It took so long to get The Hobbit happening. There were all the problems and all the ins and outs. When did it become apparent to you that so many things seemed to be pointing to you coming back to the director's chair? When did it become apparent to you in your heart that you would come back to it? And what made you want to ultimately do it?

When Guillermo [del Toro] left it was a surprise, although, we sort of felt that the whole MGM situation that was happening at that time was a blur in my mind now, it was so long ago, but when they were nearly going bankrupt and they couldn't-- Warners were trying to do it without MGM and they wouldn't do that. It was a situation where it looked like-- When Guillermo left we didn't have a green light and we didn't have a movie, and so it was freewheeling, in a sense, for at least two, maybe three months after he left we really-- I was there as a caretaker, but it wasn't like anything much could be done 'cause there was no budget, there was nothing really. We didn't know what was going to happen with MGM. But we were working on the script with Fran [Walsh] and Phil [Boyens] and Guillermo for a period of time beforehand. We were starting to work up the characters and so I was beginning to get connected to the material quite well.

I never wanted to do The Hobbit in the first place 'cause the idea of having an ensemble of thirteen dwarves terrified me and I thought, well, it's going to be much more interesting to have another filmmaker dealing with that I'll just go with it and see what happens. I thought it was a nightmare that I thought would be much more interesting to see what somebody else did with it, but the weird thing with this is that having ended up where I am, the fact that there's thirteen dwarves in it is the great joy of the movie. I've actually swung a 180 degrees round now. It's like I suddenly think, "Wow, this movie is really cool because of all these characters, these eccentric dwarves." And we've given each of them personalities and things and they are very much the heart of the story. Bilbo is the soul of the story, but the dwarves and their wanting to reclaim their homeland is very much the heart of the story. I like these guys now. Actually I'm pleased it ended up the way it did.

In The Hobbit, Tolkien is really exploring these ideas of modern versus ancient views of heroism. Is that something that you're exploring here? Is this a search for heroes, because we have Bilbo who is going to move into the next story, and Legolas who is going to make the move into the next story, and Thorin who doesn't make the move into the next story, and are we going to have this idea of what makes heroes and what makes successful heroes versus unsuccessful heroes?

The book has some of those themes. Thorin is very much an anti-hero in some respects. He's become so obsessed with what he believes to be the right thing that he crosses a boundary in way, with the dragon sickness and things. So he is an interesting character, and Bilbo-- The Hobbits are always the greatest heroes 'cause they're us, they're the unlikely hero who is thrust into this incredible danger and they have no choice but to get the goodness within themselves and the strength within themselves and try to survive and get through it, so they're always the most interesting heroes. They're not flawed, they're just unlikely heroes. They're not the sort of person you would really think would be able to take on a dragon, but when you see them actually doing that, I find that sort of heroism in films really interesting. Legolas is just a hero. I don't identify myself with Legolas that much. Just go and let Orlando do his thing and it's great for the movie. It's good.

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