"Hobbit" Update: New Production Diary and Character Stills


As I promised back in May, I’m going to keep the updates coming on Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films as more information is released from the set. Today’s dose includes a trio of character stills from the movies (our first look at Martin Freeman in costume as Bilbo and some shots of the dwarves) and an embedded version of the second video blog from the New Zealand set. I’ll also be offering my reaction to it all (of course). Read on to check out all the latest on the films, and to leave your thoughts in the comments!

The first thing I want to share is the latest production diary posted on The Hobbit’s Facebook page. The first entry in this series of set vlogs was awesome; it inspired me to write a blog post about how happy I became watching the pieces of the film come together. This video is no different. It starts out showing Peter Jackson and second unit director Andy Serkis wrapping the first block of shooting on the films, and gives the audience a glimpse into what happens in the next few weeks. Check out the video below for the full diary.

There’s a lot of great content in the vlog, and if you look closely, you can see Martin Freeman in costume as Bilbo shooting a scene with Hugo Weaving as Elrond. It looks like they’ve placed Weaving on a box with an extra-long robe to achieve the correct scale between Elrond’s and Bilbo’s respective heights. Near the beginning of the video, we get a shot of Andy Serkis in the motion-capture suit as Gollum, with all the little reference dots stuck to his face for the digital animators to use when they create the Gollum character.


Another highlight was the scene of Jackson doing location scouting on the South Island of New Zealand. I especially loved how the production uses a fleet of helicopters to visit all the remote wilderness spots where the exterior scenes will be shot. Not only is it a sign of how much money the studios are spending on this project, but seeing five choppers swoop into a mountain pass is just epic. It really makes me wish I could have even a small role in the production, just to be there while the movies take shape. It's great to hear the Lord of the Rings score playing on top of these visuals - even these shaky shots taken from the helicopter feel like part of the movie when they're paired with that music.

We learn quite a bit from this video: now that the first block of shooting is completed, they have 200 days of photography left on the project. They've apparently finished shooting a number of the indoor scenes, in particular the party in Bag End, the episode at Rivendell, and at least a few bits in Gollum's cave. I liked seeing Andy Serkis as the 2nd unit director - before this video, he was often referred to as "that guy who played Gollum", but I'm confident he's doing a good job with this other assignment. Whoever put together the piece also added some testimonials from the cast and crew about what they'll be doing during the break between the first and second blocks of shooting. A lot of them are going on vacation-style getaways, but Sir Ian McKellen is jumping right into production on a play in London - a classic answer from such a hardworking actor.

Next, we have a three smaller tidbits, namely a few shots of actors in costume. The first is of Martin Freeman as Bilbo, which you can see above. This one comes to us from Entertainment Weekly, via Slashfilm.com. It isn’t groundbreaking, because most of us were able to mentally picture Freeman with a hobbit wig, pointy ears and traditional hobbit garb. It is cool to see Bilbo for the first time, however, because we’re still a long way's off from seeing a teaser trailer of any kind. I'm guessing that the dwarf glancing at him in the background might be Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), only because he looks younger and more focused compared to the other dwarves.

Following that, we have a shot of the dwarves Dori, Nori and Ori. They’re played by Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy and Adam Brown, respectively. Ori appears to be wearing one of the hoods Tolkien talks about in the first part of The Hobbit, and Nori seems to be wielding a cool-looking mace. I can't wait to see these guys in action against the Goblins of the Misty Mountains. Here’s the official description of the characters from the movie’s Facebook page:


These three brothers, all sons of the same mother, could not be more different from each other. Dori, the oldest, spends much of his time watching out for Ori, the youngest; making sure he’s not caught a chill or got himself killed by Wargs or Goblins. Nobody quite knows what Nori gets up to most of the time, except that it’s guaranteed to be dodgy and quite probably, illegal. Dori, Nori and Ori are intensely loyal to each other – and whilst they are perfectly happy fighting amongst themselves, woe-betide anyone who means harm to one of these brothers.

After those images were released, Omelete.com posted a shot of the brothers Oin and Gloin. Seen with the same promotional-style background as the previous shot, here we see Gimli’s father Gloin and his brother Oin. I like how these five dwarves all have individual looks; it helps viewers tell them apart and seems more plausible – I don’t imagine Tolkien envisioned dwarves all looking the same. Because Gimli was one of the only dwarves in The Lord of the Rings, it will be fun to see how dwarf culture works when we have these various characters onscreen at once.


What do you think of all this Hobbit news? Do you like the direction Jackson chose for the dwarves? What did you think about the second production video? Did the shot of Martin Freeman as Bilbo get you pumped for the first film’s release on December 14th, 2012? Let me know in the comments! Also, check out some of the other recent news from the set of the Hobbit:

-Sherlock Star and Former Greek God Cast in The Hobbit-

-A Dragon’s Hoard of Hobbit Casting News-