“It’s a bit like a fledgeling duck, finding your flippers.”
- Martin Freeman on getting used to wearing those Hobbit feet, from the SDCC panel Q&A
By all accounts The Hobbit panel went down a storm in Hall H yesterday afternoon, and Martin Freeman in particular has come in for a lot of praise for his multi layered portrayal of the lead character, Bilbo Baggins. We’ve collected various reports and choice quotes from the panel below the break, which also features much talk in the film of the dragon Smaug, played of course by one Benedict Cumberbatch… there are spoilers from the start below.
From io9.com’s report on the panel, entitled ‘Martin Freeman OWNS the role of Bilbo in first Hobbit Clips!’:
Bilbo finds a certain ring. He looks at it, and picks it up, curiously.
Then later we see Bilbo talking to Gandalf — who says that Bilbo has changed. He’s not the same Hobbit who left the Shire.
Bilbo smiles, sadly — Freeman really nails the weird mixture of emotions in this scene. “I was going to tell you.” He reaches for the ring in his pocket. “I found something in the Goblin tunnels.”
Found what? Gandalf asks.
Bilbo struggles, trying to pull the ring out of the pocket but not wanting to.
What did you find? Gandalf asks again.
“My courage,” says Bilbo. He takes his hand away
Gandalf looks concerned, but only says, “Good. Well, that’s good. You’ll need it.”
As as been previously reported, the simple nature of the original book has been deepened for the screen version by the addition of material that ties it more clearly to The Lord of the Rings trilogy - as the above scene description shows.
Also part of the footage shown were behind the scenes clips from the production of the second film, including the first glimpses of Smaug’s hoard and Bilbo’s confrontation with him - which seems to imply he doesn’t wear the Ring for the entire scene, as in the book. Could we be getting Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch’s characters actually sharing the screen in the film?
We saw a few snippets of Bilbo in a room piled high with gold coins and jewelry. (“Oh, no, I’ve lost my wedding ring in there,” a crew member jokes.”) Jackson says that the dragon will be added, about a year and a half from now. And we see Freeman standing there, saying that dwarves are hard to catch, and so are burglars — and then he puts on a ring!
While not physically appearing in the footage, Smaug is mentioned numerous times from the very beginning of the showreel.
“Oh aye, he’ll melt the flesh off your bones in the blink of an eye,” says Bofur. A dragon is a “furnace with wings. Flash of light, searing pain, then you’re nothing more than a pile of ash.”
If you wanted to know everything that was shown, TheOneRing.net has a hugely detailed break down of the footage in it’s entirety.
On the panel itself, The Huffington Post has a nice write up with a quote from Martin on joining the huge production:
“Obviously, you can’t really take intimidation or pressure to work with you, because you won’t do your best work,” Freeman said. “And you won’t do your best playing, which is an actor’s job.”
Hitfix.com has a superb analytical write up of both the footage and the panel Q&A, noting Martin Freeman ‘seemed enjoyably prickly during much of the panel’, and revealing the last question of the session went to him.
Asked if he had any personal fears he’s overcome that he drew on to play the part of Bilbo, he said wouldn’t share such an experience if there were one, then went on to explain. “We all have fear. You hope that your experience is relatable. And I didn’t cast myself. They saw something in me that they thought would be helpful for playing Bilbo. Bilbo is the eyes and ears of the audience, and my job is to relay that by being open and having a certain amount of wit and a light touch.”
In addition, HitFix.com has an intriguing video interview with Peter Jackson that took place after the panel, where he discusses the possibility of filming additional material found in the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings and adding it to the second Hobbit film - which may or may not lead to the film being split in two, resulting in a trilogy of films. Watch the interview here.
Finally, Aintitcool.com has posted another description of the footage, with plenty of description of Martin’s performance. The piece is also notable as the writer, Eric ‘Quint’ Vespe, spent several weeks onset in New Zealand reporting for the website, and even cameos in the film itself.
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