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‘The Hobbit’ stars reflect on trilogy’s ending

LONDON — As the key cast members of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” (opening Wednesday) met the press at Claridge’s Hotel recently, they expressed a sense of pride at having been a part of Peter Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh’s long journey — making the “Hobbit” film trilogy after the “Lord of the Rings” movies that preceded them.

When asked to play along with the idea of a fictional dinner shared by Jackson and “The Hobbit” author J.R.R. Tolkien, Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins, laughed. “I wonder what they would have talked about — probably rugby,” the actor quipped before turning a bit more serious.

“While I don’t think Tolkien and Peter would have talked about Middle-earth, I do think Tolkien would have been pleased with these films. Peter and Fran and their entire team have done them with great respect for Tolkien. They are real Tolkien nuts — true students of those books, but they are also great filmmakers, and these are movies.

“Going from a book to a movie is a different art form,” added the actor, who expressed a little annoyance with Tolkien fans who don’t seem to understand that difference. “Not every single frame of the film is going to be exactly lifted from the book. Not every thread and strand of the story. It’s now a movie.”

For Freeman, making “The Hobbit” was a great way to showcase heroism in a way he felt was closer to real life — despite its setting in a mythical world with fantastical creatures.

“We all know heroism can come from surprising sources, but they are only surprising cinematically, because we’re always fed the bull—- line from Hollywood that heroes need to be 6-foot-5 and look like Erik the Viking,” said Freeman. “As we know, that is a blatant untruth. Not everyone in the fire service looks like that. Nor does everyone in the police service or the ambulance service — and those are the world’s true heroes!”

Related: Review of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”

Orlando Bloom, who has played Legolas in both Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies, agreed with Freeman. “I think it’s one of the reasons audiences all over the world so relate to these stories. It’s about people trying to do the right thing and in so doing exhibiting bravery and courage they didn’t know they had. The smallest of characters — the Hobbit, the least likely to succeed in any of these situations — is the one who triumphs overall.”

Another character in “The Hobbit” films is Bard, the bargeman, played by Welsh actor Luke Evans, who weighed in on how his character is another reluctant hero.

“Bard certainly is not the textbook hero in any sense of the word. He was not someone born to be a leader, nor someone who wanted to be a leader. When we meet him, his principal desire is to protect his children and to keep them safe. He doesn’t want war or carnage or pain, but circumstances unleash something inside him that makes him stand up and accept responsibility. I think many people can relate to that.”

Getting back to the fantasy dinner between Tolkien and Jackson, Richard Armitage, who plays the Dwarf king Thorin, said it would likely be an intriguing verbal battle of wills.

“If he had been able to have seen the films that Peter made of his books, I think Tolkien would find moments he would be incredibly proud of.

“By the same token, I think there would be moments he might question but that Peter would be fighting for very strongly. It would be a coming together of two great, creative minds who basically believe in the same things.”