There is a saying that ‘all good things must come to an end’ but it was evident at the London première of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – the final instalment of Peter Jackson’s epic return to Middle-earth – that despite the end of the trilogy, the stars’ love-affair with New Zealand will continue to shine on.
The glowing praise for the country – the setting for Tolkien’s Middle-earth – was delivered via a selection of interviews with the actors and actresses from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies.
Here’s what they had to say.
Peter Jackson on the making of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy:
“It was the opportunity of a lifetime [to make these films] especially in New Zealand where we just don’t get to make movies of this size.
“Nobody has ever shot three huge movies in a row before, and I think - the interesting thing I’ve discovered over the last 14 months, is exactly why … now I know [laughs] and therefore I won’t be doing it again.”
Peter Jackson on ‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy:
“10 years later we were doing it all over again [with The Hobbit Trilogy].”
“Every day Kiwis have embraced these films as part of their own. You get the sense that they are cheering you on.”
Bret McKenzie (‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’):
‘The impact of The Lord of the Rings on New Zealand was very significant because the world suddenly saw what New Zealand looked like. They know it’s got Orcs and that sort of thing.”
Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield):
“The very first day we filmed The Hobbit there was a powhiri [welcome] by the local iwi. I feel like there was a real sense of spirit about that amongst local crew who were all invested in the making of the film.”
Elijah Wood (Frodo):
“The experience of making Rings will always be one of the greatest experiences of my life - the connection to the country, New Zealand.”
Orlando Bloom (Legolas):
“Leaving drama school, Legolas was my first role. Then coming back and playing him again 10 years later, but 60 years younger, it’s been a pretty remarkable journey.
“I look forward to getting back to New Zealand on numerous occasions as my son grows up. Who knows, I might even end up living in New Zealand one day because it’s a remarkable place so thank you so much.”
Andy Serkis (Gollum):
“Whilst being down there [New Zealand] families have grown. I’ve had seven birthdays down there. I don’t imagine that it’s ever not going to be part of my life in the future."
“I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the most extraordinary country, the most generous, open spirited people that I’ve been lucky enough to get to know.”
Luke Evans (Bard the Bowman):
“The people, I think, are the most impressive thing about New Zealand. I mean the place is beautiful but the people just are great.”
James Nesbitt (Bofur):
“You can help but get on together. We’ve bonded a lot over sport and wine, which is basically all there is in New Zealand to be honest - sport, wine and mountains. I’d live here in a heartbeat, if I could somehow convince Manchester United [English Premier League Football club] to move.”
Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel):
“I’ve found the [New Zealand] community to be incredibly warm and open and friendly. There is no such thing as a stranger.”
Cate Blanchett (Galadriel):
“New Zealanders are very hairy. Everyone seems to have incredible hair - almost as good as Australian crews.”
Martin Freeman (Bilbo):
“There’s still a real can-do attitude here [New Zealand].”
“This has been my home for the last 18-months and if I’ve got to be away from home… I couldn’t imagine anywhere that would make me feel more welcome, more warm, so thank you so, so much.”
Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug the Magnificent / Sauron the Necromancer):
“I had a really magical time and the memories will last a lifetime, but hopefully they won’t have to because I’d love to come back and see you all soon, thank you so much.”
Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf the Grey):
“It isn’t just the ‘oh, no more Gandalf.’ For me it’s ‘oh, none of these friends again.’ It’s a mixture of saying goodbye to the character and saying goodbye to all those colleagues. Lots of love and I hope I can safely say, 'see you soon'.”