When film-maker Sir Peter Jackon’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opened the international spotlight shone on a group of New Zealand actors cast as seven of the 13 dwarves in the film.
The three films making up the The Hobbit Trilogy were filmed in New Zealand on location and in the studio. This mammoth project involved more than 2000 New Zealanders, international cast and crew.
The New Zealand cast members all have an illustrious past in the local television industry, and are now making their names known internationally on the big screen.
During the 18-month filming schedule, the dwarves long days began at 4.30 am each morning with several hours in makeup before they made it onto the set.
When Prince Charles visited Weta Workshop, Dwarf Dori (Mark Hadlow) told him that the 18-month filming process was "an extraordinary experience ... It was like being back at boarding school. We were the naughty dwarves and only Peter Jackson could keep us in check and eventually he joined in."
The Hobbit dwarves - New Zealand
Dean O’Gorman - Fili: Pin-up boy Dean O’Gorman portrays ‘hunky dwarf’ Fili. Dean O’Gorman’s colourful and successful career began at age 12 when he was discovered by a casting agent at a school speech contest. His first screen appearance was in teen romance Bonjour Timothy (1995), sparking a series of roles.
He has featured on both big and small screen. Small screen roles include Return to Treasure Island, Doom Runners, and Fearless, and US production Young Hercules - co-starring Ryan Gosling. Feature films include When Love Comes and Snakeskin co-starring New Zealand actress Melanie Lynskey from US sitcom Two and a Half Men. Hailing from Auckland, O’Gorman has worked on both sides of the Tasman with roles on Kiwi soap Shortland Street, and Australian show McLeod’s Daughters. O'Gorman also plays a PR man, charmer and part-time god Anders Johnson in the hit New Zealand TV series The Almighty Johnsons.
Jed Brophy - Nori: Jed Brophy plays ‘dodgy dwarf’ Nori, from the working class side of Thorin’s family. Brophy’s acting career began on New Zealand soap Shortland Street as Dr. Jack Galloway. He has a long established history working with Sir Peter Jackson, appearing in the zombie spoof Braindead / Dead Alive (1992), then Heavenly Creatures (1994). Seven years later he played several roles in the The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. An extremely capable horse rider, Jed Brophy purchased his Rohan horse after riding it in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Mark Hadlow - Dori: Mark Hadlow plays countrified dwarf Dori - brother of Nori and Ori. Hadlow is a well-known New Zealand actor with a long list of comic roles. He has appeared in several TV sitcoms, the comedy The Billy T James Show alongside Billy T, one of New Zealand’s most celebrated Kiwi comedians, and Gothic comedy Willy Nilly for three successful seasons. Hadlow spends much of his time in the South Island city of Christchurch, where he has made a second home acting and directing at the Court Theatre.
William Kircher - Bifur: William Kircher plays Bifur - the dwarf with an axe stuck in his head from a previous battle with an Orc. Kircher’s professional career had an early start - graduating at 18 from New Zealand Drama School, considerably ahead of his classmates because he’d advanced his age to enter the course. His busy on-screen career since then has revolved around several crime shows. Whether dying, killing, or arresting people in his roles, Kircher has featured in crime-themed movies Trespasses and Constance, and TV fantasies Cuckooland, City Life and the very successful crime drama Shark in the Park. In the late 90s Kircher worked for Englishman Raymond Thompson at Cloud Nine Entertainment, before setting up Screen Adventures with longtime friend Michael Hurst and Cloud 9 executive Geoff Husson.
Stephen Hunter - Bombur: Stephen Hunter plays rotund Bombur - a cousin of Bifur and Bofur. Hunter is known for playing both comedic and dramatic roles. He has played a long list of comedic roles for stage and TV commericals, and has also appeared in TV comedies such as The GO Show by Nickelodeon. His acting credits in many TV dramas include Mercy Peak, Street Legal and Shortland Street.
Peter Hambleton - Gloin: Peter Hambleton plays Gloin - the father of Gimli from The Lord of The Rings. Hambleton, a well-known Wellington actor and theatre director, has worked in stage, radio, television and film. He has appeared in over 70 professional productions, most recently at Wellington’s Circa Theatre in Blood Wedding, and in Four Flat Whites in Italy. Hambleton has directed local productions of Marathon and All the World’s a Stage, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He has also received many awards including an International Artistic Fellowship to Shakespeare’s Globe in London (2002), and a Winston Churchill Fellowship to study Shakespeare productions in the UK (2008).
John Callen - Oin: John Callen plays feisty Oin - brother of Gloin. John Callen was born in south-east London before moving with his family to New Zealand as a 16-year-old. From secondary school, he tried art school but got his first job copywriting for radio before moving into journalism. Meanwhile he was engaged in amateur theatricals. Callen has appeared in or directed more than 100 stage works, 12 TV series, hundreds of radio plays, commercials and thousands of voice overs, including 150 documentaries. He has directed New Zealand’s favourite TV soap, Shortland Street, and co-wrote and directed the film The Kiwi who Saved Britain. He also teaches acting and media studies students.
The Hobbit - six international dwarves
Richard Armitage plays dwarf leader Thorin. Armitage played Sir Guy of Gisborne in the BBC series Robin Hood and Lucas North in Spooks. His credits include regular voice work such as poetry reading for radio, and as Robert Lovelace in BBC Radio 4′s production of Clarissa: A History of a Young Lady.
James Nesbitt plays funny dwarf Bofur. Nesbitt has had a colourful and successful career, ranging from his breakthrough award-winning role of Adam Williams in British TV romantic comedy-drama Cold Feet (1998-2003), to starring alongside Liam Neeson in Five Minutes of Heaven (2009).
Adam Brown plays Ori - the younger brother of Nori and Dori who has no idea what going off to war means - in addition to the big screen, Brown played Oswald Potter in a BBC kids TV show Chuckle Vision.
Aidan Turner plays ‘hunky dwarf’ Kili. Turner is a film and television actor best known for his long-running role of vampire John Mitchell in Being Human.
Graham McTavish is Dwalin - brother of Balin and one of the most battle-hardened dwarves. McTavish has had many supporting roles in British films and television dramas such as Casualty, Jekyll, The Bill, Taggart and Sisterhood. He played Lewis in Rambo, Desmond’s drill sergeant in Lost (Season 4), and starred as a customs officer in Ali G Indahouse.
Ken Stott plays battle-hardened Balin who doubts the wisdom of this quest more than the other dwarves. Stott’s high-profile television roles have included DCI Red Metcalfe in the BBC crime series Messiah and as Adolf Hitler in Uncle Adolf.
Background: The Hobbit dwarves
Thorin Oakenshield inherited the name Oakenshield after the battle at Moria between the Dwarves and the Goblins. His shield was split, so he used an oak branch to defend himself, hence the name.
Brothers Fili and Kili are nephews of Thorin - the sons of his sister.
Oin and Gloin are brothers, and Gloin is the father of Gimli who plays a prominent role in The Lord of the Rings.
Several sets of brothers include Dwalin and Balin, Dori, Ori, and Nori.
Bombur is a friend of Bilbo. His rotund shape and weight creates the odd problem.
Bombur also has two brothers Bifur and Bofur.