Thorin Oakenshield actor Richard Armitage talks 'The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug'

Daniel Wood
19 November 2013
Thorin Oakenshield actor Richard Armitage talks 'The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug'
The Hobbit star richard Armitage as Thorin Oakensheild spoke about the character in a recent interview

With 'Desolation of Smaug' only weeks away excitement for the film is building up to a fever pitch. Naturally the studio will have its actors and actresses out there stirring the pot and Richard Armitage is the latest actor from 'The Hobbit' to do so.

Armitage sat down with Elle Morris of as part of his press rounds for the December 18th release of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug' where he discussed everything from cocktails to New York and of course the movie itself.

Firstly Elle and Richard spoke about wine, beer and cocktails which lead to Richard proposing a new piece centred around a Thorin Oakenshield cocktail competition "Here's a little pitch for your piece, then. I think you should throw out there a little mini competition of 'Make a Thorin cocktail'," he offered. "What is it called, and what is in it? I'll judge the competition. We'll make the cocktail. … We'll get it down to a short list and we'll do a tasting session. But it has to have a title and it has to have some cool ingredients."

Richard is an English actor who mainly did television serials before his became the 'King under the Mountain'. Armitage starred as John Thornton in 'North and South', Guy of Gisborne in 'Robin Hood' and Lucas North in 'Spooks'. However despite being born in England Armitage now lives in New York, a city he has come to love.

"I find New Yorkers incredibly engaging. They're like Parisians …cool and confrontational, in a good way, in a good way, like they like a good debate. …you walk into a restaurant and it's not full of people silently sitting in front of each other like it can be in England; it's full of people pointing fingers in each other's faces having a really good political debate, or whatever."

In addition, "London and New York are sort of unique in that they are not really representative of the rest of the country that they exist in. London doesn't really represent England-it's so multicultural and cosmopolitan that it's its own entity. [It's the] same with New York; that's why I'm able to live in New York."

However the interview wasn't all New York and Cocktails and Bohemia. They did also talk about the upcoming Hobbit film. In the film Richard plays Thorin Oakenshield, a somewhat conflicted leader of a band of dwarves who are attempting to claim back their homeland from a dragon whilst stave off frequent attacks from a bloodthirsty orc. Understandably there's quite a bit of violence, of which Richard addresses

"Peter Jackson always had this debate with his design team and the actors that you can't undersell violence. It needs to be as shocking and violent as it really is, but you can't glorify it, or make it look sexy or appealing. To the end of keeping violence seem less mundane and domestic." Richard said, "The Hobbit design team was careful to make sure the weapons used looked very different from everyday objects that you'd have in your house."

He adds "I spent most of Robin Hood walking around as a miserable mother-and pretty much all of The Hobbit shoot because Thorin was so troubled. I take on those troubles." But, he added, "That's one of the things that attracted me a role like [Thorin], because you see him redeemed, you see him have his moment of salvation and you see his sacrifice."

Richard seems to completely understand the character of Thorin Oakenshield, even adding that you need to have empathy and love for your character regardless of their actions, going as far as to say that if he played a mass murderer he would want to be able to stand up in court and explain why that character shouldn't be put to death.

We are also left with this titbit about Smaug, which only serves to make the dragon even more incredible than it already is. ""No one's seen the dragon," Richard [said]. "We've seen bits of him-most of us have seen a green ball on a stick, but one of the digital artists at WETA who did my makeup used to show me the work that was being done on the dragon. He'd come in one day with an iPad screen of this incredible-what looked like a fossil, this iridescent red fossil with multi-facets and layers and colours and it was one of [the dragon's] scales. And they zoomed out and [the dragon's] covered in a million of these scales. That's the detail that they're working on the dragon. And I was like 'okay so how long's that taken you to do?' and he was like 'that's taken about a week'. To make this single scale."

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