Billy Connolly dons Nasa space suit

21:08, Apr 09 2014
Billy Connolly
RETURNING TO NEW ZEALAND: Scottish comedian Billy Connolly.

Billy Connolly will don an astronaut-style cooling suit when he returns to New Zealand to film pickup scenes for the final Hobbit movie.

The Big Yin is in the country for a 15-date tour with a new standup show, The High Horse Tour, kicking of in Napier last night.

While he is in New Zealand he will head to Wellington to shoot some continuity footage for the last instalment.

The 71-year-old Scottish comedian, who plays the dwarf warrior Dane Ironfoot in Sir Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, faced considerable discomfort while filming scenes two years ago, the Daily Star reported.

A personal air-conditioning system, developed for astronauts to regulate temperatures in their spacesuits, will resolve the issue.

"It's going to be three hours a day in makeup," Connolly said.


"It's very, very hot, so you wear this undershirt with little pipes going through it. You come off sweating and they plug you in and squirt freezing water through it.

"They try not to do it too often because you can get sick going hot, cold, hot, cold. It's not good for you, but it's extraordinary.

"I have a war to fight; elves to kill. They're basically broadening me, making me wider."

Since filming the original scenes two years ago, Connolly has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and revealed he had undergone surgery for prostate cancer.

Connolly said a fan encouraged him to seek medical help after watching him walking through a hotel lobby.

His cancer was found during a routine examination. He had an operation and received the all-clear in December.

"It was found by the routine finger-up-the-bum test," he said.

"When I was told by the doctor I had cancer I said to him, 'I've never been told that before'. Usually you are only told once."

Before the surgery, Connolly's doctor reassured him he would not die.

Connolly was astounded to hear that, revealing the "arrogance thing" meant it had not even occurred to him that he might die.

Connolly is not letting his Parkinson's diagnosis get him down, saying he has not felt ill yet.

"I prefer not to give it any notice. I don't see much shaking going on and I have always had a [bad] memory anyway," he said.

He was on medication for a while, but has stopped taking it.

Apparently he was told the side-effects he could experience might be worse than the disease's symptoms.

The final film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, is scheduled for release on December 17.

The start time to all dates of Billy Conolly's New Zealand tour has been changed from 7.30pm to 8pm the promoters said today.