Live: 'The Hobbit' panel at Comic-Con

The Hobbit
Read our coverage of the panel for The Hobbit, live and direct from Comic-Con in San Diego.

First it was happening, then it wasn't, then it was, then Peter Jackson wasn't involved, then he was and now, finally, The Hobbit is here.

A prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit has been bisected into two movies: An Unexpected Journey and There and Back Again, due for release in December 2012 and December 2013 respectively.

Reprising their LOTR roles for the new movies are Ian Holm (old Bilbo), Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Andy Serkis (Gollum), Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Christopher Lee (Saruman), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Elijah Wood (Frodo) and Orlando Bloom (Legolas).

New cast members include Martin Freeman as the young Bilbo, the main character of the movies; Benedict Cumberbatch as the dragon Smaug; Richard Armitage as dwarves leader Thorin; Barry Humphries as the Great Goblin; and Evangeline Lilly as the elf Tauriel.

Note that all times in this blog are Pacific, which is eight hours behind the UK and three hours behind the East Coast.


5.00pmAnd that's a wrap on a very exciting panel here at Comic-Con. Join me in an hour for the big climax, Iron Man 3!

4.57pmThe moderator asks for the Gollum voice. Serkis obliges: "For fuck's sake do I have to do the voice? You said you weren't going to whore yourself. Gollum! But you go in front of 6500 people.. what you gonna do, Precious?"

4.55pmWhat's it like coming back? Serkis: "I was only supposed to be coming back for two weeks to do Gollum again, but then I got an email from Fran saying 'Pete would like you to come direct the second unit, so would you mind coming down for a year and a half?' It was a remarkable and extraordinary experience. One for working with Martin, who I've wanted to play opposite for a long time, and then, the process of jumping into the director's chair. It was a huge film education for me, enabled by the greatest mentor possible. Peter's been an immense part of my life for the last 12 years of my life."

4.52pmWhat's the process to select the scenes that will be in the theatre and the extended version? Jackson: "People sometimes assume we shoot scenes for the extended cut. That's not true at all. We write the script, you shoot and shoot, and the stories develop. It's very organic, it's not until you get to the end where you can look at where there's repetition, where there's slow patches, and you have a film that's too long. So for the studio, we have to trim it down, but we're not very good at it. Then you look at what you've cut out, and we don't put everything back in, but we do love to put nice character moments in. There'll certainly be extended cuts of these films I'm sure."

4.51pmWhat did Wood think of the footage? "I was blown away. Extraordinary. The footage as well has these amazingly emotional moments. I'm so distant from this truly, I only went to New Zealand for a month last year to do a bit of work on this project."

4.49pmWas Freeman intimidated by the project? "In all honesty, and it might sound a bit disingenuous, but I didn't feel the pressure or intimidated. When I met Peter, Fran and Phil I felt immediately relaxed. They were normal human beings who just wanted me to be in the film. Obviously you can't take intimidation or pressure to work with you, because you won't do your job. When you go to work, you don't think about this, because you'd go mad. 'How will comic-con react to me moving this bottle?' Wellington is its own little world where these special movies are made."

4.47pmA young man from Brazil has spent all his money coming here to give a gift to McKellen. Will Jackson make a movie about The Silmarillion? "I think the chances of me living until I'm 110 are remote. The Silmarillion is owned by the Tolkien estate and I don't think the Tolkien estate like these movies."

4.44pmIn the LOTR movies, focus on prosthetics and motion capture. Has that posed any challenge to the cast and crew? What are the hobbit feet like? Freeman: "For the first few days it's a bit like a fledgling duck, but after that it's surprisingly easy. Whenever I had a hard day, I had a bunch of people to look at and knew they were having a tougher day." Armitage: "We went through quite an evolution of the look for Thorin and all the dwarves. You really have to work your face harder. By the end of the journey, I couldn't work without it, and I didn't recognise the person underneath it. But managing the heat and the stench of sweaty dwarf was a challenge in itself."

4.42pmWhat role does Gladriel play and are there any other female characters? Boyens: "She is the most powerful being in Middle Earth. We worked with Kate and taked about the role, she did a phenomenal job. She immediately brings a very powerful female energy into the movie. We did feel the weight of it being boys-own movie, so we did create a new character, Tauriel. We did it for that reason. We believe it's completely within the spirit of Tolkein, and Evangeline Lilly very much wanted that too."

4.41pmDid Jackson actually appear in the film? "I actually haven't shot my cameo yet but I'm actually due to shoot it tomorrow when I get back to New Zealand. Seriously. I'm going to be harder to spot this time."

4.41pmStraight in to audience Q&As.

4.40pmOut come Andy Serkis (Gollum), Richard Armitage (Thorin), Martin Freeman (Bilbo), a pink-cardiganed Ian McKellen (Gandalf), and surprise guest Elijah Wood (Frodo)!

4.39pmAlso Bilbo's first meeting with Gollum and finding the ring.

4.38pm13 minutes' worth of clips there, which isn't much good for you lot I appreciate. It started with an extended clip of Gandalf motivating his dwarves and convincing Bilbo to take the journey.

4.24pmHe says Howard Shore hasn't started recording his music yet but will start with the London Philharmonic in five or six weeks.

4.23pmJackson brings out writer Philippa Boyens, then teases us with more footage.

4.22pmOut comes Peter Jackson brandishing a video camera. "We're actually on production of a new video blog that's going to give people who didn't have the chance to come here to experience it." He asks the audience to chant "Hi from comic-con"

4.21pmWe've just watched an extended behind-the-scenes compilation of the final week of filming.

4.11pmSTOP! HOBBIT TIME!

4.10pmThat's a wrap on the Superman part of this panel....

4.08pmCould there be Superman-Batman movie or Justice League? Snyder: "We know that Superman is the jewel in the DC crown and what we're really trying to do is get his house in order - and then, who knows what's possible?"

4.05pmHow does Cavill keep up with the training and the diet? "I just had to get up earlier. Every morning was an extra hour and every evening was an extra hour."

4.04pmWill General Zod be more relatable? Snyder: "Everyone in the film would have to be relatable." The attempt at digging was futile.

4.02pmA woman has angered the crowd by asking for Henry Cavill's namecard. He's obliged. The woman behind me has labelled her a "stupid bitch".

4.00pmWill the John Williams theme return? Snyder: "When we started working on the movie, we decided... we knew the comic book character existed, the movies are there own thing. We had to act as if no film had been made, even though we loved those that had. We had to say 'this is Superman for the first time' in our heads. If you start with that logic you can't then go 'let's just steal the music'."

3.59pmNolan's Batman vs Snyder's Superman - who would win? Snyder: "I love Batman, he's awesome, but like, really?"

3.58pmHow is Cavill managing the pressure of being Superman? "It is pretty intense, I'm not gonna lie. I've just been looking at the trailer and... I get to wear that on my chest. I just really, really hope I've done everything I need to do to please you guys, because this is 100% for you guys. Thanks for the support." Standard.

3.57pmWe've just had the trailer again.

3.54pmThat random guy shouting wasn't me, by the way. Thought I'd just clarify.

3.53pmWho is the villain? Snyder: "Maybe we'll just show the teaser again."

3.51pmCavill's plans to add to SuperMan legend? "I just wanted to bring as much of the modern Superman into the world. You guys know everything about him, but it's for everyone out there as well who hasn't experienced what Superman can be. With this, hopefully I bring a modern version which everyone can associate with." Random guy from the audience shouts "you're hot!"

3.49pmThe Hobbit should be along within the next ten minutes, hopefully.

3.48pmWe've just watched a trailer for the new Superman movie Man of Steel (it looked cold and emotionless) and now, an incredibly nervous Zack Snyder is up on stage alongside the new red caper Henry Cavill.

3.47pmWill Ferrell has just killed it on stage in promotion of his new comedy movie The Campaign.

3.47pmAlready this afternoon we've seen footage from Guillermo del Toro's new actioner Pacific Rim and an incredible new trailer for the new Godzilla movie.

3.46pmYou join us midway through the Warner Bros. session here in a full-to-bursting Hall H.


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