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‘Hobbit’ Actors Tout Upcoming Blu-ray

6 Mar, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

Andy Serkis, who plays Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’

LONDON — Andy Serkis, Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, doesn’t necessarily want people to go straight to the bonus features before watching the film when The Hobbit is released on disc.

But you better not skip them.

Serkis said the two hours of production diaries are “beautifully cut together and go some way toward explaining the process of making a film of this scale.”

“The behind the scenes crew is very present on movies like this, so they become part of the family because they’re filming you all the time,” Serkis said during an interview in London March 6. “There isn’t a moment when you’re not being filmed. You kind of become oblivious to it. That’s the way [director] Peter [Jackson] likes to share the creation of these movies. He’s the type of filmmaker who likes to allow people to see the process, share the fun and the hardships that go into making these movies.”

Warner Home Video drops the hit film in a 3D Blu-ray Disc combo pack and two-disc DVD — both with UltraViolet — March 19, with plans already for an extended edition by the end of the year. Warner also has a special treat for disc owners: On Sunday, March 24 at noon Pacific time, Jackson will host a live, online sneak peak of the second film in the “Hobbit” trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Before that, fans will be digging into everything the discs of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has to offer. Include “Hobbit” actor James Nesbitt (Bofur) among them.

“I have no idea what to expect. I hope it’s clean,” he said. “There are always cameras there, and it’s very important to Peter to have those behind-the-scenes [features]. It shows the fans the world and how it’s all put together. The life of the film is found on DVD.”

One of the bonus videos shows Serkis working with Bilbo Baggins actor Martin Freeman, and unlike in “The Lord of the Rings” series, Serkis was able to do his motion capture work at the same time he did his performance with the other actors. With the previous trilogy he had to shoot things twice.

“The great thing about the way performance technology has evolved is you only have to shoot it once,” Serkis said.

That was just one impressive part of the technology used for the film, according to actor Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), who pointed to the film being shot at an unprecedented 48 frames per second, and to the wonderful 3D.

“There was never a moment in this film which was designed around making the film have impact, and I don’t think Peter was necessarily interested in [doing that],” Armitage said. “He was interested in the immersive quality of 3D and the 48 frames [per second]. It was more about texture than shock.”

Armitage said he was most impressed working with Ian McKellen (Gandalf) on the film, while Nesbitt pointed to Freeman’s performance in the lead role.

“The weight that was rested on Martin’s shoulders to play [Bilbo Baggins] must have been huge, and he did it with great grace and great generosity and great humor,” Nesbitt said.

He added that “The Hobbit” stands out from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy mostly due to its source material.

“It was written well before ‘Lord of the Rings,’ written when [author J.R.R.] Tolkien still had a boyish optimism,” Nesbitt said. “I think it appeals more to children and has a richness in characters and story. I think there’s an innocence about ‘The Hobbit,’ which becomes darker as the trilogy develops, but with a notion that right will conquer.”

And Serkis said he was impressed with Warner’s release tactic for home entertainment: The studio will make the film available as a digital download March 12, a week before it’s released on disc.

“I think it’s the way things are going, absolutely part of the future,” Serkis said. “It’s perfectly right and natural and normal.”

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