“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (directed by Oscar winner Peter Jackson) is the second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece “The Hobbit,” by J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins (played by Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf (played by Ian McKellen) and 13 Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (played by Richard Armitage) on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor while battling the evil dragon Smaug. A Los Angeles press conference for the movie featured Jackson, Armitage, Evangeline Lilly (who plays Tauriel), Luke Evans (who plays Bard the Bowman), Dean O’Gorman (who plays Fili), Aidan Turner (who plays Kili) and Benedict Cumberbatch (who is the voice of Smaug). Here is what they said.
Richard and Benedict, can both of you talk about Benedict doing the Smaug voiceover? Did you go to New Zealand? Did you get to mingle with the rest of the cast and so forth?
Cumberbatch: That’s about five questions; I’ll go with the first part of that. Yes, I did go to New Zealand. It was hugely, hugely helpful. I started off with [“The Hobbit” producers] Peter [Jackson] and Fran [Walsh] and Philippa [Boyens] — just the three of them and me, which was a privilege in itself seeing how large everything else is on this film, to have their sole attention. And we were in the mocap stage so it began as a physicalization and both voice and face and body work – the whole thing. So that’s how I kind of discovered him. Via my Dad who read me the book when I was either 6 or 7 — I’ve really got to ring him, I keep saying this. I’ve said this for two days and not found out. But I was young. I was younger than 8 when I went to school so it was a bedtime (story) at home, so that was my first bit of research.
Then I went to the reptile house at London Zoo. It’s so beautifully written the book and it’s so well illustrated and countless editions of the book and then with Peter’s input and our rehearsals and just playing like a kid really in this incredible freeing environment they call the mocap stage where we can kind of go anywhere with it. So, very, very helpful.
Sadly, I met hardly any of the cast. Richard I met once. I crossed over with people as they were coming back to do, I think their ADR I think, but yeah and Martin, I didn’t spend any sort of live time with Martin which was sad but that was fine. It’s fine. We know each other quite well so we kind of second-guessed it with our performances to some degree I guess but yeah, I didn’t cross over with anyone. I now see two people I haven’t even met yet so that is bizarre.
Anyone over on this side of the table you’d like to meet?
Cumberbatch: Hello! Morning!
Lilly: Well, we did just meet on this press junket.
Cumberbatch: Yeah, I met you on the red carpet, yeah.
With Andy Serkis as Gollum, it’s easier to understand how he would do a motion capture performance for that, but it’s hard to wrap at least my brain around how you do motion capture of this gargantuan creature. How did you even approach that?
Cumberbatch: Well, it’s obviously more abstract. It’s only going to be a sort of impression of something that’s a serpentine reptile who can breathe fire and fly and because I’m a limited biped mammal – sorry about that – but Peter knew that when I auditioned so we work with my sort of my negatives and try to turn them into positives.
One of the ways I did it was to try to squeeze my legs together just forgetting the fact that they were legs, trying to feel that as an elongated body, crawling on the floor on my elbows and using my hands as claws and sort of over-articulating my neck and shoulder to the delight of any physio who was unlucky enough to try and heal me afterward and yeah, just throwing myself at it with a kind of kid-like imagination and their brilliant expert guidance and it was a really fun way to work. And Andy came down to start on second unit and I said “God, I wish you’d been there” because he’s the don, he’s the originator and master of that form — art form I should say, giving its proper title — and we just sort of laughed afterward. Obviously he’s only done biped mammals no one’s really tried a serpent before, so I don’t think he would have been much help at all.
Peter, what were the challenges of filming with these special effects? And for the actors, what was it like working on a special-effects movie where not all the effects were there for you to see?
Jackson: What I tried to do is anytime we were on a green screen stage with a lot of just bits of set and green screen, I would try to bring in the conceptual art that Alan Lee or John Howe, or one of the Weta Workshop guys have done. So that we at least the guys know what is going to be back on the green screen behind them.
Not all the time because sometimes I didn’t even know myself when we were shooting it. Some of those things you figure out later on. It’s ultimately … the power the imagination. It’s a suspension of disbelief, really.
You are, just as the audience, we are asking you to believe in a world that elves and dwarves and dragons and orcs exist. When you’re on the stage, you have to also be in that same mind frame. You are in that world, whether it’s green or whatever, if there’s a tennis ball that’s supposed to be Smaug, you’re still, it’s the same thing, really.
Evangeline, your character was a warrior. Did you do anything like learn to shoot bows and arrows to train? And then also, what did you think when you saw yourself on screen for the first time with this fiery red hair and pointy ears?
Lilly: Yeah, I went through five different types of training. I did weapons training, stunt training, movement training, dialect training, and language training. In the weapons training there were two different weapons. I had double daggers and a bow and arrow. Believe it or not I used to teach to little kids at a kid’s camp when I was a teenager, I used to teach archery but I’m not a good marksman.
Jackson: Don’t say that. Just stop at the first part.
Jackson: You just say you taught them and it will be fine.
Lilly: Yeah, OK. And you know, I think that one the great gifts of CGI and working in the imagination is that you can imagine that you’re much more talented than you really are and if you can imagine it, than it can appear as so with Peter Jackson’s magic CGI brush and then seeing myself for the first time on screen as an elf, there was — it was a double-edged sword because I’m a real Tolkien geek, and I had dreamed about being an elf since I was a little girl so there was an incredible amount of a sort of satisfaction and dream realization that when I first got to see myself as an elf.
But I’m also unfortunately an actor which means that I’m very self-critical and it’s very hard for me to ever give my…anything that I do the stamp of approval without having the [inner voice] that says all the things I did wrong and what didn’t work but just the ears and the wig and just the actual visual was very, very exciting.
Jackson: I mean, I’ve said this to Evangeline but it’s like I have spent more time in her company with just wearing the wig and the ears and I do look here and find it a bit strange. Strange, weird hair, because honestly, I’m much more used to hearing your voice, looking around and seeing the red wig and the ears. That sort of actually one of the strange things because I never see the actors, you know. They walk on set ready to go, they shoot and they go home at the end of the day and I’m just not used to any of this stuff. I see them as humans, it’s rather disturbing.
Luke, you also spent a lot of time in the movie with a bow and arrow over your shoulder. How many little kids have you taught archery?
Evans: Ah, none. Thankfully.
Lilly: But he’s much better than me.
Evans: The long bow, it’s two meters in height so it was actually. It was taller than me. It was different to your bow and arrow but mine was very, very big so it was learning how to pull the arrow differently than you would with a normal bow and arrow because it’s was a long bow but no, never taught any children, thankfully. But there’s still time. Probably not.
Mr. Jackson, about making three “Hobbit” movies instead of two. Did that allow you to make the second chapter so much action-packed and what character benefited the most from that decision?
Jackson: It’s an interesting question. I don’t think any character really benefited from that decision. It was like we didn’t really change a lot. After we had shot most of the film, it was a decision based on what we had shot and we just thought we’re going to have to somehow cut a lot of this stuff out and we can reshape it and then we did some more shooting.
We did 10 weeks of shooting this year as well — pickup shooting for the second and third film. Look, what it does is it allows you to let the characters drive the story because … you’re often the person who writes the story, who kind of takes you on the journey and Tolkien’s voice is obviously fantastic at doing that. You feel like he’s right beside you telling you a bedtime story. But in the movie, you don’t want me on screen talking about what’s happening, so in a film the discipline on the film is you have to have the story told through the dialog of the characters, through the actions.
Cumberbatch: I do want you on screen telling a story.
Jackson: We’ll just do that privately Benedict back in your hotel room. Don’t worry. I’ll read you a bedtime story. But you know you want your narrative of the film to be told through either the dialogue that your characters are saying or the actions that they do. That’s really why we ended up wanting to give it the sort of the depth and the characters and explore some of the character depth that we had done on “The Lord of the Rings.”
I was also acutely aware that there is going to be ultimately when the cycle of releasing a movie each year is done you’re going to end up with six films: “The Unexpected Journey” being the beginning and “The Return of the King” being the end, and I did want to have a unity. I didn’t want to make “The Hobbit” feel any more simple. We just wanted it to feel like it was the same filmmakers.
Lilly: And in the end, Peter, and Fran and Phil brilliantly — I hope I can give this away — brilliantly tied the last “Hobbit” film to the first “Lord of the Rings” film through the one character who could do that which is Legolas.
Jackson: Well that’s actually, I mean that’s a good point because people always ask about Evangeline’s character Tauriel and why we felt the need to create her.
You know in “The Hobbit” novel, they are captured by the elves and they escape in the barrels and it’s a memorable part of the book but you — actually the elf king is not even named — he doesn’t have a name and it was only later on that Tolkien decided he should be Thranduil and then he also decided that he had a son when Lord of the Rings was written 18, 19 years later, he created the character of the son of the king.
So you’ve got material there, but you can’t have a scene in a film that’s a memorable scene and not have just one person as the elf. I mean, we wanted like three elven characters who were all different. I mean, that’s the thing too is to create characters that have conflict with each other and they have different agendas.
Thranduil, Legolas and Tauriel are all on different flight paths which makes for much more interesting ability for Philippa, Fran, and I to sort of write the narratives through their eyes. So that was it, yeah. Sorry, I rambled.
For Luke: Playing Bard, you got to use a bit of your native accent. What else about him did you identify with and what was the most fun for you playing him?
Evans: Well, having my own accent was very special. I love the gift that Peter, Fran and Phil gave to me. For the first time I’ve ever used my own accent in a movie and probably the last. But it was very nice because … who I am and my heritage and my personality was very much part of Bard.
It did do something very different to the character. My performance was different because of the fact that I was speaking with my own accent. I was Welsh and part of the other people in Laketown, some of them are Welsh as well and I have an affinity with them because we all have common ancestry and all of that stuff. It all sort of paid off … And it’s difficult to talk about everything because we have another film that’s coming out next year and we all play a very big part in the next film as well and I can’t talk about that but it was a lot of fun.
As you can see, I’m often either being chased and chasing. Chums are trying to lock me up or something’s always happening in Bard’s life and he knows Lake-Town like the back of his hand and I actually did know Lake-Town like the back of my hand because Pete used to get me running all over on a daily basis either on the roofs or through the streets. That was very fun. And it was a fantastic set to work on. It was just so expansive and real and you can keep walking and walking and turning corners and you’d never come to the end of it which was brilliant. It was really great. Really, really great. What was the last bit?
Jackson: Oh, there we go. Done.
This question is for Peter. Did all the dwarves make you a sexy calendar and gave it to you as a gift? And if so, what was your reaction to that?
Jackson: Why exactly do you want this information?
Just to put some color in the story.
Jackson: They tried to make me a sexy calendar and failed quite badly. They thought they were making a sexy calendar.
Dean and Aidan, anything to add?
Turner: I want to know where the calendar is. Where’s the calendar hanging up?
O’Gorman: There is only one of them. Only one was made like the ring so I want to know where it is. Peter where is it?
Turner: And it’s very sexy.
Can you elaborate?
Turner: We all posed. I don’t want to give too much away because it is a bit secretive but we did pose as naked dwarves which meant that all of us were in our …
O’Gorman: We had fat suits on which from a distance look like we’re naked, not actually naked.
Turner: What was our pose? I think we did a tango pose and I might have had a rose in my mouth.
O’Gorman: I think Aidan was dipping me.
Jackson: You’re given too much information.
Turner: Sorry, Peter. Case closed.
Jackson: You’re going off into little fairy land there.
Turner: Apologies, sorry.
Evangeline, is it true you are ready to retire from acting? You just had a little baby when this came and sort of changed your life. Can you talk about that? It seems like such a crazy idea. And also about the character of Tauriel, how you see her exactly having this longing for a dwarf? And for Peter and for Philippa, this has been sort of controversial creating a character that wasn’t in the Tolkien books, so if you could talk about how you knew you might anger some fans but you felt the movie was worth it.
Lilly: Retirement, yeah. What’s so strange about retiring at 30? I think that’s most people’s dream. I was. I had retired into what I thought would be a life of quite motherhood and writing and didn’t really plan on taking any more acting gigs. It had been about at least five years since I had taken a meeting or engaged in a new project. I just was sort of off the grid so to speak.
I was so far off the grid that when Pete, Fran and Phil were trying to find me to get ahold of me about this role, they couldn’t reach me and somebody on their production team just coincidentally used to work with my partner so he got a text message one day saying “Peter Jackson is trying reach Evangeline. Do you think she might be able to pick up the phone please?” So they did eventually get a-hold of me and of course because The Hobbit was my favorite book as a little girl and the Sylvan elves were my favorite characters in the book and it would be a dream come true to play one, I jumped at the opportunity.
I picked up the phone very quickly. And then they said, your character is not in the book and I took great pause as a great fan of Tolkien. I kind of gulped and went: “What? Everyone is going to hate me.” And it didn’t take long for them to completely convince me that it was the right thing to do and it was a good idea.
Boyens: I remember that phone call and I remember that moment where I said, “And the love story.” You know, there was this moment… it’s not a conventional love story and you were like. “Right, OK. And with a dwarf.” And there was silence. And then I went ‘Really, but hang on I’m going to send you his photo, it’s Aidan Turner, so it’s OK!”
Lilly: She did!
Boyens: I did and then you went, “OK.”
Lilly: She did. She goes: “He is so handsome!”
Boyens: Yeah, you’ll wait and see.
Lilly: But also at that moment when she said there’s a love story, and you guys might not remember this, Phil might not remember this, but I agreed to the job under one condition, one condition – and they agreed to the condition and that condition was in place for two years. The condition was: I will not be involved in a love triangle. Right? Because any of you who were fans of “Lost,” I’ve had it up to here with love triangles and sure enough I come back for re-shoots in 2012 and they go, “We’ve made a few adjustments to the love story.”
Boyens: Yeah, that was genuine. It really wasn’t a triangle. It wasn’t. But what happened was when we saw it playing and just that look, that first look between Kili and Legolas that kind of exchange and looks, it was so perfect. And it was interesting with Legolas because one of the things that we were trying to do was he hates dwarves in “The Fellowship of the Ring.” There’s this animosity that had to have come from somewhere. What was it about? And we wanted it to make it a little bit more emotional than just – I don’t like them.
Lilly: And that played well. That played well.
Boyens: And then also I said to her when you did come back and you went, “Oh no God.” And then I said hang on. “Orlando bloom, Aidan Turner. You’re caught between the two of them. I’m sorry. What’s the problem?”
You have to convince your actors that their plot lines are OK. Is that something you have to do a lot?
Boyens: Evangeline is not joking. She is a huge Tolkien fan. You were concerned and we understood that but we did explain where some of that came from: the relationship between Gimli and Galadriel, that was a kind of a very pure but sort of interesting love and also the idea that feminine energy that was lacking because Professor Tolkien actually wrote fantastic female characters, he just didn’t write one for “The Hobbit” and you understood that immediately and you were brave.
Lilly: And I think to his defense, Tolkien was writing in 1937. You know, the world is a different place today. And I keep repeatedly telling people that in this day and age to put nine hours of cinema entertainment in the theaters for young girls to go and watch and not have one female character is subliminally telling them you don’t count, you’re not important and you’re not pivotal to story.
And I just think that they were very brave and very right in saying we won’t do that to the young female audience who come and watch our film. And not just the young female audience but even a woman of my own age, I think it’s time that we stop making stories that are only about men especially only about heroic men. And I love that they made Tauriel a hero.
One of the things that exists in any large fandom is fan fiction and it seems like in some ways Tauriel is the “fictional character.”Is that in some ways a tribute to the fandom?
Boyens: Women are huge fans of these films. It’s wonderful. You know, right from the Lord of the Rings there was this immediate engagement of women. You know there’s this notion that it’s a genre for boys dungeons and dragons or something like that but you know I’m living proof that that’s not true. I’ve always loved these stories. I think they spoke to me.
The characters of “The Hobbit” especially speak to me — Frodo and Bilbo of course — and when you meet these young women, you do the red carpet and everything, things like that, and they talk to you, you understand that that passion for the storytelling that they’ve received that is going to create a new generation of young writers — young female writers — and I think we’re starting to see that now coming through.
The way that fantasy is being used and one of the things that women, I think especially enjoy or relate to is that professor Tolkien attempted to make these stories real, that they feel real, like a history. They read like a history. This exists and this was true. And Pete is, I think, a genius at sort of making these films feel real, even though you have a giant fire-breathing dragon, that he’s a real character, a real being.
Richard, you were talking about the barrel sequence down the river. Can you tell the crowd here what you all went through and do you feel like it was worth it now that you’ve seen the finished product?
Armitage: I think the most dangerous part of filming the barrel sequence was when we were in these little cutoff Flintstone-style barrels which were powered by our feet … and we bumping into each other. But yeah, it came together in quite a few different places on the Pelorus River which is an extremely fast flowing river. It’s the end of the sequence and we were racing each other to get to the water.
Jackson: And doesn’t Thorin say, “We’ve got to get out of these barrels because there isn’t any current, we’ve lost the current?”
Jackson: Yeah, no it was really dangerous though, yeah.
Armitage: I ended up getting dragged under by that very current…
Jackson: He did actually. That is true. You got dragged under after you got out of the barrels.
Armitage: That’s true. But we went into a sound stage where Pete had built a kind of water course powered by two V8 engines which we were there for about two weeks, weren’t we? And it was like being at a theme park for two weeks and they were dumping tons of water on us and trying to get us to go under the water but I think Martin had the most difficult role in that because he wasn’t in a barrel and there was an underwater camera and he would swap out with the stunt guy and it got quite hair-raising but I think it was worth it.
Jackson: We had these big V8 water jet things that we built on a circle … about as big as this room and yet we were worried because we thought how fast can we actually wind the engine up. We could sort of wind it up, the speed, and you know we better be careful because we don’t know quite, it’s going to be unpredictable and its was.
We had stunt guys doing it around and around and testing it and everything else. But you know these are actors, they’re a little bit fragile. But by the end of the first day the guys were just yelling, Faster, faster, faster, faster, faster!” And we had it on max. We had the thing going maximum pretty quickly.
Armitage: I don’t think Ken Stott was coming and yelling, “Faster!”
Lilly: The reference to those underwater camera shots is very interesting to me because of course I am just an audience member in most of the dwarves’ scene. I haven’t seen what they did. I didn’t see the underwater shots.
It’s a testament to just how much footage we had and that Peter had to cut an incredible amount of work that we did out of these films to squeeze them into three movies. Which would sort of explains why it went from two to three movies.
Jackson: One of the things that doesn’t really get referenced in the barrels is we also did another shoot on a different river in New Zealand. A river in the north island. It’s like a gorge or a rocky canyon that stretches about a mile and right at the head of the canyon is a big dam. And four times a day they open up the sluice gates and they just let this enormous torrent of water out and they let it out for ten minutes and then they close the gates again. And so we got a lot of the really kind of hair-raising barrel stuff in there.
It would be too dangerous to put a stunt guy down. I mean we didn’t even dare putting anyone in the barrels. We sent the barrels down completely empty and we put the digital dwarves in later but that got some great stuff, the more dramatic footage was this. And it was just great because we could set up the cameras when it was dry in between the dumps and we set up about six cameras right the way down the length of the gorge and then we were there for about three days and every single time, you know four times a day on the dot these things would open for 10 minutes and we had a team up the top throwing the barrels in at the top and we had another guys, you didn’t know what the hell was going to happen to them. They just were filmed on the way down and we had a team at the bottom recovering the barrels. We lost three of them, I mean to this day we don’t know where three of barrels have gone.
Benedict, you and Martin Freeman … You’re Sherlock and he’s Watson. You’re now Bilbo and Smaug. What’s your vision on what the third collaboration that you and Martin will do? A buddy cop comedy, a love story? What could you guys do that you haven’t’ done yet?
Cumberbatch: “Romeo and Juliet.” We like our Shakespeare.
Lilly: Which one is Romeo and which one is Juliet?
Cumberbatch: Oh, come on! Come on! You know Martin would look very pretty in that blond wig. Yeah, no. The weird thing about it is all that chemistry and then it’s just, it was very peculiar acting by proxy with him. And there’s no joke to come out of that.
There’s no way I can say what it’s like down on the set. It’s very, very brilliant and he’s a bit of an inspiration to be around. Hearing all of these stories of the live action, perils and you know the amount of work that all these people at this table put in.
I did my job in about eight days. I feel like I’m the cheater at the table really. So, thank you very much. Martin and I will probably have some kind of an outing in the future or something else. Who knows?
Peter, given the fact that you’re working on three “Hobbit” films simultaneously, how do you sort of distinguish each film esthetically as you’re making them? What adjustments or changes do you make, did you make maybe in your approach to assembling this film if at all in response to sort of the reaction from fans to the first film?
Jackson: There wasn’t really any ability to respond too much because we’d shot everything pretty much. Apart from the 10weeks of pickups we did this year was like half of that was the third movie, so it was five weeks of dramatic stuff.
This is a story, this is a script or story that was charted at the beginning. And we shot it kind of in chronological order-ish to some degree. It is actually interesting because … by the time we were done with pickups, I was getting in my groove.
I thought I was, it was it was interesting. It was interesting to just, to get completely into the narrative in the story because as a filmmaker you’re almost getting swept along with the characters. You think, “OK, today they’re going,” and so you actually got the filmmakers on the same journey as the dwarves to some degree over that period of time.
You know the good thing with a middle film is you don’t have to set things up, you literally do just…you can just drop into the story because we’re assuming that no one’s going to see this film if they haven’t seen the first one.
You just get stuck straight into it. Because, again, the ultimate life unfortunately as much as the romance of the cinema and the big screen and the 3-D and everything else, you know the ultimate life of these movies is going to be one of home video, Blu-rays and downloads and hopefully for years to come so that’s where they are going to find their final resting place. So you kind of you’re telling a continuous story. Its three movies, but its telling one narrative arc and you’re trying to make each film work individually.
So the ending leaves audience aghast because we have to wait another year. So was that always the stop or was it a challenge to figure out where you were going to end “The Desolation of Smaug”?
Jackson: We did talk about it. There was certainly discussion about it. It was just a chance, like it’s very rare that you get to do films back to back whether its two or three films back to back and to actually, to be able to just end on a cliffhanger …
I do know what happens in the film and you will see that in a year’s time. I remember when I was, I would have been about 17, 18, 19 years old. I remember “The Empire Strikes Back” had a big cliffhanger ending and it was like three years before the next one came out. We’re being pretty generous. One year.
I’ll tell you what, as a “Breaking Bad” fan, I was hanging out a long time for that last half season or whatever they call it on “Breaking Bad” this year. So that was a big gap too.
Martin, you’re working with Benedict on “Sherlock,” where your characters are friends. It is a different dynamic obviously …
Cumberbatch: Yeah, very, very different. Yeah. Very different. Because one I’m in the room with him and I’m not a psychotic flying napalm machine and you know I can be acerbic and dismissive of him as Dr. Watson. So it’s, yeah, they are friends. They’re in collusion. Yeah, very different. You said it, really. You answered your own question. I don’t really know what to say, sorry.
What’s to like about Martin Freeman?
Cumberbatch: What to like about Martin Freeman? Oh, it’s too early in the day to do this, isn’t it? It’s tricky, it’s tricky. I haven’t got my list for the day ready yet.
But he’s very smart, he’s really good company, he’s one of the funniest men I’ve ever met, and he’s a craftsman. He works incredibly hard and creates authentic characters and moments in drama and he’s an inspiration to work opposite and I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Martin.
Jackson: The one thing about Martin that I think is amazing as a director is that he gives you choices. What that means is that every single take he does is different. Is it the same as on Sherlock as well?
Cumberbatch: It is.
Jackson: He’s just exploring. He’s exploring the whole time. He’s not saying, “OK I think that one was perfect. I don’t need to go any more than that.” He’s actually just, the next take he’s coming up with a different approach to it and sometimes very radically different approach.
Ten years ago I was at a day on “The Lord of the Rings” we were shooting with Ian Holm who plays Bilbo obviously as an older man. And Ian McKellen came up to me and said, “Are you OK with what he does?” And I said, “Why? What do you mean? It’s great. “And he said, ‘Well, every single take is completely different.’
Ian McKellen is a much more of an actor who has a vision for what the scene needs to be about and he’s moving towards that particular goal and yet Ian Holm was exploring and experimenting and I just said, “Yeah, they’re both great approaches. You’re the stable, steady one, I know where you’re heading and I’m giving you lots of choices.” And Martin playing the younger Bilbo coincidentally is exactly the same style actor as Ian Holm.
Evangeline, as a huge Tolkien fan have you found that his work has inspired your writing? And has your experience working on books of your own informed your acting in a significant way, particularly in this role?
Lilly: I think Tolkien definitely inspires me as a writer — and inspired me probably towards writing because good story impacts your life. And I think somewhere deep down inside one of the great motivations to write is to have an impact and to say something and then recently I have been doing a lot more studying of writing.
Much like acting, I’m not trained, I’m not formally trained in writing. And writing, I think, is a little bit more of a structured specific craft. So I’ve been doing my homework. I have been studying. And as I study and learn about story structure and learn more about what it takes to develop a story that will have an impact, that will resonate with an audience the more it starts to impact my choices as an actress.
And I find myself right now as I look at different roles and potential things for the future, whereas before I would read a script and instinctively I knew if I wanted to do the job and if that story was resonating and might feel impactful or say something to the world. Now I’m able to sort of make a cerebral choice.
My mind, I can actually break it down and say well what’s missing is x, y and z and if only they had added these six elements then the script would have come to a place where I would be willing to do it. We all know by gut instinct since we’ve been telling stories since the beginning of time we all instinctively know what works and what doesn’t, I’m now starting to intellectually understand that.