'Hobbit' Star Is Bringing Shakespeare To Middle-Earth

Richard Armitage tells MTV News how got into character for Peter Jackson's three-part epic.

"Hobbit" star Richard Armitage may not be a method actor in the strictest sense of the phrase, but he certainly took extensive preparations to get into the role of J.R.R. Tolkien's dwarf king, Thorin Oakenshield.

"Every role you approach differently, but one of the things I've always loved is working from literature," said Armitage, whose previous credits include "Captain America: The First Avenger," the BBC drama "Robin Hood" and (fun fact!) an un-credited role in "Star Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom Menace."

Armitage of course did his research with Tolkien's beloved source material, "The Hobbit," as well as the author's other works. "I listened to various kinds of music, I did physical work, I did vocal work, I used some Shakespeare," he says. "There were so many avenues to explore, and then you bring it all to the set and try and make it work."

Given the actor's affinity for classic lit, MTV News asked whether there was any other iconic literary character he'd hope to someday play. Needless to say, he'd done some thinking on the topic already. "I've always wanted to have a crack at 'Crime and Punishment,'" he said, not missing a beat. "But I think I'm probably a little bit on the wrong side of 30 now to play Raskolnikov."

Picking up right where "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" left off, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" finds Thorin and his band of dwarves continuing their journey towards the mountain they once called home. But before they can reclaim their territory, the group must first face the fire-breathing Smaug — gloriously motion-captured and voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.

The second in Peter Jackson's three-part series for Warner Bros. hits theaters on December 13.