Don’t get bored of the Rings yet. Catch The Battle of the Five Armies equipped with these amusing facts – and my axe!
With the last of the Hobbit trilogy coming up, many of us have been struggling with a deadly mix of anticipation and dread. The Battle of the Five Armies marks the end of an epic fantasy series.
It shows the climax of JRR Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit, when the brave hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and a band of dwarves battle to reclaim their kingdom Erebor. Standing in their way is the fearsome dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) and an army of slightly-less frightening orcs.
We can’t imagine a (movie) world without the dwarves and hobbits of Middle Earth. So, to tide you through this tough time, here are five facts shared by the talented cast of The Hobbit that will tickle your hobbit toes!
1. The Battle of the Five Armies may not be the last Tolkien movie
In an interview with BBC at the premiere of the film, Sir Ian McKellen – who plays the mighty wizard Gandalf – reveals a surprising inkling.
He said: “I don’t believe, necessarily, that this is the end of the journey.”
Oh, shining Shire! Do we sniff a movie or TV series in the making? There remains a wealth of novels by Tolkien that haven’t been pulled up to the silver screen yet.
McKellen explains his suspicion: “I was told by (director Peter Jackson) that in 2001, that was the end, that it was all over. And now here we are, thirteen years later.”
Well, if the all-knowing Gandalf says it, we’ll take it as truth!
2. Tolkien’s whole Middle Earth universe started with an exam paper
When the author published The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in the early 1900s, the novels gained colossal traction in the literary world, and their popularity has been snowballing ever since.
But did you know that the idea started out with exam papers?
Tolkien once shared with United Kingdom’s Telegraph in an archived interview: “It all began when I was reading exam papers to earn a bit of extra money… One day I came to a blank page in an exam book and I scribbled on it. ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.’”
It’s staggering to think that such a single, unassuming line has blossomed into a fantastical realm of magic. We can complain that we hate exams, but it seems like they have done the world a huge favour.
3. Martin Freeman and his sweaty hobbit feet
You may recall that hobbits trudge about barefoot on their superbly hairy feet. Don’t worry though; Freeman doesn’t really have the feet of a Sasquatch.
He wears prosthetics on set and they take eight minutes each to put on, Freeman shared on the Late Night with Seth Meyers last week.
“Once you have them on for four minutes, they are full of sweat. And then when they come off, the sweat flies… it would go everywhere,” Freeman said with a tinge of despair in his voice. Watch the snippet here:
4. Being in The Hobbit was Benedict Cumberbatch’s childhood dream
Who wouldn’t want to be a part of the stories we grew up with? Cumberbatch, who plays the fury-fuelled Smaug, listened to his father read The Hobbit as a “bedtime treat”, he told online site Hero Complex.
“My dad read this to me when I was a kid… I can remember his Smeagol, his Gollum, was brilliant,” Cumberbatch said. Isn’t he a softie?
And when he auditioned for The Hobbit, he wasn’t having any elf or dwarf business. He said: “It was always Smaug for me, always, always. He’s just such an extraordinary creature in the book. He’s got a lot of personality.”
5. The films almost didn’t happen
A lot of things went awry with the filming of the Lord of the Rings triptych. Earlier this year, Viggo Mortensen – who acted as Aragorn – revealed the mess behind the saga.
“They were in a lot of trouble,” he said. “The second and third ones were a mess. It was very sloppy – it just wasn’t done at all. It needed massive reshoots, which we did, year after year.”
It’s a good thing The Fellowship of the Ring did so well, Mortensen said, or Jackson would not have been funded for the next two instalments. And we wouldn’t be crying over the end of the Hobbit trilogy now. It’s a beautiful problem, folks.
By Pamela Chow
Wish you could experience the wonders of Middle Earth? Find out the secret spots of the Hobbit trail in New Zealand – and we’re not even talking about crowd-choked Hobbiton!
Watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies trailer here:
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies [PG13]
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch
Run Length: 144 min
Release: 18 Dec