'The Hobbit' Dwarves Discuss Mega Feasts, Video Game Rivalries and All That Makeup

At the film's NYC premiere, the actors that played the warrior dwarves recalled tough days on set, nose-fittings and much more.
At the film's NYC premiere, the actors that played the warrior dwarves recalled tough days on set, nose-fittings and much more.

Just as they did when they arrived at Bag End, the dwarves came in waves, laughing and excited, joking with each other in reunion. Sure, they had a lot less hair, wore suits instead of swords and traveled on a red carpet in place of a dirt road, but the actors who played the dwarves carried the same jolly spirit at the New York premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as their counterparts did on screen.

First came Stephen Hunter (Bombur), Mark Hadlow (Dori) and John Callen (Oin), the elder statesmen of the group that played the small, fearless warriors in Peter Jackson's new film. After they spoke with The Hollywood Reporter, Aidan Turner (Kili) and Dean O'Gorman (Fili) answered questions about their 18 months in New Zealand, followed by Adam Brown (Ori) and then, their on-screen leader, Richard Armitage (Thorin).

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The following is a condensed combination of THR's various chats with the actors in the band of dwarves.

THR: In all that makeup, did you ever stop recognizing your real selves?

Callen: We would be in makeup and we would meet people, day after day, and then sometimes, a month later, we’d meet them without makeup and they didn’t know who we were.

Hunter: That happened to me with Bret McKenzie at a premiere in Wellington for another movie and I said, "Hey, nice to see you, well done on the Oscar," and he said "cool," and I walked away and I said to a couple of guys, he had no idea who I was. And the conversations we had, he wasn’t on set for long and I was Bombur, and I had to reintroduce myself at another time.

Hadlow: My daughter didn’t recognize me at first. But then suddenly it dawned on her that, oh yeah it is you, you’re my father, which was great.

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THR: Aidan and Dean, you got to avoid a lot of the makeup.

O’Gorman: We did. All we got was a nose, that’s it. We escaped.

Turner: We were dodging bullets all over the place. We were incredibly lucky.

O’Gorman: Everyone else was a lot sweatier than us.

Turner: I went through the early stages, early on in the shoot I had a bit going on, and they took it off because it didn’t really work. It made me look a lot older because it carries a lot more detail. It isn’t comfortable wearing prosthetics. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

Brown: I was pretty lucky. I still had more than Aidan and Dean; my nose was slightly bigger and my forehead was increased slightly. But yeah, it only took me an hour every morning, which, when you’re counting the minutes to get some sleep, that’s a blessing.

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THR: Did you ever have more?

Brown: I think I had about three different types of noses, and then Peter brought it back and said, "We just want more of Adam in it," so that was really nice to hear. The first nose was huge, a real bulbous thing.

THR: Were your hair and beard real, or was that makeup?

Armitage: The beard was real, everything else was fake. The forehead, the nose. I say fake -- it was real, it really existed, but it was created by Weta. I feel like Thorin’s face was created by Weta.

THR: Were you a fan of the books growing up?

Brown: I wasn’t, no, I must confess. When I got the role of Ori, as a dwarf, I had to Google what dwarf was in The Hobbit, because I thought it just might be Villager #1 or something. But I must admit I’m a fan now.

Armitage: Yeah, I was a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. So it was important to me to join that legend, and it was a privilege to work with Peter, I was really looking forward to it.

THR: How immersive were the sets?

Hunter: I’ll tell you that the detail that was put into it was by an art department that was just superb. They know their craft. They’re the best in the world. The detail on some of the sets, as you will see, is outstanding.

Callen: Every day we walked into a new set, we were blown away. It wasn’t just a pleasure to be there, it was a privilege.

Hunter: The Bag End set, which was the first one that we went on to, you could live in it. And it was real food. I know because I ate plenty of it.

THR: What did they serve?

Hunter: Everything. I think Andy had me eat about a dozen eggs. There was chicken and ham. The lady who did my hair, she was picking out bits and pieces.

THR: How did you keep sane down there for 18 months?

O’Gorman: I don’t think we did. We sort of gave up after a while. It’s quite a mental experience, it’s very surreal experience.

Turner: It becomes your world. You just get on with it. Dean is from New Zealand, there are a lot of different actors from different parts of the world, so maybe they settled in a little bit more. But it’s wonderful. We all get on really well, and not to be cheesy, but it’s like a big family.

O’Gorman: We really got along. Everyone says that but we did.

Hadlow: We all had trailers, and we went in there and a lot of the time he would play video games. You could hear from the yelling.

Hunter: I’m an expert in FIFA '12 now.

Hadlow: He and Dean O’Gorman would disturb John’s jazz terribly. And then I just wrote a play, which was the most exciting thing I did.

  • Jordan Zakarin