10 things you may not know about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Geek Dave travels far over the misty mountains cold, to dungeons deep and caverns old, and discovers 10 things you might not know about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.


1. As you likely know, Guillermo Del Toro originally signed on to direct The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He was involved in the casting process, alongside the then producer only Peter Jackson. When it came to finding the young Bilbo Baggins the pair considered Daniel Radcliffe, Shia LaBeouf, James McAvoy, Erryn Arkin and Tobey Maguire for the role, but the both agreed their first choice was Martin Freeman, and so he was offered and accepted the role. But when Del Toro left the project it meant that filming was to be delayed/ This caused a problem with Freeman as he was obligated to filming on Sherlock which would start at almost the same time and take three months, so he had to withdraw from the role. Peter Jackson looked at some other actors but quickly decided he couldn't imagine anyone else as Bilbo so he figured a way to work around Freeman's schedule. He shot all the non-Bilbo scenes that he could and then Freeman flew to New Zealand to join the production three whole months into the shoot.

2. Ron Perlman (Hellboy) was originally thought to be featured in a starring role, but when Guillermo Del Toro quit the production his long time collaborator decided it wasn't for him either.

3. Gollum only appears in one scene in the original The Hobbit novel. Andy Serkis completed that scene in the first 8 days of production, then stayed on as Second Unit Director.


4. As The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was to be filmed in 3D, the forced perspective technique (which had been employed in certain scenes for The Lord of the Rings trilogy) would not work. So a new camera trickery would have to be adopted to make Bilbo and the Dwarves appear smaller than the other characters. The answer came in the form of Slave Motion Control cameras. These cameras allow for two mirrored sets to be filmed simultaneously, one featuring Bilbo and the Dwarves and the other featuring normal or larger sized characters, like Ian McKellen's Gandalf, who would be wearing an earpiece to hear the other set. The second set was dressed in green screen and during post production the two scenes where merged.


5. Ian McKellen really struggled with adapting to this new technology, it got to the point that he actually broke down in tears and nearly quit the production, and acting in general. He hated the isolated confinement so much, and basically felt lonely and frustrated. To cheer him up, the cast and crew sneaked into the tent he stayed in during breaks, and decorated it with mementos from the original Lord of the Rings films. McKellen eventually got the hang of the Slave Motion Cameras, and Peter Jackson went on to praise his endurance and performance.

6. Two other actors were filmed completely separately and superimposed during post-production, they were Ian Holm and Christopher Lee. Both in their 80s (Lee closer to 90), neither felt they could make the long journey to New Zealand so their scenes were shot in London.


7. During the dining scene Stephen Hunter, who plays Bombur (aka the silent fat dwarf) had to catch a hard-boiled egg in his mouth - without the aid of CGI! Amazingly he did so on the very first take, but Peter Jackson being Peter Jackson wanted to go again to capture some alternative angles. Try as hard as he might Hunter could never catch the egg on any subsequent takes.


8. A huge fan of Doctor Who, Peter Jackson originally considered casting Sylvester McCoy as Bilbo Baggins back in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is said he was torn between Ian Holm and McCoy, with Holm winning the day. So when casting began for The Hobbit Jackson personally invited McCoy to test for Radagast the Brown, knowing it was his if he wanted it.

9. Peter Jackson came up with the idea to have Radagast ride a sled pulled by giant Rhosgobel Rabbits, completely unaware that actual giant rabbits do exist. So the visual effects team 'borrowed' a pair of real (probably Flemish) giant rabbits to study these over-sized creatures and their movements. (This next image is 100% real, no Photoshopping or digital effects)...


10. Sylvester McCoy was nearly joined by another ex-Doctor, David Tennant. Originally the press claimed that Tennant was linked to the role of young Bilbo Baggins, although both Peter Jackson and Tennant himself denied this was ever the case. However it does appear that he was offered the role of Thranduil before Lee Pace was cast. Ultimately though Tennant had to turn down the part as his then-girlfriend (later wife) Georgia Moffett unexpectedly became pregnant, which prevented him from getting involved in a lengthy shoot on the other side of the world.

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