THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
The Men of Lake-Town
Hungry, exhausted and unarmed, the Dwarves are in no shape to mount their
on the Mountain. But dim hope arrives in the form of a barge man from the nearby
who comes upon the ragged Company while collecting the empty barrels that float
down the river
from the Woodland Realm. Though he meets them with the tip of his arrow, the
convinces Bard to help.
Luke Evans joins the cast as Bard, a man of Lake-town who represents much
meets the eye. "Bard is a memorable character from the book, but in our film,
this humble barge
man is in some ways an enigma," Jackson states. "His job is way below his skill
level; he has a
remarkable talent that he doesn't reveal, which comes into the story later on.
So, Bard was an
interesting character to cast because we're telling our story from the Dwarves'
point of view for a
while, and to them, he's an enigma. So we wanted an actor who can bring an
edginess to the role,
and Luke Evans ticked all the boxes. Luke brought all of the dangerous qualities
when he needed to, he can become a pretty amazing action hero as well."
Though Bard doesn't know the Dwarves' true mission, he knows right away that
trust them, and has reason to fear what they might be up to. "Bard has three
children, and they are
living hand-to-mouth in this city," Evans says. "He wants his children to be
alive and safe, and will
do whatever it takes to protect them. If he can clear an issue without there
being any bloodshed,
that's what he will do. But he's dealing with bombastic Dwarves, whom he knows
he can't control."
Evans was thrilled to learn that not only had he landed the role, but that
his native Welsh
accent would be incorporated into the fabric of the Lake-town itself. Jackson's
own affinity for
Wales inspired him to use it as inspiration for the city of Dale, whose
residents fled to Lake-town
when it was destroyed by the Dragon's fiery breath. So in the film, Dale's
descendents all speak with
a Welsh dialect. "Dale will always be Wales to me, which is really nice thing,"
"The terrible tragedy that happened to Bard's ancestors makes for a very
character and a very different kind of hero," Boyens remarks. "There's an
instinctive quality about
him, and it's not because he's the biggest or the strongest. It's because he has
decency and true
courage, and an empathy for those around him. The stakes are much higher for him
because he has
children and is driven to protect them. And it just so happened that we had
these two wonderful
young actresses, Peggy and Mary Nesbitt, who came down to New Zealand with their
Peggy, and her younger sister Mary, are the daughters of actor James Nesbitt,
who plays the
Dwarf Bofur. Playing their brother, Bain, is John Bell, who turned 15 and grew
more than four
inches in height over the course of shooting. This presented a challenge for the
costume team, who
creatively cheated by adding cuffs to his costume as he grew out of it. "I've
gone through about
three pairs of boots, I think," Bell laughs.
Though Bard is able to support his children on his meager earnings, he lives
who are desperate for a change of fortune. Jackson describes Lake-town as "a bit
like a factory
town when the industry has all gone away. There's a sense that all the wealth
and the glories of the
past days are no longer there, which has allowed for the unsavory politicians,
such as the Master of
Lake-town, to get a footing and exploit the misery of these people to some
degree. He has an
assistant Alfrid, played by Ryan Gage, and between them they run this rather
While his people scrape and starve, the unscrupulous Master of Lake-town sits
on a lavish
stockpile of food and a cache of riches, which couldn't be more different from
Bard. "Bard is a very
savvy, street-wise character, and that is why he has survived for as long as he
has, much to the
dislike and upset of the Master," he says. "The Master keeps the people on the
verge of starvation
so that they are weak and they can't revolt, but Bard always seems to be one
step ahead of him. In
some ways, Bard becomes the light in this very dark world that they live in."
To play this consummate politician, the filmmakers enlisted beloved British
stage and screen
star Stephen Fry. "To say Stephen was perfect for the role would be a little
rude, I think," Jackson
smiles. "But there is a lot of ironic humor and a sartorial edge to the Master
in the book, and we
carry that over in the film, so Stephen just seemed like a natural. He's such a
great actor that he was
able to capture both the Master's urbane, well-spoken, charming side, and also
make you feel his
venality and greed, which is so completely different from who he is."
As far as the Master's concerned, Fry allows, "he's a heroic and rather
important leader. He
believes that the people love and respect him, and that nobody suspects he's
greedy or corrupt at all.
I think at some point he was a very charismatic figure who either through
intelligence or natural
cunning got himself elected and kept the place going. It's all been about
taxation and making sure
that Lake-town is kept free of war."
Crass and gluttonous, the Master's once regal finery is now frayed and
molded, forcing the
costume department to painstakingly break down and destroy a luxurious selection
of fine fabrics.
"Picture a stained glass window of beautiful medieval brocade that is now just
kind of sludgy and a
bit burnt--it's just a mess," costume designer Ann Maskrey describes. "The effect
Master as vulgar, filthy, very unkempt, and somewhat ridiculous."
Styling the Master and his liege Alfrid was pure, unbridled fun for the
"There was a discussion with Peter about making the Master as revolting as we
could," says King.
"So we did our best to give him a bad comb-over, rotting teeth and wispy facial
hair. And for
Alfrid, we gave Ryan Gage greasy hair, bad skin, and blackened, filthy teeth,
which were painted
with a special tooth enamel each morning."
Because he's always looking for an opportunity for profit, the Master
isolationist tendencies when rumors begin to swirl about the strangers hidden
away in Bard's home.
"The Master is annoyed by people like Thorin, who want to go off on quests and
nothing but harm comes of people like that," Fry comments. "He believes it'll
only bring perdition
on their heads, and thinks it would be much better to just keep a lid on it all
and keep anybody out
who has ideas of going up mountains and disturbing Dragons. But there is a
prophecy that Laketown
lives under, which is that Thorin and the others will come and restore its
prosperity when the
Mountain once again rings out with Dwarves hammering away at the gold."
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