“Here’s the deal. I’m kicking off a new, temporary, regular column that I’m calling An Unexpected Journey because that’s exactly what it is. A little over a month ago an email arrived asking my interest in embedding myself on the set of The Hobbit for the entirety of their location shoot, spending over 2 months in New Zealand rolled in with the crew and writing up their adventures, hassles, triumphs and tribulations as they traveled all over the country shooting bits and pieces from the upcoming two-parter prequel to Lord of the Rings. As Winston Zeddemore taught us all, the answer to this kind of question is always YES!”
“What’s Frodo doing in The Hobbit? I don’t want to spoil too much, but I can say that Frodo is part of the connecting tissue between The Hobbit and Fellowship of the Ring…
Martin Freeman stood in for Ian Holm, who shot all of his scenes and close-ups in London. They would sometimes play footage they’ve already shot to remind themselves of what they had done previously and to help them match up shots. Peter and crew did that for these reverse shots on Elijah and I got to see Ian as Bilbo once again. It was quite extraordinary, actually. Seeing Ian in close up, wearing the wig, the vest and the pointy ears just put a smile on my face.
While I didn’t talk to Elijah about it, I bet it meant the world to him to have Martin there actually giving a performance for him to act off of. Freeman even adopted a little bit of Ian Holm’s speech patterns for these scenes and was so good at impersonating Ian Holm that more than once I wondered if the voice I was hearing over the coms was Ian’s on playback or Martin’s in real life. Usually in these situations they’ll have the script girl or one of the dialect coaches read the lines and while that works a charm, there’s something extra special about a performer giving a performance. Like I said, I didn’t talk to Elijah about it, but I bet he appreciated Martin doing that for him.”
“In The Hobbit, (Kiran) Shah is up to his usual shenanigans, making the crew (and visiting movie geek reporters) crack up in-between takes and doubling hobbits. In the above picture he’s waiting to double Martin Freeman’s Bilbo, which is why his eyes are reverse raccooned in his picture. There’s an eerie silicone mask of Bilbo’s face that he’ll put on when Bilbo is needed to be seen in a close to correct proportion.”
“More soon! This is going to be a crazy couple of months! Oh, and Happy Birthday to Peter Jackson! Thanks for letting me join the circus for a spell, sir!”