When preparing for a role, most actors do an intensive search of whatever they can get their hands on for research to help ‘discover’ their character. For some this is easier than others especially for those that are in a work as well researched and documented as anything by Tolkien. Apart from the all important script, the first place an actor would then turn would be the original source material—the book. So it may shock some fans to know that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug star Stephen Fry has admitted that he has never read Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
During his revealing interview with Richard Herring on his Leicester Square Podcast, where he also disclosed that he attempted suicide last year, the British star and quiz-master said: “I usually read scripts. But The Hobbit, I’m not sure I should say this, but I’ve never read The Hobbit.”
In a further shock to Tolkien aficionados, Fry admitted that even as he was flying down to the New Zealand he really didn’t know anything about his character or how he fitted into the story. Fry is taking on the role of The Master of Laketown in The Hobbit trilogy’s second installment and confessed that he had only skim-read the bits that dealt with his character in the novel. He really had no excuse and joked that “on the plane to New Zealand, which is a long flight, you’d have thought I’d have time.”
Instead, being the techie geek he is, he just searched the novel on his iPad for his character. And what did he uncover about his character and the novel through this method? “It’s something about a hole in the ground where a hobbit lived. My character was called The Master of Laketown, so I thought, there’s a lot of this. There’s a search function, so I just put in ‘The Master’ and it went to all the bits I was in.”
On the actual flight out to begin filming might be a bit late to pull out of a project if you didn’t like the character so it was very lucky for all that he thought that The Master was “a reasonable part”. While Fry still hasn’t read the book, he did tell Herring that he is “really looking forward to seeing how it all turns out”.
So are a lot of Tolkien and Peter Jackson fans. Luckily all will be revealed when The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is released on December 13.