Over ten years ago, catching a whiff something really big was going down in New Zealand, Empire decided to feature the next film from promising Kiwi director Peter Jackson on its cover. After all, he just happened to be making The Lord Of The Rings. Listen closely to his commentary on Return Of The King and Jackson actually recalls the day that issue of Empire arrived on set — he couldn’t quite get his head around the fact they were still shooting! To paraphrase someone in a black and white movie, it was the start of a beautiful friendship.
So in honour of Jackson’s long-awaited return to Middle-earth for two dragon-and-dwarf-laden prequels — as a “good luck charm” according the director — Empire takes its symbolic and rightful place as the first magazine in the world to put The Hobbit on its cover. A resplendent ‘younger’ Gandalf the Grey (look closely for subtle differences in costume from his 60-year older Rings self) taking centre stage alongside the first look at Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins (keep your eyes peeled for a hint or two of dwarf in the issue).
Personally invited onto the set barely a month into production, Empire delightedly watched a film — two films — already in full swing. Thirteen cantankerous dwarves, one barely tolerant wizard, and a befuddled hobbit are seen arriving at the gates of Rivendell and sneered at by local elves. Jackson assures us he is once again reaching for the mighty spectacle of Lord Of The Rings, but also bringing a certain ‘Hobbity-ness’ all its own. “The tone is actually the part of it I’m enjoying the most,” he laughs, casting a fond eye upon his rabble of exotic dwarves, clattering about set like they own the place. “They have a healthy disregard for the icons of Middle-earth.”
For the full story see the August issue of Empire out on June 30. If you can't get to a shop, fear not, you can order your Hobbit issue online now.
Click over to our magazine channel to see a preview of what's inside the new issue.