JIM SLOTEK, QMI AGENCY
Dec 12, 2013
Last Updated: 3:48 PM ET
As opposed to the ill-tempered dwarf king he plays onscreen in The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Richard Armitage is a good-natured sort.
You’d kind of have to be to suffer, on a near-daily basis, the observation, “You’re pretty tall for a dwarf.”
“Certainly, it’s made for quite a few headlines,” the 6’3” British stage veteran Armitage says.
But a king is a king. And in The Desolation of Smaug, his character Thorin Oakenshield finally comes face-to-face with the dragon that laid waste to his kingdom and stole the Arkenstone that embodied his right to rule.
The occasion inspired him to write some fan fiction about his character – expanding on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien for his own purposes.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like this for a character,” says Armitage, who’d sat down and penned hundreds of pages of invented dwarf-lore, based on readings of Tolkien’s The Silmarillion and indexes therein.
Though he’s been in productions of King Lear and Macbeth, “I’ve never played a king before. But something I believe about royalty is that they’re very educated about their own history, and they bring that into the present.”
So it is that, in Armitage’s own private tome, the dwarves Fili and Kili are Thorin’s nephews, whose safety he’d promised to his sister Dis after the death in battle of their father. Not going to say how, but the relationship Armitage invented plays a part in how things go for the dwarf war party as they encounter unfriendly elves, man-eating spiders and eventually Smaug himself (voiced and motion-captured by Benedict Cumberbatch).
Asked if he’d ever think of offering his fan-fiction up for sale, Armitage scoffs. “It's not sellable. It’s kind of free-flow writing, kind of gibberish. I went around collecting bits and pieces of what I could and gave them structure, like a diary. It’s hundreds of pages, with pictures and photographs.
“I just didn’t want to feel there was a blank reason for me to do the things I did.”
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