Exclusive: How Dwarves caused problems on Hobbit set

Mark Lankester
Movies Blog18 December 2012

Peter Jackson has spoken of his love/hate relationship with the 13 dwarves in 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey', but finally realised that "instead of being too many dwarves, there's not enough".

[Related story: Hobbit stars on green screen frustrations]
[Related story: Hobbit mockbuster changes its name]

We spoke to the daring Kiwi director about what challenges came with such a large group of main characters (all of whom had beards), and asked some of the now scaled-up band how they found becoming Tolkein's dwarves.

Watch the video below.

The director previously had concerns about shooting such a large group. There were technical issues - they were smaller than the human characters, so had to be shot on separate sets or with false perspective. It also created narrative problems: could audiences tell the difference between the heavily bearded posse?

"[In the beginning] all I could imagine was 13 Gimlis," Jackson admitted [Gimli was the Dwarf in 'The Lord of the Rings'], "I just thought 'my god that's a big ensemble.' Then when we came to write the script and develop the screenplays we released that some actual comedy can be gotten from Bilbo interacting with these dwarves."

And story-wise, 13 of the sturdy fellas probably was not enough: "They're literally going to fight a dragon. There really needed to be an army of them."

"In fact they're such a small band trying to achieve such a lot. Once you start looking at the story from that angle I started to embrace it more."

There was a definite brand of middle-earth moral that bonded the dwarves, something Martin Freeman, who plays lone-hobbit Bilbo Baggins, laughed about:

"I don't think I was fully part of the gang" said Freeman, explaining how the process of "becoming dwarves" left him out of the group as the 13 became the centre of attention. Not only did they go through rigorous make-up, and costume sessions together, but also what the actor described as "about half an hour of just having s**t put on them."

"[The crew are] messing with them. You know, just kind of little bottles knives, you know just all the stuff… they're fiddling with dwarves!"

James Nesbitt and Aidan Turner, who played Bofur and Kili, told us they had to visit 'Dwarf Bootcamp' before the pic shoot, which featured horse riding, singing and dwarf movement classes. "Lots of crazy stuff", Turner said.

For Richard Armitage, who plays the Dwarves leader, Thorin Oakenshield, the biggest challenge was the bulky restrictions of playing a dwarf: "When I saw the character breakdown it said you may have to wear some prosthetics," he smirked.

"It became extensive, and nobody really knew what all of the costume, the face, the hair, the weapon, would do to a human body over a long period of time. It did become quite an endurance test.

You're thinking 'How am I even going to be able to walk, let alone act this role?' But it's amazing how quickly your brain puts that aside and you focus on the task in hand."

'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' is in cinemas now

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