The Hobbit . . .
It’s in the news amongst friends and aquaintances and for every good reason. Richard Armitage has been cast as the ‘haughty’ (Tolkein’s words, not mine) Thorin Oakenshield, dwarf leader. Thorin is a key character in The Hobbit, partnering Bilbo Baggins through the story to the bitter, most bitter, end.
It would be surprising if Mr.Armitage appeared as his smooth self. We can expect hair, but we’ve seen that in Robin Hood.
And no doubt we can expect noses and robust body-shape. But what will be odd is the height. Because for sure he will assume the height of Gimli from LOTR. Six foot plus reduced to three foot something or other. The magic of Special FX.
What must surely be wonderful for Mr.Armitage is that he is being cast way out of type in physical appearance. Hopefully way out of type in other ways as well. In addition, he has always admitted to a deep-seated love of Tolkein, so that surely must add dimension to the role.
My own relationship with Tolkein developed in my twenties on a trip around Asia. I read LOTR and The Hobbit on long plane-trips and they were my traveling companions, sitting opposite me in restaurants, and next to me on buses, planes and in tuk-tuks.
When I returned home, I noticed people were calling their homes Rivendell and Hobbiton and that our favourite bakery was offering a pastie-like construction called a Baggins Roll. But those heady days are gone, bakeries are national franchises and homes are rapidly bought and sold. But on my bookshelf is my battered, much traveled copy of The Hobbit and it is calling once again.
I was a teen when I discovered Tolkien’s world through the adventures of Bilbo Baggins. For reasons I no longer remember (I think it was life getting in the way of enjoyment), it took me several decades to return to Middle Earth. My boyfriend at the time read bits to me every night we were together and we traveled through the Fellowship, the Two Towers, up through The Return of the King.
Thank you for this reminder, I think I shall go dig for my own dear battered copy of The Hobbit and revisit an old tradition with my (now) husband.
Peter Jackson’s made some interesting casting choices. Richard Armitage and Aidan Turner as dwarves! I hope their beauty won’t be too terribly obscured, but no matter what, I can’t wait.
The internet is full of RA being cast . . . a lot can’t come to terms with a dwarvish casting, maybe wanted more of the Aragorn casting? Myself, I don’t mind . . . as long as the portrayal is faithful to Tolkein and the acting subtle and believable, it will be great.
Strange choice I’d say. He doesn’t strike me as very dwarfy. Maybe the cast of Time Bandits?
SO not dwarfy, which is why they have have make-up artists, costume designers and special effects, I guess. Question is, will he be believable?
Would you cast him as anyone in Marius’s Mules? I can see him as a centurion, but which one? Or could he be Caesar?
I cast him as Finnian in A Thousand Glass Flowers/Paperweights two years ago!!!!
Such a wonderful project, coming at the right time, with a wonderful cast. Martin Freeman as Bilbo, Richard Armitage as Thorin, Smaug’s voice to be done by Stephen Fry, etc…
I always thought Richard would be perfect as Bard the Bowman but this role is better. It’s constant through the book and for Richard it’s a wonderful opportunity to be cast as something defying our normal expectations of him.
And did you read what Peter Jackson had to say about him?
It’s coming at the right time for me personally, since I’ve been re-entering Tolkein’s world, albeit a little subversively with Jacqueline Carey’s Sundering duology. It’s good but it’s not Tolkein.
Suwaida, thanks for reminding me. I had forgotten Stephen Fry (whose varied words from twitter to literary I adore) as Smaug. And what a great and most perfect voice! He’s another who reads for audio books with perfection.
I so agree with you about moving away from the humdrum of caste-to-type. I can’t wait to see what the heaving fan-base makes of it when they can’t see the body, the tatts, the face. For me it will be a relief as I find the vast majority of comment on the Net decidedly off-putting.
I haven’t read any of the fan-fiction of Tolkein yet, and started a re-read of The Hobbit last night. This may be an opportunity to see how good (or bad) people are at taking the Tolkein legacy and running with it. Of course that could lead into a whole discussion about Tolkein being the father of modern fantasy but I’d rather not go there.
I was struck by how quickly I sank into Middle Earth again and was also pleased that it’s a long time since I read The Hobbit, as it feels as fresh as new picked berries. What amused me was how the faces of the characters are already cemented by Peter Jackson’s casting. That is what I call super-branding!!
I actually just read that they are casting Bill Nighy as the voice of Smaug and that I can’t say I like. Mind you, he does have the voice of a smoker and what is Smaug but one giant smoker!!!!
As I wrote on my blog, in my RA Friday post, my relationship with Tolkien … has never started. We never … hit it off. But time has come, it seems. The Hobbit (in Italian) is on my elder son’s bookshelves. I just have to convince myself that sacrifices must be done and, maybe, I’ll discover it’ll be a pleasure! It happened with Strike Back. So not my type of stuff but … I liked it so much!
Now, as for seeing Richard as the old, wrinkled, long-bearded and just about as tall as me (!!!) Thorin , I’m sure he will convince everybody he IS the king of dwarves with his great talent and detailed performance. We will all forget he is tall, dark and handsome, instead!
A great weekend to you and your readers, Prue!
Big Strong Hug!!!
Hugs back MG. You know, we are all assuming that Peter Jackson will create arch-typical images of dwarves. Apart from the height which is unarguable, maybe he will surprise us. Who knows?
As you say, I’m sure RA will be convincing . . . as he has been in every role he has tackled.
PS: Don’t you love that for once, an actor will be as tall as us!!!!!