SAN DIEGO — Almost a decade after Peter Jackson brought his third and final “Lord of the Rings” movie, “The Return of the King,” to Comic-Con, the man who’s brought Middle-earth to the big screen returned to the San Diego Convention Center to introduce audiences to “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
Before screening almost 30 minutes of new and behind-the-scenes “Hobbit” footage for fans in Hall H, stars Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage stopped by MTV News’ Comic-Con headquarters to chat about what’s new and what’s the same about returning to Middle-earth. Apparently, McKellen didn’t find life too different in “The Hobbit,” even though it’s been shot a decade later and takes place 77 years before “The Lord of the Rings.”
“Much of it is the same. If you’ve got 900 people working on the set one day, we’ll probably know them all by sight, and you [Serkis] probably know everyone’s name,” he shared. “I’m not as diligent as that, but the new people are the actors, so a lot of new actors, but they’re not new to us because we’ve know them of old, from back home in the U.K. It feels very much the same but a little bit different. A little bit more streamlined.”
Serkis piped up, agreeing with the man better known as Gandalf the Grey.
“We’re all a little bit older, and there are more children about on set,” he added. “The crew is fantastic. Literally, it is a bit of a time warp actually, isn’t it? Because they’re exactly the same people doing exactly the same jobs. Apart from that, the energy and the feel of it is pretty similar.”
Armitage is one of the new cast members who came to Comic-Con for the first time, and he said the experience of joining the “Hobbit” cast has been great: “It’s been awesome, and coming here today and seeing the way the fans are expecting the film, it’s really exciting, because you see that expectation and the love for the books and the trilogy, so that’s been great.”
They said the crew really has become like a family. Everyone set up shop together in New Zealand while they spent a year and a half shooting “The Hobbit,” and they all became very close during that time.
“It basically feels like a home movie, because Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh live together, and they live next door to Phillipa Bowens, who is the third screenplay writer,” McKellen explained. “And we all live within five minutes of their houses. And we tumble out of beds — our separate beds — and then go over the hill to work.
“That’s almost unique in filmmaking and everywhere in the world. It just feels as if it’s sort of grounded. When you leave the studio behind and go back home, it’s over the hill, but next door to you are your colleagues, and I like that feeling.”
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