that's what they'll do.


Nov 23 2011, 4:12pm

Post #22 of 23 (234 views)
Agreed, about not showing Smaug. [In reply to] Can't Post

about Smaug attacking Erebor, it should be done as in the flashback

I think if they want to show the attack on Erebor, they don't have to show Smaug - just lots of screaming citizens, fire and perhaps a few Dwarf warriors looking up at the sky and coming under the shadow of great wings, and then flames blasting down.

Somehow I think they may try to avoid showing a 'pre-waistcoat' Smaug.

So, I've been pronouncing Smaug incorrectly all these years.

Tol Eressea

Nov 24 2011, 5:38pm

Post #23 of 23 (206 views)
Also agree about Smaug [In reply to] Can't Post

they could show just bits but nothing that really shows the audience anything at all and then when Bilbo gets to the bottom of the tunnel they Show what Bilbo sees Smaug in all his Glorymaybe panning up from a shot of the treasure slowly to like the tip of his tail and slowly panning around to his face just as how Bilbo may be looking at him. give the audience the same feeling of awe that that Bilbo has looking upon him for the first time.


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