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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Early reactions to casting: A proverbial walk down memory lane

Grey Havens

Feb 26 2013, 2:40am

Post #1 of 23 (2611 views)
Early reactions to casting: A proverbial walk down memory lane Can't Post

With the Oscars yesterday, for some reason I got to thinking (oh dear) about casting in The Hobbit. I was pretty much AWOL from these parts in all the lead-up to AUJ, so missed the initial casting announcements. I was really curious what the initial reactions around here were to the casting, so scrolled back…and back..and back…and around page 350 I found what I was looking for.

Here is the thread with the first official announcement of casting, and reading through everyone’s reactions is just delightful! http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=288169;sb=post_time;so=DESC;forum_view=forum_view_expanded; and a second, even better thread, here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...=forum_view_expanded; Because not all the dwarf casting was announced at first, some people speculated that the Company would be cut down to maybe 7 or 8 dwarves. Martin Freeman cast as Bilbo got almost universal cheers of approval; Richard Armitage as Thorin got an amusingly widely varied reaction, usually mixed with quite a bit of surprise; many had figured he’d be cast as Bard, if anyone. Some posts have amazing foresight, and some…well, don’t. That thread is a great read.

I delved a bit deeper, and found a thread a day later specifically on Armitage’s casting here.
http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=288771;sb=post_time;so=DESC;forum_view=forum_view_expanded; This even includes a picture of what Armitage might look like as Thorin – argghhh, too funny! Can I just say I am soooooo glad this isn’t what PJ did to him? This thread is another great read; some posts are amazingly spot-on, and others are just funny (in retrospect!).

And one more, just to make this an even three: a great thread on plot speculations based on the just-announced casting. http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=288414;sb=post_time;so=DESC;forum_view=forum_view_expanded;
There’s a hearty contingent thrilled with Armitage as Thorin, whatever he ends up looking like; a suggestion that this Company of dwarves is going to be leaner and meaner than just a group of Gimlis; and a delightful suggestion for one scene from Alassëa Eruvande.

So, once you’ve had fun reading through all those, answer me this: did you have any ideas when you first heard about casting that you are now SOOO glad didn’t come true? Or any that you’re really glad *did* come true? Or any reaction that is now, in retrospect, particularly funny? Share away – and I promise, we won’t be laughing at you, we’ll be laughing with you. Wink

My own reactions, for what it's worth: I wasn't paying attention to casting, and when I started hearing names floating about, they didn't mean much to me as I hadn't heard of them before. However, when I heard Orlando Bloom would be reprising Legolas, I got excited: since Dwarves couldn't possibly be sexy, at least we would get one hot Elf! And yeah, I'm really, really glad that my original insistence that There Is No Such Thing As A Hot Dwarf didn't come true. I was, of course, thrilled to see all the returning cast from LOTR (thank goodness we wouldn't see any of our beloved characters played by a different actor this time around), and double-thrilled to have Andy Serkis back as Gollum (really, though, that was a no-brainer, wasn't it?). And that, sadly, is the limit of my reactions to casting, prior to seeing AUJ for the first time.

(This post was edited by Roheryn on Feb 26 2013, 2:49am)


Feb 26 2013, 2:45am

Post #2 of 23 (1176 views)
All I recall [In reply to] Can't Post

Was the back and forth about whether James McAvoy was going to have time to spend an entire year in NZ as Bilbo. Turns out I don't think he was ever seriously in the running.


Feb 26 2013, 2:56am

Post #3 of 23 (1154 views)
I, like you, wasn't paying much attention then. [In reply to] Can't Post

Busy trying to get kids into college.

But when I did check in, during the first go round, I can say I only really knew who Martin Freeman was. The rest of them were a blank for me. Yes, sadly, that includes RA. Until I saw him in Captain America, I had never seen him before. And even then, I knew that someone in Captain America was playing Thorin, but it took me two viewings to figure out who it was. Now, of course, I have seen every single thing he's ever been in (thank you, Netflix).

I was more involved by the next casting go round, and was thrilled by Lee Pace. A very interesting actor who should really break out soon (he was the best part of the excerable Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2). I'm really looking forward to seeing what he does with Thranduil.


Feb 26 2013, 3:26am

Post #4 of 23 (1176 views)
Of the new cast members... [In reply to] Can't Post

... I'd previously heard of Martin Freeman (from the UK version of "The Office" and the film "The Good Night"), Stephen Fry (from "Black Adder," "A Bit of Fry & Laurie," "Jeeves & Wooster," various films), Lee Pace (from the short-lived TV series "Pushing Daisies"), Evangeline Lilly (from "Lost," naturally), and James Nesbitt (from the Danny Boyle film "Millions" and the Woody Allen film "Match Point"). I will say that, now that I've seen him without his makeup, I do also recognize Jed Brophy from a couple of Peter Jackson's previous films (namely "Heavenly Creatures"). I'm assuming most (if not all) of the New Zealand actors who were cast as dwarves (Dean O'Gorman, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, and Mark Hadlow) were, for the most part, previously unknown outside of New Zealand.


Feb 26 2013, 7:19am

Post #5 of 23 (1072 views)
Thank you so so so much for digging this up! [In reply to] Can't Post

This is what I have been looking for for a long time, but never got round to really searching old threads, due to my horrible searching skills.

I have to admit that I did not follow the Hobbit news at all, on purpose, because I remembered how agonizing it was between the Lord of the Rings film where you had to wait for so long and then hungrily consumed every scrap of rumors as they surfaced. I knew it was going to happen so I decided to make the wait as short as possible and did not read up on anything Hobbit-related until AUJ came out (at which point it became inevitable :P)

I was not familiar with any of the actors before I saw AUJ. I had seen Martin Freeman in the Hitchhiker's movie, but that was such a long time ago. Now I'm actually expanding my interest and catching up on the actors' previous work :)


Feb 26 2013, 2:01pm

Post #6 of 23 (972 views)
I was ecstatic about Freeman... [In reply to] Can't Post

...I didn't have much reaction to the casting of the dwarves either way (never heard of any of them). I was slightly disappointed that Thorin was some guy I never heard of, and I had heard casting rumors of Brian Cox playing him which would have been cool, but Armitage did a great job. I was worried that Hugo Weaving wasn't going to be in it or was going to be replaced, as a month or two after filming began I hadn't heard ANYTHING about him, but I'd seen lots of pics of Galadriel at Rivendell. Wth?? I was initially worried that they were just putting Galadriel in there as a nod to LOTR or to add a female character, but I was happy when she was in Rivendell for the White Council. I was disappointed when the guy who was originally playing Fili left and was replaced by...the guy from Young Hercules??? He just wasn't right at all, but he ended up doing a good job.

Grey Havens

Feb 26 2013, 2:21pm

Post #7 of 23 (981 views)
My reaction to casting news [In reply to] Can't Post

The announcement predated my joining TorN, but I was of course following the movie news! I was completely unfamiliar with Martin Freeman, but Google images suggested his look, anyway, would work fine so I was happy with his casting. The only actor I was familiar with was Richard Armitage, from having seen him in "North and South". I was delighted with this choice, though I doubted it would matter much (other than providing a nice-looking Thorin to look at). I was delighted to be so wrong, as so far the film is giving him plenty of interesting scenes!

Thanks for the links to the old discussions, it is fun to see the reactions. I find it interesting how much the age of Armitage in particular bothered fans - it never even occurred to me as a possible objection to this casting choice. After all, how old was Elijah Wood when he was cast, 18-19? And for me, anyway, he worked out fine.


Feb 26 2013, 2:43pm

Post #8 of 23 (998 views)
Thanks, Roheryn. [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember the announcements and the discussions. I was really pleased that Sir Ian, Andy Serkis and Hugo Weaving were returning. These were the only people from the old cast who, I thought, were essential to TH; I accepted that Galadriel and Saruman were necessary for the White Council but was a bit unhappy about the "shoe-horning" of Old Bilbo, Frodo, Tauriel and even Legolas into the plot, as if PJ didn't have enough confidence in his new characters and actors. But, this wasn't a deal-breaker for me.

I was happy enough with Martin Freeman because he is a pretty hobbit-y character in the first place and doesn't have to try too hard to be Bilbo. I was pleased with the other choices too, (especially Ken Stott, Aidan Turner and Lee Pace), recognising all except the Kiwi actors. However, I was pleased that PJ was giving his countrymen a chance and was confident that they would do a good job.

I was especially pleased with the choice of Richard Armitage because I knew he had presence on screen, that he had a wonderful, deep voice and that he was a splendid actor, always becoming something he wasn't himself in RL. I guessed correctly that he would immerse himself both in the character and Tolkien's world. I wasn't concerned by his youth because I always imagined a younger Thorin when I read the book.

Two things bothered me about the reactions on TORn: one was the attitude that the names were unrecognisable to many and therefore they must be bad actors or that they would be unable to carry the show like famous names. The other was the downright unpleasantness that built up around Armitage where at least one person, supported by a number of others, wanted to get a petition going that would lead to him losing his job. I get the feeling, from remarks he made in public, that he read the posts on our forum and no wonder the poor bloke didn't unpack for some weeks, knowing PJ's track record over casting people like Aragorn.

Some of this aggression stemmed not from just his youth/lack of a long beard/good looks/not being well-known but from not being the favoured actor for Thorin of the poster. Brian Blessed was often mentioned and I'd like to point out now that BB is very old, walks with a stick and has to sit down after just crossing a room.

RA lived up to my expectations and I have been really pleased to see from the reviews on TORn that the majority of people appear to agree that he has done a good - and even a remarkable - job.

Tol Eressea

Feb 26 2013, 2:46pm

Post #9 of 23 (955 views)
The only casting that i really followed was Bilbo's... [In reply to] Can't Post

... as i just assumed that all the dwarf roles would go to people i'd never heard of (and i was right, with the exception of the great James Nesbit). I mainly remember Martin Freeman, James McAvoy and David Tennant being bandied about for Bilbo. Obviously, Freeman has completely made the role his, but at the time i worried about him feeling too "contemporary" for the role (i shouldn't have, turns out). I always thought McAvoy would've been a great choice. But as much as i love David Tennant, he would have been all wrong for the role- much too sprightly and energetic, and not at all hobbit-y. Even though i don't remember him being mentioned, i thought Sam Rockwell would've been a great choice- an immensely talented actor with the right look and brilliant comedy chops (and he could certainly pull off the accent). But as a huge fan of the UK Office (as well as his other performances), i was always on board with Martin Freeman, and now, much like Sir Ian with Gandalf, think he is the only one for the role.

Tol Eressea

Feb 26 2013, 3:42pm

Post #10 of 23 (941 views)
I remember some of these [In reply to] Can't Post

I wasn't posting at the time only lurking. I had lost my account name and password long ago and couldn't remember it.

I totally remember the McAvoy rumors. Man am I glad Freeman got it and I was thrilled when I found out and that he was the only choice for Peter. I didn't know RA at all at the time. I remember thinking six foot two? A dwarf? What the????


Feb 26 2013, 4:14pm

Post #11 of 23 (955 views)
My general reaction was... [In reply to] Can't Post

"Never heard about him" and that is exactly what I love about the casting to these movies. They usually pick actors that isn't well known yet (other than a few roles). It's exciting with new faces! I also love that there are more New Zealand actors in it! Hadn't heard of many of those either (except from maybe Jed and later recognized Gorman).

I remember for the longest time I mixed Luke Evans with Lee Pace and they don't even look alike lol. Of course we haven't seen any of Bard in the movie yet and just a few seconds of Thranduil (and I loved what we got).

I was unsure about Martin Freeman as Bilbo, but when I first saw the photos of him as Bilbo I saw the reason why PJ wanted to wait for him. That was Bilbo!

It was also very important for me that they casted the same actors for the characters we have seen before because I hate when actors are replaced when you already know the character by another face. Like Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond...


Feb 26 2013, 4:17pm

Post #12 of 23 (917 views)
You read my mind!! [In reply to] Can't Post

Only this weekend I was trying to search the casting news from the first announcements, but gave up since my broadband has crashed and having to rely on my cellphone. These links are great. I remember the initial rumours but avoided reading about TH end of 2010 because I was going the NZ in Feb11 for 2nd time. The first time in 2005 I had done the whole LOTR fest so this time I kept insisting to myself that I was visiting NZ not ME this time. My resolve lasted until I reached Wellington after 2/52 in the north. I drove down to Weta Cave and nearly crashed as I went past ...RA !!! , who I had been vaguely aware of being mentioned re casting. He was already a long time hero of mine anyway. Later, that evening I went out to a restaurant and there were a group of guys in the corner, being somewhat raucous. It was Thorin and some of his dwarves again. I was far too shy to go and ask for an autograph, so spent a long time casting surreptitious looks. As soon as I got back to my room, I caught up on all the Hobbit news I had missed. Spent much of the following afternoon and evening cruising around Miramar and Seatoun ( sad person that I am) but never saw them again. So near and yet so far!!

"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


Feb 26 2013, 4:20pm

Post #13 of 23 (917 views)
Meant to say thanks Roheryn, [In reply to] Can't Post

amidst all the reminiscent. Got carried away!!

"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"

Tol Eressea

Feb 26 2013, 4:22pm

Post #14 of 23 (928 views)
Yeah, as all of the "known quantities" came trickling in [In reply to] Can't Post

i knew we were in good hands.

Some of my biggest question marks remain to be seen-- Stephen Fry and Billy Connolly are both terrific actors and personalities, i just wonder how well they'll fit into PJ's Middle-earth. I'm just glad that my biggest question mark-- Sylvester McCoy-- worked out. McCoy, in my mind, was The Doctor when an already rocky show went from one that merely disappointed to one that i actively hated. But i tried to keep an open mind, and it paid off. Sure, some of Radagasts "quirks" (bird crap, stick insect, bunny sled chase) were overdone by half, McCoy's actual performance is quite good.


Feb 26 2013, 4:33pm

Post #15 of 23 (927 views)
I found the age thing odd... [In reply to] Can't Post

When I was 8 years old and reading the Hobbit, the 'old' dwarves in my head, were old for an 8 year old, which was around 40 to 50 years old. Age is relative and old for a child is what I am now, 45!

Suffice to say, I never had a problem with the age of the cast, in fact the ages of the Dwarves portrayed in PJ's Hobbit, were the right age for me, it's like PJ visited my 8 year old mind.


Feb 26 2013, 7:41pm

Post #16 of 23 (837 views)
I do remember... [In reply to] Can't Post

...the whole hick-hack with whoever will play Azog, Bolg or Yazneg.

Then I found out that it was just that they were keeping recasting these roles all the time, and no mistake.


Feb 26 2013, 8:00pm

Post #17 of 23 (850 views)
There was a brief period, early on [In reply to] Can't Post

...about the rumors of Aragorn making an appearance and/or Arwen. I think that was more about the old bridge film idea, where they did Hobbit and did the between years somehow. Man that would have had the purists on here hopping mad.


Feb 26 2013, 9:25pm

Post #18 of 23 (819 views)
Funny and ironic [In reply to] Can't Post

A couple of posts comment on RA based on a photo, about him looking like his voice won't have a low enough pitch and how his (supposed) youth will make him less regal. Yeah if only Peter Jackson could have cast someone with a low voice and the capacity to be majestic.... oh boy! Laugh

I must admit I would have loved Peter O'Toole as the voice of Smaug, mind you Benedict Cumberpatch is a close as you can get.


Feb 26 2013, 9:39pm

Post #19 of 23 (804 views)
I admit that I simply do not "follow" actors/actresses and I have a terrible tendency to not remember who this or that actor was! [In reply to] Can't Post

This is where words like "trust", "delegation", "adjust", and "laissez-faire" are pretty fitting. If I ever had to make a movie, I would hire someone for that.

I can't really complain, therefore. But no matter who it is, once they are signed up, it's time to act and get it right and make it work.

I was happy to see the returners. They did a good job and helped make that connection between movies to an audience that is not as into intricate lorish detail.


Feb 27 2013, 10:04pm

Post #20 of 23 (677 views)
Am I there? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don´t see me. Especially in the Richard Armitage as Thorin thread. I had quite reaction to that picture and all the casting news.

Wow, there is a lot going on there.

Gosh, 2010 is about like 3 years ago now. I still feel all this like new.

"Dear friend good bye, no tears in my eyes. So sad it ends, as it began"


Mar 3 2013, 12:04am

Post #21 of 23 (601 views)
Re: Early reactions to casting [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
So, once you’ve had fun reading through all those, answer me this: did you have any ideas when you first heard about casting that you are now SOOO glad didn’t come true? Or any that you’re really glad *did* come true? Or any reaction that is now, in retrospect, particularly funny?

I wasn't a member of TORN back then, but I recall not being perturbed at all at the casting news - there were some raised eyebrows from my side at yet another dark-haired man to play a blond elf when Lee Pace was confirmed, but I didn't have any problems with the others. I actually like -and very much so- the fact that PJ casts a number of lesser known actors. It gives them a chance to shine and give their all, IMO.
Back then, it was mostly the future appearances and script that I was concerned with (and still am ;) ), rather than the fact that I didn't know the new cast members or that they were 'untried'. Come to think of it, I never had doubts about the actual performances, and wasn't disappointed in my trust. Only one new casting/performance turned out to be a letdown for me, and another underwhelmed me. But the rest, I felt content with. So yes, in that respect I'm glad that my initial impressions came true. Smile

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington

(This post was edited by dik-dik on Mar 3 2013, 12:13am)

Cuwen Maegmacil

Mar 4 2013, 1:40am

Post #22 of 23 (576 views)
Well, sadly..... [In reply to] Can't Post

When I heard the names of the cast, I had no clue as to who anyone was, except from the returning actors from LOTR!Blush

"The Ring is Mine!" ~ Frodo Baggins


Mar 4 2013, 4:42pm

Post #23 of 23 (569 views)
Neither did I! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
When I heard the names of the cast, I had no clue as to who anyone was, except from the returning actors from LOTR!Blush

Welcome to TORN, by the way. :)

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


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