Dwarves, Barrels, Food Fights, and Song

Adam Brown (Ori), Jed Brophy (Nori), Stephen Hunter (Bombur), and William Kircher (Bifur) gathered from the far-flung reaches of the world (England, Australia, and New Zealand) for the panel “Dwarves on the Loose!” Friday at 5:30PM (Main Events channel) to reminisce about their time as Dwarves in The Hobbit films. Moderator Brian Richardson posed questions submitted by fans, beginning with fun scenes to shoot, which brought up a recurring subject—the delightful, refreshing, terrifying river escape in the barrels.

First, they had to squeeze into those barrels in full costume in the heat, a sweaty, uncomfortable business. Then they had real fish poured all over them, replete with fish juice that got in their clothes, their hair, their beards, and even between their makeup and their skin, where according to Brown, the juice formed little bubbles that popped. This was especially delightful because the fish (and resulting juice) had already started to smell, Brophy added.  Kircher said the fish were so heavy the actors couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Brown admitted to being terrified of fish, but he Dwarfed up and stuck it out, although with his eyes closed. While he’s not completely cured, he said he’s at least able to put a “toe in the water now.” Take that, fish.

But the barrel scene had its bright side: it got them into the water and out of the relentless heat exacerbated by costumes, fat suits, and wet suits. And beards. Brophy’s tresses and beard were made of Yak hair, which only made things worse. They spent about two glorious weeks in the water. Hunter said that everyone noticed the dwarves “never got out of the water.” Apparently, Peter Jackson had built a veritable theme park for the scene. Kircher recalled “spinning round and round,” and said it was “such fun.” At least it kept them cool, even if it was sometimes difficult to get out of the barrel.

The dinner scene was also a rollicking good time. No CGI at all. They tossed that food themselves. Brown accidentally swallowed his mustache a few times while drinking beer and trying to burp. Hunter really caught that egg in his mouth, and after only a few tries, too, so the reactions were real. Filming that scene early on, while they were still getting used to their costumes, added to the authenticity of just beginning the journey, Kircher said.

That journey had a surprisingly lengthy beginning—Dwarf Boot Camp. They spent a couple of months training for their parts: horseback riding, stunt training, and singing. They had to walk, talk, and fight not only like a dwarf but like their individual character, Kircher said. As for the singing, they agreed that “Misty Mountains” is a beautiful song that captures the feel of the ancient past. Hunter used to sing it to his daughter at night. Kircher just sang it to his daughter yesterday, while reading The Hobbit to her and reaching the poem.  As a treat, all four sang a few lines of the song, and as they sang, it was easy to see how much they treasured their experiences bringing Tolkien’s masterpiece to life.

Author of the article

Debbie Yutko

Debbie Yutko lives near Atlanta with her husband, two children, and two cats. When she isn’t gardening, rescuing homeless kittens, or cramming math formulas into teenagers’ brains, she can be found stringing words together at her computer and dreaming of adventures in far-off lands. She is a lifelong reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy and a veteran of Dragon Con, where she enjoys attending panels and working with the talented staff of the Daily Dragon.

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