Philippa Boyens On The Hobbit: There And Back Again

‘A rift begins to open up between the dwarves’

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Philippa Boyens may not have quite the name recognition of a Peter Jackson, but her role in the Rings trilogy and the subsequent Tolkien three-parter has been pivotal. The co-writer and producer, currently talking up The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’s upcoming Blu-ray/ DVD release, boasts the most inside of tracks on the behemoth franchise as it rumbles towards its conclusion and shared it with Empire when we caught up with her.

“I can legitimately say right now that the third film doesn’t exist,” she stressed before the questions started rolling in. “Pete’s cutting it. As an entity, it’s coming together. Actually that’s not true - we have a rough assembly, so to speak, of the shape of the film and the performances. I am excited, because one of the storylines I care a lot about is the Thorin one."

Of course, The Desolation Of Smaug's cliffhanger ending left the leader of the Company of Dwarves in a state of increasing agitation, with the pressures of his quest and that massive great dragon hellbent on flaming destruction weighing heavily. And Boyens isn’t promising plain-sailing for the pint-sized royal anytime soon. “Richard Armitage is extraordinary, as Thorin descends into madness,” she said of The Hobbit: There And Back Again’s dwarfish denouement.

Asked about the reasons for that Lake-town cliffhanger, Boyens explained that as a “natural break” in the story it was “the most obvious place to end the second film”. She added: “It felt so natural that I got a shock when the audience got a shock! If you can imagine what transpires next and what’s coming, it’s quite a huge chunk of storytelling. Not only that, but you enter into the tone of the third film, which is very definitely - as is the book, by the way - moving towards the world of Middle-earth as it becomes in Lord Of The Rings. Some dark stuff goes on.”

And what of the dwarves' decision to make that most elementary of movie errors: splitting up? “We made that decision [so we would] experience the attack on Lake-town through the eyes of people we've come a long way with,” she said. “We wanted some of the dwarves to understand what happened in that firestorm, that holocaust that rains down upon Lake-town. Bofur (James Nesbitt) comes more into his own in the third film. A rift begins to open up. And I can’t say much more without going into spoilers for film three, but it’s primarily because we needed him to be there when the dragon attacks."

For lots more from Boyens, pick up the next issue of Empire on March 27. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug is out on DVD, Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray on April 7. The third and final part of The Hobbit trilogy arrives with us on December 17. Head here for our soothsayer-style prediction of its likely fortunes.