Elijah Wood Discusses the Difference Between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; Andy Serkis Talks Gollum
01.24.12 by Ryan
The upcoming adaptation of The Hobbit, the two-part prequel to the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, will see the return of several characters — including Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and Gollum (Andy Serkis in motion-capture) — all of which appeared in J.R.R. Tolkien's original novel. However, director and co-writer Peter Jackson has found a way to bring back several other characters from the Lord of the Rings movies, such as Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood). Frodo didn't exist yet in the timeline where The Hobbit takes place, but it is believed that he will appear in bookend fashion with the story of The Hobbit being told to him by an elder Biblo (Ian Holm) which seems basically confirmed in the first trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first part of the prequel (The Hobbit: There and Back Again will follow in 2013).
Wood recently spoke to Collider about his time on The Hobbit set. Wood has already called his return to New Zealand to shoot the movies "family reunion" and revealed that he only appears "very little" as Frodo in the movie, but Wood revealed to Collider that he was only "there [in New Zealand] a month" but had a lot of time to observe Jackson and how he shot the movie in 3-D. While 3-D was not an element of the Lord of the Rings production, Wood says there was still little difference in working on the two productions.
The thing that’s great about The Hobbit is that, returning to that space, it’s largely the same group of people who had made The Lord of the Rings — a lot of the same crew members and creative heads of departments, and stuff. I was definitely aware of the fact that there were more trucks now and more trailers, and the production feels larger in scale. On a technological level, obviously that’s a huge part of it, as well. But, at the end of the day, it’s still the same group of people, making it very much in the same spirit as The Lord of the Rings, so that intimacy and that family aspect on set is still the same.
That’s a long way to explain that I think the differences aren’t really that different. It’s still filmmaking. It’s still approaching it from the same perspective. One just happens to be on a much larger scale. But, it’s pretty cool. The technology is amazing. It’s funny, you suddenly just except things. I suppose I’ve been working for a long time, so I’ve seen all kinds of filmmaking. I can fit into anything, and it doesn’t feel that weird or that fascinating. For instance, I was on set for The Hobbit, in Peter’s little tent where he has the monitor that he watches, you’re watching it in 3D. That is amazing, but at the same time, you’re like, “Oh, okay, that’s what we’re doing here.”
It’s an odd sense of just tuning into it and accepting it, but it’s totally amazing. And, it’s really cool to see the 3D on set, and to know what the images ultimately look like. The technology is so good now. I remember, years and years and years ago, video assist was really rudimentary and watching playback was so rudimentary. It only gave you a sense of what the image was really going to look like, especially when you were shooting on film and getting a video feed. Until you actually see dailies, you can’t see what the image looks like. Now, because The Hobbit is being shot digitally, we’re seeing a full HD image, in 3D, pretty much exactly as it’s going to look when it’s thrown up onto a big screen. That’s amazing! And, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of it. They can do a lot of the tweaking on the day, which is really cool.
Serkis' Gollum was a part of Tolkein's original novel, and, during an interview with The LA Times, Serkis revealed that it wasn't hard for him to jump back into the role as the character is "printed into my DNA".
Gollum’s never really gone too far away from me because he’s indelibly kind of printed into my DNA now, I think. I’ll tell you what was weird is going back and playing a character that has been so sort of absorbed into public consciousness that you almost don’t feel like you own it anymore. And to sort of gather it back — I mean, I did feel, I think, probably in the first couple of days going back into it that I was sort of doing a weird impersonation of him rather than being him because there have been so many spoofs and people’s impersonations and so on, and some people’s impersonations are really great. And I’m kind of thinking, “Oh gosh, that’s how to do it, yeah.” And you know, then you get back into it. … Meaningfully getting back into it was really exciting.
Serkis admitted that affecting Gollum's voice used to take its toll on his vocal chords, but even that has changed now that the character is in his DNA.
I think my vocal chords are so thrashed that I don’t really feel anything anymore there. During Lord of the Rings, I used to have to drink tons of what we call Gollum juice, which was lemon and honey and ginger. And actually when I went back to do The Hobbit this time, to reprise the role, I did , probably kind of more romantically and sort of nostalgically, get people to whip up a few bowls of Gollum juice which I used to drink. But it doesn’t really hurt, to be honest, anymore.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will open on December 14th, but Wood says the production will continue to shoot "until June." With the production currently on hiatus, shooting will commence again in February.