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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
How did they decide to make the Dwarves Scottish/Irish?

OhioDude72
The Shire

Apr 21, 1:58pm

Post #1 of 11 (3034 views)
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How did they decide to make the Dwarves Scottish/Irish? Can't Post

This is actually one of my favorite things about the Dwarves, their accents give so much personality and dimension to the characters. Whose idea was this? I've looked through quite a few pre and post production videos and haven't seen one word spoken about the design of the Dwarves in detail, only that he wanted them to each have a unique silhouette so as to be able to tell them apart. In particular, Balin and Dwalin really stood out to me. Ken Stott did a phenomenal job.


(This post was edited by OhioDude72 on Apr 21, 1:59pm)


Petty Dwarf
Bree


Apr 22, 7:04pm

Post #2 of 11 (2965 views)
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They were copying John Rhys-Davies. [In reply to] Can't Post

He used a Scottish/Welsh accent mix for Gimli, so they just went with Scots and Irish accents for the Dwarves in the Hobbit films to evoke that.

"No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone."


OhioDude72
The Shire

Apr 22, 7:17pm

Post #3 of 11 (2961 views)
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Interesting [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
He used a Scottish/Welsh accent mix for Gimli, so they just went with Scots and Irish accents for the Dwarves in the Hobbit films to evoke that.


It seems like such a natural fit though doesn't it?


Kilidoescartwheels
Valinor


Apr 23, 2:59am

Post #4 of 11 (2931 views)
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Now that you mention it, [In reply to] Can't Post

Both Ken and Graham are Scotsmen, as is Billy Connelly. James Nesbitt is Irish, and Steven Hunter specifically said his one line needed to sound like Jimmy. But I don't really think they sounded terribly Scots, except for Connelly. Richard most certainly didn't, and most of the Dwarves were Kiwis (though it makes sense that Peter Hambleton would imitate JRD). Now, the Laketown actors patterned their accents after Luke Evans, who is Welsh, but they sounded different from Gandalf and the Dwarves, IMO.

I'm not scared to be seen, I make no apologies - this is me!

from The Greatest Showman




Noria
Gondor

Apr 23, 12:12pm

Post #5 of 11 (2899 views)
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Yes, it must all come from Gimli [In reply to] Can't Post

John Rhys Davies and/or the production team decided that Gimli would have a Scottish accent, something to do with mining IIRC.

Also IIRC, the different accents of The Hobbit were meant to reinforce that these Dwarves came from different places and were not a homogenous group.

It's logical that Gimli's father and uncle would speak in the same manner that he did.

Ken Stott and Graham McTavish are Scots so it's a natural fit, even though McTavish at least sounds rather different in interviews. My memory says that Stott sounds the same in real life though he was interviewed so seldom than I can't be sure.

They decided to have James Nesbitt use his native Northern Irish accent for Bofur and I think I remember from the documentaries that Stephen Hunter and William Kircher had to do the same. Neither Bombur nor Bifur spoke much so it hardly mattered.

But obviously all the Dwarves did not sound like British Celts. Thorin had something akin to Richard Armitage's own Northern accent, and so did the Irish Aiden Turner and NZ native Dean O'Gorman as Kili and Fili.

Dori, Ori and Nori all sounded different to me, with Dori's English accent sounding just a bit gentrified and Nori's more broad.

I was impressed at how the Kiwi actors playing Fili, Gloin, Oin, Bombur, Bifur, Dori and Nori seemed to nail their accents, though perhaps it only seems that way to people like me from outside the British Isles. That's most of the world however.


AshNazg
Gondor


Apr 23, 10:45pm

Post #6 of 11 (2870 views)
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John Rhys-davies is an experienced voice actor... [In reply to] Can't Post

I imagine as soon as he saw the design for Gimli he knew the perfect voice/accent for the character. You're right, it fits not only the look of the dwarves but also the idea that their race is isolated from other races in many ways.

I think also they used the Scottish accent for comedic reasons. Pippin delivers a lot of comic relief and also has a slightly Scottish accent. The book actually says that one of the Took ancestors must have taken a fairy wife (because the Tooks were so odd) but judging by the accent, maybe it was a dwarf wife
Laugh


OhioDude72
The Shire

Apr 23, 10:59pm

Post #7 of 11 (2867 views)
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Yeah [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I imagine as soon as he saw the design for Gimli he knew the perfect voice/accent for the character. You're right, it fits not only the look of the dwarves but also the idea that their race is isolated from other races in many ways.

I think also they used the Scottish accent for comedic reasons. Pippin delivers a lot of comic relief and also has a slightly Scottish accent. The book actually says that one of the Took ancestors must have taken a fairy wife (because the Tooks were so odd) but judging by the accent, maybe it was a dwarf wife
Laugh


I thought also that the reason it might be such a good fit is bc of our association of Celtic accents with small people (leprechauns.)


TheHutt
Gondor


Apr 24, 8:55am

Post #8 of 11 (2845 views)
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Graham McTavish [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Ken Stott and Graham McTavish are Scots so it's a natural fit, even though McTavish at least sounds rather different in interviews. My memory says that Stott sounds the same in real life though he was interviewed so seldom than I can't be sure.


At least McTavish said repeatedly (e.g. in HobbitCon panels) that he based both the character and the dialect of Dwalin on his father.

And "where's the meat" is an actual quote from his father's.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Booklet - Custom Booklet Project



Starling
Half-elven


Apr 25, 12:55am

Post #9 of 11 (2792 views)
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I love that! [In reply to] Can't Post


And "where's the meat" is an actual quote from his father's.


Excellent. Cool





Laineth
Lorien

Apr 27, 3:50am

Post #10 of 11 (2707 views)
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Different Accents [In reply to] Can't Post

Quotes from The Hobbit Chronicles 2, Creatures and Characters:


Quote
There were so many Dwarves that I was asked to divide them up, accent-wise, to help distinguish them. If they all sounded like Gimli it would be difficult for the audience to follow who was speaking. Visually they were all so distinct, so it made sense that each one would be similarly unique in vocal character.

The creative team and I began by dividing them into family groups, with a key individual in each group who established the lead that family would follow.

Richard Armitage's native accent is northern English, a dialect well suited to a real line of Dwarves: drawing on British history for inspiration, the royal families were northern and would have spoken with regional accents. At the same time, the qualities of a northern English accent match the kind of characterization Richard was wanting to explore: qualities of nobility, strength, groundedness, command and industriousness. So for Thorin we preserved Richard's own accent but worked with him to make it less broad and, in turn, helped teach features of it to Fili and Kili, though their accents would be described better as RP with a northern flavour. Dean and Aidan have Kiwi and Irish accents, respectively, so it's high praise indeed of their talent and the work we did with them that they were able to adapt so well.

Gloin had to sound like his son Gimli, played by John Rhys-Davies in The Lord of the Rings with a Scottish accent, so it only made sense that Gloin and his brother Oin follow in kind. Brothers Balin and Dwalin would also have Scottish accents, a choice made easier by Ken Stott being Scottish and Graham McTavish being from a Scottish family.

In choosing what kind of Scottish accent our Dwarves would favour, we wanted to avoid anything too urban or modern. We used Ken Stott as a native-speaking model for the Scottish-sounding Dwarves and he recorded passages that we distributed for everyone's reference.

Graham was very familiar with the Glasgow accent, which we initially though would be too urban. However, his characterization lent itself to a more roughly spoken accent, so in a sense a hint of Glasgow in Dwalin's accent wasn't inappropriate. The only issue to be mindful of was clarity, which was an important note for every accent in the films. American audiences in particular could have some difficulty understanding a strong Glasgow accent because it's not one they are usually exposed to. There would be little point in using an accent that made a character unintelligible to sections of the audience or be so strong as to be distracting. - Roisin Carty, Supervising Dialect Coach; pg 92


Peter Hambleton and I were told to adopt Scottish accents because we were cousins of Balin and Dwalin, who are of the royal line, and to be in keeping with Gimli's accent. Why might different branches of the family have different accents? In discussion with the writers we theorized that our accents were a product of where we might have gone to trade. The Dwarves travelled far and wide trading their gems and toys and expert crafts. Thorin, being in direct line to the throne, had a different accent to some of us, and some of the other followed him. - John Callen, Actor, Oin; pg 92


Unless they are speaking in Khuzdul, their own native and secret tongue, whenever we hear Dwarves talking in the films they are actually speaking in what is a second language to them: Mannish, or English to us. As a dispersed culture they have grown up travelling, bartering and dealing with various races of men across Middle-earth. In doing business with them it would be fair to assume they might have taken on the accents of those cultures they have mixed with, which could explain the diversity of their accents and, in some cases, similarities to other races. - Roisin Carty, Supervising Dialect Coach; pg 93


The most varied group was Dori, Ori and Nori. Each of these characters had their own distinct vocal qualities and dialects.

Adam Brown had an astonishing audition that clearly just wowed everybody and brought him into this world. He went for an accent that was a bit of a blend of west country English mixed with a standard British. Philippa in particular really wanted to maintain what she saw in the audition process, so this became part of Ori's character, but that mightn't necessarily fit Dori and Nori.

The notion came up in preproduction that because Dwarves live so much longer than humans, these brothers could have been born decades apart and raised in very unique situations. Their bloodline connection mightn't be matched by their life experiences or upbringings, so the vocal character of each might well be distinct. That storyline isn't scripted, but hopefully is something that intrigues and adds texture. - Leith McPherson, Dialect Coach; pg 94


The first thing we were given the chance to think about for our characters was our accents. With a lot of what we've developed for Middle-earth's various accents in both trilogies, the origin is in something from the British Isles. There are English bases, there's Scottish and there's Irish, there's a slight hint of Welsh. In The Lord of the Rings Gimli's accent was John Rhys-Davies' Welsh Scotsman mix, but Dwarves don't all sound like that. They're a very mixed bunch, as were we.

Mark Hadlow was determined to play Ronnie Barker's Mr Arkwright from Open All Hours, which was a great fit for Dori, but it wasn't right for Nori. I didn't want to give him the Yorkshire accent so I thought, being slightly dodgy lends itself to a London boy no offence to Londoners! - Jed Brophy, Actor, Nori; pg 94


Peter, Fran and Philippa just loved Mark's accent for Dori. Character-wise, Dori is the mother of the troop, so it worked for the character to have that quality and the accent fit so well. It was part of the creation of his character and to remove it would have been to lose something important.

Likewise, Adam Brown's native Berkshire accent, tempered by having lived in London for several years, was perfect for Ori. - Roisin Carty, Supervising Dialect Coach; pg 95


James Nesbitt has a non-urban Northern Irish accent, so we decided to base Bofur's family group on Northern Irish. Unlike all the other Dwarves of the Company, they aren't related to Thorin, not being from Durin's line, so the difference in accent worked to help reinforce that these Dwarves come from a different line and class.

Even though Bombur said very little and Bifur spoke in Khuzdul, we conducted accent sessions with all three of them in which Jimmy would model his accent for the others. It helped Stephin Hunter because Bombur does have some lines in the film and, as Bifur, William Kircher thought it was important to get a feel for the accent as being a part of his character, whether he spoke or not. It speaks to the kind of commitment to these roles that all the cast shared. William wanted to be able to make grunts or intonations that would be appropriate to his Dwarf family's native accent. - Roisin Carty, Supervising Dialect Coach; pg 96


Non dwarven accents, but still interesting information:


Quote
When creating the Elvish languages Tolkien was inspired by the sound of Welsh and Finnish. Those real-world languages are the models for the Elvish tongues, which are Sindarin and Quenya, respectively. Tolkien is quite explicit in stating that the invention of these languages was the foundation and the stories were made to provide a context for them to exist within.
[cut]
While Quenya has its roots in Finnish, Sindarin is based on the phonetics of Welsh. - Roisin Carty, Supervising Dialect Coach; pg 124

When the Elves spoke lines in English their accent was Standard English and well enunciated, with a delicacy of articulation (foregoing any sounds which might be perceived as modern or slovenly). It's important to feel the power of the Elves. They are ancient. Elrond, in particular, is a lord and very wise. He thinks before speaking so his speech is measured. - Roisin Carty, Supervising Dialect Coach; pg 125


Martin Freeman came to Bilbo with his native accent, RP or Standard English the accent of the Baggins family as established on The Lord of the Rings. We had a meeting when he first arrived in New Zealand and talked about Ian Holm's vocal characteristics as Martin had watched his performance and was interested in adopting some of that into his portrayal of the younger hobbit. Peter was keen that Bilbo Baggins be a character of another time and we didn't want him to sound too modern or street-wise. Once Martin had found the character, the voice came with it and he really didn't need much help from us at all.

The Shire hobbits have a Gloucestershire accent. It is an accent that Andrew Jack, the Supervising Dialect Coach on The Lord of the Rings, and I chose because it is an easy accent to achieve, easy to understand and is timeless and rustic. The exceptions were the Tooks. If a Took spoke, then they should have a Scottish accent, as established with Billy Boyd's Pippin Took in the previous films. - Roisin Carty, Supervising Dialect Coach; pg 16


It is interesting to me as a language enthusiast that the Trolls are the only characters in the book who are in fact written in dialect. It is very clear what Tolkien intended in this instance. It is a kind of London Cockney-inspired energy. - Leith McPherson, Dialect Coach; pg 114

The nice thing about the Trolls is that while they are Cockney, they're not modern gangster Cockney, but more of the Bill Sykes variety. They speak an old-fashioned Cockney which is colourful and energetic. - Roisin Carty, Supervising Dialect Coach; pg 114



mae govannen
Tol Eressea


May 8, 12:27pm

Post #11 of 11 (2182 views)
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Wow! All this so interesting info... Thank you!// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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