With only nine days to go until the release of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (in UK cinemas December 13), the cast reveal what they got up to during their breaks from shooting in New Zealand. Benedict Cumberbatch, who provides the actions and voices for the dragon Smaug, says he spent his downtime indulging his passion for extreme sports.
“I had about a week off and went down to Queenstown and had a fantastic time,” said Cumberbatch. “I went skydiving, I went paragliding, I went on the luge and the Shotover Jet down the rapids… I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie.”
Meanwhile, Luke Evans (who plays Bard the Bowman) took it slightly easier and went wine tasting on bikes in the Marlborough Region. “We all hired a house one weekend… It was absolutely glorious,” he said, adding that he’d fallen in love with the locals during his time in New Zealand: “They are just very happy people… of course they’re happy – they live in New Zealand.”
Richard Armitage (who plays Thorin Oakenshield) packed as much in as he possibly into his free time. “I visited the Waitomo Caves and saw the glow worms, I skied down Mount Ruapehu, I skied at Mount Hutt,” he said. “I took a helicopter out to White Island. I took a helicopter to the Milford Sound… this was all in my play time.”
Martin Freeman (who plays Bilbo Baggins) explained that a lot of people who watch the trilogy won’t believe the setting is real: “It looked like CGI,” he said. “We thought nobody would believe it was real.” Freeman said that the cast and crew did not take it for granted. “The beauty of [New Zealand] was not lost on us.”