By the final act of The Hobbit, Team Bilbo have survived countless perils, from raging waterfalls to ravenous spiders. But one hazard remains that makes all the rest look like Shireling’s play. We’re talking Smaug, the gigantic, fire-breathing dragon whose lair is located beneath the Lonely Mountain. Here, we offer some handy tips for Bilbo and his dwarf compadres — after all, as Thorin tells the group just before they creep into Smaug’s domain, “Every worm has his weak spot…”
In a recent New Yorker article, Guillermo del Toro revealed some sketches he'd drawn of Smaug while he was still slated to direct. They revealed a long, thin, slithery creature, rather than the usual bulky dragon design usually seen on screen. "It's a little bit more like a snake," del Toro confirmed. Unless this design has changed drastically since Jackson took the reigns, it means Smaug will be able to squeeze through tiny apertures in his pursuit of our heroes. Belly
Finally, a weak spot. Smaug's underparts are encrusted with gems and chunks of gold, which act as fancy-pants body armour. There is, however, one small area - to be precise, a "hollow by the left breast where the foreleg was flung wide" - which is unprotected. To prevail, Bilbo must somehow get beneath the dragon with a suitable weapon. Or, and we're just throwing this out there, he could get some minor supporting character with a big black arrow to do it for him… Cunning
This is no mindless, troll-like beastie - Smaug is one of the smartest beings in Middle-earth. He's also got the memory of an oliphaunt: when Bilbo steals a single small cup, he realises something's missing from his horde almost instantly. But can his craftiness be used against him? Armour
Smaug himself puts it like this: "My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death." Unless Bilbo finds himself an Avatar-style mech suit and a family-sized bottle of Listerine, a direct attack isn't going to end well. Nose
Dragons have an incredible sense of smell, a fact Tolkien stresses in the book. To prevent becoming an hors d'oeuvres on Smaug's dinner menu, Bilbo will have to keep upwind. Or apply a liberal splash of David Beckham Instinct Ice, and hope for the best. Voice
He may have flame-thrower breath and huge, jagged claws, but Smaug's deadliest attribute is his hypnotic voice, with which he lures hidden adversaries into view. Peter Jackson's choice of actor to voice the dragon has not yet been revealed, but it'll be someone with suitably silky tones. Stephen Fry, Bill Nighy and Christopher Lee are all rumoured to be in the running. But here's a few other ideas for you, Pete: Christopher Walken ("I hid this uncomfortable hoard of riches up my ASS for 2,000 YEARS!"), Joe Pasquale ("Ooh no! Who's stealing me gold!!") or, keeping it in-house, Weta boss Richard Taylor, who has the best voice in the known galaxy.