Peter Jackson Talks ‘The Hobbit’: Fairy Tale Tone, Dwarves, & Del Toro

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hobbit trailer martin freeman Peter Jackson Talks The Hobbit: Fairy Tale Tone, Dwarves, & Del Toro

It won’t reach theaters until December 2012, but the first part of Peter Jackson’s two-movie adaptation of The Hobbit has been much-buzzed about recently, thanks to the release of a teaser trailer and production diary video that have provided an early look at the filmmaker’s cinematic return to the world of dwarves, elves, hobbits, wizards, and other mystical Middle-Earth creatures.

One unanswered question that has surrounded the Hobbit flicks for a while now has to do with how much the films will connect to Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings book trilogy – given that the original Hobbit novel is part-prequel to that grand-scale story, but also part self-contained, children-friendly fantasy adventure.

Jackson spoke recently with Total Film about not only the tonal differences between The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but also that between the two Hobbit films (subtitled An Unexpected Journey and There and Back Again, respectively).

Here is what Jackson and his significant other/writing partner Fran Walsh had to offer, on that particular topic:

Jackson: “‘The Hobbit’ is very much a children’s book and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is something else; it’s not really aimed at children at all. I realized the characters of the dwarves are the difference. Their energy and disdain of anything politically correct brings a new kind of spirit to it… The dwarves give it a kind of childish, comedic quality that gives us a very different tone from [the 'Rings' trilogy].”

Walsh: “We always saw ‘The Hobbit’ more in the golden light of a fairytale. It’s more playful. But by the time you get to the end, Tolkien is writing himself into that place where he can begin that epic journey of writing LOTR, which took, as he put it, his life’s blood. All those heavier, darker themes which are so prevalent in the later trilogy start to come [more] into play in ['There and Back Again'].”

Despite that change-up in narrative material and overall tone from Lord of the Rings, Jackson says that he is still aiming to maintain continuity (in terms of visual style and atmosphere) between The Hobbit and his previous live-action take on Middle-Earth.

Although onetime Hobbit helmer Guillermo del Toro’s “style and [creative] DNA” will still be present in the final product, Jackson indicates that his own artistic stamp on the films will be much more prominent and recognizable.

the hobbit trailer image 570x246 Peter Jackson Talks The Hobbit: Fairy Tale Tone, Dwarves, & Del Toro

Middle-Earth, as portrayed in 'The Hobbit'

Jackson’s last directorial effort, The Lovely Bones, was by and large considered a significant drop-off from the quality of his previous big-budget fantastical ventures (ie. the Rings trilogy and King Kong remake). By all accounts, the filmmaker seems to be back in top form with The Hobbit, if only because of his apparent renewed energy and passion for Tolkien’s source material.

Likewise, word that Jackson and Co. are designing the Hobbit films as truly unique pictures that stand out on their own, while still taking place in the same world established in the Rings movies, is all the more welcome news – especially for the fans who are concerned about both halves of The Hobbit suffering from “prequel-itis” (ie. when prequel stories tie-in so closely to plot points in their predecessor, they end up feeling contrived and awkward).


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will arrives in theaters (2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D) around the U.S. on December 14th, 2012.

The Hobbit: There and Back Again hits U.S. theaters a year later on December 13th, 2013.

Soure: Total Film (via io9)

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  1. Well these films shouldn’t be “awkward” because they are REAL prequels and not a back-pedaling mess like the “Star Wars” disappointments… er, I mean prequels.

    • That’s definitely true for The Hobbit, as a novel.

      I think the concern (for some) is that Jackson’s Hobbit movies will feature too much in the way of extra material that’s added on, in order to better link the films to the LOTR trilogy. I strongly doubt that’ll be the case (or, at least, I hope not) but still…

      • As long as the additions don’t come across as being shoehorned in as Extended editions of films often seem. The additions should really be comprised of some of the vast histories and information that Tolkien created almost as a study guide to Middle Earth.

        If it’s handled right, it could be a great way to make sure there is enough plot/sub-plot to last through two movies.

        • Go read the Quest of Erebor if you want to know what Jackson is doing with the Hobbit. Jackson is not really “adding” anything he dreamed up but just combining it with the Hobbit which does nothing but expand the story’s scope to help explain the backstory of LotR and mesh with it.

          • Thank you for the reference, this is interesting. Tolkien didn´t write the Hobbit as the starter of an epic story, but as an children´s book. But then, after writing TLOTR he went back and tried to adapt the former fairy tale to the tone and atmosphere of the now established Middle Earth universe. It helps that The Hobbit was “actually written” by Bilbo himself, and so such light tone of the writing is nothing more than a hobbit idiosyncrasy, while the actual events were much more grim and down to earth. Peter Jackson has it made with The Queat of Erebor. These movies will be great!

    • The Star Wars prequels were not about back-pedaling (although they were terribly disappointing). We always knew Lucas had mapped out the entire thing and decided to start in the middle because it was the simplest but yet most pivotal story of the series.

      • You seriously believe that Lucas had anything mapped out?? Dude he didn’t even write the stories, Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasden wrote them and Lucas BS’d his way thru the first one. If you had been alive in the 70′s and early 80′s and watched all the interviews he would give you could see he was making stuff up as he went along. He wouldn’t talk about the next movie until it came out and then he didn’t deviate from what was written for him. When asked about the films after RotJ and before SW he always gave vague answers and never anything in detail. For years after he was asked over and over about the Prequels and what he said then doesn’t even come close to what the prequels turned out to be.

    • Actually the prequels were part of the original story when ANH ESB and ROTJ were done but i think Lucas messed up the story from the outline he had written.

      • I don’t think Lucas had it all planned out before the original trilogy at all. I’ve read and seen in interviews too many times how alot of the original trilogies plot was made up on the fly and more often than not suggested by Irvin Kerschner. A prime example is Luke and Lea being brothers. This was only conceived very late in the game.

        You don’t have to have had everything planned out from the beginning to start in the middle of an arc. Everything starts in the middle of things that have gone before. The fact that these “histories” were so vague in the original trilogy proves it and the films are better for it. The worst thing Lucas ever did was try to explain everything that didn’t need explaining. (Midiclorians anyone?)

        The fact that the prequels were so awful points to how they were never planned. Lucas was just trying to link things he hadn’t planned for and failing miserably.

        • OOPS “Leia”

          • DOUBLE OOPS : Brother and sister not “Brothers”

            I’m really gonna have to slow down when I post. Just too many silly mistakes ^-^

            • Lucas stole some plot ideas from Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress to make the original Star Wars…

              • No he actually said he was influenced by Kuraswa but that was to make himself seem more of a directors director. He isnt deserving to be in the same room as Kurasawa’s shadow let alone the man himself.

        • Actually, Lucas didn’t even know that he was going to get a chance to make a sequel in the first place. The 1978 Star Wars novel Splinter in the Mind’s Eye was written to be filmed as a low budget sequel to Star Wars in case it wasn’t the big hit that it turned out to be.

        • You are kind of contradicting yourself. First you say he didn’t have it planned out THEN you say he didn’t have everything planned out, implying that he did, in part, have at least some things planned.

          The second is the correct one however. He always had the complete story arc planned out but never in great detail. As I said above, he chose the most simple and pivotal story to start with, with no clue if he was ever going to develop the other 5 episodes. Could you imagine what Episode would have looked like back in 1978? It would have been an abysmal failure and we would never have gotten to episode 4.

          Things went wrong though when he had accrued as much money as god, which gave him more freedom than he should have had to make episodes 1-3 the mess that they are. Too many silly and stupid details. IMHO they are a blight on the SW universe.

          • I agree with you when you say the prequels are a blight on the SW universe. I’ll even go one further and say their a blight on Sci-fi as a whole. The whole fun of the original star wars was the story that lucas told and the characters that he told it about. I think he lost sight of that at some point. What the prequels gave us was a lot of interesting visuals, but none of the heart that the originals had.

            Starting with the Ewoks in ROTJ, Lucas started to sell out his vision to greater marketability. That’s how we got a travesty like Jar-Jar binks. Star Wars went from Pop Art to sterile product.

            • Yeah I always hated the Ewoks. They looked like little people in furry suits which really destroyed the last movie for me.

              I believe he did that to make it more “kid friendly” because this was when his kids were beginning to watch his films. He then carried that forward and made the prequels for his kids first instead of for the fans. /sigh

              • Blame Speilberg for that, he shows Lucas how to mass market and make millions while altering a movie to fit the toys it sells. He learned that from ET.

          • I fail to see the contradiction you’re pointing out!??

            Having an order of mystical peacekeepers protecting the galaxy, having one that turns to the darkside and joins the galactic empire, droids carrying plans to a space station. – none of this has to have been deeply planned before hand.

            Lucas makes out he started in the middle of his vast story, but I simply don’t believe it. You don’t have to have planned out three screenplays to start a new one about a boy’s journey. I simply do not believe GL had even thought about Darth Vader being Luke’s dad when he was making “A New Hope”.

            I certainly don’t believe all the stretched plot points and McGuffins that he put into the prequels. There was absolutely no reason to have C3-PO and R2-D2 in the prequels at all. And the fact that “Darth Vader” made 3PO is simply laughable.

            • Your statement makes sense motoko. Unless lucas planned to have incest themes from the beginning…

              • HA HA HA HA HA

                Exactly! There is just too much that points to Lucas making the prequels by trying to connect it to more talented authors in the Star Wars universe. All the novels/comics/video games written in the Star Wars universe are all of a far higher quality than anything in the prequels. And novels written about them are seriously hindered by what Lucas did with EPS 1,2,3.

  2. itll be great so long as del toro has NOTHING to do with anything. he would ruin the movie. back when i heard he was directing the movie i was so pi$$ed i wasnt going to see the movie at all. not even rent it. but since Jackson is back it just might be good.

    • I agree with you about Del Toro. My thought when hearing that he was going to direct The Hobbit was that, although he has creative juices himself, why try to “fix” something (Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth) that isn’t broken? So glad Jackson ended up helming The Hobbit himself. After Lord of the Rings, I am convinced that he is the best director for the job! Middle Earth and Peter Jackson are now synonymous with each other.

      • I was worried that Del Toro (Brilliant as he is) would have altered the look of Middle Earth too much towards his style. It would have really jarred if it looked like a completely different universe. There’s no way someone as visual as Del Toro wouldn’t have changed everything to the way he would have done things.

        • You guys are nuts. Del Toro would have made a fantastic Hobbit film. Not that I am sad about Jackson doing the films, but Del Toro has the chops to have made The Hobbit a great film on his own.

          • Yeah, I’m actually bummed that Del Toronto is out. Easily one of my favorite directors.
            I’m not looking for another LOTR film. The Hobbit is so long before the LOTR story, I was hoping for something fresh and exciting.
            I actually think Jackson making LOTR as amazing as they were was somewhat of a fluke; the dude makes sh*t films! The Frighteners was his only film that was barely watchable.
            while Del Toro is and has always been an artist. The Devils Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth are mindblowingly magnificent!

          • yes,a trashy film,del toro can´t helm this movie. thats why jackson came back! i like del toros movies,but the special-eff. and c.g.i in maybe hellboy is terrible.

          • I’ve absolutely no doubt Del Toro would have made a great “Hobbit” movie. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying it wouldn’t have VISUALLY belonged in the same universe as Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit”.

            • I was thrilled when del Toro signed on and dissapointed when he left. I think with Jackson producing much of the original trilogy’s style would have remained while del Toro brought new ideas also. Like it’s been mentioned in this article The Hobbit is more of a fairy tale and childrens story which IMO suites del Toro to a T. I think Pan’s Labyrinth is proof that del Toro knows what he’s doing when it comes to that type of film. Of course that’s one of my favorite films so I’m a bit bias.
              Don’t get me wrong though. I love Jackson’s LOTR and I think he should have been directing this from the start. I’m just a big del Toro fan and if anyone else was going to direct The Hobbit he was the perfect choice.

          • I agree. Del Toro would have brought some great creature and set design to the Hobbit. It would have been very different from Jackson’s visio, but could have been just as enjoyable.

            • Sorry *vision.

  3. i just finished a LOTR extended version trilogy marathon this holiday weekend, and it’s getting me psyched up for The Hobbit. I am sure jackson & co. will be able to capture the same “magic” in this film as in the other middle earth tales, even if they do stand on their own. I think they did an awesome job of casting martin freeman as a younger bilbo. he and ian holm do kinda favor each other a bit, and i’m sure the makeup fx will only enhance it. it’s prob been 2 years since i watched all of LOTR, it’s still one of my all time faves

  4. The comment about the dwarves being “politically incorrect” certainty explains a lot about Gimli in the LOTR films.

    • To make him more appealing to the masses. That’s all it is IMO.

      • Yeah, WE know the true answer but I just want to hear Jackson’s justification for it while still staying “true” to the source material.

        • Yeah, I would have preferred them to not look so wild. I wouldn’t have minded if they all looked more or less the same with really large beards but recognizably different armour.

        • Same way Jackson justifies any other changes that he made to the LoTR movies… it’s just better on film.

          We’ll have to see if he’s right or not. I wasn’t too crazy about these dwarves either at first, but my female friends love them.

      • While I have yet to see a good height relationship, that’s not something I’m personally concerned about. Thorin looks N O T H I N G like the books describe him, let alone a Dwarf. Neither does Kili. CGI is not going to fix either of those things.

        I would suggest going back and re-reading the Hobbit and then taking a hard look at how Jackson changed them. You will then have a better understanding of why many of us are so critical.

        • you want themlook like the dwarfs in disneys snowwhite,and people like you,can´t enjoy any movie because you just want to found mistakes,to critisize it.

          • NO, I want them to look like ALL the freakin’ Dwarves from Jacksons last set of films, you might if heard of them, they are THE LORD OF THE RINGS. There are no less than 13 Dwarves (including Gimli) and all have the correct iconic look.

            and again no, Jackson did not make “mistakes”. What he did with the Dwarves was VERY deliberate. He could have easily made all the Dwarves fit the Dwarf descriptions while also making them look highly individual but he chose not to, which for many of us was a very disappointing decision.

  5. I think Jackson did a great job on LOTR and The Hobbit should have his stamp all over it. It’s not important to have any DelToro vision anywhere in the movie. And if Jackson’s niche is fantasy adventure, I’m all for it. I’d love to see The Sword Of Shannara and The Belgariad brought to the big screen. Now about those Xanth novels by Piers Anthony………….

    • Hear hear. Especially the Belgariad!

      The Xanth novels though should be left alone though. I’m a Xanth reader since I was a little boy and these novels were meant to be read, not be on the big screen. As all their puns can attest. THOUGH I wouldn’t mind seeing the first two novels on the big screen (A Spell for Chameleon and The Source of Magic) as they were more serious.

      • Sorry for the redundant “though” – I gotta cut that out!

        • Thanks for the reply, Phil. Is it hear hear, of here here? I’m not real clear on that. Anyways, I’d love to see Garion and company on screen, but that’s a 5 book series don’t know if they’d make a “5 movie epic masterpiece” so soon after LOTR. And like you and I and Mongoose have sort of agreed on, all fantasy is imitation Tolkien. On the other hand, isn’t all literature imitation something? Don’t all westerns end with two gunslingers in the street? Is this not the formula for fantasy adventure? 1) A quest 2) A dark lord 3) A diverse company of heroes, centered around a small weak hero 4) at least one member of company must display a Dirty Harry\Wolverine type bad attitude 5) fatherly\kind but stern\wizardly leader. Does that about cover it? Nevertheless it’d be great to see Garion, Hettar, Mandorallen, Barak,etc. on screen.

          • “Here here” is the incorrect spelling according to wikipedia. But of course, wiki isn’t always right on everything. :)

            Yeah, I agree that it’s very difficult to come up with an original idea – I mean, just look at comic book superheroes! I think subtle changes in the plot, different storytelling goals, unique characters, a different writing style, can make all the difference, though. And I loved the characters in the Belgariad.

            Sorry for the late reply.

    • OMH, PLEASE no SoS. All it is is a LotR clone. Yes I know the differences but the similarities are more than just superficial. The movie going audience however would be even less kind and call it nothing but a LotR ripoff. I highly doubt Jackson would want to attach himself to something with such close ties to a previous personal masterpiece.

      Jackson’s next fantasy project should either be, “Elric of Melniboné” or “The Chronicles of Amber”. End of story.

      • so what? let the movies be copys of l.o.t.r. ,what´s wrong about that,it was his masterpiece to directing the ring-trilogy.

        • If you don’t understand what’s wrong with doing that then I don’t know if I can even explain it to you.

      • You could also call Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series a rip-off of LoTR but I’d still see it on the silver screen if that ever came to pass (though it’d be more likely to become a HBO series).

        Just about everything in recent fantasy literature was inspired by LoTR anyway.

        • @Phil…have you ever read SoS? I can tell by your statement that you haven’t because it bears more than a passing resemblance to LotR. Nearly the entire LotR cast was derived from Tolkien’s work as was the pivotal quest to destroy the evil warlock (among other ripped off moments from LotR) and all he did was substitute the ring of power with a sword.

          • Agreed Mongoose, agreed. However, I personally would like to see SOS brought to screen, if only for my own amusement. I just enjoyed the story. You are exactly right about it being a pale imitation of LOTR. Men, elves, dwarves, and “valemen” (substitute hobbits), a quest, and an ultimatly powerful talisman. I have enjoyed Louis L’amour westerns, Sherlock Holmes stories, a little Agatha Christie, alot of Stephen King, lots of fantasy adventure\sword&sorcery (tolkien\erb\reh),and thrillers. At forty six years old I find that most genres are pretty full and it’s difficult to find really good entertaining reading. Thanks tho, at your suggestion I am going to try out the Elric and Amber stories mentioned above. And you know Phil is right. Almost all fantasy adventure is somewhat an imitation of Tolkien.

          • From what I remember of reading SoS yes it does have a huge resemblance. I didn’t finish it.

  6. ……………NOPE.

  7. I gotta wonder what Peter Jackson will do after he’s done with The Hobbit and if he’ll ever do anything new that outshines the LoTR Trilogy. But I am happy to see him doing the Hobbit movies and effectively completing that entire fantasy saga.

    • There’s always the “bridge” movie and “The Silmarillion”!

      • You know, I never got around to reading the Silmarillion. I guess I will have to one day…

    • I’d love to see him take on the Thomas Covenant novels. Those could be just as epic as the LOTR are.

      • Another excellent choice that I missed above! ><

  8. Ahh…The Silmarillion….
    Now talk about a “EPIC endevor! But I’m seeing articles whereas the Son won’t extend filming rights..???

  9. It’d be interesting to see Jackson bring another fantasy series to film. I’d like to add another vote for The Belgariad though. Never read Elric or Amber, though my interest is peaked now for those.

  10. My personal take on the Del Toro/Jackson debate is that either would be great, but if Jackson taking over means that Del Toro is now free to work on something new and original, then I call that a win for everyone. Jackson created the definitive film version of middle earth and I think we, as fans, can trust him with another journey into the land of the Hobbits. Jackson’s directing it and I’m okay with that…

    Del Toro, however, has always been most enjoyable to me when he’s doing something uniquely his own vision, like Pan’s Labyrinth. He has a unique filmaking voice that would make an excelent hobbit movie, but an even better original work. I would have liked to see his vision for middle earth, but I feel like whatever movie he makes next will ber just as enjoyable.

    In the end, I’m excited to see the Hobbit films and whatever Del Toro does next. (I guess it looks like that’ll be pacific rim?)

  11. I like Del Toro but to be completely 100% honest i’m soo much more happier that Jackson took the reigns again. About the comment about people feeling like this is gonna be just another old pre-quel i don’ think that is the case for this particular project. Whereas most projects do have a big habit of doing pre-quels, they make pre-quels on the basis and strength of the films that do strong in the box office and wanna shed more light bczu of that by making a new way of telling the story and being in the same universe by making a pre-quel. W/ something such as The Hobbit it’s something that has already been made in the past in literary form so the structure has already been there. It’s not like Peter Jackson made Lord of The Rings from JRR Tolkiens books and decided hey i’ve got a blockbuster on my hand but let go back in the past; bcuz it was already there from the brilliant mind of Tolkien who also wrote Lord of The Rings. Jackson is just bringing all books to light in the movie universe. Personally I am looking sooo forward to seeing this and got even more excited when it was said all those months back that it was in the hands of Jackson. I can speak for The Lovely Bones bcuz i’m yet to see it but Jackson is one of the good directors and great at making movies. I wasn;t let down w/ Lord of the Rings and i’m pretty sure I won’t be let down w/ The Hobbit. And i’m looking forward to this bcuz this was one of my favorite stories as a child in the 80′s…

    • And there would probably be aliens too…Oh, and somehow Shia LaBeouf swinging from vines hanging from a tree.