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Interview

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The Hobbit Interviews: John Callen Talks Oin
'He's one of the older ones – the hearing's not what it was'

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Oin, son of Groin (not to be confused with Oin, son of Gloin), is another of Thorin’s lionhearted company. Truth be told, he’s lionfaced too, with New Zealand actor John Callen sporting a scimitar-shaped moustache that’s rivalled in ferocity only by the dwarf’s weaponry and belligerence. With a sideline in improvised potions (little pharma?) and campfire craftsmanship, he is a twisted firestarter in every sense.

The Hobbit Interviews: John Callen Talks Oin

Tell us about Oin...
Each one of us has established a really strong character, which we have done by talking with the director, the producers, the writers – who are the same people! I have a brother, Gloin. He is the father of Gimli, so there’s a good starting point. My particular character might be something of an apothecary, which is why I have this great bag of bottles and other paraphrenalia. He’ll see a bush and think, “I haven’t seen those leaves; I might be able to put them into a potion.” We take it that he invented the word ointment – oin-ment, see? Oin has evolved into more of a warrior than I initially thought he would be and I don’t have a problem with that, because this mission isn’t going to be a doddle. I’m also one of the older members of the group – the hearing isn’t what it was.

How was the fighting?
Oin has evolved into more of a warrior than I initially thought.
At 64, I haven’t got the physical strength of a 34 year-old. The things I do are limited by that, but there is room for expansion because of what my brilliant ‘stunty’ can do. And the young lady who is my scale double - it’s wonderful to see her get stuck in.

How would you describe the dwarf mindset?
We mistrust elves, because they let us down at a great battle. So we are very suspicious of them, and they are incredibly ugly: tall and slim, with smooth hair. None of the women have facial hair – that’s actually mentioned in the script. As actors we have a philosophy, which is this: great fun. That has transmitted itself into the dwarf philosophy of life. We’re up for a brawl, we’re up for a bloody good feed, and if you’ve got food, well, we share what we’ve got, and so should you. Well, dwarf.

The Dirty Dozen springs to mind...
Very much so. It’s the mission that counts.

What is Peter Jackson like to work with?
I only knew him only by reputation. I cannot believe for a minute that he would be as successful as he is without getting things right. There is always the relationship between actor and director that involves trust, and he trusts us and I certainly have no reason not to trust him. One of the things I always like about directors, and particularly Peter, is the sheer joy that they have in their work. If their ideas make sense, then crikey, it’s a joy.

Do you think small?
If they are small, they make up for it with courage. If anybody’s in trouble, they’re right there for them. It doesn’t matter how big the enemy is, and some of them are very, very big.

Read More Exclusive Hobbit Content
Read a new Dwarf interview every day plus exclusive features as we count down to The Hobbit

Interview by Ian Nathan

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