Serkis & McKellen On Board For Hobbit

So says Guillermo Del Toro

Now that the worst kept secret in Hollywood is official, i.e. that Guillermo Del Toro is directing The Hobbit and its follow-up, the director is now free to speak about just what he has planned for the Lord of the Rings prequel. Del Toro took the time to speak to fan site TheOneRing.Net over the weekend and revealed a couple of details.

Most encouraging was that he's got Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis all but signed to return as Gandalf and Gollum respectively. Del Toro told us previously that he wanted all the relevant cast members back, but he now says, "I had the most charming meeting with Sir Ian, and all bureaucracy pending, he’s on board, as is Andy Serkis".

Another thing he also discussed briefly was the second film, which is going to be an almost entirely invented chronicle of the time between The Hobbit and Fellowship of the Ring. The script isn't written yet, obviously, so Del Toro couldn't give details, but he did say:

"I traveled to New Zealand just a little while ago, and one of the main reasons for going was to sit down and talk about the second film. ‘The Hobbit’, the book, is really one self-contained film, so for the second movie we sat down and worked it out. When we did this we got really excited because this second film is not a ‘tag on’, it’s not ‘filler’, it’s an integral part of telling the story of those 50 years of history lost in the narrative. There will be certain things that we will see from the first movie but from a different point of view, but it will feel like a volume, in the 5 volumes of the entire story. It will not feel like a bridge, I’ve been hearing it called ‘a bridge film’, it’s not, it’s an integral chapter of the story, and I think we’re all on the same page."

There was also one other small point that gladdened our hearts, which had absolutely nothing to do with plot. It was this sentence: "The only thing I will be pushing for more in these films than the other three are full animatronics and animatronic creatures enhanced with CGI, as opposed to CGI creatures themselves. "

The effects in Lord of the Rings were, for the most part, excellent, but no matter how good CGI is, it will never have the charm of animatronics. You can say that animatronics are, on the whole, less convincing than CGI, but really sophisticated animatronics can be just as believable (look at Del Toro's other films) and even less than perfect animatronics have more warmth than slightly dodgy pixel work. A great big robotic Smaug? Bring it on.

For the rest of the interview, direct your mouse to this very spot.