Crusty old Gloin, the craggy but dependable dwarf and dad of Gimli, is played by Wellington resident Peter Hambleton in The Hobbit. Deep down he's a big cuddly teddy bear and loyal family man, the actor tells Empire, not wholly convincingly. Expect this warrior dwarf to get out of bed/cave/ground on the wrong side more or less every day. Which is bad news for those goblins.
Tell us about Gloin...
There is obviously a connection for The Lord Of The Rings fans. The character’s design – hair, beard, the whole look – does a lot of that, but I also have to inhabit some Gimli-ness. I worked my way through the extended version of The Lord Of The Rings taking notes, but without trying to do carbon copy stuff. What was really lovely was that John Rhys-Davies came to visit, and we got introduced. It was a great moment. I was saying, “Hello, son,” and he was saying, “Hello, dad” – a charming, lovely guy. Gloin, meanwhile, is a very prickly character.
And quick to temper?
He has a fiery temper, but we see a real tenderness and love towards his family. He gets a lovely moment later on when we see that he carries an image of his wife and son, and misses them terribly.
You’re playing him with a Scottish accent?
|"Dwarves are very much of the earth and feel connected to the earth."|
It’s a fusion of things. We’re all dwarves and a lot of us are related to Thorin, so we needed to sound like we were of the same tribe – and Scottish enough. The character is written Scottish, but not specific to a region. It’s not Glasgow or Edinburgh: it’s Middle-earth.
So how was it coming up with the whole look?
We did a whole range of training and fittings, so we were able to communicate our thoughts about the characters. We have some ownership of the characters, as well as the huge team that creates, designs and prosthetics, hair and everything like that. It’s been amazing, you don’t just step on board and get cloaked in something that’s ready-made, you feel like part of the creative process.
Does that help with becoming dwarf-like?
Definitely. The body shape and the weight of what you’re wearing grounds you. We’ve discussed how the dwarves feel connected to the earth with our movement coach. Really preparing and cooking the film is one of the wonderful things about a project of this scale, and these people are real champions at it.
But it has a singular vision in charge, hasn’t it?
I live here in Wellington where it’s all been happening on my doorstep, [but] I’ve had very little involvement in his previous films – a little post-production voice stuff on The Lord Of The Rings – so I’ve only just been introduced to this culture over the last six months. There’s a vast team of astonishing people, and there is one person at the centre who must keep a mind-boggling amount of stuff in his head. Someone described Peter as being like a fish in water on set. He’s in his element.
It must be hard to imagine what Guillermo del Toro may have made of it?
I’ve seen some of his films and he’s a wonderful talent. The film business has so many twists and turns that it’s a miracle any film gets made. We’re all be looking at Pacific Rim to see what Guillermo comes up with, but as Peter (Jackson) commented in The Hobbit video blog, those first few weeks were a homecoming for a lot of this team.
Peter Jackson said the dwarves were the reason he directed The Hobbit.
I hope we can do justice to that, if that’s the case. In the story there’s this desperate group of very crusty individuals bought together, a motley bunch of individuals – the ‘little basterds’, that’s what he calls us.
How is the singing?
It was actually great as a bonding thing. Some of us – and I count myself as no singer – can hold a tune.
And the drinking?
Dwarves have been known to knock back a glass or two, thank you.
As a story, The Hobbit is more ambiguous than The Lord Of The Rings, isn’t it? We should root for the dwarves and Bilbo but essentially they want to get their gold back. It’s not quite such a noble quest.
The idea that vast wealth of any kind can poison you is in the script, but this isn’t a bank job, it’s about regaining our birthright and our homeland.
Did you get to Bombur’s barbecue?
I missed it! I went to Auckland for the Bob Dylan concert. Apparently Stephen Hunter does a fantastic barbecue lamb.
Do you think small?
Dwarves are very much of the earth and feel connected to the earth; considering gravity their weight is low, but they’re not small.