Richard Armitage heads back to Middle Earth, continuing Thorin Oakenshield’s quest to reclaim the dwarves’ homeland, the Lonely Mountain, in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
The second installment in Peter Jackson’s trilogy includes some not-in-the-original-book additions to J.R.R. Tolkien’s story. But, as Richard explained when Access Hollywood spoke to him at the film’s junket in Beverly Hills, some of the additions come from the author’s other works — like a flashback meeting between Thorin and Gandalf, which occurs in the latest big screen adventure.
“I was so thrilled that they decided to use that piece of writing, which is in one of the appendices,” Richard said of the scene, which was filmed earlier this year down in New Zealand, specifically for the movie.
“I spent two days with Ian [McKellen] face-to-face. Not fighting, not on a green screen,” he said.
Well, not quite face-to-face, as fans know, Thorin, a dwarf, is considerably shorter than Gandalf, who is a lanky and statuesque wizard.
“They put him on a little box so that my eye line was slightly higher, but it was great. It was like doing theater and it was a really long scene and Pete didn’t cut into it,” Richard said. “[It was] really thrilling.”
While on the quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain, Thorin and his dwarves were pursued in the first film by Azog and the Orks. The game of chase continues into the second film, but Richard said despite all their screen time together, he didn’t spend much time working alongside “Arrow” star Manu Bennett, who voices and physicalizes Azog.
“The manifestation of Azog came very late, in fact, after we’d shot, so I met him, I think, once in New Zealand and then [at the Hollywood premiere],” he said.
“The Desolation of Smaug” also didn’t allow Richard much time to work with Benedict Cumberbatch, who voices the title character dragon.
“We did come face-to-face in a sound environment, so I saw him physicalizing the dragon, which was great and I got to look into his eyes because… when I was imagining the dragon I had to imagine something, so it was a bit of a dragon, but I wanted to imagine Benedict’s face as well,” he said.
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” opens today in theaters.
-- Jolie Lash