FILMCLUB reporter Matt meets Gandalf actor Sir Ian McKellen and attends The Hobbit premiere!

14th December, 2012

Many film fans will tell you to pop Skyfall and The Dark Knight Rises to one side, for the main cinematic event of 2012 has just stepped forward (with rather large and hairy feet!). Rejoice, for The Hobbit is finally at the cinema!

Our reporter Sophie got to see a special preview, and you can read her review now.

The Hobbit is the prequel story to The Lord of the Rings - the fantastical trilogy which was hugely successful with critics and cinema-goers alike. Those films were most memorable for delivering wondrous landscapes, iconic characters and enormous action set-pieces, and The Hobbit looks set to deliver it all again!

No one is happier (or more able given his ear clip-ons!) to hear it than FILMCLUB reporter Matt - an enormous fan of The Hobbit tale penned by J. R. R. Tolkein. We sent him into a little slice of Middle Earth in London to soak up the excitement of the premiere and meet an actor as spellbinding as they come.

The Hobbit premiere

The cast and crew of The Hobbit were all ears for Matt's questions. He asked Bilbo Baggins actor Martin Freeman how he mastered a Hobbit bobble down the shire and met several of the actors playing the all-important dwarf warriors in the movie. Watch all the action from the rather green carpet below:

Read what Matt had to say about his adventure to Middle Earth:

"Last night I journeyed to Middle Earth with FILMCLUB to interview actors and talent from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  Leicester Square looked amazing complete with Hobbit hole, which I got to go in. All the reporters, including me, were in ‘black tie’, but I got something extra to wear – Hobbit ears!  All the actors I interviewed commented on them.  I managed to interview nearly all the dwarves from the film and did a cluster interview with Sir Ian McKellen, managing to get in two questions.  There were lots of famous faces at the premiere, including the Duke of Cambridge!"

As well as doing red carpet interviews and press junkets I have also done live interviews with directors and presented live webcasts.  FILMCLUB has given me some great opportunities and the Talent Development scheme has given me a lot of confidence. I will be really sad when my year comes to an end."

FILMCLUB meets Sir Ian McKellen, James Nesbitt and Aidan Turner

Sir Ian McKellen, who plays the iconic character of Gandalf in The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, told Matt about his latest cinematic adventure. We hear how the British actor had to live in New Zealand for 18 months to film The Hobbit trilogy. Listen out too for Sir Ian sending his love to FILMCLUB members!

As well as Sir Ian, Matt chatted to Irish actors James Nesbitt and Aidan Turner, who play two of the dwarves in the film. They were able to tell Matt all about their unique roles, and the kind of training they had to do to get into character - who knew there was such a thing as a dwarf boot camp?

Read what Matt had to say about meeting these screen legends:

“I was a little bit nervous to be interviewing Sir Ian McKellen but he put me at ease straight away by having a friendly chat.  He was friendly and relaxed and answered my questions in a lot of detail.  I really enjoyed the interview. James Nesbitt and Aidan Turner, who play two of the dwarves, were also very friendly.  As soon as I finished asking a question, they immediately started to answer, which I found reassuring.  The time went by so fast and they were great fun to interview.”

About Sir Ian McKellen

Acclaimed for the depth and gravitas of his performances and for holding one of the most commanding voices on screen, Sir Ian McKellan is heralded as one of the greatest living British actors. Originally excelling in Shakespearian theatre plays in Britain, he went on to enjoy global success on the big screen.

You may know him best from a rather tumultuous ring-based adventure, but he can be found in several other films on our catalogue - including 1998 drama Gods and Monsters, for which he received an Oscar nomination.

So, the all important question, what did Matt think? Read his review...

"The Hobbit follows the fortunes of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, as he embarks on "An Unexpected Journey," to help the Dwarves to reclaim their treasure and get their home back from the terrifying dragon, Smaug.

The Hobbit is filmed in 3D HFR (High Frame Rate), meaning that with this breakthrough technology, the definition will be the best you have EVER SEEN! However, as it is filmed at 48fps (Frames Per Second), it looks like the film is in fast motion, but you do get used to it after the first 5 minutes.

The film also has plenty of humour, brought to you mainly by the Dwarves. If you 'bump' into a Dwarf, make sure you watch out for their greeting. They also have an imaginative way of doing the washing up. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. YOUR MUM WOULD NOT LIKE IT. The film is 2 3/4 hours of action, fighting and adventure. If you like this genre, you will certainly not be disappointed. I loved it, and the time just flew by. I can't wait to see it again."

Matt's star turn didn't go unnoticed by the press, with BBC Radio Sussex inviting him in for an interview

"It was surreal waking up on Friday 4th January, as I could hear my own voice on BBC Radio Sussex when they were playing clips from my interview with Sir Ian McKellen, because later on that morning, I was going to be interviewed live on radio by Danny Pike!

We had the radio on all morning, and I got mentioned quite a few times. I even got a mention (without a clip of the interview) on South East Today local news on the telly! That was very exciting! After breakfast it was a quick get ready and go, as it would probably take us twice as long to get to the studio as normal because of the morning rush hour. On the way, we listened to BBC Radio Sussex, and I got mentioned on the radio again!


When we arrived at the car park, it was a bit of a walk to the studio. When we did arrive, I had some water to clear my throat, and that's when I started to get a bit worried that I would have a coughing fit on air or something! But I was even more excited, as you could see the people actually reading the news on air. It was one of those 'So this is where it all comes from' moments.

A few minutes later, I was called through to the producer's room. There were about 6 different computers here, and a couple of people were wearing headsets. It looked like a small call centre! I met Eloise, the producer of Danny's show. She showed me which room to go in, and that's where I met Danny. Eloise then told me to put on a headset that was on the desk. The interview was about to begin!

As I sat down, Danny gave me a thumbs up before the interview started. He was just finishing off the sports news, whilst I was trying really hard not to breathe into the microphone. When the interview began, it was either going to go really well, or horribly wrong! It had to be a one-take-wonder, otherwise I would be embarrassed in front of the thousands of people listening!
During the interview, Danny asked me what it was like, and what I expected from Sir Ian. I really didn't know what to expect from Sir Ian. Or with any film star that I interviewed! He also asked me what my school friends' reaction was, and my friends thought that I was some crazy person when I said that I got to have time off to go and interview film stars!

Luckily, the interview went really well! After the interview, Danny showed me around his desk, showing me what each of his 6 screens did, and what everything else did too! I even got my picture taken with him! Then, the shopkeeper (as the studio is also a BBC Shop) gave us a little tour of the studio! He showed us a little TV studio which was in the basement. Apparently, the camera that was in there could be controlled from anywhere in the country! I even got to have my picture taken in the TV Studio!

Eventually, it was time to leave. What an amazing morning it was!"

Talent development reviewer Sophie also got the chance to see a special advance screening of the film. Read her thoughts below:

"Tolkien's literary masterpiece finally makes it to the big screen. To say this film has been much anticipated is a huge understatement. Ever since news filtered out some five years ago that 'The Hobbit' was in pre-production and that Jackson was on board there has been unparalleled expectation and excitement. Although it has been barely ten years since the 'Fellowship of the Ring' graced our screens, innovation in filmmaking has seen the reintroduction of 3D allowing directors to bring a greater level of realism to film fans. The huge success of Avatar has somewhat polarised film directors with some believing 3D to being a distraction from good story telling whilst others have fully embraced this phenomenon believing that it enriches the viewer experience. Jackson has not only embraced 3D technology, for his latest outing he has effectively given us 3D on steroids employing a filming technique utilising 48fps which provides a 3D image so immersive that it is difficult not to believe that the characters are actually standing there in front of you in person. It is as close to being at a West End Theatre show as you can whilst being in a cinema.

The Hobbit is to be a trilogy of films which is becoming the de-facto for this type of blockbuster. In the first film we follow the journey of Bilbo Baggins who is unexpectedly swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost dwarf kingdom of Erebor, led by the fearsome warrior Thorin Oakensheilds. The company of thirteen dwarves aided by Gandalf the grey, a powerful wizard; face unimaginable terrors that will not only threaten their lives, and their friendship but also the future of the Middle Earth itself. Throughout their immense battles and confrontations, Bilbo encounters the pitiful creature'. Gollum; and is in grasp of a ring more powerful than he could ever anticipate.

The film portrays beauty and depth, on a whole new scale. The scenes flow seamlessly together and no detail is missed, you see middle earth from a different perspective which creates a whole new dimension to the feature. Like LOTR the Hobbit was filmed in New Zealand taking advantage of the awe-inspiring scenery which really adds to the scale of the film and makes you yearn to visit these locations and to feel part of the story.

 The realism is uplifted by the genuine portrayals, essayed flawlessly by McKellen and Freeman. Freeman exudes the spirit of Bilbo in every breath and pulse of the film, and is an inspired choice for the role. He creates a new humorous element which brings a new dimension when compared to LOTR.

The Hobbit introduces many new characters and sees the return of some old ones, for me Bilbo was undoubtedly my favourite character in the film and is very much central to the story.

I had high expectations for this film, based on my love for all things associated with Tolkien and I have to say I wasn't disappointed. There were moments in the film where certain scenarios seemed outrageous however this didn't detract from my overall enjoyment from the film which is a triumph.

I eagerly anticipate the next instalment, and will be first in the queue to buy the Blu-ray of 'The unexpected journey'."

More from FILMCLUB

- FILMCLUB interviews Casting Director of The Hobbit, Amy Hubbard
- How the Hobbit came to the big screen

- Check out the best films set in New Zealand

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