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the AU interview: Dean O'Gorman of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (USA/New Zealand, 2013)

Supanova is currently going down in Adelaide this weekend for another year, drawing the pop culture geeks out in force for three days of pure awesomeness. As well as sitting in on some great panels and avoiding being stalked by Chewbacca, I had a chat with Dean O'Gorman, one of the 'Supa-Star Guests'. O'Gorman, as many of you will recognise, is currently starring in The Hobbit alongside the likes of Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and Andy Serkis. He was also in McLeod's Daughters (for those Aussie soap fans), but that's a conversation for another day...

Okay, so obviously, The Hobbit has been doing amazing things…one of those things being giving you the opportunity to travel and attend events like Supanova. Have you had time to reflect on it all?

No, not at all!

Do you think it’d be a scary thing if you did? Overwhelming?

I don’t really think I could ever really get a perspective on it, because I’ve got such a different way of looking at this, because I’ve been so involved in the process. At things like premieres and, to a lesser extent, things like the conventions, I experience the reach that these films have. I don’t know, I don’t really think about it because it’s not really a lot of point in thinking about it, you know? People that weren’t doing the film would tell me lots of their opinions on what this was going to do, or what this meant, but nobody really knows until things happen or not. I don’t really think about it because I don’t feel like I can think about it with any kind of objectivity.

Totally. I remember seeing photos online of that press event in the lead up to the premiere…on the plane?

[Laughs] Yeah!

That must have been a bit of a trip out!

Yeah, that’s a completely weird experience that I wouldn’t have had normally! I couldn’t put it into any sort of context! Talking to Entertainment Tonight, on a plane with our faces on the side of it, flying into Wellington to the premiere…it’s almost like, doing The Hobbit, even the shooting of it and the promotional and publicity side associated with it, I really don’t think too much about it. It’s almost like getting on a rollercoaster and just going with it sometimes. "Now we’re doing this and now we’re doing this" – you know? I’m not reflective on it at this stage, I’m sure that in a few years, I’ll look back and be like, “Oh my God!”, but at the moment I’m just going with it.

Being an actor from New Zealand especially, The Lord of the Rings has been so integrated into culture over there now…

[Laughs] Pretty much! It’s traditional now!

I remember being over there when the first films were coming out and it was renamed ‘Middle Earth’ for a time!

Yeah! It gave New Zealand a real identity…I mean, we have had an identity, to an extent. We’ve got the All Blacks, we’ve got Edmund Hillary and we have always had a presence on the international stage, but I guess this was such a huge success internationally, that for New Zealand…New Zealand got very patriotic.

Rightly so, too!

It was like a big selfie for New Zealand. [Laughs]

Totally – you’ve got The Hobbit and Flight of the Conchords repping too…

Yeah, that’s true!

In terms of you getting the role and entering into this massive family, what were you doing in the lead up to landing this role [Fili]?

I was a stage production and just prior to that, I’d shot the first season of a show called The Almighty Johnsons. You know, there was a period of time where I was just getting a bit busier when The Hobbit came along but, to be honest, I was thinking, "What am I going to do?". Periods of time had been a lot quieter and then this came along and it was completely out of the blue. I never would have expected it.

Was it one of those things where, once taking on a job like this, everything else and any further project need to be brought into mind and perspective? Does it cut the amount of time you have to get involved in other projects?

I have been…we only finished shooting in August and we did have some hiatuses, but I was shooting for a TV show on those hiatuses, so I really have been fortunate to be really busy. It does mean other things, even just general life things… I’ve been living out of a suitcase so I do feel quite discombobulated. You know, over the next few months or whatever, things will settle back down to relative normality and I can get on…If anything, the experience has shown me that you just never know where your life’s going to go, you know? I guess actors are more prone to that, because you can get a job out of the blue so quickly and it changes things, but it’s a really good example for me. In the next few years…who knows where I’ll be or what to expect, really.

It’s interesting to think about it in that context, being at an event like Supanova, no matter how much time goes by, you’re always going to be associated now. I think that’s an awesome thing.

Yeah! I mean, again, I don’t know…what does that association mean for me? It’s hard to know. Maybe I’ll be doing a Supanova in ten years, you know?

Maybe!

I don’t really think about that stuff, you know what I mean? Some people recognise me and some people don’t. In a way, it’s a really significant job for me, but it’s more of an establishing job as opposed to…I wouldn’t consider myself a household name by any means, therefore, I don’t really quite know what the roll-on effect is.

Well, I suppose, one label you’ve definitely earned over your time on the film, is that you’re one of the 'hot dwarves'.

[Laughs]

Working with Aidan Turner as closely as you have been, were you aware of the sex appeal the two of you were generating?

I think I’d have to be a complete douchebag if I said 'yes' to that question. [Laughs]

I wouldn’t take it as a douche-y comment!

[Laughs] No! I can just bask in the glory of Aidan’s handsomeness! I don’t know, what people find attractive and what people don’t…That’s the thing with The Hobbit, like The Lord of the Rings, some people approach it from ‘the world’, from the Tolkien world, so they like 'characters' from within that world. I don’t necessarily think it’s about me, I think it’s about how they perceive the character and how attractive that character is to them. I look a bit different too…well, I’d like to think that I look a bit different! But yeah, I don’t know…

I’m going to be mentioning in this write up, ‘As he shrugged casually…’

Ah yeah, "He shrugs…", I mean it all became relative too, because the other dwarves had hardly been hit with the handsome stick, had they? Apart from Richard Armitage, I don’t really think I had a fierce competition with, like...Gloin! [Laughs] Although in the Dwarven world, ironically, Fili and Kili would be seen as having to grow into their looks. The hairier and wrinklier they are, the more they’re expected. I mean, Dwarvish women, according to that world, have beards and that’s considered pretty hot!

That’s true!

So me and Kili would be like, "Where are you going to get some good facial hair? Where’s your gut?"

"How much can you grow?"

Yeah!

Essentially! Now, thinking about the film that is set to be released at the end of the year, I know you can’t say anything about it…

I’d love to.

Working in an obviously fast-paced environment with a lot of action and in this case, a lot of acting scenes where you don’t have the visual, what’s been the most challenging part of that process, for you?

I think that still maintaining the right tone within the craziness of the environment, in terms of how many people are around, how many special effects are involved…for a lot of it, you are acting to tennis balls, you know? For me, the challenge was also trying to keep my shit together for the first couple of weeks, when I was surrounded by people like Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen!

Initially, that was very exciting and intimidating, because these guys are geniuses and it’s like, "Wow, I’ve really got to step up to the mark". I think that there was a lot of physical stuff that you had to get used to and get comfortable with, like the costume and the hair and holding the sword…you had to get used to working through that and then still maintain a character. You don’t want to look like you’re being swallowed up by your suit! Physically, there was some stuff to bear in mind, which I haven’t had to think about before. Then, you know, after a couple of years, it sounds awful to say it, but after a while, it becomes very normal to you. Every now and again you go, "Oh wow, that’s right, we’re doing this massive movie and it’s quite surreal and it’s like nothing I’ve ever done before", but when you’re doing it every day, after a while, it feels very normal. It becomes, to a degree, like another job. You’ve still got to turn up, know your lines, say them in the way that the character would say them and go home!

That’s awesome – being in your panel just before, it was great to see people who are obviously fans of you other work rocking up and people of different ages too.

Yeah!

It’s always good to see at these sorts of events, the variety of people who come together over something as iconic as this franchise, you know?

Yeah, it’s a really big range! I guess that’s kind of credit to Peter Jackson too you know, he’s created the film…like The Lord of the Rings, it does have a huge appeal, from kids to adults, depending on what perspective you’re approaching it from.

Totally! Well, that’s about all I had for you today, man. Thank you so much!

Sweet!

Smashed it!

[Laughs] Smaashed it!

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For our coverage of Supanova, head to our hub at theaureview.com/event/supanova-pop-culture-expo.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is in Australian theatres on December 26. For worldwide release dates, hit up http://www.thehobbit.com/releasedates/.