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Trivia / The Hobbit Film Trilogy

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  • Acting for Two:
    • The Trolls were voiced and portrayed through motion capture by three of the Dwarf actors: Peter Hambleton (Glóin), Mark Hadlow (Dori), and William Kircher (Bifur).
    • Both Smaug and The Necromancer, as they were played by renowned actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Actor-Inspired Element: Benedict Cumberbatch suggested writing and reading the Necromancer's Black Speech backwards, and then having the editors reverse the recording to make it sound demonic and unholy.
  • Cast the Runner-Up:
    • John Callen (Oin) auditioned for the role of Radagast, and the voice of Smaug.
    • Adam Brown (Ori) originally auditioned for the role of Bilbo Baggins.
    • Christopher Lee was unable to make the trip to New Zealand at his age, and voiced a desire to play Smaug so he could still play a part in the film. It all worked out, though, and the production crew happily accommodated Lee in London.
    • Azog was going to be played by Conan Stevens, but he was replaced by John Rawls (who got to film the flashback of the Battle of Azanulbizar), who was then replaced finally by Manu Benett. Similarly, the character was originally portrayed through prosthetics/makeup, but Peter Jackson wanted Azog to have a unique design from the other Orcs, so the CG/mo-cap version was put in place of the original Azog. Rawls would end up receiving the role of Azog's Mook Lieutenant, Yazneg, who got Azog's original design.
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    • Bolg was initially played by Conan Stevens after John Rawls replaced him as Azog, and he filmed the Battle of Azanulbizar under a character design accomplished by prosthetics. However, when Azog was revamped as CGI, so was Bolg, with a completely new design, and Stevens was replaced again, this time by Lawrence Makoare. Stevens would end up receiving the role of the Dol Guldur dungeonkeeper, who (surprise, surprise) inherited Bolg's original design.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Peter Jackson admits that the trilogy's production was a mess because he was brought in at the last minute to replace Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro was the one who had spent at least two years of pre-production work that was all scrapped, and the studio refused to change the premiere dates to allow Jackson to do the same. So in his own words he "winged" it. The constant studio interference didn't help either and the fact that the trilogy didn't turn into another Heaven's Gate is amazing in of itself.
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    • He and WingNut Films did go into more detail in another statement and said that while it is true that the production was difficult, they did find ways to solve the problems that came up and that they were able to finish on time and without going over-budget and Jackson says that he makes it a point to be honest in interviews or at Q&As and that he ended up enjoying shooting the films, though he did confirm the studio meddling and admits he and WingNut Films are "very disturbed" by fans, especially on YouTube, taking quotes out of context just to complain.
    • In a more straightforward example, he has stated that while not hating them, he's not fond of the theatrical cuts as he feels they don't tell the whole story and that they're evident of the rampant Executive Meddling the films suffered. He also hates the love triangle, along with the entire cast, crew and fans, to point where they completely refuse to acknowledge its existence in commentaries and bonus features.
    • Actor John Callen agrees with Jackson and added more detail in an interview where he revealed that Warner Bros. didn’t care about the other characters and wanted them sidelined to focus more on Thorin, Bilbo and Gandalf’s storylines and on action.
  • Creator Breakdown:
    • Literal example. Jackson reportedly nearly had an on-set nervous breakdown when it came time to shoot the Erebor scenes during the two-movie period.
    • Ian McKellen broke down crying after working alone against nothing but green screen for hours and hours, especially since most of his performance had to be micromanaged to fit the performances of the dwarves (which were filmed first). Peter Jackson had to console him himself. Sylvester McCoy also commented that he was a little taken back by just how glad Ian was to see him when it came time to shoot the wizard scenes.
  • Deleted Scene: See here.
  • Development Gag:
  • Development Hell:
    • Mother of Eru. Financing and copyright problems that caused the director to leave the project gave way to union problems that could potentially have taken the production out of New Zealand entirely. It only just got greenlit at the end of 2010 after the whole financial mess was sorted out and Jackson stepped up to direct. Thankfully, the fire at Weta studios didn't cause any major problems.
    • Peter Jackson was hospitalized in January 2011 for a perforated stomach ulcer, which just so happened to be one of the contributing causes of Tolkien's death. Luckily, it was caught in time and surgery went smoothly, with the only impact on production being pushing back principal photography by a month so Jackson could recover before putting himself under three more years of constant stress.
    • Even prior to MGM's money woes and the Tolkien estate's lawsuit in 2008, there was Peter Jackson's legal snit with New Line Cinema (the distributors of The Lord of the Rings). A lawsuit Jackson felt was minor and unlikely to stop him filming The Hobbit right after King Kong (2005) led to New Line's leadership declaring Peter Jackson would never direct another film for them. They changed their tune after an epic series of box-office flops, but not before it was too late for the company as an independent entity.
    • Martin Freeman, the actor they wanted as Bilbo, would be in the middle of filming the second series of Sherlock right in the middle of The Hobbit's production time. It was thought that he would have to give up one or the other, but fortunately they managed to arrange filming so that he could still do both.
  • DVD Commentary: Each of the Extended Editions features one by Peter Jackson and his co-writer Philippa Boyens, explaining the reasoning behind many of the changes made while adapting the book.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Benedict Cumberbatch, in his own words, ”ripped into [his] vocal chords quite literally, [he] had blood at the end of the day from tearing [his] throat to pieces.” in order to get Smaug's voice right.
  • In Memoriam: The third film's extended cut is dedicated to both cinematographer Andrew Lesnie and to Christopher Lee.
  • One-Take Wonder: Stephen Hunter (Bombur) caught the egg thrown into his mouth on the first take, but was unable to catch it on subsequent takes. Therefore the take used was the first one.
  • The Other Darrin: Sauron, AKA the Necromancer, was played by Alan Howard (voice) and Sala Baker (live action performer) in the original trilogy, while he is played by Benedict Cumberbatch for The Hobbit films. It's possibly justified, considering that as an Ainu Sauron can change form.
  • The Other Marty: Dean O'Gorman replaced Rob Kazinsky as Fíli early on in filming, due to problems with the latter's health. Considering all the makeup, it's not hard to imagine that Kazinsky might still be seen in some shots of the finished film. Fans have identified him on the scene in which the dwarves begin singing "Misty Mountains Cold," where Fíli is the only one who doesn't get a clear shot of his face (being hidden in what looks to be artificially-enhanced shadow, opposite Thorin) and what little of him can be seen doesn't really look like Dean O'Gorman.
  • Playing Against Type: Downplayed with Saruman the White; though it's strongly hinted his Start of Darkness may have already happened, he's a far cry from the monster he was in The Lord of the Rings and portrayed more heroically here. As luck would have it, this heroic version of Saruman was Christopher Lee's final role.
  • Portrayed by Different Species: The elk that Thranduil rides on was played by a horse named Moose.
  • Promoted Fanboy:
    • Evangeline Lilly had been a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien since she was 13.
    • Stephen Colbert is one of the Laketown spies, along with his wife and two of his sons.
  • Real-Life Relative: James Nesbitt plays Bofur, his wife plays Belladonna Took, and his daughters play Bard's daughters.
  • Role Reprise: A good number of 'em from the LOTR trilogy. Sir Ian Holm as Bilbo, Elijah Wood as Frodo, Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Andy Serkis as Gollum, Sir Christopher Lee as Saruman and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel. Orlando Bloom as Legolas joins them in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
  • Spared by the Cut: Alfrid's death scene was restored in the extended cut of The Battle of the Five Armies.
  • Star-Making Role: Playing Tauriel was a big boost to Evangeline Lilly's film career.
  • Throw It In!: Barry Humphries, spontaneously ad-libbed the Goblin King's line "That'll do it", before he is killed by Gandalf. Peter Jackson greatly appreciated the unscripted humorous line, as he was concerned about the level of violence in the scene.
  • Troubled Production: Let's see, where to start:
    • The first problem emerged in 2008 when New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. refused to pay the Tolkien Estate the money that they owed them (including for The Lord of the Rings). What followed was two and a half years of everything spiraling out of control, not only sending the film into Development Hell but causing Guillermo del Toro and some of the actors to leave production after having been attached to it. To make matters worse, these legal issues got so bad that it would have taken the production out of New Zealand entirely. Only when Peter Jackson decided to come back to the director's chair in late 2009 was everything sorted out.
    • And then the studio only gave Peter Jackson and Weta six months of pre-production and told him to start filming immediately afterwards or else (for comparison, the Lord of the Rings trilogy had been in pre-production for about three-and-a-half years before filming on Fellowship of the Ring began). To make matters even worse, they also strictly forbade Jackson and his team from using any material from del Toro's pre-production. And before production could even begin, Jackson was hospitalized in January 2011 for a perforated stomach ulcer, which eerily was one of the contributing causes of Tolkien's death. Luckily, it was caught in time and surgery went smoothly. This, however, forced production and principal photography to be halted for a month.
    • Filming itself went smoothly for the most part until the decision was made to split it into three movies instead of two. The sound designers, mixers, and editors had to create and edit new sound effects halfway through doing the second film. Then there was the decision to CGI Azog, Bolg, and the orcs in the first and second films, with the decision with Bolg being made so suddenly that whole sequences had to be re-shot, which is why in the trailers Azog is the one chasing the dwarves but in the film it's Bolg. The scene where the group tries to bury Smaug in gold in the forges was added only because the filmmakers needed a cliffhanger, and the actors and some of the crew literally had no idea what they were filming until the finished film.
    • When it finally came time to do the third film, the studio practically took the film away from Jackson and forced him to edit it in a way he didn't approve of and imposed tons of baggage onto film, demanding more emphasis on the love story and possibly more Alfrid scenes (due to Stephen Fry not being available anymore to play the Master of Laketown again). The Battle of Five Armies had to be until the end of shooting because they couldn't find any locations in New Zealand that would've worked and because the battle turned more complex through the development of the films.
    • All of this ended up blowing up in Warner Bros. faces. While the trilogy overall did well financially, it became divisive for audiences and critics (with the third film, the one that reportedly received the most interference, becoming the lowest rated and lowest performing Hobbit movie at the box office), and the Tolkien Estate has relinquished the film rights to the books until further notice. All the aforementioned meddling was confirmed not just by Peter Jackson, but also by Graham McTavish and Evangeline Lilly, with McTavish confirming the theatrical cut for the third film isn't what was intended and that the extended cuts of all three films are closer to Jackson's original intention.
    • Crosses into borderline Tear Jerker when, according to a fan, someone asked Jackson at the premiere of the third film if he was going to see it. He said "I will but not yet. I'm not sure what the studio has done with it." Fortunately, he later gave a better review of the extended version, which he declared himself proud of, even if he admitted that still it wasn't devoid of Executive Meddling (for instance, they cut ten of the promised 30 minutes of footage without Jackson's permission).
    • In a somewhat minor example of meddling (compared to the other examples), Evangeline Lilly revealed in interviews that she originally had some reluctance about accepting the role as Tauriel, fearing that being a film-original female character would mean that she would have to be involved in a romantic triangle subplot of some sort, something which is a quite a bit of a Pet-Peeve Trope for her as an actress. When Peter Jackson personally assured her that it would definitely not be the case, as he also disliked such subplots, she accepted the role... But some months after the main portion of the filming was done, the studio overruled Jackson's decision, and he had to ask Lilly to come back for reshoots meant to incorporate a romantic subplot between Tauriel and Kíli. Ouch.
    • In a more humorous example of Troubled Production, Christopher Lee loved telling stories to the production crew while filming his part, to the point that it was slowing down production on that day.
    • The Tolkien Estate's refusal to allow Jackson access to Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth and The Silmarillion resulted in a lot of changes having to be made to the lore, most notably the backstory of the Nazgûl. Incidentally, the film gets away with naming the Blue Wizards as the Blue Wizards even though their color is only stated in Unfinished Tales. One of the Tolkien scholars who reviewed the script actually sent a note to Peter Jackson that the reference had legal issues.
    • Oin's actor (John Callen) revealed in an interview with Lindsay Ellis that the studio meddling went further, with them even telling Jackson to sideline the other characters and gut story arcs just to focus on action.
  • What Could Have Been: See subpage.
  • Working Title: For a long time, the third film was going to be titled There And Back Again. It was ultimately changed to Battle of the Five Armies because it was an artifact from when The Hobbit was only planned to be two films and no longer really fit the movie.
  • Written-In Infirmity: While filming the Battle of Azanulbizar, Richard Armitage smacked himself in the face so hard with his shield that he managed to bite completely through his lower lip. The injury can be seen in the finished movie. When Azog holds up Thror's severed head, and Thorin screams, the left side of his lower lip is swollen, and there is a pool of blood between his gums and his lip.


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