This year's second installment in the sprawling three-part movie adaptation of J. R.R. Tolkien's beloved The Hobbit novel, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will introduce many a new face to Peter Jackson's cinematic version of Middle-earth (as teased in the full-length theatrical trailer), in addition to one familiar (and well-chiseled) mug: the Elfish bowman Legolas, with Lords of the Rings trilogy alum Orlando Bloom reprising in the role.
A handful of reporters and news sites were invited to the Hobbit set back in 2012 (when filming was still ongoing), but have just now been allowed to publish the interviews from their visit that correspond with The Desolation of Smaug. As such, we can now offer some insight, with regard to how Bloom's performance as the stoic elf warrior with flowing blonde locks will differ (or, rather, not differ) from his turn in the Rings movies - in addition to information about why the character has been included in The Hobbit films - straight from the lion's (read: Bloom's) mouth.
Legolas wasn't included in Tolkien's Hobbit source material; though, the author's Rings trilogy appendices and complimentary literature about the history of Middle-earth - parts of which have been integrated into the Hobbit movie storyline by Jackson and co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens - reveal that Legolas was around well before Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his dwarf companions set out to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). Moreover, the first Hobbit installment laid the groundwork for Legolas' return in the followup, with a brief appearance by his father, King Thranduil (Lee Pace) in the prologue.
When asked if Legolas is significantly different in The Desolation of Smaug versus during the Rings trilogy (in terms of his personality and character), Bloom answered "No," before he went into more depth about how the film portrays his fellow Woodlad Realm Elves - in addition to, the relationship between Legolas and his father.
To quote the actor (via Collider):
"Essentially the Woodland Realm Elves, which is where Legolas is from, and my father being Thranduil, the king of those Elves, are a particular type of Elf as described by Tolkien to be… I’m not going to quote him correctly, but they are different from the Lothlorien and the Rivendell elves. They’re more militant if you like.
"... This is an introduction into the Woodland Realm Elves. Obviously we meet my father, Thranduil, who is a very powerful and strong character who is very particular in his vision of who the Elves are, who the Woodland Elves are, specifically. They are kind of, like I said, a militant group, the Woodland Realm Elves. So I think that the opportunity that Pete and Philippa and Fran and the writers and Pete saw was to create– I think there was a desire for Legolas to come back. They felt that the fans would appreciate seeing Legolas in the Woodland Realm, and there was an opportunity to create a father-son, a prince versus king dynamic that would be interesting and serve the story."
Bloom also spoke about the concern that Legolas' inclusion in The Hobbit trilogy would feel a bit too much like fan service and/or an unnecessary attempt to strengthen the ties between those films and the Rings movies. When asked if he was hesitant about reprising as Legolas in The Desolation of Smaug (in addition to the third installment, There and Back Again) for that reason, Bloom replied:
"Not after I had spoken to Peter. Their ideas, which I have explained, were made to clear to me about how it could be made seamless and effective. Not after I’d had that conversation. It was definitely something that anyone would think. There’s a big love for these books and these films and these stories. I think in the hands of Peter, the fans, I would hope, would feel rest assured that he will deliver a movie that will both entertain and enjoy and will be in keeping with Tolkien’s vision of the stories. They never stray at all from Tolkien’s vision of what the world is, and for me it was exciting to think of returning to Middle Earth and to be a part of something. This is Pete in his element, doing what he does best. So it was just very exciting."
The Legolas-Thranduil relationship in The Desolation of Smaug could serve as an interesting foil to the overarching character arc for Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage); who, judging by the previews for the second Hobbit film, becomes increasingly obsessed with recovering Erebor from Smaug and making amends for his own kingly father's mistakes so many years earlier. That is, to the point where Thorin is willing to sacrifice the lives of those around him, including his newfound brother-in-arms, Bilbo (after the events in An Unexpected Journey).
Indeed, judging by Bloom's comments about Legolas' attitude towards dwarfs in The Hobbit films (i.e. decades before he struck up a bromance with Gimli), the behavior of Thorin and his company only feeds into the Woodland Elf's prejudices against them - but does that give rise to some mean-spirited dwarf tossing?
Jokes aside, here are Bloom's more serious thoughts on that subject:
"There’s some fun other dwarf moments coming up. I don’t want to give too much away, but there will be some fun interaction. It is different though, because as it was pointed out earlier, the relationship– The friendship that grew out of the relationship between Legolas and Gimli grew over a three movie period. I’m more seeing the dwarves as I would have seen them prior to going in to the Council of Elrond, which is full of disdain for what I, fundamentally as an Elf, believe their purpose is in life. There’s not the same sort of thing, but there’s definitely some jibes and moments that are good."
For much more from Bloom about returning as Legolas - including, how the process of shooting The Hobbit differed from and/or resembled the filming process on Lord of the Rings - check out the full interview with the actor over at Collider.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will open in theaters on December 14th, 2013, before the trilogy concludes with The Hobbit: There and Back Again arriving in theaters on December 17th, 2014.