30 November 2011

Elijah Wood's 'Mixed' Hobbit Emotions

Elijah Wood, reprising his role as Frodo Baggins in The Hobbit, admitted he had “mixed emotions” during filming. 

"It was amazing, a mix of emotions, I think. It was slightly surreal and felt oddly normal,” he said of his return. 

"I played the character for so long and I was in the costume, in Bag-end and a lot of the same crew were there from Rings so it was as if no time had passed and suddenly we were doing another scene. It was great, felt like a family reunion, like stepping back in time."

He told HeyUGuys.co.uk that the prequel, which includes thirteen principal actors, felt very different from filming The Lord of the Rings

"Well, there are 13 dwarves! Imagine that, 13 principal actors, it's insane - all with prosthetics and it's incredible. In some ways, the scale feels larger surprisingly even though technically the scale of Lord of the Ring is more massive in terms of the storytelling.

"There's more technology, it's being shot in 3-D, more people on the set and it feels as though the 'machine' is bigger."

28 November 2011

Couple Builds Hobbit Holes in Maine

Pillsbury with one of his Hobbit Holes

Melissa and Rocy Pillsbury of Unity, Maine, run a business called Wooden Wonders, where they have been custom designing and building miniature Hobbit homes for the past two and a half years.

When Rocy Pillsbury, 37, a man with 17 years of carpentry experience, first began Wooden Wonders, his intent was to design and build children’s playhouses in various fantasy shapes, such as castles, towers, and fairy and mushroom houses. 

These playhouses were a huge success at many of the home shows they attended – so successful, in fact, that that many adults would try to come up with a reason to buy one of them. 

"We started with playhouses, and we expanded from there to utility uses," Melissa Pillsbury said. "We quickly discovered that folks with disposable income aren't necessarily the ones with young children."

Some of the Hobbit Holes’ utility uses include being a bus stop shelter, chicken coop, doghouse, office, garden shed, sandbox, yoga space, vegetable stand, sauna, summer sleepover spot, and lakeside cottage. According to Rocy Pillsbury, one customer bought a Hobbit Hole for the purpose of conducting child therapy sessions. 

Regardless of their use, "No two are alike,” Rocy said of his Hobbit-inspired playhouses, of which there are about 50 variations, all based on the Hobbit holes described in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, published in 1937. Some have shingled roofs, while others are covered with vegetation. And they all possess the same dome shape and round front door that is characteristic of all Hobbit holes.

The couple expects sales of their Hobbit Holes to soar after the release of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films. Wooden Wonders also has a trademark licensing agreement with Middle-earth Enterprises, a California company which has exclusive worldwide rights to motion picture, merchandising and other rights from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

"I think that we are the only company in the world that sells Hobbit Holes,” Rocy said. 

The Pillsburys' two sons, Richard and Maxximus, play inside one of the Hobbit Holes. 
Photo: David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

And one of their Hobbit Holes has recently become the home of a radio personality from Bangor, Pat LaMarche.

LaMarche, who is co-host of "The Pulse Morning Show" on WZON AM 620/FM 103.1, one of author Stephen King’s radio stations, has been living in one of these Hobbit Hole for about a week now, with a goal of staying there until $70,000 is raised by the community to aid the Help Keep ME Warm fundraiser, which offers home heating fuel assistance to low-income Mainers. 

Wooden Wonders is donating 10 percent of its sales made during the fundraiser to Help Keep ME Warm, according to Melissa Pillsbury. Additionally, Stephen King himself has offered to match up to $70,000 of the amount raised.

For anyone interested in purchasing a Hobbit Hole of their own, prices range from $999 for a chicken coop to $20,000 for an insulated cottage finished with floors, windows, and screens; Pillsbury is also trying to lower the cost to $2,000 for an entry-level playhouse. 

"Anyone who knows about carpentry knows how much work goes into them," Melissa Pillsbury said. "Aesthetically they're so wonderful. We've got a Hobbit Hole for every budget."

Visit the Wooden Wonders website for more information.

No 'Hobbit' for Viggo Mortensen

Actor Viggo Mortensen recently told Movies.com that he would not be reprising the role of Aragorn in the upcoming Hobbit films.

 “At one point, the producers asked if I would do it and I said sure, if Aragorn is supposed to be in the bridge story, because he’s not in The Hobbit,” Mortensen said. “But I’ve never been asked and they’re shooting the movie. I’m not in it unless there is some last-minute plan they have, but I thought I would have heard of it by now.”

“Orlando Bloom and Cate Blanchett shot something, but they’re elves and don’t change as rapidly,” he explained. “As you know, Aragorn is half elf and also lives a couple hundred years or more and he could be in a bridge, but I have to assume it isn’t going to happen.”

Other cast members who are reprising their Lord of the Rings roles include Elijah Wood, Sir Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis and Orlando Bloom.

And though he may not be reprising the role of Aragorn in The Hobbit films – which are slated for release in December 2012 and December 2013 – Mortensen is thankful for the opportunity to have played such an important character.

"That was an important period in my life. And I will always be grateful that the trilogy was so successful and gave me a lot of new opportunities. I never would have gotten A History of Violence, no matter how much David [Cronenberg] wanted me, had it not been for my newfound notoriety.”

New Photos from the 'Hobbit' Set

Source: Ain't It Cool News

Quint from Ain’t It Cool News has just posted his fourth update from the set of The Hobbit, titled: A “Palaver of Istari.” Having left Hobbiton (located in Matamata), this report comes from the small town of Te Kuiti, where the cast and crew are filming scenes in the Trollshaws in Middle-earth.  
In this update, we get our first glimpse at Sting, the Elven blade found by Bilbo, which he later passes on to his heir, Frodo, in The Lord of the Rings. We get to see "Tall Paul" Randall, Sir Ian McKellen’s stand-in, and the Dwarf Bombur, played by Stephen Hunter. And we also get our first glimpse of  Radagast (played by Sylvester McCoy), who shares a scene with Gandalf. 

“Based on what I’ve seen over the last few weeks I think it’s going to be a toss up between Bombur and Radagast on who will steal the movie,” Quint reports. “Bombur is just so loveable and funny and Radagast is ridiculously endearing, an absent-minded St. Francis of Assisi.”

You can read Quint’s full report (which contains some spoilers) here.

'Hobbit' Trailer to Be Attached to 'Tintin'

Elijah Wood recently confirmed that the first US trailer for Peter Jackson's The Hobbit will debut before The Adventures of Tintin (which is being produced by Peter Jackson), opening in cinemas on December 21st of this year. And though he knows when the first trailer will be released, he admits he has not yet seen it himself.

"I have spoken to people about the trailer," he told Digital Spy. "I have a sense of what's going to be in it. I think it's going to be in front of Tintin when it's released in the States."

He also admitted that returning to New Zealand to work on The Hobbit was like a family reunion.

"So many of the crew and some of the cast who were working on Lord of the Rings are working on The Hobbit as well. In a way it feels like stepping back in time, some of the same people are there on set. It was kind of emotional, I didn't really anticipate that."

24 November 2011

A Message of Thanks…

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I would take the time to express my gratitude…

I began Tweeting and blogging in late June of this year, and honestly, I never thought I’d make it to where I am today : I’ve almost reached the 500 follower mark on Twitter, which in itself is something I never thought I could achieve. But even more remarkable than that are all of the opportunities with which I’ve been presented over the span of just five months, all the new friends I’ve made, and all the support and encouragement I’ve received from my friends and followers. It is an honour to be a part of the Tolkien Community, and an even greater honour to have “met” (virtually) and befriended so many of my fellow scholars, movie buffs, and gamers. I am also honoured to be a writer for the Middle-earth News, a fantastic network run by an amazing group of hard-working and dedicated individuals.

I am so grateful to have finally been given an opportunity to become actively involved within the Tolkien Community; from the moment I first read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I knew that one day I wanted to end up where I am now. At the age of ten or eleven, it seemed like a far-off goal, and now that I’ve begun to dip my feet in the water, it seems almost surreal. I’ve still a long way to go – many papers to write and hopefully publish, and many other projects to tackle – but I am so thrilled to be on my way with so many wonderful people backing me.

That being said, I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to everyone reading this. I thank you for following me on Twitter and Facebook and for reading/sharing my blog – and for taking the first step and just looking at my pages.

You guys are the best, and I wish everyone a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving!


17 November 2011

Orlando Bloom in Queenstown

Orlando Bloom poses for a photo with fan Alexandra Hopkirk; 
Source: Stuff.co.nz

With our growing dependence on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, news travels fast – especially when it comes to celebrity sightings. And especially when the celebrity is involved in what is likely one of the most anticipated films of all time.

Posts on Facebook and word-of-mouth communication alerted fans that Orlando Bloom, who will be reprising his role as Legolas in the upcoming Hobbit films, was having breakfast at Vudu, a café in Queenstown. The news, which hit the Internet almost instantaneously, brought many eager fans to the café, seeking autographs and photos with the star.

“He was really nice,” said Alexandra Hopkirk, who got to meet and have her photo taken with the star, thanks to a tip from her sister, who had in turn received a phone call alert from a friend.

"He asked if we were from around here and where we worked, and said he'd be around for about 10 days."

While Bloom graciously signed autographs and posed for photos with fans, he asked a media photographer to "do something when I'm about to leave in 10 days, otherwise I won't be able to go anywhere.”

In addition to Vudu, Bloom has been spotted dining at Amisfield, an award-winning winery and restaurant near Lake Hayes.

Other Hobbit cast members – including “vertically challenged” extras dressed in black hooded Hobbit sweatshirts and Second Unit Director Andy Serkis, who will also be reprising his role as Gollum – have been spotted in Queenstown in recent weeks.

While scenes are still being shot in Paradise over the next few days, a location manager told a photographer from the Southland Times that although he could not stop people from taking photographs, traffic control permits would make it difficult for photos to be taken once shooting had commenced.

16 November 2011

Luke Evans’ ‘Hobbit’ Excitement

Luke Evans recently spoke with Rick Bentley of the Fresno Bee about one of his upcoming films, The Hobbit, in which he will be portraying Bard the Bowman.

"I had a little bit of a heart flutter the first day I got there because they have this thing where they show the new actors around all the sets and I saw Bilbo's house, and I was like, '[Expletive], I actually walked into Bilbo's house!'" he said. "It was the most amazing thing. I'll never forget these moments, so I can't wait to go back, to be honest."

On his way back to New Zealand this month to continue working on the movie, which will be released in December of next year, he said he was not worried about The Hobbit changing his life.

"It's keeping life real, that's what's important, and not losing yourself in the fact that you're in 'The Hobbit'," Evans said.

"There is an anonymity and I think there is a way to play it, and I think you just have to hold onto that for as long as possible. It is a funny thing to think that maybe one day you won't be able to walk down the street without someone coming up to you and asking for an autograph. That is a strange thing to think of, but it's part of the job, isn't it? It's a high-class problem to have."

15 November 2011

The Hobbit: Bigger Than The Lord of the Rings?

Following the success of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films, which grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide, and combined with the anticipation of the upcoming Hobbit films, many are now wondering: Will The Hobbit be an even bigger success?

When asked by E! News at the premiere of Happy Feet Two, Elijah Wood, who will reprise his role as Frodo Baggins in The Hobbit, said, "I don't even know if they're meaning to outdo them. They're gonna be big. The audience is huge. The anticipation for The Hobbit has been so massive for so long."

He also discussed the inclusion of characters who do not appear in Tolkien’s original story – Frodo, Galadriel, and Legolas, for instance – and how they would be written into the films.

"The idea is that there are things actually happening historically at the same time the story of The Hobbit is taking place, they just weren't written in The Hobbit," Wood said. "They were written in appendices and external pieces...that's kind of where a lot of that is coming from."

"It's going to feel like a nice transitional piece. I think it's going to be a great amalgam of a fresh new approach with places we've never been before in Middle-earth mixed with things that are very familiar to us. It will be a beautiful transition. I'm excited about it. I can't wait."

14 November 2011

First 'Hobbit' Trailer Announced

Andy Serkis, who is reprising his role as Gollum in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit films – in addition to serving as Second Unit Director – recently revealed to IGN.com that the highly-anticipated first trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released soon.

"There will be a trailer fairly soon, actually. Around Christmas time, I believe... It's just around the corner." 

"It's quite fascinating,” he says of returning to Middle-earth. “I'm having a ball. It's a huge operation, really. We're on the road at the moment, at various different locations on South Island in New Zealand. There are some truly remarkable landscapes that we're filming in. It's just stunning."

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is slated for release on December 14, 2012, with The Hobbit: There and Back Again following on December 13, 2013.

Quint's Unexpected Journey - Matamata

Photo Source: Ain't It Cool News

On October 31st, Quint from Ain’t It Cool News revealed that he had been selected to visit New Zealand, where he would be allowed access to the set of The Hobbit films. He has chronicled his adventures in a short column appropriately titled, “An Unexpected Journey.”

During the first part of Quint’s journey, he visited the Hobbiton set in Matamata, Waikato, on New Zealand’s North Island, where he saw just how green the grass in New Zealand is, caught a glimpse of Elijah Wood filming a few scenes as Frodo, and was even fitted for a cameo appearance. 

Part two described Quint’s transition from reporter to Hobbit, the drudgery of having prosthetics applied and removed, and what it was like working alongside Martin Freeman and under the direction of Peter Jackson.  Excited at the prospect of being on camera, receiving a Hobbit name (Fredegar Chubb), and having a line in the film, he also expressed some nervousness about his performance.

In Quint’s third and final article, he spoke of the wrapping up of filming in Matamata. He spoke with production designer Dan Hennah, who said that the Hobbiton set was the most important one he has worked on in the films, as it plays such a crucial role in making Middle-earth a believable place. 

While Quint talked some more about bring the Party Tree back to life and creating a realistic environment, he also shared some of The Hobbit storyline and how some scenes may be portrayed a little differently than in the books. 

While we don’t yet know what set Quint will be visiting next, he does acknowledge the presence of wizards, dwarves, and horses. Stay tuned! In the meantime, check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of Quint’s journey.

09 November 2011

Hobbit Set Coming Together

Photo: Stuff.co.nz

With local shooting dates fast approaching, work on the Wakatipu Hobbit set, which was once described as being a “slow buildup,” has gone into overdrive.

Photos of the Paradise set, taken around October 24, showed only scaffolding and bare board; but as of yesterday, the three-story Wakatipu set – which consists of a large central tree flanked with a stone edifice and thatch-roofed structure – appeared to be nearing completion. Large cranes could be seen lifting large panels onto the roof of a nearby house frame.

Nearby, additional workmen were busy bolting together the frame which will be used as a marquee for catering, wardrobe, and makeup. Arborists and crew from the Art Department kept themselves busy among large fake boulders, earthmoving machinery, and more thatched panels. Three large-boomed cranes were present on location.

A security guard on location confirmed that it was a Hobbit set, though he could not provide additional details.

The Hobbit’s production company, 3 Foot 7 Ltd, received resource consent to build sets and film in locations in Arcadia Station and Paradise, with a $1 million rural fire insurance cover and $10 million public liability insurance. Three weeks have been allotted for site reinstatement work.