Exclusive: Hobbit stars on green screen frustrations

While on promotional duties for 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Duty', Sir Ian McKellen admitted he hated filming his scenes in front of a green screen, rather than with other actors, and the situation even made him cry.

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We spoke to the legendary Gandalf actor about his frustrations, and asked if the other 'Hobbit' stars felt the same way.

Check our interview on video below.

Sir Ian described to us his "wretched first day". "I was in a scene with all the dwarves and Martin Freeman [who plays Bilbo]. I rehearsed with them but had to leave them on their own, then go to my own set so I could be filmed at the same time. Then they'd put the two pictures together and I'd look bigger.

"It meant that I was talking to 13 people who I couldn't see and who I could only hear through an earpiece. It was wretched. Acting was reduced to just technicality."

Luckily for the veteran thesp, his director Peter Jackson saw the error of his ways and turned to low-fi tech, such as boxes, taller/shorter body doubles and ledges from day 2 onwards to keep McKellen happy.

Freeman also said he struggled with Jackson's SLAVE MOTION CONTROL technology, which allows different-sized characters (say Gandalf and Bilbo) to be on two different soundstages but filming the same scene, thanks to hooked-up camera movement.

He said: "When Bilbo and Gandalf had scenes together, Ian and I would get together, run our lines, rehearse, it would feel great. He was just gorgeous to work with. Genuinely brilliant.

"Then we'd be separated, I wouldn't be able to look at him, I'd have to look at a scale double, while he's doing lines off camera. That was frustrating because I dearly wanted to do scenes with him. At least we could be in the same room a lot of the time."

Richard Armitage, who plays dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield, didn't find the whole process as annoying as Freeman or McKellen because of Peter Jackson's direction.

He said: "You know Peter describes his world so clearly to you that when you are faced with a green screen, I don't really remember actually seeing a green screen. Everyone has a different reaction to working in peter's digital playground, but I really enjoyed it."

Andy Serkis reckons one reason he was picked as second unit director, on top of reprising his role as Gollum, was because of his familiarity with motion capture technology. He said: "I could straddle those worlds and create an atmosphere which would enable the actors to share the imagination of the filmmaker and make them feel at home on those sets."

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