'Hobbit' director Peter Jackson talks about casting a 'heartthrob' dwarf (Exclusive)

Richard-ArmitageImage Credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage.comIt’s been a long time coming, but there was finally cause for rejoicing in Middle-earth last week when director Peter Jackson announced he’d cast several key roles in his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy novel, The Hobbit. The casting of Martin Freeman of the UK Office fame as Bilbo Baggins was widely expected, but some Tolkien fans were surprised and slightly befuddled to see English actor Richard Armitage, best known for the BBC series MI-5, cast as Thorin Oakenshield, the gruff leader of a company of dwarves. What was Jackson doing hiring a hunky actor to play a character most often depicted in illustrations — and in the 1977 animated Hobbit movie — as a squat, crabby, Wilford Brimley-ish old dwarf with a long white beard? In an interview (after the jump), Jackson tells EW the choice is actually right in line with the casting of Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn and Orlando Bloom as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

“Thorin Oakenshield is a tough, heroic character, and he certainly should give Leggie and Aragorn a run for their money in the heartthrob stakes — despite being four feet tall,” says Jackson, who also announced seven lesser-known English, Irish, and Kiwi actors in the roles of other dwarves. “In Middle-earth, dwarves are a noble race and have a culture and physical appearance which sets them apart from humans. It’s fun to develop these different cultures for the movie, and we are doing much more with dwarves this time around than we did with Gimli in Lord of the Rings. Our company of thirteen dwarves in The Hobbit lets us explore many different personalities — and costume and make-up designs will support the type of character each actor plays. Richard is a powerful actor with a wide range, and we’re very excited to be handing Thorn over to him. In this partnership, we need Richard to give us his depth, range, and emotion as an actor — and we’ll make him look like a dwarf!”

For more of Jackson’s comments on the casting of The Hobbit, check out the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday.

Read more:
Peter Jackson vents his frustration over the bitter ‘Hobbit’ labor dispute: ‘I’m out of my depth’
‘The Hobbit': Martin Freeman to play Bilbo Baggins; other roles also cast

Comments (102 total) Add your comment
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  • Michelle

    I love Richard Armitage and think he’ll be a fantastic Thorn. Everyone freaked out when Elijah was cast as Frodo and that turned alright! I trust Peter.

    • Lamplight

      Hmmm, is this really important enough to be taking the attention from Glee? Heck no!!! Who cares? Unless Jane Lynch is playing gandolph, no more hobbits and more Glee!

      • Gleek

        Damn straight!

      • Less Dave

        Good news for the hobbit – Jane Lynch is playing gandolph? you mean gandalf – glee is so crap compared to the hobbit – go back to your school shows.

      • Less Dave

        Good news for the hobbit – you mean gandalf – glee is so crap compared to the hobbit – go back to your school shows.

      • Here’s some Glee News . . .

        The rest of the season is already available through youtube. Just click on any music video from the late 80’s early 90’s.

      • Here’s some Glee News . . .

        The rest of the season is already avilable on Youtube. Just click on any music video from the late 80’s through the 90’s.

      • Belinda

        Sorry, but Glee is nothing when compared to what the LOTR trilogy has been able to achieve. So yes, this is more important and worth more attention than Glee. Deal with it. Glee is not everything that is important in this world.

        Peter Jackson and LOTR were the ones who won 17 Oscars, not Glee.

    • RCB

      Are they going to show women dwarfs? Gimli said that women dwarfs look like men, which made others think that there are no women dwarfs, and they just sprout from the ground.

    • Rush

      Not familiar with the actor. Took a look at pictures of him in Google image search. Can’t quite imagine him with a beard, but I trust in Jackson.

      • J

        Check out Robin Hood from BBC. Silly yes, but he is a great villain.

    • Melania

      Richard Armitage is The Sexy; after seeing him in North & South with his top hat I think he’d make a kick a** Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter. And his voice is panty meltingly devine.

  • SpeedKills

    Sexiest dwarf ever! Well, next to Dopey.

    • Drew

      I prefer sleepy, but to each thier own.

    • steph

      I prefer Doc…because, well, he’s a doctor ;)

  • smee

    Ummm…I believe Richard Armitage was in BBC Series ‘Spooks’, not MI:5, unless it was renamed for export?. He’s a huge sex symbol in the UK as well as being great actor, particularly for playing the lead role in period drama ‘North and South’, and has been in many excellent tv programmes over here, The Lakes, Robin Hood etc. Oh, and he’s a nice guy too. The entire casting of The Hobbit looks pretty good to me; Jackson knows what he’s doing.

    • Kelly

      Spooks airs as MI:5 on BBC America.

    • dee

      North and South ftw! He’s so good in it, total dreamboat :)

      • Kisha

        Yeah he is!And he has the most sexiest voice ever.

    • d

      The Lakes?

      • Smee

        Yeah…I meant Sparkhouse. Two totally different programmes!

    • Snsetblaze

      Question – is that North and South the same thing as the miniseries that aired years ago (in the 80s?) here in America or is it something different?

      • Joy

        No, it’s not the same miniseries. This one is the adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel set in 19th century England: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0417349/

      • anne

        No, not the Patrick Swayze one..this one was a BBC production, 2004..definitely worth seeing :-)

    • Emma

      Wow, this is GREAT news! I liked Martin Freeman in few things I’ve seen him in, and I LOVE Richard Armitage!!! YAY!!!

  • jennifer k

    Seeing Richard cast in the Hobbit was so wonderfully random. I’m happy he’s getting movie roles now.

  • nodnarb

    Peter Jackson calls Legolas “Leggie”? Adorable!

  • Drew

    mmmm. i love short men.

  • harry

    Dude looks like Hugh Jackman

    • RA fan

      Dude looks like how Hugh Jackman wished he looked.

      • iz4blue

        Touche!

      • tvmom

        Truth!

  • AT

    Love him! He’s a great casting choice. I’ve been hoping to see someone cast him in something big! I haven’t seen everything he’s been in, but I’ve seen a few and he’s always extremely layered in his performances. I have to say he’s wonderful in the BBC drama/mini series “North and South.” If anyone wants to see how good he is, they should watch it. Peter Jackson has always been good in relation to casting.

  • Lila

    Gorgeous man. Loved him in North and South.

  • RK

    Glee needs a dwarf.

    • Jenna

      best. comment. ever.

    • It already has Christian Chenoweth

      Sorry that was wrong.

  • Joy

    I am so happy Peter has recognized Richard’s acting talent! Another thing I’m happy about – Thorin will be a heartthrob! Bring it on!

  • Danielle

    I just finished watching season 2 of ‘Robin Hood’ and was thoroughly impressed with Richard’s performance (shades of gray in a villain, something I don’t see enough of) so I’m very excited to see him cast in the ‘Hobbit’, though I’m also excited to see Martin Freeman as well. Peter Jackson, you’ve hooked me!

  • MJ

    Peter Jackson did an awesome job casting LOTR, and many of them were relatively unknown actors at the time. I’m sure he’s doing a fantastic job with The Hobbit as well.

  • Harriet

    I adore Richard and he will be wonderful as Thorin, I’m certain of it. He’s incredibly beautiful (off the scale) and having spent the last year researching his past work, I totally agree that he is also a great actor. And I’m glad we will get to see both those sides of him in the movie.

  • wg

    Aidan Turner, also cast as a dwarf = even hotter guy.

    • Ella

      I KNOW!! Aidan Turner AND Richard Armitage in one movie? Be still my heart!

    • Chelsea

      Agreed! Armitage is very good looking but Aidan Turner is the one whose hotness I’d be defending if I were Jackson.

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