In August 1998, on a discussion on Ain’t it Cool News, Jackson is quoted as saying: ^ “The Hobbits are our chief heroes, who we must totally connect with over the course of 3 movies. That ruled out the use of CGI hobbits as I felt any artificial method of creating a character would be an impediment to our bonding with them. They would be a gimmick, rather than a real character. Dwarfs like Gimli will either be a real little person, or a normal height actor reduced like the Hobbits. A decision has yet to be made.”
By the time he was quoted in the Guardian, in July 99, Jackson had made his decision on the issue: ^ “Well, we’ve thought about that a lot. We still have tests to do but the Hobbits are the principal characters. If you study Tolkien’s descriptions of them, they are really described as small people. Between three and a half to four foot tall and they’re not strange in any other way than these large, hairy feet. I know casting authentic little people is the way that some people have thought we’ll go but it just doesn’t fit what Tolkien wrote. So we are casting normal sized actors and using prosthetics, computer tricks and other less complicated trickery to reduce them in size. I certainly don’t want to use puppets or CGI (computer-generated imagery) characters because this is a story about real people.”
Kline is one of the LP actors who auditioned in the US and UK. When he found out they were using average-size folks instead, Kline says he was furious.
“I think that’s total bullshit on Jackson’s part… it’s his total lack of knowledge about little people… I don’t fault anybody but Jackson for this decision.”
“I ended up telling the casting agents,” he continues, “Jackson, and New Line Cinema, they could go f**k themselves, and we went back to Hawaii. I just got really upset with the Hollywood scene. The way business is conducted… to me, as a little person, there’s so many roles out there that are just stereotypical, it’s just crap, it’s bullshit. There’s no real acting opportunities there. They wanna see elves… my friend Verne Troyer played Mini-Me (in Austin Powers 2.) They just use them as a prop – just something to laugh at. Whereas in Lord of the Rings, that is a real role, that’s a real gig. You can’t tell me there weren’t qualified people – cause I know people in L.A. and in England who were wonderfully qualified. There were a lot of theatre people in England that would have been perfect.”
He says John Rhys Davies, who got the part of Gimli, is a great actor, and isn’t complaining about him.
“It’s a story about little people, and yet they’re not using little people. We are more than Santa’s helpers and all this other stereotypical crap. We’re busting our humps trying to get a chance at something, a good film, a good role, something with some real meat and potatoes to it, and then it was just pulled out from under us. It’s kind of cruel and unusual punishment.”
“They did this with black people in the 1940’s. They took white actors and blacked them out. What, they couldn’t find black people who could act? Little people are still subjected to that today. It’s still going on.”
Lisa Osmond, another LP actor who runs an email list called LPactors, wrote to me with similar thoughts. “I think that this is totally wrong when there are so many LP actors out there who are out of work,” she wrote, “LP’s are very rarely portrayed in normal everyday roles, and if the fantasy, sci-fic roles are also taken away, then what’s left for them?”
However, on the Dwarfism email list, debate rages about whether LP’s really were what Tolkien would want Hobbits to look like, simultaneous with another debate about whether dwarf tossing should be banned.
Get more information from the official Dwarfism web site.
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