Thirteen years, six movies and more than 1,000 minutes of film later, Peter Jackson is ready for a break.
“You can’t believe how much we don’t want anything to do,” he says.
With the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the journey that began with 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring has come to an end for the director and his wife, producer and screenwriter Fran Walsh.
“We haven’t had a day when we’ve woken up and there hasn’t been a deadline,” he says of the last 13 years.
“Even if you go on vacation and they say, ‘You finished the first Hobbit movie and you can have three weeks off over Christmas,’ but we have to come back and start work on the next one on January 6, so it has always been this sort of looming thing.
“Now we get to wake up and it is done, finished, nothing left to do. We deliberately haven’t taken on any other work because Fran and I wanted so badly, for once in our professional lives of 30-odd years, to not have anything to do. That doesn’t mean that six weeks into our holiday we’ll not be so bloody bored that we’ll immediately start another project. That would be fine. At least we’ll do it for the right reasons.”
The new film is the end of an era, and the beginning of one of the biggest movie franchises in history. As the third part of the Hobbit trilogy, it brings to an end Jackson’s J.R.R. Tolkien’s adaptations. In the chronology, however, it is midway, the film that sets up the Lord of the Rings pictures.
“To me it has significance because it is the moment in time where a six-film series finally comes into focus,” he says.
“We are only four or five years away from a generation arriving who will have no memory or knowledge of how these films were released when they came out. All they’ll have is a six-part box set and hopefully they’ll start at the beginning and go through to the end. To me, until this movie actually existed there were these parts that were floating out there that can now be together.”
He may be done with the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies — “I have other things I want to make. I think it would be a terrible sad thing to spend the rest of my life going back over these films and trying to make them better” — but he’s not done with the cast he built over the years.
“We’ve just got such a wonderful collection of actors of all different types, and we’re friends now,” he says.
“I would be a happy man if I could make movies for the rest of my life using the cast we’ve used to date. I love it when directors have relationships with the same actors in film after film. It’s a fantastic thing.”
When we think of elves at this time of year visions of Santa’s helpers fill our heads.
The cute, industrious and diminutive creatures from the North Pole can be seen everywhere in December in Christmas TV specials, greeting cards and movies like Arthur Christmas and Santa Claus: The Movie.
One of the most famous movie elves is Buddy, played by Will Ferrell in the neo-classic Elf.
“You’re not an elf,” says Leon the Snowman. “You’re six-foot-three and had a beard since you were fifteen.”
So technically he’s not really an elf, just a human raised by elves but he has more Christmas spirit than Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen put together.
This weekend, just weeks before December 25, Buddy is joined on the big screen by a very different kind of elf.
“She’s slightly reckless and totally ruthless and doesn’t hesitate to kill.” That’s how Evangeline Lilly describes the 600-year-old “she-elf” Tauriel from this weekend’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
The bow-and-arrow wielding character is new to the J.R.R. Tolkien movie franchise, created by director Peter Jackson and his co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.
“She’s our redhead,” says Boyens. “We created her for that reason. To bring that energy into the film, that feminine energy. We believe it’s completely within the spirit of Tolkien.”
Buddy and Tauriel are just two of the many kinds of movie elves.
Elves, or (Gelfling as they’re called in the flick), are the main focus of the Jim Henson film The Dark Crystal.
Dobby the House Elf was voted the No. 1 favourite magical creature in the Harry Potter series by NextMovie.com and Thor: The Dark World featured Dark Elves, an ancient race of dangerous beings whose spaceships are powered by black holes.
The cheeseball b-movie Elves features the tagline, “They’re Not Working for Santa Anymore.” Well, if not Santa, then who? Nazis, that’s who.
Finally Tom Cruise consorted with an elf named Honeythorn Gump in Legend, the Ridley Scott film The New York Times called “a slap-dash amalgam of Old Testament, King Arthur, The Lord of the Rings and any number of comic books.”
Swiss actor David Bennett played the feisty elfin sidekick who not only is the protector of the world’s last two unicorns but, along with elves Screwball, Brown Tom and Oona, helps Cruise’s character save the world from the nasty Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry).