Wading Through the Peter Jackson–Guillermo del Toro ‘Hobbit’ Chat

peter jackson and guillermo del toro as hobbits
Photo: Photo illustration: Getty Images, Courtesy of New Line

This weekend The Hobbit's director Guillermo del Toro and producer Peter Jackson sat down for an online chat to answer fans' questions about the upcoming Tolkien adaptation and its sequel, Hobbits Take Manhattan. In the end the two bearded auteurs answered 60 questions, which means the transcript is endless, as long as the frigging Silmarillion. We combed through it to find the most interesting tidbits for fans like us who, though we're interested in the movies, don't care if the new movies will use "extensive matte paintings and 'big-atures' to portray the vast panoramas and cities of Middle-earth."

After the jump, find out if actors from Lord of the Rings will return, if Peter Jackson will direct any of The Hobbit, if the second movie will be a 60-year history, and why the dragon in The Hobbit should be even more awesome than Vermitrax Pejorative from Dragonslayer.

How will The Hobbit movies stand in relation to the Lord of the Rings movies?

Del Toro: THE HOBBIT is, in essence, an overture to a massive Symphonic work so main themes are reprised but new modulations and new colors are introduced, thematically and texturally.
Jackson: I love Guillermo's symphonic allusion. The "overture" can have a different flavour, a different texture, yet be a carefully crafted introduction to what's to follow. Film Two is perfect to dramatise the shift in Middle-earth that propells us into the dark days of LOTR. If LOTR is World War One, then the Hobbit is like an Edwardian adventure tale, set in the days before world notices the looming storm clouds.

How awesome will the dragon be?

Del Toro: Although its always impossible to agree on the "greatest" of anything, I bring forth these two as the main film contenders for that title: Eyvind Earle / Disney's Maleficent dragon ( a triumph of elegance of color and design) and Vermitrax Pejorative from Dragonslayer.

In my opinion, every other design has borrowed heavily from these two. I plan to create something new and groundbreaking.

Smaug should not be "the Dragon in the Hobbit movie" as if it was just "another" creature in a Bestiary. Smaug should be "The DRAGON" for all movies past and present.

Might Jackson step in and direct some scenes in the Hobbit movies?

Jackson: Guillermo always shoots his own material, so we'll do our best to construct a schedule that allows him to do that. It will depend a lot on how the scripts break down.

I'd happily shot some second unit stuff, anytime Guillermo asked me to. But let's see what happens.

So what will be in that second movie, anyway?

Jackson: The Hobbit is interesting in how Tolkien created a feeling of dangerous events unfolding, which preoccupy Gandalf. There's an awful lot of incident that happens during that 60 year gap. At this stage, we're not imagining a film that literally covers 60 years, like a bio-pic or documentary. We would figure out what happens during that 60 years, and choose one short section of time to drop in and dramatise for the screen.

What will the second movie's title be?

Del Toro: Too early- but not "H2 Electric Boogaloo" that has been discarded.

Will actors (other than Ian McKellen, who's already been announced) from the Lord of the Rings movies reprise their roles?

Del Toro: Obviously, at this stage, the second film is still being figured out- so the actors that have been approached may or not have appeared in the HOBBIT as a literary work but still may appear in the second film as it “blends” into the Trilogy and expands. Therefore what can be said is: Unequivocally, every single actor that originated a role in the Trilogy will be asked to participate and reprise it. If Health, availability or willigness become obstacles – and only in that case recasting would be considered.
Jackson: Like Guillermo says, apart from extreme circumstances, we would never recast a character who appeared in the LOTR trilogy. You can read The Hobbit and pretty much see which characters play a part. The unknown facter is Film Two, which we are still developing. If we wished to write one of the LOTR characters into the narrative of Film Two, we would only do that with that actors blessing, and willingess to take part. Otherwise we'd take the writing in another direction.

Will Gollum make an appearance? Will he be played by Andy Serkis?

Del Toro: Yes! As all of you know, Gollum has a rather fascinating arch to go through and his alliance to Shelob or his period of imprisonment in Thranduil's, etc but it is early still- so early in fact that to reveal more would tie our hands and be counterproductive. There can never be "too much Andy."

Chat Transcript [Weta Holics]