Thanks to his outstanding performances in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, War Horse, Four Lions and BBC’s brilliant Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch has rocketed up our “Must Watch” list of modern working actors. His next role might be his biggest, and we won’t even see his face on screen: He’s playing the dragon Smaug in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy. And in a recent interview, Cumberbatch teased some of his process on inhabiting the digital monster … and when we might see him in the series.

Cumberbatch called the mo-cap process used to create Smaug “very freeing, once you put the suit on and the sensors” in an interview with Total Film. He likely had a lot of coaching from co-star Andy Serkis, who helped master the process with the wizards at WETA by playing Gollum in multiple Lord of the Rings movies. But Cumberbatch had this to say as he elaborated on his acting approach while wearing the black suit and laser dots.
““You just have to lose your shit on a carpeted floor, in a place that looks a little bit like a mundane government building. It was just me as well, with four static cameras and all the sensors. Then the boys at WETA work their magic.”

They do, indeed. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that Smaug is the character we’re anxious to see in The Hobbit. So far as I can tell, Smaug has been kept completely out of the marketing materials for the film, which has teased everyone from Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) to Evangeline Lilly’s original character, Tauriel.

But when might we see Smaug in the new Hobbit trilogy? Cumberbatch may have already tipped his hand a little, saying he believes “my eye will open at the end of the first film, and then you’ll get to see the rest of me in the second.” That’s a huge reveal, if it happens to be true. Find out when Jackson kicks off his new trilogy with An Unexpected Journey on Friday, Dec. 14.

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