New Hobbit Behind-The-Scenes Clip With Benedict Cumberbatch

Smaug steps into the light...

If you’ve ever wondered just how much of Benedict Cumberbatch there is in Smaug, we have a Thursday treat for you. This fascinating extra from The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’s forthcoming home-formats release pulls back the curtain on an off-set performance that’s as much physical as it is vocal. Sure, Cumberbatch may not have spent a decade sitting on a pile of treasure or gone full Stanislavski by hanging out with other wryms to interrogate their motivations in life but be in no doubt, Smaug is as much a meticulously prepped and fully-formed Cumberbatch performance as John Harrison or Sherlock.

This marriage of technology, as rendered by the tech wizards at Weta Digital, and acting craft is why directors like Peter Jackson and James Cameron are so keen to shift the ‘capture’ terminology from ‘motion’ to ‘performance’. The facial rigging originally pioneered for Avatar transports emotions and expressions from the face of Cumberbatch and directly onto the visage of the Lonely Mountain’s resident fire-burping sibilant. It is, as Queen liked to say, a kind of magic.

Of course, with a bunch of unwelcome dwarves and a Hobbit barging in on his dragon nap, the emotions that play on those features are largely from the furious end of the spectrum. That said, the exchange between Bilbo and Smaug, running through the scales from mock-playful to teasing to menacing to purely incandescent, is one of the highlights of The Hobbit saga to date.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Extended Edition is available on Digital HD now, with the Blu-ray and DVD follow suit from November 3. Meanwhile its sequel and the concluding part of the saga, The Battle Of Five Armies, hits UK big screens on December 12 and their US counterparts five days later.

Head here for a viewing guide to Cumberbatch's best turns to date.

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