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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
EXCLUSIVE: Getting to know John Callen aka Oin

News from Bree
spymaster@theonering.net

Nov 20 2010, 7:53am

Post #1 of 17 (1480 views)
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EXCLUSIVE: Getting to know John Callen aka Oin Can't Post

There are many new names associated with the upcoming Hobbit films. With some we are familiar, and some we are not . Actor John Callen was one of those confirmed cast member for whom we just didn't have a lot of information, except for the fact that he was cast as Oin, son of Groin, and brother to Gloin. We have an exclusive treat for you all today as John has been kind enough to share some pictures, a brief biography and the story of how he came to be cast in The Hobbit! Make sure to click the 'continue reading' button to read the full story.

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I was born November 4 1946 in south-east London and attended Grammar School at Blackheath before heading to NZ with my family at age 16. I attended school for one more year, tried art school and then got my first job copywriting for a radio station before moving sideways into journalism. All this time I was engaged in amateur theatricals through which I met an advertising director who employed me to do voiceovers. That was 40 years ago.

While doing voiceovers I met professional actors and hadn't realised there were such creatures in NZ. I was asked to audition for radio drama productions and started getting more and more work before being "spotted" by one of NZ's then leading theatre directors, Mervyn Thompson, who offered me a fulltime contract at Downstage Theatre, New Zealand's first professional theatre company.

I had also started getting some minor TV roles and applied my journalistic skills to writing for radio and stage.

I had also been doing some directing and continued this at the theatre and then into TV and the commercial world.

I have been in or directed more than 100 stage works, two dozen TV series, a few films, hundreds of radio plays, a number of commercials and literally thousands of voiceovers, including 150 documentaries. Whay great fun.

In the past few years I have directed a lot of NZ's favourite "soap", Shortland Street, more than 50 commercials, as well as dramatised documentaries, some of which I have also written. This year a film called The Kiwi Who Saved Britain, why I directed and co-wrote, screened here celebrating the victory of Kiwi Sir Keith Park over the invading Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain.

In recent years I have also worked as a sometime lecturer teaching acting and media studies students.

I have lived in Auckland for the past 20 years. I am married to TVNZ executive Judi Callen.

The LOTR trilogy was one of the most magnificent pieces of cinematic work ever, and when I auditioned for The Hobbit it was not for the role I was eventually given but for Radagast. At the same time I did a voice audition for Smaug. And then, as is often the case in this business, heard nothing - for months.

I had occasion to ring my agent and said: "I'm finishing lecturing at the University soon and I need you to find me a job to set me up for my retirement, if ever that comes along." For some reason she laughed.

Three days later she rang telling me of my casting for The Hobbit, both films, for the full length of the shoot. I had had two small roles in films here in NZ this year, but wonderful as they were both were for a matter of a few days' work. This was something else.

After some more time I learnt the names of a few others in the cast and am honoured to be among such august company, a number of whom I have worked with over the years.

I have yet to see a script but believe there is a great deal of comedy and fun to be had amidst the adventure, danger and struggle. A friend warned me to check the nudity clause in my contract but I told them these are not horror films.

My character is Oin, the older brother of Gloin and they are the children of Groin. Gloin is the father of Gimli, and given that character was played by John Rhys Davies I'm wondering if I need to bring out my "I'm the only 6ft dwarf in the village, look you, isn't it" accent.

I did wonder about my casting and how they had made the choice - maybe the long hair and the beard sold it, I thought. But now that has all gone. Given that Oin is almost 200 years old I can presume only that it was the age. Maybe I'd like to think the fire of enthusiasm in my eye made a difference; Oin and Gloin are, after all, the firelighters.

From what I've seen, these two films will be even more extraordinary than LOTR.



(This post was edited by Altaira on Nov 23 2010, 2:49am)


Earl
Forum Admin / Moderator


Nov 20 2010, 2:46pm

Post #2 of 17 (658 views)
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This is awesome on more than one level [In reply to] Can't Post

I Heart this! John seems so humble and easy going. He's wondering what the filmmakers saw in him, and I think it's that special kind of personality that PJ looks for in the people he works with, which John seems to have in abundance Cool



(This post was edited by Earl on Nov 20 2010, 2:49pm)


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Nov 20 2010, 3:01pm

Post #3 of 17 (641 views)
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It is great to learn a bit about John. [In reply to] Can't Post

Sounds like he has the experience and he certainly has the looks. He is the right age too. Glad to see a few of my generation getting work in The Hobbit.

Kangi Ska Resident Trickster & Wicked White Crebain
New Zealand is Middle-earth & today life is good.

At night you can not tell if crows are black or white.

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Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Nov 20 2010, 4:18pm

Post #4 of 17 (592 views)
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Thank-you for that wonderful bio John! [In reply to] Can't Post

My guess is your enthusiasm and the twinkle in your eyes were definitely contributing factors to you being cast as one of the illustrious 13 dwarves. After all, Smaug will be a CGI creature so your great smile would be lost on-screen.

Like you, I think we're all very impressed with the casting so far: both with the veterans (like you and the ones you've worked with) and the new faces. I'm guessing it's' likely that Peter (Hambleton), a.k.a. Gloin, is one of the ones you've worked with? You two will have SO much fun together. I think this will be the adventure of a lifetime for you, and provide for many wonderful stories to tell during your retirement (if that ever happens Wink).

Get ready to be beloved by fans all over the world, not just NZ. Those Kiwis have had you to themselves long enough, I'd say. Wink

*Bows low in dwarf-fashion*

All the best of luck to you. Smile


Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.



"Life can't be all work and no TORn" -- jflower

"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase



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dormouse
Half-elven

Nov 20 2010, 5:36pm

Post #5 of 17 (567 views)
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I like that! [In reply to] Can't Post

He sounds really nice - just the right sort of person to have around on a long film shoot.

If you find your way to this thread, Mr. Callen, congratulations and good luck to you! Smile


TheGoblinKing
Rohan

Nov 20 2010, 5:46pm

Post #6 of 17 (557 views)
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With Peter Its all About Balance [In reply to] Can't Post

I think PJ has the best eye along with Fran Walsh when having in mind what they feel Middle Earth Characters should look like. If anyone doesn't think PJ isn't loyal to NZ actors then suggest rethink that for he will give any actor a chance.


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Nov 20 2010, 5:49pm

Post #7 of 17 (573 views)
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Thanks for this! [In reply to] Can't Post

As soon as I saw his photo, I knew the voice - and Stephen Hunter is right: Callen *is* the god of voiceovers in New Zealand! Some women here have mentioned how they'd be happy to hear Sean Bean read the telephone book to them, they love his voice so much. Well, get read to add John Callen's name to your 'smooth voice' list. Smile

A friend warned me to check the nudity clause in my contract but I told them these are not horror films.

Niiiice. :D

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

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís 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 b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


DrDeath153
Lorien

Nov 20 2010, 6:05pm

Post #8 of 17 (543 views)
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The supporting cast seem to have it [In reply to] Can't Post

It is very very cool to see what this John Callen fellow is all about and i'm very very pleased with what i see. John Callen will be a fantastic dwarf by anyone's standards- he's got the look, he's got the age, he's got the ability. The supporting cast is looking stronger and stronger, i just hope the leads have to stuff to keep up.

Dr Death


Hamfast
Rohan


Nov 20 2010, 6:49pm

Post #9 of 17 (508 views)
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I like this. [In reply to] Can't Post

An actor who gives enough of a darn about the fans to do a "meet and greet" ??? Very nice and much appreciated Mr. Callen. Like many of us have said...." trust PJ"

Looks to me like another great bit of casting. Good luck John !


Flagg
Tol Eressea


Nov 20 2010, 7:08pm

Post #10 of 17 (493 views)
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Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

It's not often that people working on the production go to the trouble of writing mini-autobiographies for us! Mr Callen looks like a perfect Dwarf and he seems to have a great sense of humour. I'm sure we won't be disappointed. Smile


Ainu Laire
Tol Eressea


Nov 20 2010, 7:13pm

Post #11 of 17 (526 views)
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Thank you, Mr. Callen! [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, this is fantastic. He sounds very nice.

I cannot wait for these films.

My LiveJournal ~ My artwork and photography

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NARF since age 8, when I refused to read the Hobbit because the cover looked boring and icky.


FrodoEyes
Rivendell

Nov 20 2010, 8:40pm

Post #12 of 17 (512 views)
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Soddit [In reply to] Can't Post

Love the, probably unintentional, nod towards the Soddit with the Welsh dwarves! Boyo, look you!

'I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.'
'So do all who live to see such times but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.'


macfalk
Valinor


Nov 20 2010, 10:23pm

Post #13 of 17 (495 views)
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Seems like a truly nice person! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for this bio, I enjoyed reading it.



The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.

(This post was edited by macfalk on Nov 20 2010, 10:23pm)


Nimloth
Lorien


Nov 21 2010, 2:32am

Post #14 of 17 (429 views)
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Thanks for the mini bio [In reply to] Can't Post

It's nice to get some background on the name. It's sure to be an interesting and fun couple of years for John.


LordMaximus
Rivendell

Nov 22 2010, 12:15am

Post #15 of 17 (378 views)
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Great to see some of NZ's best actors in the fray [In reply to] Can't Post

PJ certainly is making the most of the under used talent in NZ. He is yet another pefect person for a dwarf role.


mendil
Rivendell


Nov 24 2010, 7:09pm

Post #16 of 17 (294 views)
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You can hear him [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Callen *is* the god of voiceovers in New Zealand! Some women here have mentioned how they'd be happy to hear Sean Bean read the telephone book to them, they love his voice so much. Well, get read to add John Callen's name to your 'smooth voice' list. Smile


I did find one youtube link that has (I hope I am correct) John Callen doing voiceover. So anyone can hear what he sounds like if he/she wants to.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLWYQ6OoJZo

"... But of bliss and glad life there is little to be said, before it ends; as works fair and wonderful, while still they endure for eyes to see, are their own record, and only when they are in peril or broken for ever do they pass into song."


peleowyn
Rivendell


Nov 25 2010, 5:30am

Post #17 of 17 (316 views)
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What a nice man! [In reply to] Can't Post

And how encouraging and exciting to read that he thinks these films may even be "more extraordinary" than the trilogy! That's great news!

 
 

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