When the primary cast for The Hobbit was announced last week, like a lot of people I was confused and befuddled. Many of the actors hired to play the film’s most pivotal roles were relative unknowns or even stranger, voice actors. Martin Freeman as Bilbo makes sense, people have been clamoring for exactly that choice since the beginning, but the group brought on to play his dwarf companions are a strange bunch, to say the least. Not only are they basically unknown and inexperienced names, they’re also unexpectedly… well… hunky.
By now we all think of Dwarves as being fat, gruff, grumpy, bearded creatures like John Rhys Davies’ Gimli in the Lord of the Rings movies. But Bilbo will be accompanied by thirteen dwarves on his journey through The Hobbit and that means there’s plenty of room for variety. And Peter Jackson plans to use some of that variety to turn his bearded brawlers into heartthrobs. Literally.
Talking to EW he revealed that part of their motivation behind casting Richard Armitage (an actor best known for playing a sexy spy on MI:5) as the Dwarf leader Thorin Okenshield, was a desire to find the next Legolas for geeky girls to put on their posters. Jackson explains, “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.”
But aren’t dwarves supposed to be kind of stout, hairy, and gross? PJ has other ideas. He says, “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!”
After years of imagining dwarves as Jack Black with a beard, it’s an unexpected notion, but maybe one worth getting behind. With thirteen dwarf characters it makes sense to differentiate them from each other in some pretty distinct ways, and somebody has to be the movie’s hunky hero character. If not a dwarf, then who? Speaking as a perennially bearded human, I can get behind the notion of a heavily facial-haired sex symbol.
The really good news here is that this seems to confirm they’ll use actual actors to portray the dwarves and that despite the prevalence of voice actors in the dwarf cast, they’re not doing them in lame CGI. Peter Jackson’s digging up his bag of forced perspective tricks and nobody does diminutive heroes better.
For our complete guide to The Hobbit cast go here.