For months, director Peter Jackson has been teasing audiences with fleeting glimpses of the fearsome dragon that lies in wait for Bilbo Baggins and his cohorts in the second part of his epic Hobbit trilogy: a blast of fire here, a menacing baritone voice there (courtesy of actor Benedict Cumberbatch). In just six days, with the Dec. 13 opening of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the director will finally pull back the curtain on his interpretation of one of the best-known villains in fantasy literature.
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If you were a bit befuddled to see Orlando Bloom’s Lord of the Rings fan favorite Legolas pop up in trailers for the upcoming Hobbit film, The Desolation of Smaug — given that the elf warrior doesn’t appear in J.R.R. Tolkien’s original book — well, you’re not the only one.
Speaking to EW for this week’s cover story on Smaug, Bloom says he was surprised when director Peter Jackson asked him to come onboard the Hobbit trilogy. Nevertheless, Bloom says he happily signed on even before he’d seen a script. “If Pete said, ‘Jump,’ I’d say, ‘How high?’ based on my previous experiences with him and my gratitude toward him for giving me my start in life, as it were,” says the actor, who was all but unknown when Jackson cast him in in the Rings trilogy.
Tolkien purists may wring their hands over the Hobbit films’ deviations from the strict canon, but Jackson argues that bringing Legolas into The Hobbit makes perfect sense both narratively and in terms of Tolkien-ology. As Tolkien later established in the Rings books, Legolas is the son of the Elvenking Thranduil, who is in the Hobbit novel, and since elves are immortal, it stands to reason that he would have been around when Bilbo and the dwarves went tramping through the wood-elves’ territory. “Legolas isn’t discussed in The Hobbit, but as far as Tolkien is concerned, he would have been part of that structure within the Woodland Realm,” Jackson says. “And we needed characters within the Woodland Realm to drive the story.”
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In Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, dwarves were a mysterious race. Sure, there was Gimli, a loyal soldier of the Fellowship, but his kind were a scattered, weakened tribe symbolized by the remnants and relics found in the dark caves of Moria. One of the delights of The Hobbit, then, was the rehabilitation of dwarves, in the Tolkien universe and pop culture, in general. Bilbo Baggins is a mere hobbit, but the 13 dwarves who recruit him as a burglar on their quest are a diverse collection of characters — whom Jackson playfully referred to as “the little bastards” — led by the dashing Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage).
In the new Extended Edition Blu-ray for the film, which arrives in stores on Nov. 5, fans can revel in dwarfish delights, just as the film’s creators did. Before the movie, dwarves were still widely perceived as Snow White’s supporting characters, but that wouldn’t do for Jackson’s epic adventure that sends them to face a dragon. In one of the new extras, “Durin’s Folk: Creating the Dwarves,” the creative artists explain how they researched and revised the image of the dwarf from comic sideshow to courageous warrior. “I honestly believe that Peter is going to do for dwarves what Tolkien did for elves, removing what nursery rhyme and folktale has done, which is to diminish them,” says conceptual designer John Howe.
Click below to see the exclusive Extended Edition Blu-ray clip. READ FULL STORY
More action! More adventure! More delicate Elvish romance! The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug promises it all in this new trailer, which previews the middle film in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy.
Among the goodies you can expect in movie number 2: the return of Orlando Bloom’s Legolas, who may or may not take the Hobbits to Isengard; the debut of new characters like Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel, an elf warrior maiden who catches Legolas’s eye, and Mikael Persbrandt’s skin changer Beorn, who can shift between man and bear forms; and a bigger role for Smaug the Dragon, played via motion capture by none other than Benedict Cumberbatch. (Cumberbatch and Hobbit star Martin Freeman already know each other well; they’re co-stars on the British crime drama Sherlock.)
Will Smaug please fans who greeted An Unexpected Journey with lukewarm reviews? It’s too soon to tell — but feel free to speculate after watching the trailer below.
Evangeline Lilly is no stranger to Comic-Con. Lost, which gave Lilly her breakout role, ventured to San Diego even before it debuted in 2004. And now she’s a certified member of the J. R. R. Tolkien universe, as Tauriel in the upcoming The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
This year, however, the actress is promoting her new children’s book, The Squickerwonkers, with an assist from Weta Workshop illustrator Johnny Fraser-Allen, who worked on special effects for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. So that gives us license to squeeze in a few Hobbit questions, right?
Below, EW’s Keith Staskiewicz talked to the actress about what it means for her to be a huge Tolkien fan getting to take a trip to Middle-earth.
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Why is Warner Bros. really trying to stop The Weinstein Company from calling its upcoming Lee Daniels film The Butler? Harvey Weinstein has a few radical ideas — and naturally, he isn’t afraid to share them.
Weinstein appeared on CBS This Morning today, along with his lawyer David Boies, former senator and current MPAA head Chris Dodd, and veteran constitutional lawyer Floyd Abrams. After complaining that films often share similar titles — “Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy have a movie out called [The] Heat. Jason Statham is shooting a movie called Heat. Bob De Niro and Al Pacino made a movie called Heat, and 10 years before that, Burt Reynolds made a movie called Heat” — the mogul posited that Warner must have “ulterior motives” for wanting The Butler to be renamed.
Weinstein’s rival is claiming protective rights to that title because it also belongs to an archival 1916 short film. Though movie titles can’t be copyrighted or trademarked, The Butler was registered with the MPAA’s voluntary Title Registration Bureau, which exists to avoid title conflicts; TWC apparently never cleared its Butler with the bureau. Warner Bros. won the case in arbitration, meaning that TWC must change the movie’s title unless it can win an appeal.
But according to Weinstein and Boies, there’s something more sinister going on here. On CBS, Boies accused Warner Bros. of trying to restrict competition from his client’s “important civil rights movie.” Weinstein went a step further, calling Warner Bros.’s actions “unjust” and “a bullying tactic.” He also claimed that the rival studio offered to cut him a shady deal: “I was asked by two executives at Warner Bros, which I’m happy to testify, that if I gave them the rights back to ‘The Hobbit’ they would drop the claim.”
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The filmography of Elijah Wood has some dark moments, be it his depiction of the killer Kevin in Sin City or his twisted relationship with the titular canine in the sitcom Wilfred, which returns to FX on Wednesday. But there isn’t much in the Lord of the Rings actor’s résumé that would prepare you for his new movie, Maniac. Directed by Franck Khalfoun (P2) and co-penned by French gore-teur Alexandre Aja (High Tension, Piranha 3D) this remake of the 1980 cult slasher flick stars Wood as a mannequin renovator and serial killer whose passions come together in extremely violent fashion.
Below, Wood talks about Maniac — which opens this Friday at New York’s IFC Center and will also be available on VOD — his love of genre movies, and the upcoming horror film he can’t wait to see.
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