Thursday, April 3, 2014

Richard Armitage on "kung fu ninja" Martin Freeman and "extraordinary" Benedict Cumberbatch

Susanna Lazarus
11:00 AM, 03 April 2014

Richard Armitage on "kung fu ninja" Martin Freeman and "extraordinary" Benedict Cumberbatch

You're a tall man but you play a dwarf - is it strange seeing yourself looking so short on-screen?

We were actually bigger versions of ourselves than when we were actually shooting it so I never felt small but when you watch it back and you see the reduction in size, you think, "surely I’m not that small?" It does slightly kick you in the guts a little bit because I see the character as having high status. He thinks a lot of himself and dwarves have big egos so when you see yourself a little bit diminished around other characters... He’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

Does the hair help you summon up Thorin's kingly presence?

The hair helps, yes. It was interesting because when we were putting him together and giving him a look, there was a temptation to over-decorate him with jewellery and finery to give him that kingly quality but actually by taking it away and making him look like a warrior, it seemed to give him more status which makes him interesting.

Would you make a good warrior?

I‘d probably need feeding a bit better than I am now but yes, maybe. I think my fighting skills have certainly been improved by working with Peter Jackson. I started out with a really great stunt double but by the end of the third film Peter was not really putting [him] in – he was letting me do all the fight sequences and I took it as a compliment but there’s a part of me that hopes it’s good enough. It certainly pushed me - I cried and I bled and I sweated so hopefully it’ll all be there in the third film.

How do you rate Martin Freeman as a leading man?

He’s just brilliant. He’s so inventive and he keeps the atmosphere on set really buoyant because he’s got a natural sense of comedy, as Martin but also as Bilbo Baggins. He really experiments with the role and he makes me work in a different way. He’s always having a bit of a laugh but when it comes to doing the serious stuff he can always pull it out the bag. He’s incredibly moving in the third film and that’s always surprising because you think you know Martin to be a great comedian but he’s also a great dramatic actor as well. I really enjoyed working with him and I think a lot of the evolution of Thorin is down to the way that he portrayed Bilbo. There wouldn’t be a Thorin without a Bilbo.

Any stand out moments of hilarity...?

He was just very good at being a little ninja Bilbo. Behind the scenes he’d have a little crack at everybody who was a bit bigger than him but he’d try his kung fu ninja moves on everybody which always made me laugh.

His Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch is also in the film...

I actually got to work with him face-to-face which I didn’t think I would because he was doing a voice in a room and he said it himself that he was a little bit disconnected from the shoot. But I went in one day to do some of the dialogue Thorin has with Smaug at the end so I saw him working and we delivered lines to each other which was a real treat. He’s an extraordinary actor and has a great following and thank goodness because it all adds to the popularity of the film.


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