The Hobbit's Martin Freeman On Why Iconic Characters Don't Intimidate Him
Bridging off, can you talk about filming scenes with characters that are standing on completely different stages? How the experience has been?
It's gone from horrendous to okay, yeah. I think most of us thought-- 'Cause also in the early-- I was going to say in the early years of this shoot. "In the first couple of decades of this shoot", because of the Red cameras and the 48 frames and the 3D and all that-- They're not all Red, are they? They are Red? They would break down quite a lot. It would seem to be like once every hour, and that was genuinely difficult. Because me and Andy would be Gollum-ing away, and then it would be like, "Sorry, there's a problem with the camera", and we'd go, "Fuck!" And that was happening in the early parts of the shooting. And we used the slave shots early on. And it was something that I don't think anyone's done before. I think this is a Peter innovation, and we were all a bit-- Again, if your background is theater, the most you can ask for is that there is another human being in the room, and that you're doing that, do you know what I mean? And so, the more you're asked not to do that, it feels compromised. You get better at it, and it's a necessity, it's fine. 'Cause there aren't really fucking big wizards, you've got to pretend. And that's fair enough, we're all pretending.
But yeah, I think we found it pretty difficult. But what was good about it actually, was that it meant you rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed to billy-o, like you were doing a play actually. And it was getting so precise, with Ian as Gandalf in another room looking at twelve tennis balls with our pictures on, and us looking at fourteen different bits of tape in the room for where he would be. It's a really magnificent achievement. And I've seen that scene cut together, not even finished, you can't see the join. You just can't see the join. I feel like someone now is looking at the King Kong of 1933 going, "You can't tell it's plasticine!" Whereas now you go, "We can." But I can't see how this will get much better. It's like with all technological advances, you think, "Where else can we go?" It looks so seamless. And actually, it ended up being quite enjoyable. Now when we've got slave shots to do, it doesn't seem like a huge thing, 'cause we're quite well drilled in it, you know what to expect. It's not going to be instant. Everything on this job is slow, by its nature. But I don't harbor any kind of, "Oh, God..." It's like, okay, it's just a different challenge, and not an unenjoyable one now, whereas I think at first we were all quite daunted by it. I just thought, "Are these people mad? This will never work!" And then I saw a cut and thought, "Yeah, it really does work." It works amazingly well, yeah.
Can you talk about playing off all the other actors? Somebody earlier mentioned it was sort of like a theater company of fifteen-sixteen main characters. And so there's you and Gandalf and the thirteen Dwarves. Just talk about developing a chemistry and playing off each other, especially when you're not always in the same room together.
Well, firstly, I think what's remarkable about us as a group, and I would pay tribute to the group on this, is that there hasn't been any fallings out, there hasn't been any fist fights, and there hasn't even been really, really strong words. And there's a lot of blokes in there. A company of men, with egos, not falling out is kind of cool. I've not known it, I've not known it for this long. I've never done a job for this long. But the fact that we've all kept our heads and tried to act as a group and tried to be sensitive-- I think it would be different if there was four of us. If there was four of you, there's nowhere to hide. You just have to get on with the other three people. But because there's a lot more than that, you can just go there one day, and there, it's a bit more evenly spread out. So we've really held together as a group very, very well. And like anything else, like any other working relationship, it's about finding your place within it, finding when it's your turn, finding out when it's not your turn. And I'm amazed how well it's happened, I really am. It's one of the things I'm proudest of, actually. And I think it's one of the things we'll all be proudest of in ten years, is that we all maintained quite a good working relationship, and pretty friendly, really. I think the hard thing is don't make the drama school mistake of, first two weeks: "You're my best friend, I love you, I love you!" And then Christmas comes: "Ah, bitch." Because if you go in too strong, it will all go to shit. But we're all feeling each other out. Not literally, that would be wrong. But as a group, finding out just where we all slot in. And it's amazing-- I'm not trotting out any party line here, we're all getting on fine, which is about as good as you could hope for after a year and a half. And we're still going out for meals, still going out for drinks, still being round each other's houses without wanting to kill each other, which is no mean feat.
Shooting that way would come in handy, though, in case you can't get along together.
Yeah, what, you mean different rooms? Yeah, that's true. And it's usually Ian [McKellan]. We all do hate Ian. So yeah, it's fortunate that it's Ian on his own, 'cause we have bullied him a bit. We've ostracized him.
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