Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hobbit Chat

A transcript of the online chat with Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Torro has been posted over at Weta's website. There are a number of interesting tidbits, including a hint that I was wrong about how the movies will be broken up. I suspect Trollwife will be thrilled by what del Torro says about Smaug. Here are some other interesting comments:

KenshinIV What are the chances Ron Perlman will be voicing Smog?
Guillermo del Toro At this time the voice of Smaug is down to a very few choices in my head and I have a completely specific one, Ron has a good chance but I have other plans for RP... we will see...

Eriol So what age rating are you aiming at?
Peter Jackson Hi Eriol - the rating will be the same as the Trilogy, PG13 on both movies
Guillermo del Toro An intense PG-13...

Yetzi did you start casting for the 13 dwarves?
Guillermo del Toro Nope- no catsing has started yet.
Guillermo del Toro Casting- I mean... BUt some people have thrown their helmet in the ring.
Peter Jackson Hi Yetzi - no casting has commenced and won't until the scripts are written. We have had chats with one or two ofthe LOTR actors however but the casting will be driven largely by the writing and it is impossible to cast 13 dwarves without knowing their personality and characters. We anticipate we won't be in serious casting mode for these movies until well into next year.

WetaHost 10- Hi there, thanks for giving this opportunity. my question: will Alan Lee and John Howe be on board again? I really admire their work. good luck for this project and have a lot of fun.
Guillermo del Toro As aI said, I had a marvelous lunch with John and Alan in London a few days ago and we all got very excited as we discussed my ideas on Smaug, Mirkwood, etc They are most definetly back!
Peter Jackson Impossible to imagine it without them!

WetaHost 8 - I always thought creating Gollum would pose a great artisic challenge to the artists whose job it would be to adapt the Lord of the Rings. With the Hobbit I believe Smaug will pose one of the great challenges. Now we have all seen dragons in movies. But for the Hobbit I personally am excepting nothing less than unbelievable . Were will you go for inspiration? What styles will the art dirction look at? Personally I can see a lot being done with the setting from Pan's Labyrinth. Thank you and good luck to you all.
Guillermo del Toro This is a big one-- Allow me to quote form my random responses at…

I am a big Dragon fan. I've said it before- And I was fortunate enough to be born a Dragon in the Chinese Horocope...

And although its always impossible to agree on the "greatest" of anything, I bring forth these two as the main film contenders for that title: Eyvind Earle / Disney's Maleficent dragon ( a triumph of elegance of color and design) and Vermitrax Pejorative from Dragonslayer.

In my opinion, every other design has borrowed heavily from these two. I plan to create something new and groundbreaking.

Smaug should not be "the Dragon in the Hobbit movie" as if it was just "another" creature in a Bestiary. Smaug should be "The DRAGON" for all movies past and present. The shadow he cast and the greed he comes to embody- the "need to own" casts its long shadow and creates a thematic / dramatic continuity of sorts that articulates the story throughout-

In that respect, Smaug the CHARACTER is as important, if not more important, than the design. The character will emerge form the writing- and in that the Magnificent arrogance, intelligence, sophistication and greed of Smaug shine through-

In fact, Thorin's greed is a thematic extension of this and Bilbo's "Letting go" and his noble switching of sides when the dwarves prove to be in the wrong is its conceptual counterpart (that is a hard one to get through, Bilbo's heroism is a quiet, moral one) and the thematic thread reaches its climax in the Bilbo / Thorin death bed scene.

Anyway, back to Smaug: One of the main mistakes with talking dragons is to shape the mouth like a snub Simian one in order to achieve a dubious lip-synch. .. A point which eluded me particularly in Eragon, since their link is a psychic one.

To me, Smaug is the perfect example of a great creature defined by its look and design, yes, but also, very importantly, by his movement and -One little hint- its environment - Think about it... the way he is scaled, moves and is lit, limited or enhanced by his location, weather conditions, light conditions, time of the year, etc. That's all I can say without spoilers but, if you keep this curious little summary you'll realize several years form now that those things I had in my mind ever since doodling the character as a kid had solidified waaay before starting the shoot of the film.

A big tool is also how and when he is fully revealed. I could give you specifics- beat-by-beat in fact (I'm geeking out to do it), but...

I will say no more in order to save you from ruthless spoilerage (we have a few years to go, you now...?) and increased anxiety.

Let me, however, say that this is actually one of the points I feel most enthusiastic about.

As to his voice- well, each reader has a Smaug voice in his / her head, just like you always do when "hearing" a great character in a book.

I have mine... and it will be revealed in time...

WetaHost 2 - Hello Mr. Jackson and Mr. Del Toro! Thank you very much for this time. My question is one that I think you will hear alot of from many of us...from what material will you pulling the second movie from? I know it'll be great with you two on board, but I am mighty curious. I am a huge fan of both of you and I look foward to more Tolkien films!
Guillermo del Toro The idea is to find a compelling way to join THE HOBBIT and FELLOWSHIP and enhance the 5 films both visually an in their Cosmology. There’s omissions and material enough in the available, licensed material to attempt this. The agreement is, however, that the second film must be relevant and emotionally strong enough to be brought to life but that we must try and contain the HOBBIT in a single film.
Peter Jackson I'm really looking forward to developing Film Two. It gives us a freedom that we haven't really had on our Tolkien journey. Some of you may well say that's a good thing of course! The Hobbit is interesting in how Tolkien created a feeling of dangerous events unfolding, which preoccupy Gandalf. There's an awful lot of incident that happens during that 60 year gap. At this stage, we're not imagining a film that literally covers 60 years, like a bio-pic or documentary. We would figure out what happens during that 60 years, and choose one short section of time to drop in and dramatise for the screen. I'm really interested in how it effects The Hobbit - do we show what happens to Gandalg during his trips away? We'll see. We may well have seeds for Film Two that we'll subtly sow during The Hobbit.
WetaHost Considering that you're stretching The Hobbit into 2 movies can we assume that Beorn will be featured and will not be given the Tom Bombadil treatment?
Guillermo del Toro

WetaHost My question is, when Del Toro has acknowledged his disdain for Hobbits and "sword and sandals" fantasy, how can he do justice to the movie? Why can't Peter direct it himself after The Lovely Bones? He can direct these 2 movies and then direct the 3rd Tintin movie.
Guillermo del Toro Okay- If by “Sword and Sandal” you mean “Sword and Sorcery” I stand by the general lines of my statement in 2006. But allow me to reproduce the following paragraph from and expand it-

Since the age of 4 I became an avid reader and collector of books; manuscripts, pamphlets, first editions, small press or worn-down paperbacks... they all find a home at my library which has grown so cumbersome and obtrusive that I had to move to a separate home from the family one...

For many decades my main area of interest has been horror fiction: Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, MR James, LeFanu, etc and classic Fairy tales and literature about the engines of Myth: unabridged Grimm, Andersen, Wilde, Bettelheim, Tatar, etc

Now and then I indulge in Science Fiction (not hardware oriented but more humanistic things) and thus I count Bradbury, Ellison, Sturgeon and Matheson amongst my favorites.

My area of interest gets much narrower when we deal with another genre... the genre that is shelved under Fantasy.

As a youngster I read Moorcock, Clark Ashton Smith, Lord Dunsany, Lloyd Alexander, Fritz Leiber, Marcel Schwob, RE Howard and a few others.

Nevertheless I was never propelled into an aleatory addiction to sub-genres like Sword & Sorcery or indiscriminate fantasies about magical this or that- Like any other genre or subgenre there's a great abundance that makes it hard to discern when a new "trilogy" or "chronicle" comes from as genuine a place as Tolkien's or derives from genuine fervor -religious or otherwise- like C.S. Lewis' did. But here I am now: reading like a madman to catch up with a whole new land, a continent of sorts- a Cosmology created by brilliant philologist turned Shaman.

As if he grasped an existing universe outside our Platonic cave, Tolkien channels an entire world, weaving expertly from myth and lore. The oustanding virtue is that all this scholarly erudition doesn't reduce his tales to mere Taxidermy. He achieves an Alchemy all of his own: he writes new life in the freshly sculpted clay of his creatures.

I have, through the years become familiar with the very roots of Tolkien's myths and the roots of Fafhrd or Elric or Hyperborea and many a time I have relished the intricate ways in which demonic wolves, shape-shifter and spindly-limbed pale warriors can be woven into those many tales that become, at the end, the single tale, the single saga- that of what is immortal in us all.

In creating Pan's Labyrinth I drank deep of the most rigid form of Fairy Lore and tried to contextualize the main recurrent motifs in an instinctive rhyme between the world of fantasy and the delusions of War and Politics (the grown man's way of playing make-believe) and in re-reading THE HOBBIT just recently I was quite moved by discovering, through Bilbo's eyes the illusory nature of possession, the sins of hoarding and the banality of war- whether in the Western Front or at a Valley in Middle Earth. Lonely is the mountain indeed.

When that statement was made- at different times during PANS LABYRINTH’s promotion, many a time I made the distinctive call to say that althought I had not read Tolkien outside THE HOBBIT I had been fascinated by the Trilogy films. A statement that I already had the chance to make in 2005 when PJ, Fran and I met about HALO.

So, no, generally I am NOT a “Sword and Sorcery” guy or a “Fantasy” guy- By the same token, I'm not a sci-fi guy but I would make a film based on Ellison in a second- or on Sturgeon or Bradbury or Matheson. I'm not into Barbarians with swords but i would kill to tackle Fafhrd and Grey Mouse... and so on and so forth... I'm a believer but not a Dogmatic.

Allow me to put a final, finer point to our discussion. The aesthetics of HELLBOY II are completely Pop and color-saturated, much more comic book / modern than I would ever use in THE HOBBIT but- I spend two years creating a world of Fairies, Elves, Trolls, etc

Two Years. A career / creative decision that precedes any inkling of THE HOBBIT. I wrote the script years before I met with PJ or Fran. In other words I dedicated the last 6 years of my career (between PL and HBII) to create Fantastical world inhabited by Fairies, Fauns, Ogres, Trolls, Elves, etc

In that respect- I guess I am a Fantasy guy when the particular world appeals to me. Back in the Jurassic Period (1992 / 1993) when CRONOS won the Critic’s Week at Cannes I was referred to as an “art house guy”- I followed that with a giant cockroach movie that proved successful enough to spawn two sequels and allow me to co-finance THE DEVILS BACKBONE which send me back to being an “art house guy”. Then I did BLADE II and people thought of me as an “Action guy”- PJ went through a similar mercurial career with HEAVENLY CREATURES, BAD TASTE, DEAD ALIVE, etc I squirm away from a tag and I hope I can avoid being just a “Fantasy guy” after PL, HBII and H…

I do the tales I love (regardless of what shelf Barnes & Noble classifies the book under) and I love the HOBBIT.

I love it enough to give it half a decade of my life and move half a world away to do it.
Peter Jackson Having directed the LOTR Trilogy, I really felt that I put my heart and soul into dramatising this world and story, only a few years ago. The idea of going back in and essentially competing against my own movies, seemed to be an unsatsifying way to spend the next 5 years. However, I love Tolkien and care deeply about the movies we made. I couldn't bear the idea of somebody else making them without our involvement. Being a writer and producer is the perfect way for me to work here. Guillermo has the ultimate responsibility of directing, and for him it's easier to make these movies feel different, simply because he's not me, and he therefore has an original vision, with new ideas to offer.

Believe me, I thought long and hard about this, and what we're doing here will result in better movies, I promise you. And that's all that counts!

I may be in the minority, but I absolutely LOVE Beorn and I intend to feature him in the films. BTW I also like TB quite a bit…

No comments: