Lee Pace: Thranduil’s not a happy Elf

Dec 8 • by Ursa • No CommentsInterviews, the Hobbit

Thanks to my lovely friends at Richard Armitage Central, I came across a new interview with Lee. He talks working with big names such as Orlando Bloom and Ian McKellen, immortality, his childhood dreams and more.

For American actor Lee Pace, playing Thranduil, king of the woodland elves in The Hobbit meant he was playing the father to Orlando Bloom’s Legolas, the elf hero of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

In Middle-earth years, Thranduil is centuries older than his son. In the real world, the 34 year-old Pace is two years younger than Bloom.

“I love Orlando. We had a great time on set,” he says of his film offspring but older colleague. “I learned a lot from him, to be honest – just understanding what the concept is with these creatures.”

Thranduil isn’t much like the other Tolkien elves we’ve met before on screen. He’s not like the serene pointy-earred folk of Rivendell, like Elrond or Galadriel. This Elvenking comes with a crown of ornate twigs matched by a chip on his shoulder.

“There’s a perfection to them, but they live forever, so is that perfection or a curse?” wonders Pace. “He’s thought and killed a lot; he’s taken life a lot and survived a lot of battles and he’s sad, he’s hurt because in a Buddhist way he’s not immune to the suffering, and it changes who he is.

“He’s not a happy elf, not a nice elf.”

He’s also the sworn enemy of dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) whose wee gang he takes captive during the part of the Hobbit story covered by The Desolation of Smaug.

“The first scene that I shot was with Richard – and talk about being thrown right in at the deep end. It’s a pivotal scene for both of the characters and it’s the first scene that I shot, the confrontation between the king of the elves and the king of the dwarfs and they do not see eye-to-eye.

“That’s one of the interesting things about The Hobbit – the conflict between the elves and the dwarfs – and we really worked hard to make that conflict specific.

“When Thorin comes through again and I catch him trying to disturb a sleeping dragon I’m determined to stop him … [Thranduil] doesn’t want to be his friend, he just wants people to kneel in front of him.”

Pace seems to have a thing for immortality. Before donning the ears and blonde wig to play Thranduil, he was best known for the short-lived fantasy-comedy television series Pushing Daisies – in which his character Ned had the ability to revive the dead.

As well, he was “good” vampire Garrett in the final film of the the Twilight Saga.

Jackson cast him in the Hobbit trilogy after seeing him in adventure fantasy film The Fall.

For Pace, the shift to New Zealand to the shoot fulfilled more than one ambition.

“All I ever remember wanting to do, as a kid, was act – nothing else. in fact, about the only thing, other than acting, that I’d like to do is go live in the woods, build a log cabin at the top of a hill and try and hide away from the modern world.”

“So, in many ways, the Hobbit ticked all the boxes: not only is it the ultimate acting challenge but it’s also biggest adventure you could go on while making a film.”

The role offered a mix of mental and physical demands.

“The scenes in Elvish were incredibly difficult because we had to learn a completely new language – I’d hate to see the out-takes from those scenes,” he laughs.

“Also, the fighting was a huge challenge because you’re on set with 200 stunt guys swinging these huge pieces of metal around and trying not to hurt anyone, or get hurt yourself. It was pretty intense, at times. The fighting was one of my favourite things that I did in the movie, yeah, because he’s tough. He’s like a game-changer when he enters battle.”

Pace says his year-and-a-half stay in New Zealand has also rekindled his love of the great outdoors, with most of his time off spent tramping or skiing.

“You know, I had a sense that going down to New Zealand to do the Hobbit would be one of those life-changing experiences and that’s exactly what it’s turned out to be,” he adds, seriously. “Getting to work alongside all these incredible actors like Ian McKellen, James Nesbitt and Billy Connolly, who I adore, was an eye-opener.

“It made me appreciate how much I still have to learn as an actor. But I was there, like a sponge, soaking it all up.”

Full article here.

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