On the Couch with Graham & Dean
O’Gorman and McTavish play Fili and Dwalin respectively, two of Bilbo Baggins’ team of Dwarves on his trek through Middle Earth.
Our resident pop-culture and entertainment expert Dave Lee, got the chance to talk to them both about their experiences filming the iconic epic series.
BLAIRE: Thanks for joining us, guys. First off, I guess I’d like to ask – We have a different cast of characters to The Lord of the Rings films in The Hobbit, but it’s still part of the whole mythology set forth from those films. So, what’s it like, for you personally, to join in on that mythology and making it a much grander thing?
DEAN: It’s pretty surreal actually. It is somewhat strange to be working on a film that’s following on from the huge, hugesuccess of Lord of the Rings. And yet, you know, Hugo Weaving would turn up, who was a massive character, but he’s only on set for a couple of weeks and then he’s gone again.
I can’t speak for the other guys, but I was very much aware that I was in a Peter Jackson film… Peter Jackson did Lord of the Rings and he’s continued on. I think one thing that we were aware of is that… Unlike the people who did Lord of the Rings, we had the knowledge of how massive Lord of the Rings was and how famous it became. So, I think we had more of a sense of the scale of the film. In terms of its reaction to the public, I think we knew that it would, potentially be, an incredibly well known film, you know? Or at the very least, a lot of people were going to know about this film. Even if they didn’t see it necessarily, everyone’s gonna know about it!
GRAHAM: I was a huge fan of the Rings trilogy, beforehand, so it was, a clichéd dream come true for me. I went to see those films at the Odium, Lester Square in London when they came out. Every single year I went along and this last year I was on the red carpet going to The Hobbit premiere. So, that was
an extraordinary moment, personally, from that, kind of, fan point of view. But more than that, I think you feel, definitely a sense of responsibility to the source material and to the legacy that you’re apart of when you come into something like this. It’s quite a heavy responsibility, so that’s why Peter was careful, I think, to get a group of people together that worked well and actually genuinely liked each other, which helps a lot with this sort of thing.
BLAIRE: Obviously there’s a lot of reference points, both with the films and with the books. You would have had to do a lot of research both on your character and the mythology of the whole Lord of the Rings thing, I expect?
DEAN: I feel like I was pretty lucky because, obviously I had the book to read, which is a kid’s book, so I read it pretty quickly. And we had so many people, I guess, training us in the art of being a Dwarf; sword fighting, horse riding… had movement coaches, dialect coaches, all these kinds of things. So really, by and large, a lot of the world was given to us, you know? Our responsibility came down to how do we interpret the character, you had to do that work yourself, but a lot of the external structural stuff is already given to you. Your options are limitless. It’s a bit more daunting with someone saying the options are fine line.
GRAHAM: Obviously we reacquainted ourselves with the films. We read the book several times. I also read around that sort of period. I just wanted to immerse myself in that kind of world. That fantastical world. I trained three months before I even started the training that they had lined up for us because physically it was going to be very demanding, so we made sure that we were in good shape for it.
BLAIRE: Dean, you’ve done a bit of work in the fantasy genre before on the Young Hercules series and Xena. What’s the workflow between doing something on such a large scale as The Hobbit and something smaller like Young Hercules?
DEAN: The funny thing is, I haven’t actually had a lot of fantasy work. I did Young Hercules for a year. It was about a years worth of filming… It was a kid’s show so we got like 50 episodes, and it was a really fast turn around sort of stuff. And I probably did one or two episodes of Xena, you know, like, smattered over a few years. I think the main difference is that, it’s Peter Jackson making this film. It’s one guy and his vision. He and (co-producers) Fran (Walsh) and Phillipa (Boyens), they’re huge fans of Tolkein. They are probably the biggest fans of Tolkein. So, they want to do it justice, and you know that when you’re working on it, it’s not something that’s going to be mass-produced in half an hour… It’s something they really want to make as special as they can. And it’s really exciting to be on the set!
BLAIRE: And Graham, looking back on your body of work, it consists of a lot of voice work for television and videogames. What’s it like, going from something like that where I assume you’d be kind of stuck in a recording booth – to going and doing something on such a huge scale like this, that’s so action heavy and location heavy?
GRAHAM: To be honest with you, in my career, which is 30 years old, I’ve done everything from charging around the Thai jungle in Rambo to doing Shakespeare, so essentially it’s all the same process – the process of acting is the same, whatever it is – you’re standing in front of a camera, or you’re standing in front of an audience and you’re trying to tell the truth and in the voiceover booth you’re doing the same. It’s all part of the same thing, which is make believe and trying to convince people that what you’re saying is truthful.
BLAIRE: So, what was the hardest part for you guys about doing something on such a huge scale as The Hobbit?
DEAN: I think the hardest thing is also the best thing about the job, which is that it was an eighteen-month shoot, and that’s a long time. So, the great thing is, as an actor you think ‘fuck yeah, I’m employed for eighteen months!’, you know? It’s fantastic. And what a job to be employed in! The whole job had so many different experiences in it; it was kind of like its own, sort of, little journey. But also, like I said, we were doing long hours. Most days we worked from five in the morning until six or seven in the evening, pretty much five to six days a week. So after, seven/eight months, you realise you’re probably only just over halfway… It can be a real endurance test at some times.
GRAHAM: In terms of hardship, I wouldn’t complain about a single moment of it, to be honest. There were long days for sure and, you know, it was physically tiring sometimes, but you’re getting to do what you dream about doing, so I always make a point of reminding myself, you know, if I’m standing there pouring with sweat or they’re milking stuff out of my eyebrows because my prosthetics filling up with sweat… you just remind yourself that you’re very lucky to be in that position and get on and enjoy it, really.
BLAIRE: What are your thoughts on Peter turning The Hobbit series into a trilogy as apposed to the original plan of only two films?
DEAN: I think it’s funny because Peter Jackson said ‘I’m gonna make two movies’, right? And then he said ‘I’m gonna make three’ and every one was like ‘whoa-whoa-whoa! Three? Really?’. He decided that in the first place, so he can change it. I think in terms of length, they shot so much footage and in order to make it two movies they’d either have to make them so long or they’d have to lose so much great stuff. My theory on it, is that Peter loves shooting. He loves shooting films. You know? And if he can do three films instead of two and he can make a better story out of that – add more in it…
GRAHAM: We shot so much that it was, we really wanted to try and give the audience as much as possible of what we’d already done and believe me by the end of the third film, people will be saying, ‘god I wish there was a fourth’
BLAIRE: Great! Now, let me finish off with what I like to call my Quick Four Questions. This is a set of very generic, simple questions – but I think you can learn a lot about someone as a person and as an artist through these.
So, first up – What is your favourite movie of all time?
DEAN: Oh shit! I think because of my age I’m having a bit of a resurgence of things I loved as a kid…. I loved Raiders of the Lost Ark, I love Goonies, I love Star Wars. You know? More recent films, I loved: There Will be Blood… Anything by Paul Thomas Anderson, I really kind of dig.
GRAHAM: The Godfather!
BLAIRE: Favourite book?
DEAN: It by Stephen King!
GRAHAM: Favourite book? Oh, that’s a very difficult question! Well, the book that I read the most as a child was The Wind in the Willows, so I’m going to say that
BLAIRE: Favourite band or musical artist?
DEAN: Creedence Clearwater Revival!
GRAHAM: Led Zepplin!
BLAIRE: And three historical figures you’d invite to a dinner party?
DEAN: Oh, fuck! It’s a hard one!! I don’t know!! Would you want to be able to like, talk to them so you have a good night? Or just to watch the shit that would happen?
BLAIRE: Oh, I think either way would be fun!
DEAN: Umm, I’d like to meet Ghandi. I think… Oh man…. Marilyn… Marilyn Monroe, she’s pretty hot! And maybe… Who’s left? You know what!! Picasso! Wanna see what that dude’s like!.. You know what, can I swap out Picasso for Henry Cartier Bresson?
GRAHAM: Shakespeare. I’d probably bring along Marcus Aurelius and I’d probably throw in Abraham Lincoln. It would be a good night!!
I especially like their answers to the “Quick Four” at the end. Even if I didn’t know his age, it’s easy to see that Dean is a fellow Gen X-er. XD
And here’s me forgetting that classic rock wasn’t really the music of choice for my generation; I was just kind of a weirdo. And so, apparently, is Dean. XD
His favorite band is Creedence, you guys. CREEDENCE. <3