An Unexpected Journey: Quint on the set of The Hobbit! Part 2 - They Call Me Mr. Chubb
Published at: Nov 05, 2011 12:29:11 AM CDT
My name is Fredegar Chubb and I am a Hobbit. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.Let’s back up a bit, shall we?
My alarm went off at 5am and I once again took the gorgeous 40 minute drive from my Hamilton, NZ hotel up through the rolling farmland hills towards Hobbiton. At base camp I barely had a moment to scarf down a quick breakfast before being whisked to the wardrobe tent to shed my human clothes and gain my new Hobbit skin.
I gotta say, the actual wardrobe was incredibly comfortable. Loose, suedey, just warm enough to cut down on the morning chill and covering enough to save my delicate “living-life-in-a-movie-theater-and-in-front-of-a-computer-screen” pasty white skin from the burning rays of the sun.
With a spring in my step I made my way to get the Hobbit ears put on, another innocuous process (the pain and torment would come later after the ears were removed and the sticky remnants of the spirit gum refused to leave my skin and hair for a week), and then I was off to the makeup trailer.
The worst part about the process was having to shave my beard off. I’d be willing to bet there’s a fair amount of AICN readers that understand why that particular process wasn’t my favorite. Big guys use their beards like shields. My shield was taken away from me because Shire-folk don’t have facial hair, so my saggy jowls would be immortalized for all time.
A lovely lady named Ricci-Lee turned my irritated, pale beardless face into a nice solid Hobbitesque visage, rosy cheeks and all. The wig was a surprising amount of work, the netting clipped to my real hair by bobby pins, hair clips and, ultimately, glue. My own hair was blasted with industrial strength hairspray and laid as flat as possible. Still, there was a lot of tugging to get the wig fitted, but when it was on it looked great. Of course, I immediately covered it up with a floppy Hobbit hat, but you could still see wild curls underneath.
Up to this point I had been tooling around base camp in my shoes and socks. It was time to shed the last vestige of humanity and take the final step of my transformation. That’s right, it was time for my feet.On Lord of the Rings these feet were applied like shoes, glued at the ankle, which meant they had to be de-glued at the end of the day. In my brief time on the set of Return of the King I saw Elijah Wood undergo this process, which honestly looked kind of relaxing, but must not have been the most comfortable thing in the world to have to undergo every day for a year.
Hobbit feet technology has evolved in the last decade. No longer is there just a foot appliance, but a full silicone skin that your foot is guided into by a very patient prosthetics person (in my case a very pretty girl named Heather McMullan) until the heel sets in the squishy foot and then the skin of the leg is tugged up to just over your knee.
What that results in is a uniform piece that is secure and even provides a decent amount of padding for bare feet. There were some Hobbit feet that had little footies inside with extensions built into the toes so the wearer could actually twitch the big toe on the prosthetic.
I was in a pair of regular Hobbit feet, which were oddly comfortable as long as you didn’t stomp heel-first onto a sharp rock. Which happened. A couple of times. I’m sorry, heel. Please forgive me.
Fully Hobbited up, I was shuttled to Hobbiton and slowly made my way to The Green Dragon where a market place was set up outside. I spent the walk trying to get used to my floppy, furry feet and had a decent handle on them by the time I made it to the outdoor market.
It was nuts there. The giant Technocrane was set up near the famous bridge and mill overlooking the front of The Green Dragon which was decked out in dozens of rickety stalls selling everything from cheese to toys to books to fowl.
I was told I’d be handling a giant rooster for the shot. His name was Trevor and the action I was given was that I’d go up and pay the Hobbit selling him (whose stall also had ducks, pigeons and chickens), pick Trevor up and place him on the ground and walk him through the market. Yes, walk him. Trevor had a harness on with a rope tied to it, so the idea was that I’d walk him through the market on this harness.
I was given a crash course on how to handle roosters which went something like this: “Hold him at the breast, make sure your hands cover the wings, don’t let go and watch out for his claws. Now you try.” Turns out I’m a natural and didn’t have any trouble with Trevor, but sadly he and I weren’t meant to be. Again, I’m getting ahead of myself. I gotta stop that…
One of the cooler guys working crew on The Hobbit is a man by the name of Terry Notary. He is a movement coach, but geeks will know him for his rather iconic work in this year’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He played Rocket.
This guy knows his shit when it comes to movement (the secret to doing an ape is to fuse the hips, keep the head straight and lead with the chin, for example) and I consulted him on how to walk as a Hobbit. I didn’t want to look too bouncy or make my feet jiggle when stomping about.
Notary said Hobbits lead with their knees and are always happy, looking around as a child seeing something new and interesting everywhere they look. Also, the secret to keeping the feet from jiggling as I walked was to step down with my heel, but follow through with putting my weight on the edge of my foot. So, not heel-toe, but heel-edge-toe.
I was practicing this, trying to get Trevor to walk where I wanted by guiding him with my foot (this wasn’t going too well and I was wondering how on Earth I could do this when the cameras were rolling) when Peter Jackson came up and told me I was no longer going to be walking Trevor through the scene.
“How do you feel about fish?” he asked. I don’t eat ‘em, never could stomach the taste of seafood for whatever reason, but I don’t have any phobias about handling them, so I told him I was up for it.
“Good. You’re going to be selling a fish to Bilbo,” he said and I was pointed to the fish stall. An older extra was already placed there and the A.D.s pulled him out and put him in another part of the scene, placing me behind the counter which was flanked by baskets of realistic looking giant fake fish and eels.
(Note: I didn’t have my camera on me for obvious reasons, but I got this shot of the stall the next day. It’s about half-dressed, the real fish long gone, but gives you an idea of what my station looked like.) I looked up and saw the Technocrane was pointed right at me. A few feelings hit me at once: excitement, nervousness and guilt. I felt really bad for that poor guy who was pulled out of this spot. He must have thought it was going to be his big moment. I did some extra work as a teenager and I know that excitement when you think you’re going to be featured and I know that disappointment when it doesn’t come to pass.