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Associated Press
Cast members, from left, Martin Freeman, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis, director Peter Jackson, and Ian McKellen

‘Hobbit’ cast and crew find journey magical

– Many fans are eagerly anticipating a return to the fictional world of Middle-earth with Friday’s general release of the first movie in “The Hobbit” trilogy.

Director Peter Jackson and the film’s stars speak about making “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”:

•Jackson on shooting at 48 frames per second instead of the standard 24: “We’ve seen the arrival of iPhones and iPads and now there’s a generation of kids – the worry that I have is that they seem to think it’s OK to wait for the film to come out on DVD or be available for download. And I don’t want kids to see ‘The Hobbit’ on their iPads, really. Not for the first time. So as a filmmaker, I feel the responsibility to say, ‘This is the technology we have now, and it’s different ... How can we raise the bar? Why do we have to stick with 24 frames? ...’ ”

“The world has to move on and change. And I want to get people back into the cinema. I want to play my little tiny role in encouraging that beautiful, magical, mysterious experience of going into a dark room full of strangers, and being transported into a piece of escapism.”

•Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins) on shooting some scenes without other actors around: “I must admit I found the green screen and all that easier than I thought I would. ... I found the technical aspect of it quite doable. Some of it’s difficult, but it’s quite enjoyable, actually. It taps into when I used to play ‘war’ as a 6-year-old. And the Germans were all imaginary. Because I was playing a British person. So yeah, I was on the right side. ...”

On marrying his performance to that of Ian Holm, who played an older Bilbo Baggins in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and reprises the role briefly in this film: “I knew I couldn’t be a slave to it. Because as truly fantastic as Ian Holm is in everything, and certainly as Bilbo, I can’t just go and do an impression of Ian Holm for a year and a half. Because it’s my turn. But it was very useful for me to watch and listen to stuff he did, vocal ticks or physical ticks, that I can use but not feel hamstrung by.”

•Hugo Weaving (Elrond) on the differences in tone to the “Rings” trilogy: “This one feels lighter, more buoyant, but it’s got quite profoundly moving sequences in it, too. ... I think it’s very different in many ways, and yet it’s absolutely the same filmmaker, and you are inhabiting the same world.”

•Elijah Wood (Frodo) on returning in a cameo role: “It was a gift to come back ... what they’d constructed was such a beautiful remembrance of the characters from the original trilogy.”

•Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) on the toughest part of filming: “Trying to keep my children off the set.”

•Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield) on being a 6-foot-2 guy playing a dwarf: “It’s amazing how quickly you get used to it. And also, we spent most of the shoot much bigger than a 6-foot-2 guy. I mean, I had lifts in my shoes, I was wider, I was taller, and bigger-haired. And I actually think that was quite an interesting place to be, because I do think dwarfs have big ideas about themselves ...”

•Andy Serkis (Gollum) on taking on the additional role of second-unit director: “There were only a couple of times where there were really, really black days where I went away thinking, ‘This is it. I can’t do it.’ But on the whole, Pete (Jackson) was so brilliant at allowing me to set stuff up and then critiquing my work ... but at least I would have my stab at it.”

On the film itself: “I think it’s a great story. I think it’s a beautifully crafted film with great heart. A rollicking adventure, and it feels to me like this really massive feast that everyone will enjoy eating.”

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