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Popcorn Taxis Hobbit Q&A with Richard Armitage

News from Bree

May 4 2013, 3:23am

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To celebrate the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Australia on May 1st, Popcorn Taxi had a special showing of the film with a Q&A session with Richard Armitage. RingerSpy and long time message board member, Deleece Cook aka Elven, was lucky enough to attend and sent us the following report on the night.

Cremorne Orpheum Theatre, Sydney Australia, Wednesday 1st May, 2013
Introduced by: Chris Murray (Creative Director Popcorn Taxi)
Hosted by: Oscar Hillerstrom from Popcorn Taxi
by: Deleece Cook on behalf of theOneRing.net

010520137021The cheering began as soon as Popcorn Taxi's Chris Murray walked out on stage to open the event. There wasn't a spare seat to be had at The Orpheum Theatre at Cremorne for the exclusive screening of The Hobbit and the live on Stage Q&A appearance with Richard Armitage.

700 smiling excited Thorin Fans were in the audience, and they had come from all over Australia for the event - this is what they had been waiting for hours to see. And it didn't disappoint. It was a wonderful night of entertainment and surprises. Richard was a talkative guest; relaxed, smiling and laughing through the interview and he tried as best as he could to answer every question put to him from the fans, and from the host Oscar Hillerstrom.

Here's how the night went - plenty of laughter and cheering and just a great vibe all round!...

Chris Murray:Good Evening! Do I need to ask how you're doing? Um, I've never been to an underwear sale at David Jones but I suppose this is the closest thing. Ladies and Gentlemen my name is Chris Murray and I am the Creative Director of Popcorn Taxi. It gives me no greater pleasure and enormous privilege to have you here tonight to see on the big screen The Hobbit. But not only that I know why you're here: Richard Armitage on that seat ladies and Gentlemen!

Mad applause.

Chris Murray:Yes, you get the chance to ask him questions, I get the chance to curl into a small ball and rock backwards and forwards in the corner.

More laughter! Then Chris laid down some house rules regarding soft toys and portraits not coming anywhere near the stage, but he mentioned nicely that questions were welcomed from the audience.
Then the first surprise of the night was announced:

Chris Murray: We are celebrating a fantastic film, and that film is out on Blu-ray and DVD today (mad applause) Yes! You should buy it! Warner Bros will love me! But, what's not on that Blu-ray and what's not on that DVD is what I'm about to play for you now. We have 12 minutes of a little behind the scenes that you will not see anywhere else. (lots of gasps) After that, you'll get to meet Mr Richard Armitage.

Mad cheering!

Chris Murray: So enjoy the 12 minutes and relax, get the wetness out of the seats - whatever works for you, and I'll be back! Please enjoy this event.

The sound of the cheering audience was amazing! Then silence. The lights lowered and the huge screen lit up - and then there was Peter!

richard armitage Q&A 2013 013APeter Jackson: You want the Hobbit to be a visual experience that goes several steps beyond Lord of The Rings

And that familiar drone of singing Dwarves speaking of "Pines and Mountains cold" echoed through the theatre; every eye was glued to the screen - it was more than 12 minutes of magic!

The film covered races and characters that we see in An Unexpected Journey with snippets of comments from the actors and crew members. It shortly gave a brief explanation of the storyline and highlighted some of the production values and costuming as well.

In no particular order - Here are just some of the presenters on the clip, and what they had to say:
Peter Jackson: When we made Lord of the Rings I was absolutely sure that was going to be a once in a lifetime experience. I never realized that ten years later I'd be doing it all over again - and we actually shot the 266 days on The Hobbit which was exactly the same number of days we shot on Lord of The Rings, so I've sort of done the once in a lifetime experience twice now (laughs) not a third time - there won't be a third time!

Peter Jackson: 10 years ago it was Ian playing the character of Gandalf and no one had seen any of the movies, and now that's an iconic figure. That's Gandalf.

Peter Jackson: The same creative talent. 20 or 30 of the most senior people were Lord of The Rings veterans.

Peter Jackson: The thing that's so incredible about Martin is that he's always exploring, he's experimenting, he's always trying to figure out where Bilbo's truth is.

Peter Jackson: One of the scary things about adapting The Hobbit is the fact that there's 13 dwarves, and differentiating those characters was important.

Philippa Boyens: I remember the day when I knew we were back in Middle-Earth. I walked over to the costume room and there was Gandalf. And I suddenly thought: We're Back!

Philippa Boyens: (about Dwarves): In the end Pete fell in love with each and every one of those characters. And as much as there is a little bit of Dwarf in Peter I think there's a little bit of Peter in all those Dwarves.

John Howe: I imagine that Peter will do for Dwarves what he did for Elves because he is going to give them much more density, much more history.

Martin Freeman: (talking about his character Bilbo) We join Bilbo as the book of The Hobbit does, as a home faring solitary Hobbit, certain things struck me about him suggested a certain timidity and a lot of life.

Elijah Wood: You'll get taken on an amazing ride!

Elijah Wood: To have a chance to return, pop a wig on and feet it kind of feels like I've stepped into a time machine. And I get to meet all of these other actors who are coming along for the real long journey and sort of seeing in them a little bit of what we felt like when we started.

Elijah Wood: A seed is being planted for what eventually comes the time period that we meet in Lord of The Rings.

Christopher Lee: Middle Earth seems to be just beginning to rumble and tumble.

Christopher Lee: The White Council: they represent enormous power. There's suspicion amongst all of them that there's this building power of evil getting stronger and stronger!

Cate Blanchett: (on Gandalf in the film): What makes Gandalf the most wonderful hero is the courage against popular opinion. He gets to move on into the darkness that no one else is prepared to go into.

Hugo Weaving: Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, Saruman, they play a role in eliminating those [forces?] from the political landscape.

Ian McKellen: (on his character Gandalf regarding the appendices) Gandalf in The Hobbit; he is off and away doing other business and quite what that is, is not revealed in the novel. In the films we get to see what Gandalf was up to.

Ian McKellen: It's magic. It's pure magic. And you'll believe it.

The sound of the Dwarves was heard and the film ended with the audience cheering and clapping once more.

Then it was time for Richard Armitage to grace the Stage!

Oscar Hillerstrom:It's an honour and a privilege to be here with you ladies and gentlemen. I think not many of you won't know that Richard Armitage literally ran away to join the circus as a young chap. He has then continued down a career path which I think most people would have been quite happy with. We have seen him in North & South, Spooks, and of course as Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood (applause & cheers), some of you may have even seen these shows, I don't know (laughter), but it is the one moment where he had a meeting with some friendly New Zealanders in London that changed his life, and changed our lives, because it's a fruition of Actor, Director and soirée which has bought Thorin Oakenshield to life. And now ladies and gentlemen I'd like you to meet the Actor who has done just that. Put your hands together for Mr Richard Armitage.richard armitage Q&A 2013 017A

Richard walked on stage to a deafening round of applause, looking relaxed and happy he greeted and waved to the audience, and then said hello to a few fans that he recognized who had been at a TV studio earlier on in the day. Some fan questions had been sent in from the Richard Armitage Army and Oscar was going to put those questions to Richard in the course of the interview.

Richard sat down in his chair opposite Oscar and they began to talk...

Oscar Hillerstrom: You brought yourself to Thorin Oakenshield. There's so many facets of the role but at the same point this is a character that is indelible in the mind for many audience. What does in fact playing Thorin Oakenshield leave with you with as a person and an Actor?

Richard Armitage: I think it's kind of an interesting question because I haven't left Thorin Oakenshield yet. So, he's kind of still with me, but I think the one thing I discovered about myself creating the role was the realization about leadership by example, because I'm not really a born leader as a person and I found in him a nobility which is about leading by example, not necessarily by dictation, so really, that's the biggest thing I learnt for myself.

Oscar Hillerstrom: So if you're in trouble, pick up a piece of wood and hit somebody?

Audience: laughter

Oscar Hillerstrom: Words to live by.

Oscar Hillerstrom: One of the most interesting things about this particular character is the heavy make-up that you work with. Were you surprised and shocked by how different you look onscreen, and was the acting process similar to say mask work where you're trying to convey emotion through that makeup and the giant beards?

Richard Armitage: When I met Peter, you actually get a character breakdown and it does say,"will be required to wear some prosthetics", so I knew there would be something whether it was some ears or something like that. But it was extensive and the initial manifestation of Thorin was much greater than what you see there. They worked with my own face to try and make it look like it wasn't too dramatic, which was a slow process, it changed throughout the course of the filming.

I did do mask work at drama school so it was useful to see my face and try and make it move in the mirror, and I spent a lot of time doing that. I also worked with Tammy, my prosthetics artist to try and make sure that the flashing on the eyes wasn't too heavy so I could move my eyebrows. And the eyes move in such a sensitive way that I didn't want it to be prohibitive in any way because I felt that the key to seeing into Thorin's heart was through his eyes, and I was nervous about having all of that on his face. But I think it worked out ok and when I took the prosthetic off, my face was much more animated than I normally am as a person, but that was because of the muscles being exercised a little bit more.

01052013713Oscar Hillerstrom: I think for most people the world of The Hobbit is filled with adventure and magic and the first question is What is it that you think is left behind for audiences today as opposed to the audience of Tolkien's time who would have seen it as a direct metaphor for World War I?

Richard Armitage: Yeah, it was something that I discovered as I was researching the Hobbit, because I had read Tolkien's biography and I think he talks a lot about his experiences of World War I. His losses informed him of what he was writing about, and the rise of evil in Europe was something very much in his head when he wrote the book. I think audiences of the time would have understood that more closely, but at the same time, we are living in a time where our children, our friends are going all across the world to fight battles. And particularly with the Dwarves the idea of an exiled people returning home trying to find their homeland, I mean that's a story which pervades across time. So, all of these things resonate for you, they give you ideas, but at the same time we're making a fantasy movie essentially aimed at young adults, so we just bear in mind try not to get too heavy or political about it.

Oscar Hillerstrom: That the most interesting thing because ultimately these films are innately fun, and I want to ask you about the fun of it, because obviously 266 days of hard work in heavy makeup, heavy battle gear and of course throwing Orcrist around, it sounds like a very difficult job but at the same time it must be a hell of a lot of fun. I mean: how heavy is Orcrist to wave above your head? Is it just a piece of balsa wood or is it a lovely WETA work?

Richard Armitage: I've got to say most of the fun was had off set. (laughter). The first day I had all the costume on, makeup and everything, it was so hot and heavy (as you probably heard from all the other whinging actors on this movie winks) But I made a conscious decision that I didn't want it to inhibit what I was doing and I knew that if I really concentrated on the character that I could try and have some fun with Thorin. He's not a big bag of laughs, I've got to be honest. It was a challenge looking for a single moment to make him smile and obviously as the story goes on there are less and less of those moments. But, for me I have fun when I'm being tested and being pushed and this was an endurance test from the beginning to end. And if it hadn't been for my fellow dwarves and that coming together of two cultures I really would have had a lot less fun. But we had such a great cast and I can't wait to see them again.

Oscar Hillerstrom: Whilst you shot quite a lot of the trilogy, there's still actually quite a bit more shooting to do. I was quite surprised at that.

richard armitage Q&A 2013 009ARichard Armitage: Yeah, at the end of May we go back and we've got 10 more weeks of shooting. We haven't shot a single frame of the Battle of the Five Armies. Actually I think it might be the Battle of the Six Armies...

Oscar Hillerstrom: Spoiler Alert!

Audience: (laughing)

Richard Armitage: cont. yeah, so we have to do that and also they would have edited the second movie and the third movie and decided they'll need to get some new material, so that's what we go back to shoot. 10 weeks of shooting is effectively enough time to make 2 small independent films. So you can imagine the scale of what we have to do. I started training again at the end of January so I could swing that heavy sword around we've been talking about. But I was gifted a replica of the sword at the end of the last year so I could practise with it. I was very close to taking it to the gym with me.winks

Audience: (laughter)

Oscar Hillerstrom: You didn't bring it with you now though?

Richard Armitage: I didn't bring it with me. I surely would never have got it through security.

Oscar Hillerstrom: I would have liked to have seen you go through Customs with that. "Well, I'm an Actor!" It would have certainly taken them by surprise.

Oscar Hillerstrom: Now, you talk about having fun on the set and perhaps I'll move into some of the stories that you may not have regurgitated previously. Perhaps one's where the Director may have been put in a very embarrassing situation?

Richard Armitage: Our Director put himself in a very bad situation. He might not want me to tell this. You know at the end of the first film when you see Thorin on the tree and he's about to attack Azog. I didn't really know what people were shooting there. And I was trying to run down the tree trunk wearing these massive Dwarf boots and I obviously wasn't coming down quick enough, so Pete got up on the tree and said no, no, this is how you do it. He came running down so fast, so by the time he got to the bottom his pants had fallen down. He lost his pants in front of the entire crew and they had been filming it. So somewhere there is a video of Pete with his pants around ankles. (Audience in hysterical laughter)

Oscar Hillerstrom: Sir Peter Jackson Ladies and Gentlemen (Audience laughing loudly all the way through this and the next embarrassing moment tale) is not the first person to lose their trousers on the set of The Hobbit. I want to take you to a fan question about Dwarves Illustrated 2012.

Richard Armitage: This was actually my idea. Don't let Graham McTavish tell you any different. This was my idea! It was Pete's 50th Birthday and we decided we would create a Naked Dwarf Calendar. But of course you know what a naked dwarf looks like: we're loaded with padding. So that was the joke. So basically every Dwarf was a different month in very compromising positions (laughter erupted) in their fat suits or their colossus suits or whatever you call them. But there's only one copy which Peter owns. They wanted to make more but I said absolutely not! There's only one copy.

Oscar Hillerstrom: So for you obviously as Thorin Oakenshield, you had a strategically placed piece of oak or ... ?

Audience: (clapping and laughing)

Richard Armitage: What happened in the calendars...? winks and laughs

Oscar Hillerstrom: Well that's all we have time for from Mr December.

After this Oscar opened the Questioning up to the Audience

Oscar Hillerstrom: I'm going to ask one more question. I think we need to talk about the singing. Because the first thing that snapped this film away from the normal action hero movies was the first trailer which had Dwarves singing, and I think that's a bold move. But I wanted to know, from your perspective, you were a song and dance man before you went into the more serious side of drama, what was it like to actually sing "in camera" (so to speak) with the other Dwarves?

Richard Armitage: I did a production of The Hobbit when I was 13 - which was a musical really. So I knew that Tolkien had written loads of songs so I was very excited that they were going to put this song in. Fran Walsh wrote the theme, Fran is Peter's partner and writing partner, and she wrote the tune. So I was very honoured to have been asked to take the first line of that song. I didn't want him to sound like a singer, so I listened to a lot of Russian Church music, I listened to a male Welsh Voice Choir, and I worked with a pianist and we slowly took the pitch down and down till we got to a point where it sounded as Tolkien was describing it, which was the deep throated sound of the singing of the Dwarves.

Then we went into a studio and recorded it a number of times. I wanted to keep recording it until the end of time because I was not ever happy with it. But yes, I think it was one of those moments that they didn't know what that song was going to sound like, and when obviously all of the men and the boys, the other Dwarves, the blend of sound sounded so beautiful that they just decided to use it in the Trailer.

Oscar Hillerstrom: Now Ladies and Gentlemen it's your turn so, we'll start over here.

Audience Question: They've done a great job making the horses look like Dartmoor Ponies. What were the horses like to work with? They seemed far less grumpy than actual ponies.

Richard Armitage: I loved my horse, my horse was called Sharmon. She and I became very close. I used to go out riding with Jed Brophy (Nori) on weekends. When we were on location we used to go and visit the horses and take them out. Tolkien describes Dwarves as not liking the horses, they don't ride very well. Which I get slightly annoyed about because obviously I was totally in love with my horse. And yeah, they had some hairy costumes on which Sharmon didn't like. She used to try and shake that woolly coat off.

01052013715Audience Question: How much input did you and the other Dwarves have with the final Dwarf looks?

Richard Armitage: The whole process working with Peter and his team was collaborative. At every stage my opinion was valued, down to the shape on the body, the fit, the shape of the costume, the length of the costume, the length of the hair. I remember asking for more grey at the sides because I felt that it would really give him more age. And I wanted that pelt (the fur pelt) because I originally conceived Thorin as being like a Bison, and I wanted that upper body bulk. Whenever I didn't have that fur on I really felt that I was sort of missing a part of him. So, as much as it was hot and heavy, they would always say, you can do this scene without the pelt if you want to, and I would be like "no, no, I need it, I like it, it makes me feel like the character".

Audience Question: Did you ever record a full version of The Misty Mountain song, because it's so short?

Richard Armitage: You're about to see the film. And it (the song) is quite long. If that song could have been any longer I think people would have got a bit impatient. (laughter) But there was a moment where I nearly got to sing the song at the end. Yeah. But I thought it may not be appropriate for all of the characters in the scene, but that was the full version of the song in the movie. Neil Finn did a version of the final song which he extended and wrote and developed, which I absolutely love. But I'm hoping there will be more singing in movies 2 & 3.

Audience Question: Can you talk about the way in which you, as a child, imagined Thorin to be as compared to the role you created after Peters vision?

Richard Armitage: Yeah its very interesting because I was trying to listen to both those voices because I do remember very clearly reading the book as a 12 year old, and then as a slightly older than 12 year old. As a kid I focused very much on Bilbo and then as an adult I was focussing on Thorin. But I had seen him probably as a bit older, but it was important that he was a potential King. That he was somebody who could return to his throne and lead his people and show his prowess on the Battlefield. So I think we found a place which was older than I am but he still had the youth to be able to swing that sword around and really fight for "his people" which was important.

01052013707Audience Question: There a lot of Urban legends about working with Christopher Lee. How was your experience with working with him?

Richard Armitage: I hate to disappoint you but I never met Christopher Lee. Sadly. (audience gasp) Well I don't like giving away too many secrets about filming but, all of Christopher's stuff was shot in the UK because he was too old to travel. Yeah, so I never got to meet him sadly.

Audience Question: If you hadn't have been cast as Thorin, who would you have liked to have been cast as?

Richard Armitage: Umm, you tell me (smiles). Actually one of my favourite characters in the book is Beorn, so I would have liked to have had a crack at him. But you wait until you see Mikael Persbrandt, it's an incredible performance - and he really lives up to that image that I had as a kid. Yeah, he's one of my favourite characters.

Audience Question: This person had a bit of difficulty with the question, but Oscar helped out by rewording the question for them: What was it like to feel like watching yourself in a movie?

Richard Armitage: It was really surprising. I had actually thought that I hadn't done very much in the first movie. I thought all my stuff is in movies 2 & 3. So when I saw the first film I was shocked. I just didn't realize what Peter had been doing; I didn't realize the shots that he'd choose. Um, I was obviously quite pleased. Because he made Thorin look pretty awesome, that's his work mainly, not mine.

Audience Question: Could you tell us how Peter Jackson as a Director gets a performance out of an Actor?

Richard Armitage: It was always very difficult to get Peter to sit down before you went onto set to talk about the character, or the process or the story. He actually likes to have a conversation while the camera is rolling, so the whole thing feels like an experiment. He loves it when you develop an idea and he'll go with you. It takes a while for you to find that path together. But one of the things he does which I absolutely love is that he'll use another actor to get the performance out of somebody, so he doesn't necessarily come to you and say I want this response. He'll take an actor away that you're going to work with. And I had a moment in movie 3 which I can't talk about - with Martin where I was in the middle of a scene and he took Martin away, and I didn't know that he'd done this. And Martin came back and played something to me which got quite an extraordinary response from me that I had not predicted, and that was the take. And that's actually what he (PJ) does. And he did it to me as well. I had a scene with Kili and he (PJ) took me aside and said ˜I want you to say this, I want you to do this" and we got the response from Aidan. And I say this; it's such a great piece of work you just don't know that he's having an effect on you.

01052013713Audience Question: From an Actors perspective can you tell me what you learnt that was different when doing something as massive as The Hobbit as opposed to doing TV series (like Spooks), and which do you prefer?

Richard Armitage: The main thing really is time. When you've got a budget like we have for The Hobbit it buys you so much time. Because in television you do 3 or 4 takes and you move on, there's this urgency to shoot. I mean don't get me wrong, if there was an urgency we'd shoot, but there was time to experiment and really that's what I'm talking about in regards to the last question. But also to work on a green screen, which I'd never done before, I was nervous of it, but in fact what it does it fires up your imagination and like, I come from a theatre background so it was tapping into a lot of old things that I had forgotten about, all the things you have to imagine, so I really enjoyed that aspect of it.

Audience Question: What elements of Thorin's character can you relate to the most? And do you have any life experiences that helped to shape your portrayal of Thorin?

Richard Armitage: I suppose the thing I loved about Thorin really, is because he does have a fear of what he's going to do, he is stepping into the unknown, he's bound on a path towards something which is both thrilling, he will get to be a King and he will accumulate a huge amount of wealth. But at the same time in that Mountain is the most terrifying thing that he's ever experienced and it's like he has experienced it, The Dragon. Really I assimilated that with or to a holocaust of some kind. But, I mean I was using the bomb on Hiroshima, the extraordinary devastation that caused. So he's experienced that. So I think that that's the thing that I was most fascinated with, he's walking towards something that he wants but at the same time its repelling him. That kind of dichotomy was the most interesting thing. and I feel like that in my own career.

Audience Question: Of all the stunts you were legally allowed to do what was your favourite stunt?

Richard Armitage: My favourite stunt was one that I didn't know I was going to be able to do. I watched my stunt double do it, he was absolutely brilliant and it was this scene where - it was actually an additional scene we were in pickups, when we were on the Mountain where the Stone Giants are fighting and Bilbo falls of the side and Thorin climbs down and then falls. And we were doing that on wire and my stunt double came to me and said, I think you can do this, and I was like. OK if you think I can do this then I'll do it. So just getting on a wire and doing something that you've summed up as already shocked is thrilling but you know, I love doing as many of the stunts as possible. Not because it gives you a sense of heroism but it makes you really feel like you're playing the character if you get to do everything that the character does it's just very satisfying.

01052013711Audience Question: You're a method actor and you immerse yourself in your characters, was that more difficult or easier to do when you had to have so much make-up and use Green screens?

Richard Armitage: It was kind of essential actually. A lot of the discomfort of the costume and prosthetic was alleviated by just staying focused on the character. But also the way Pete works is sometimes he'll just call on you with half a minute to prepare and you have to dive straight into something, so it was very hard to take my mind off things and gauge too much. Although Dwalin and I did have a lot of games of table tennis on G stage, but apart from that...

Audience Question: You've played a lot of dark brooding grumpy characters. (laughter) I wonder if you could comment on what your experience is of "casting to type" and your experience on that especially in the US and the UK, and whether you're looking forward to choosing some different sorts of roles in the future?

Richard Armitage: That's a very good question. I always get very nervous when I read something that I feel is close to myself, because I predict that I won't get it. Because I'm better at being somebody who is very far away from myself I think. But of course I fantasize about playing the romantic lead and the heroic character I just don't think my face suits that, I think there's just something! (laughter)

Oscar Hillerstrom:Yes I think you're right, you do look inherently evil. (laughter)

Audience Question: Peter is renowned for his high tech approach. Were you expecting to work with such a high quality technology?

Richard Armitage: You know, when you're shooting it you're really not aware of any kind of technological differences between cameras apart from the fact with digital you can do what's called "rolling research" which I think is something that Peter uses himself whereby you don't cut camera you just keep going and you go again immediately and for an Actor that's an absolute gift because you don't have time to think about it or over think it or self-note or analyse so it's very freeing. The only thing that was a struggle and a bit of a challenge was to get the scale issue right. Pete developed a technique called ˜slate motion control“ where some Actors are in a Greenroom, some are on a scale set and the two cameras are coordinated. I think I have a scene in the second movie, which I'm not allowed to talk about, whereby there were 300 people on set and I was alone in a Greenroom with 25 eye lines, little crosses on the wall. But then again you try to find something in your imagination. You go back to the main set and you rehearse again and you take that feeling away with you and just shoot the movie. So yeah, it was challenging.

01052013705Audience Question: Was it a hard to live up to Thorin's character seeing that Thorin had so much heavy history and backstory; losing his whole kingdom and his father?

Richard Armitage: It was one of the best parts of the character actually because Tolkien did write about that story in the Appendices which we were allowed to use as Thorin's reference. I mean I love to write the biography for the character so I used all of that and then added some things myself that I felt would help me because I knew we were going to do a prologue so I tried to imagine what happened on that day when the Dragon came so that when that character opens the door to the Mountain, and smells the air it has such a sense of memory for him of what happened to him as a child that all of these things as much as they burn him they drive him forward so it was one of the best reasons to play the role.

Audience Question: What was it like filming scene 88 the wall chase. Dean, Steven and Graham mentioned that it was really full-on. What was it like for you?

Richard Armitage: Scene 88 was a chase sequence, it felt like we had run throughout the whole of the North and the South Island. But it was so great to be out in those incredible locations. Places that I had never seen in my life and probably never will again. But I do remember every day strapping up my ankles with tape because the ground was so uneven that you could really twist your ankle and obviously you can't have a limping Thorin in the front of the scene so no, it was a challenge.

Oscar Hillerstrom: Now Richard obviously Andy Serkis' work has been ground breaking and he got to work with Martin Freeman, but there's another character who I can imagine you wouldn't think would be working in a motion capture situation and that is the character played by Benedict Cumberbatch. And the thought occurred to me that it's quite possible that Peter Jackson would get Smaug and you in the room together, and I'm just wondering whether that's happened or whether you've actually talked about it.

richard armitage Q&A 2013 015ARichard Armitage: That's a big spoiler (laughter). I went into the motion capture studio because I wanted to see how Benedict worked and I'm a huge fan of his, so we did cross paths. I love the fact that they've cast him because it means that the Dragon has incredible intellect and an incredible voice. I also think that they may be able to use certain aspects of his bone structure in the face of the Dragon but nobody knows yet. But I don't know if Thorin and Smaug ever come face to face. That's something I'll find out when we go back to do reshoots. I hope so.

Oscar Hillerstrom: And finally I'd like to ask something that's been touched on in a few questions, I think it summed up in the fact that you worked with the Appendices and you went back to the original material and you were influenced by Tolkien, and many fans you inspired by Tolkien now see you come to life is one thing, but I'm wondering; What would you ask him about your character and this story if you could?

Richard Armitage: The one thing I would want know and it's something I try to fill in in my little biography was ˜Who was the love of his life?" Because I felt that he sacrificed his life, all that he has given up for his people, for his quest, and I did imagine that there might have been a Princess that he would have been betrothed to as King under The Mountain. So perhaps that's probably what I'd ask Tolkien.

Oscar Hillerstrom: well Ladies and Gentleman, I think that sums it up! Richard Armitage in a nutshell, a class act! Thank-you everyone. Goodnight.

This was the end of the Q&A and Richards's appearance for the evening. The audience stood to their feet and cheered and clapped as he left the stage.

After this the audience was treated to a screening of The Hobbit.

After Richard Armitage had finished speaking and had left the theatre to a rousing cheer and enthusiastic applause from the audience, the screening of The Hobbit was about to begin but, I decided to go outside and see if I could find someone to interview. I was delighted to meet up with Oscar Hillerstrom and he talked with me about the nights Q&A and some of Popcorn Taxi's other Middle-Earth guests.

Deleece: And we are talking to: from Popcorn Taxi!

Oscar Hillerstrom: Oscar Hillerstrom

Deleece: And Oscar was one of the main people this evening that had Richard Armitage come to speak to us about The Hobbit. And Popcorn Taxi is renowned for their guest speakers, their presentations that they put on. How long have you been doing this?

Oscar Hillerstrom: Well I've been working full time for Popcorn Taxi for I guess almost 2 years, but I've been working on and off for them for their entire 14 year history.

Deleece: That's amazing! So, how do you think tonight went?

Oscar Hillerstrom: Very well. It's extraordinary to see, and it's lovely to sell out such a very big room - and to have such intense and passionate fans but also well-read and well educated fans. It's not just a whole bunch of "Oh my God Richard will you kiss me" fans but thoughtful interesting questions which Popcorn Taxi love for our audience to do so that's what we saw tonight.

Deleece: And you found that Richard was very happy to do these sorts of things (Q&A)? Have you done anything before with Richard through Popcorn Taxi?

Oscar Hillerstrom: No, this is the first time we've worked with Richard. But, at the same time, I had a chat with him yesterday and I found him remarkably candid, very thoughtful, and a straight forward actor. It's really interesting when you talk to him just as a normal human being how you see the qualities of Thorin onstage come through him. But, at the same time he's just a regular guy who is very interested in the craft of acting, and that kind of thing really comes out on stage. I think he is fascinating. Especially for the fans who get to see a bit of stuff behind the scenes and obviously the interviews. But, when you're on a Popcorn Taxi stage the curtains are let down, I guess "the pants" in this particular aspect are also let down (laugh). You get to see something you don't normally get to see - which is a normal human being discussing what they do for a living. And perhaps it takes a smidgeon of mystery out of it but at the same time it gives you so much more. And that for me is the real joy of it.

Deleece: That is a joy! The last time I was here (at Cremorne Orpheum Theatre) we were talking to Viggo Mortensen, a member of Lord of The Rings, and Popcorn Taxi was part of that were they?

Oscar Hillerstrom: I've certainly had a chat with Viggo a while ago myself with Popcorn Taxi. I think perhaps it was 3 or 4 years ago we spoke with Guillermo del Toro about Hellboy 2 when he was in, we hooked him up on the phone from Germany while we were in Sydney, but obviously at that time he was talking about The Hobbit, which was certainly one of his dream projects. And it's interesting obviously now that to see this story come to life but, at the same time you can see perhaps elements of Guillermo's DNA there still today. But also obviously the way that Peter Jackson has worked so hard for so long that you really can't begrudge him any of the success, and certainly you can't begrudge any of the actors any of their success.

Deleece: Yes, and it was at Popcorn Taxi when Guillermo was talking from Berlin Live that he broke the news that the very first script was finished, that they had actually finished the very first script of The Hobbit, now at that stage there was only a 2 part series, so Popcorn Taxi picked up a really nice World headline there (laughs)!

Oscar Hillerstrom: Yes. Well, I mean for us we're not about the scoop. We're not trying to get ˜the story" and we don't have our Fedora with a Press Hat. What we want to do is just have a chat and occasionally somebody will just relax and they will let it slip. And so if you're in that audience of 200 or sometimes 600 people then you do get something a little bit special and I think tonight certainly there were a couple of moments where you could feel a real thrill echo through the audience. I certainly felt it myself when talking about Benedict Cumberbatch doing motion capture work, which I don't think anyone has thought of before. And also the lost Love interest of Thorin Oakenshield which ended the night, which I think was absolutely wonderful and certainly most of the audience just "lost it" which is a lot of fun.

Deleece: That was brilliant wasn't it? Thank you so much for this interview! And all the best, and I'll be at the next Popcorn Taxi Event as usual.

Oscar Hillerstrom: Thank-you so much. I really appreciate it.

Thank you to Deleece, Oscar Hillerstrom and Popcorn Taxis for sharing this wonderful night with us all.

(This post was edited by dernwyn on May 5 2013, 2:51am)


May 4 2013, 2:35pm

Post #2 of 9 (332 views)
So, no full rendition of the "Misty Mountains" song... [In reply to] Can't Post

It seems that RA didn't fully understand the question that was asked about the "Misty Mountains" song, where several of the verses were dropped in the film version. Still, from his answer we can infer that a longer version was never recorded.

Now we can wait until There and Back Again and see if any of the follow-up song is included.

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


May 4 2013, 3:03pm

Post #3 of 9 (346 views)
The question... [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Otaku-sempai

I would say it was the way I edited the question so that it was easier to read. In the transcript - the 'audience questions' are the only edit (as some people were so nervous and excited and happy they could hardly get their question out Wink ) - so I had to edit as best as I could understand, and just tease apart what the lovely person who was so keen to ask about Thorin's singing, was actually asking. So that would be my fault there Smile.

So, I do think Richard understood the question Smile

Richard was astoundingly connected with the audience and what was happening. He was very engaged and tuned into peoples questions - you could see him thinking all the time - there were no throw away answers for him - He was a gentleman indeed.

I wish he had given us a few bars of the song [:D]


May 4 2013, 8:23pm

Post #4 of 9 (328 views)
Hillerstrom says it well: [In reply to] Can't Post

re: a Popcorn Taxi event:

You get to see something you don't normally get to see - which is a normal human being discussing what they do for a living.

I enjoyed what RA had to say about his choices for the character and the the descriptions of how PJ works with actors. Richard does seem to be an ideal guest for interviews.

Thanks very much for transcribing all this, Elven of Valinor. It was almost like being there.

Forum Admin / Moderator

May 4 2013, 9:14pm

Post #5 of 9 (309 views)
He is extraordinarily generous [In reply to] Can't Post

in his fan interactions, isn't he?

Poor PJ - not only is his pants-dropping on film, but he won't ever be allowed to forget it. Especially now that the fan-world knows. >:)

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Ataahua's stories


May 5 2013, 2:37am

Post #6 of 9 (305 views)
LOL - The incredible part is... [In reply to] Can't Post

Richard never mentioned that Pete fell off the log - now that's skill! Cool... and to his credit Richard kept PJ's integrity intact Wink


May 5 2013, 2:40am

Post #7 of 9 (296 views)
You are very... [In reply to] Can't Post

welcome indeed.
I wish we (tORNsibs) had ALL been there - it was a great night!
Cheers Lissuin!

Forum Admin / Moderator

May 5 2013, 7:50pm

Post #8 of 9 (265 views)
Thank you [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow, what an effort you put into this. The entire transcript of the event!
I already had heard from a friend on Facebook about it. He was probably on the other end of the cinema, because his pictures were from a different angle. So I think I now have a full coverage of the event.
Thanks again!


May 7 2013, 1:07pm

Post #9 of 9 (267 views)
Thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

Especially love the insight into the acting process. Wish more interviews focused on the work over the hype. Much appreciated.


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