Luke Evans interview, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies brings us to the conclusion of Peter Jackson’s epic adaption of JRR Tolkien’s best-selling and much-loved novel. Everything has been building up to this moment as Bilbo and company are forced to go to war to fight for the kingdom’s freedom after their encounter with Smaug the dragon.

On the eve of the film’s nationwide release, the Xtreme Entertainment Network met up with Luke Evans, who plays the character of Bard the Bowman. As a vital part of the story, we spoke to him about his meteoric rise to fame, the role he plays in the film and how Peter Jackson really has saved the best for last as the trilogy draws to an end…


Luke Evans

After starring in both The Hobbit and Dracula Untold, are you starting to get used to these large, epic productions?   Yes, well as used to it as you can! They are both very big, big films. It’s very fun to work on something of this scale though. It’s fun to watch people come and visit you on the set as well. When you invite your friends and family down to see you, it’s a lot for them to take in. They’re all taken by the scale of the production, so it’s fun to see their reactions.

On a broad sense, what does it mean for you and your career to be a part of The Hobbit trilogy?   A lot – it was a huge moment in my career when I was offered the part, a very big moment. I was still quite new to the film business and still making a name for myself, but they chose me out of a lot of people who had been up for the role. It really has helped open a lot of doors.

There was a lot of green screen work involved in the film, particularly in the action sequences. How did you find that? Did it take a lot to get used it in terms of your acting?   It’s a big challenge for your imagination, because you are acting against something that simply isn’t there. You don’t really know what it is you are supposed to be looking at, so it is incredibly hard to make it seem believable. It’s the most unique form of acting I have ever done, but it goes with the territory when you are working on a film of this size.

bard3Speaking of action, did you have to train much for the role, and what was that like?   It was good, yeah. We worked with a bunch of stuntmen who had worked in Peter’s films before – including Lord of the Rings – and we trained whenever we were free really.  It was great – really fun, but a lot of hard work.

Were they hard taskmasters?   Yeah, to a certain level. There was a lot to get through, you know what I mean. There was a lot of work and a lot of people to train, so we had to knuckle down and take it seriously whilst we were there. But I loved it, the physical stuff was really good fun.

You play Bard the Bowman in the film. What it is that drives him to transform from a bargeman to a warrior?   I guess when it comes to the crunch, he fights because he wants to protect his family and children. They are all he has, so he will fight against anything that threatens them. He does what he has to do, but I don’t think he wants to be a hero, it’s not his want in life. He just wants safety and security for his children.

I remember when The Hobbit first came out, people were aghast at watching the film in 48 frames per second. It was too much for some. But it didn’t seem to be as much of an issue when the Desolation of Smaug reached our screens. Why do you think this was?   I think it took time for people to get used to it. When you think about it, we’ve had 24 frames per second since the 1960s, or whenever it was. So that’s a long time for your eyes to become used to one frame speed. It’s going to take a while for people to get used to it – I think it was a big thing for people to absorb the clarity of watching 3D in 48 frames per second. Like you said though, by the second one it wasn’t really much of a problem, and I think by the third one people will just accept it. In fact I think it’ll probably be the best it’s ever looked in the third one.

In terms of the book length, the first Lord of the Rings trilogy spanned across three books containing thousands of pages. The Hobbit in comparison is not even a quarter of the size. With this in mind, did you ever wonder how Peter was going to turn The Hobbit films into a trilogy when it was first announced?   Well when we first finished principle photography, we actually ran out of time to film the end battle. Peter hadn’t even got around to creating the battle yet. So when we went back for pickups, you could see then that there was so much footage and storyline that would be lost if we kept it to two films. There’s a lot from the books appendices as well that they brought into the main storyline. They’ve also allowed Bard to have breathing space and you now really can understand his journey, his love for his kids and why he becomes this hero character. He does a momentous thing in this film, and he finds courage from within that he didn’t even know existed. To allow that character to have a voice and a much clearer journey is a wonderful thing. That’s partially due to the third movie, otherwise we wouldn’t have seen so much of him.

bard1I must admit I was slightly concerned when I heard the news that they were turning the book into a trilogy, but it has worked well…   Yes, and I think once the third one is out and you watch all three in concession, it will all be very clear to everybody why Peter did it. By doing that he has allowed smaller characters in the book who had a much bigger story to tell, have now been given those moments. They can now tell their stories and leave their stamp on The Hobbit journey.

You’re now signed up for The Crow. Can you tell us anything about that?   Well only that I’ve said yes to it. That was a year ago, and it didn’t happen when it was supposed to for lots of different reasons. I’m still ready to play it, but the balls not in my court any more, it’s up to them. I’m waiting for the project to get the green light, and hopefully I’ll be free to do it. But I think it’s a wonderful story, it’s a beautifully tragic story of a man who has lost everything. It deserves to be told again to a new audience who may not have known the first one. Watch this space!

Finally, how have you found the fans of The Hobbit? How have they taken to you playing the part of Bard?   They’ve been brilliant. They’re incredibly passionate people – I’ve even got my own fanbase now! They sometimes know more about my film career more than I do. It’s great that these people follow me and support me in what I do, it really means so much. It’s a wonderful thing. You don’t think about these things when you start doing films, but after a while people start to follow you. They call themselves Lukateers!

The Lukateers? That’s when you know you’ve made it, you see… When your fans have a special name they call themselves.   Yeah, they’ve given themselves a title. They’re like a tribe. It’s mad, but it’s very touching that have that kind of attention. It means a lot to me.

Mark Pilkington