The Hobbit: Loving Gandalf

01:47, Nov 28 2012
Hobbit gallery
Peter Jackson stunned fans with a surprise visit to the Hobbit pre-premiere party at the Amora Hotel.
Hobbit gallery
Barry Eldridge made knitwear including capes and scarves for the Hobbit, and sold his wares at the Hobbit Artisan Market at Wellington's Waitangi Park in the days leading up to the premiere.
Hobbit gallery
Starbucks Courtenay Place baristas Rachel Henderson, left, and Alex Francis stayed up for two nights to dress up their store in Hobbit-themed decorations.
Hobbit gallery
Weta Workshop created this sculpture of Gollum looming from above in Wellington Airport.
Hobbit gallery
Embassy Theatre, which is to host the Hobbit premiere, installed a huge sculpture of Gandalf above its entrance.
Hobbit Gallery
NZ Post put up backlit silhouettes of Hobbit characters on its Wellington building.
Hobbit gallery
Hobbit stars Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, Zealandia's Lauren Schaer, Elijah Wood and Richard Armitage pay a visit to Zealandia.
The Hobbit: The fans get ready
Robert Schrimf and Lisa Heissmeier camp out.
The Hobbit: The fans get ready
This group came well prepared.
The Hobbit: The fans get ready
Stephanie Kirkby and Meg Gatland-Veness.
The Hobbit: The fans get ready
Some even braved the Wellington night air and camped out overnight alongside the red carpet.
The Hobbit: The fans get ready
Charlie Allan, Elise Hart and Victoria Gridley go all out for the Hobbit premiere.
Trolls on red carpet
Giant trolls have been set up on the red carpet in Courtenay Place
Trolls on red carpet
Hobbit fans hit Courtenay Place
Trolls on red carpet
Hobbit fans will be watching a live stream from the red carpet in Waitangi Park.
Trolls on red carpet
Hobbit fans will be watching a live stream from the red carpet in Waitangi Park.
The Hobbit: Premiere day
The Hobbit cast join director Peter Jackson for a media conference on premiere day.
The Hobbit: Premiere day
Cate Blanchett with Jackson at a press conference this morning
Trolls on red carpet
Giant trolls have been set up on the red carpet in Courtenay Place
Trolls on red carpet
Hobbit fans hit Courtenay Place
Hobbit presser
Cate Blanchett at the Hobbit premiere press conference.
Hobbit presser
Martin Freeman at the Hobbit premiere press conference.
Trolls on red carpet
Statues of Middle-earth figures are put in place on the red carpet.
Trolls on red carpet
Hobbit fans dressed as elves wait for the show to start on the red carpet in Wellington.
hobbit fans 2
Hobbit fans look at a giant screen before the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Wellington.
embassy's hobbit view
A view from the Embassy Theatre as the red carpet is set up for The Hobbit premiere.
Trolls on red carpet
Hobbit fans wait for the show to start on the red carpet in Wellington.
More hobbit fans
Hobbit fans line the barriers at the red carpet for the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
dwarven hobbit fan
A Hobbit fan dressed as a dwarf - complete with knitted hair and beard - waits for the show to start.
gandalf the grey
Derek Carver of Christchurch - dressed as Gandalf the Grey - waits for the show to start on the red carpet.
nazgul fan
A Tolkien fan dressed as a Nazgul or black rider poses for a photo with other fans on Courtenay Place.
high angle hobbit
A high-angle shot of the red carpet on Courtenay Pl ahead of the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The Hobbit premiere red carpet
A view of the end of Courtenay Pl near the Embassy Theatre as the premiere event for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey heats up.

Cate Blanchett ''is passionately in love'' with Sir Ian McKellen, Barry Humphries enjoyed getting nude and Sir Peter Jackson just can't wait. The Hobbit love-in is underway.

Send your pictures of the Hobbit premiere day - whether you're there or celebrating somewhere else - to us at newstips@stuff.co.nz

The stars of the show kicked off today's official Hobbit premiere festivities with a press conference at Te Papa in Wellington this morning.

Nearby, outside The Embassy theatre, more than 5000 fans staked out their possies next to the red carpet for when the stars begin their public parade around 4.30pm. Some had been there since 9pm last night, all were terribly excited.

The people they're waiting to see were also in an ebullient mood.

When British actor Martin Freeman, who plays the hobbit Bilbo and his known for his colourful language, was asked if he was a bit like the character and preferred the quiet life, he replied: "If I do I'm f*****.''

Australian comedian Barry Humphries, best known for his role as Dame Edna Everage, is the motion capture model for the goblin king in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

"It's the first film in which I've appeared nude," he said, bringing the house down with laughter.

British actor Sylvester McCoy, who plays wizard Radagast the Brown, explained the mystery surrounding his appearance in the first film, where his hair is caked in white on one side. "I was wearing bird shit on my face," he said. "But I had a blast really."

Cate Blanchett, who reprised the role of elf Galadriel, said a highlight was working again with Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf).

She was disappointed he could not attend the world premiere.

"I'm passionately in love with him.''

Blanchett said she had brought her boys on to the set and was comfortable with it being a film to show to children.

"Grimm's fairytales are wonderful things to read to children. It [The Hobbit] is a wonderful tale."

Richard Armitage, who plays Thorin, the head dwarf, said in terms of detail and image, the film was ''nothing like I've ever seen before".

Jackson said staff had been working up to the last minute to get the film finished.

"It hasn't really sunk in that it's done and I hope to get the real feeling after tonight's premiere," the filmmaker said. "But as long as we have some petrol in the car to drive the movie to the embassy in time, we're fine,'' he joked.

He said finding the perfect actor to play the goblin king was key.

''The character is gross, has some personal hygiene issues and is verbally raw, so it was was quite naturally to look towards Australia,'' Jackson laughed.

"And from all the Australians available to us, Barry Humphries was ideal."

Asked about the new 3D filming technology used for the Hobbit, which was criticised when scenes were shown at Comic-Con earlier this year, he said the film would be released in 24,000 theatres worldwide of which only about 1000 were able to screen in the 48 frames per second format.

"We're just dipping our toe in the water. As a filmmaker I have the responsibility to look at what's around now, and enhance the experience," Jackson said.

The new crisp format was a bit like hearing a CD for the first time. "The sound of music was the scratching of a needle and suddenly it was all clear."

Jackson struck the only real serious note we he reiterated that no animals were killed or harmed during the filming of The Hobbit, as claimed by former wranglers and animal rights organisation PETA.

He dismissed the claims as "pretty pathetic" and said it was ''an insult to the cast and crew".
 
Elijah Wood, who reprised his role, said returning to New Zealand to film with Jackson was like returning home.

"It was a gift and very unexpected, as Frodo isn't a character in the book. Looking into the mirror and seeing Frodo, that was magical.''

Charlie Allan, Elise Lockhart and Victoria Gridley
IT'S TIME: Charlie Allan, Elise Lockhart and Victoria Gridley kitted out for the big day.

THE FANS AND THE TROLLS

Three massive cave trolls joined the hobbits, elves and thousands of other J.R.R. Tolkien enthusiasts camped out ahead of the premiere.

The 1800kg Weta Workshop installation, which took almost six weeks to model and make, was set up near the red carpet on the corner of Tory St from 7am this morning, Weta assistant Ri Streeter said.

The trolls join sculptures of Gandalf at Bag End on the Embassy Theatre roof and Gollum at Wellington Airport.

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Meanwhile, by 8am fans had taken all the prime space in front of the barrier, from Tory St to the Embassy Theatre.

Auckland University students Sarah Reif and Willemyn Dagevos would be keeping their eyes peeled for Andy Serkis, who plays Gollum.

''I've wanted to see him since I was 10,'' Reif said.

Too young to attend the premiere of the Return of the King, she thought she'd never get the chance to be part of the release of a Tolkien film, so was overjoyed when she found out the Hobbit would be made.

''It's fulfilling 10 years of dreams.''

Tolkien enthusiasts Charlie Allan, Elise Hart and Victoria Gridley had camped near Blair St overnight in full Hobbit costume, befriending a group that had brought a couch to sleep on.

The Melburnians had come to New Zealand on a Hobbit premiere tour, but said tonight would be the pinnacle of their trip, despite them getting very little sleep, Hart said.

''Just to be part of the passion of it all is life-changing.''

They had met director Peter Jackson and star Elijah Wood at Monday's pre-premiere party organised by fansite TheOneRing.net, and were now most looking forward to seeing Freeman.

Actor Mark Hadlow, who plays dwarf Dori in the films, and Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown, stopped by Courtenay Place earlier this morning to greet the queued fans.

Pre-screening entertainment in Courtenay Place begins at 2pm, with the stars and VIPs expected to arrive on the red carpet from 4.30pm onwards.

The premiere screenings at The Embassy and Reading cinemas begin at 7pm.

> Find out the best places to be for the premiere

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