Morphing from a 117 year-old vampire in Being Human to one of the youngest dwarves in Thorin Oakenshield’s company gives Aidan Turner the chance to swap a craving for blood in Bristol for a quest for gold in the Misty Mountains. He’s also got a brother, Fili, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with on the journey. “We’re like William and Harry”, jokes the Irishman, “with Kili as Harry. He’s a bit more of a rebel..."
Tell us about Kili...
Well, there’s not an awful lot to go on in the book, so you have to decide how you’re going to play him with – knock things around. Kili is a bit reckless. He’s maybe a bit too cool sometimes. But he’s super-psyched about going on this huge journey as he’s never been to war, he’s only heard stories from Thorin. The relationship between him and his brother Fili is almost like Prince William and Harry.
Which royal are you?
I’m the younger one, so I’d be the Harry. He’s a bit more of the rebel, but he doesn’t want to let anyone down. He’s not as loyal maybe as Fili, but he’s still part of the troop and he’s committed and wants ultimately to reclaim Moria again. They’re all super loyal, it’s one of the traits of the dwarves.
Ever think you would play a dwarf?
Not really, no, but the story about being cast is kind of boring. My agent sent an audition tape to Peter and six months later I met him in London with Fran (Walsh). When I heard the news, I was shooting a vampire thing for the BBC (Being Human) and that stoked me and I flew here!
How was dwarf boot camp?
|“The dwarves may only be four-foot-something but they pack a serious punch.”|
A lot of going to the gym; a lot of movement classes. Dwarves are just weighed down by everything. They’re not sluggish, they just have this work-horse mentality. When they get going they’re unstoppable. With Kili it’s slightly different, because his reactions are slightly quicker than some of the others, and I’m always the first to hear stuff and see stuff. He’s one of the young lookouts.
How are you finding working in a Middle-earth? There’s more green screen than The Lord Of The Rings...
I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it, but it’s really not difficult. Peter tells us very briefly what is going on, you look down and see this green screen and suddenly it doesn’t feel like a green screen anymore. It’s bizarre, once the cameras turn on and you know that people are going to watch your reactions, you somehow feel it, and you don’t have to mug. It’s actually strangely normal.
Was it a group performance in a way, because of the nature of the story?
It’s very ensemble, and I guess we do move as a group and feel each other out. Dwarves are very war-driven so everything is about strategy and placement, so they’re very aware of what everybody else is doing and where everyone else is. That’s one of the characteristics of the dwarves: they’re hyper-aware.
Is that easy to act when the camera is crossing the group, and you don’t know where you are in relation to the focus?
You’ve just got to stay in it. A good trick I learnt early on is not to immediately look at playback because once you know the shot you can see when the camera is on you. It’s best to stay ‘in it’ all the time, and just if it’s on you, it’s on you, and if it’s not, it’s not. It’s the easiest way.
Are you a Tolkien man?
I wasn’t one of the avid followers. In fact, I hadn’t read The Hobbit before I met Peter – which didn’t seem to matter – but I was a big fan of the movies. One of the fantastic things about this job is doing the research and I did tonnes of that, as I’m sure everyone did. It’s so much fun to immerse yourself in it.
What has Peter been like to work with?
He just laughs a lot and has a good time, you know? And if you hear a little laugh in the tent when you’ve tried something, it’s usually going to stay in the movie. He’s the most generous director that I’ve ever worked with – he gives so much to the actors and it’s liberating.
He seems to be upping the comedy this time.
Absolutely, why wouldn’t you: Martin Freeman is absolutely hilarious. Will there be fart and snot gags? Plenty, probably.
Do you think small?
We don’t feel small, and that’s the mission statement for the dwarves. They are small but they don’t feel it. They’re only four-foot-something, but pack a serious punch. But when they hold up a tennis ball about two metres high for Gandalf’s head, you’re just of, “ Holy mother of God...”