Smaug Alert

Smaug Alert
Risk-takers: (from far left) Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins, Richard Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield, Lee Pace’s Thranduil, Ian McKellen’s Gandalf and Orlando Bloom’s Legolas. Wet escape: The dwarves in a scene from The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (above) fleeing in barrels down a river.

LONDON - Do not do all your acting in the first week.

That is the advice of Martin Freeman, who plays the titular character in Peter Jackson's (below) upcoming film, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug.

"Pace yourself, know where you are. Don't come out of the traps at 100 miles per hour because you've got another year. Don't burn out in week one," he warns.

"We shot chronologically at first but, later, there was a lot of jumping around," he elaborates.

"You always have to check in: where the hell am I? Where have I just been? My character - his journey goes up and down all the time, relationships with different characters are different at different times. His bravery is different at different times."

The English actor was at Claridge's Hotel in London to speak to reporters about the second instalment of the film series, the first of which opened last year as one of three prequels to the darker Lord Of The Rings' trilogy.

Based on English author J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy books of the same name, the tales are epic in ambition, buttressed by their broad and intricate arcs with multiple characters, subplots and backstories.

The Hobbit began as a single and self- contained tome before Tolkien reworked it to provide the springboard for a bigger book trilogy.

In a similar fashion, its silver screen adaptation was first conceived as two films before Jackson's project was enlarged midway through shooting into a three-parter.

What does it feel like to be at the halfway point?

"It's the longest job I've ever done. In a way, it's like putting a jacket on, but if you think it's too easy, then you're probably missing something," reveals Freeman, 42, who has two children with his long-time partner, actress Amanda Abbington.

As for fans' complaints about the first instalment's slow pace and extended length, he muses: "Pete is nothing if not bold, he demanded of the audience some big Asks.

"People have been clamouring for this film for years. He was determined to do it as he thinks the future of cinema is - with that number of frames per second, in 3-D."

Having just obtained a magical ring from the sprite Gollum and escaped an army of goblins and orcs, Freeman's character Bilbo Baggins is on his way to slay - or at least, waylay - a dragon at the opening of the film.

"Those feet make you walk in a different way," he relates of the experience of wearing prosthetic Hobbit feet, about 15cm longer than human ones.

"Your calves are killing you, your tendons are killing you... it is tiring. All films are tiring."

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