Translation of Swiss (German) Interview with Richard Armitage

Original here. This was done at the request of Ali and will eventually post to [ETA: now posted there, new of November 30, 2012.] No copyright infringement intended.


Interview with Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield)

He is the King of the Dwarves in the new “Hobbit” trilogy and his name is Richard Armitage. He plays Thorin Oakenshield and answered all our questions in this interview.

[picture: Richard Armitage in costume]

He played a supporting role in Captain America: The First Avenger, participated in countless TV-productions and will play the King of the Dwarves, Thorin Oakenshield, in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Actor Richard Armitage may not stand in the film industry spotlight just yet, but that might change this December at the latest, when he’s allowed to take charge as Thorin Oakenshield for the first time.

We spoke with Richard Armitage about the expectations for the new trilogy, the Lord of the Rings feeling, and about exactly for whom which of the two great trilogies by Peter Jackson is better.
Outnow.CH: Hello, Richard, how excited are you to be in the Hobbit trilogy?
Richard Armitage: Undescribably excited. The closer the premiere gets, the more intensive the feeling. It is overwhelming and fantastic to participate in a project like this. Peter Jackson’s vision is inspired and gigantic. I am enormously excited.
ON: We all know the story of The Hobbit as a book for children. Can – or must – we expect a film for children?
RA: No. That basic idea was laid aside quite early in the production and replaced with more grownup elements. More humor; the action and of course the brutality are focused more strongly. The dwarves are funny, the adventures are dark, and in that way, they will fit into the existing Jackson universe. Evil is present; danger lurks behind every corner. It’s no film for children, no worries.

ON: Your character, Thorin Oakenshield, is the leader of the dwarves. What does a leader like that, a king, need to be like?
RA: Well, he and his people were driven away by a dragon. So he doesn’t feel much like a king, but rather like a person who wants to get back what once belonged to him. Once upon a time he was rich and powerful, and now he wants to be king again. That’s why he goes on this quest and he has a clear goal before his eyes.
ON: The first trilogy is world famous and earned oodles of money. Do you feel any pressure for the Hobbit-trilogy to be so successful?

RA: Yes, of course. When the first trilogy premiered, no one knew what to expect. The story was certainly well known, but the execution was so full of genius that the sequels will be measured by that standard. As a consequence there’s a lot more pressure on our production, because everyone expects at least as gigantic a film as those that Peter has already made. But we are sure that the viewers will be excited.
ON: I’ve read that you play the flute. Do we get to see this skill in the film?

RA: Unfortunately not. Dwarves do play many instruments; I, for example, play the harp. Unfortunately I am not allowed to play the flute. But I do have to sing. (laughs out loud…)
ON: What did you do in particular to prepare for your role as Thorin Oakenshield?
RA: I had to do a lot of physical work. On top of that, a lot of speaking, learning the story, getting a grip on the legend. But the most difficult thing was certainly the physical preparation. We had to feel like warriors and so we trained that way – swinging hammers around, fighting with axes and of course learning how to fall. That was quite important.
ON: We’ve read a lot about the great mood on the set of the “Rings” films. Good food, lots of fun, neat atmosphere. Can you say the same about The Hobbit?

RA: Definitely. One of the most important things in a Peter Jackson production is that the actors feel comfortable. “We were fed well” [the interviewer notes here that that’s the original quote, because translating literally requires the use of a verb that is only used for feeding animals and might strike a German reader as odd—Servetus], had a super crew, great mood. Jackson makes sure that the whole team becomes a family for a time. It was a joy to work there, the dwarves became fans of the production, and our connection to each other was fantastic.
ON: You met some of the “old hands” of Middle Earth. How were Ian McKellen or Andy Serkis on set?
RA: The guys were great. I still remember that I was uncomfortable on the first day of shooting. The heavy costume, all the hair, I just didn’t like it. Then the door to the hall opened and Ian McKellen came in, dressed as Gandalf. And suddenly you feel like you’re right in Middle Earth. Practically magically (laughs).  Right then I knew, I belong here, I want to do this. I want to be part of this. And then Cate Blanchett came into the room as Galadriel. You just can’t top that. Things like that help a lot and naturally make the beginning of a production like this a great deal easier.
ON: Why is The Hobbit better than The Lord of the Rings?
RA: (laughs) Well, we don’t know that yet … But if it were up to Thorin Oakenshield, it would be clear. His story is much better and more interesting than that of a little guy with hairs on his feet, of course. In the end, though, it’s important that the balance of the story is right, that the viewer is entertained and has fun. A lot of emphasis is placed on the dwarves: where they come from, what they do, and how they plan to make good their loss. They are the center of the story. For Thorin that’s a logical choice, naturally … (laughs)

~ by Servetus on November 30, 2012.

24 Responses to “Translation of Swiss (German) Interview with Richard Armitage”

  1. That was quick. Thanks for the translation. 🙂


    • You’re welcome. This is a language I know well.

      What i liked about this was the reference to Cate Blanchett. Since he said so long ago that she would be his dream leading lady, I’m glad he got to meet / work with her.


    • I was sorry to hear him say the movie wasn’t appropriate for children. In the premiere press conference, Kate Blanchette said she thougth it was ok for children and Peter Jackson said it would depend on the child.


      • FWIW — I said below that I think he’s trying to please the interviewer, and the way the interviewer put the question, it’s signaling that he wants to hear that it’s not a children’s film. Everywhere else that Armitage has answered this question or one like it, he’s stated that it’s a family film and there’s something in it for everyone.

        It’s not entirely clear what “strongly focused” would even mean with regard to violence. Him saying that is so out of joint with everything else’s he’s said about the film that it verges on impossible to interpret.

        Finally, it’s also a bit hard to translate that last sentence into English and I wondered a lot about what he must have said. The original sentence reads, in the main clause:

        Das ist kein Kinderfilm,

        That could be “it’s no film for children” (implying: keep your kids away,” but I kind of don’t think that’s what he said. I suspect he said, “it’s not a children’s film,” which is less emphatic.

        And then he ends with “keine Angst.” That could be translated as “don’t worry,” or, more typically for English idiom, “no worries,” which is also an Australian idiom as far as I know. “No worries” would sound more casual, where as “don’t worry” also has the effect of being more emphatic.

        All in all, the answer seems to suggest the “something for everyone” (more humor, fits in the Jackson universe) in contradiction to the final sentence. I suspect the interviewer may have misunderstood Armitage’s tone of voice here.


        • yea, I thought that was kind of contradicting what he’d said in the past re it being a movie for family and/or he hoped it would be a movie families could enjoy. Either way, first time I’m going to see it w/o children so I can make my own decision. It was just that the article seemed to imply it’s definitely not for children. Thanks for the clarification.


        • There has been some concern that this is first and foremost aimed at children, given the funny dwarf clips. I think what he meant is that it is not a film that only appeals to children. It got a PG-13 rating. I’m not sure how it works elsewhere but in Germany the equivalent is “ab 12” and means that children under the age of 12 are not allowed to see it, no matter if a parent is with them or not.


          • I think that’s what he meant, too, but that’s not what the text of the interview says. Of course, this whole enterprise is a big game of telephone.


          • I think in the US, PG-13 means parents are advised there is mild violence, etc., but childre can still be admitted w/o an adult.


            • I was surprised that CB talked about seeing it with her eight year old son, in Germany she could watch the DVD with him at home, but he couldn’t see it in the cinema.


              • well, you know in the US we don’t care about violence but are terrified of sex. Don’t know what the attitude is in Australia, though.


                • Personally speaking, I can handle sex scenes on the screen but not gratuitous violence, horror and gore. I get the feeling though that generally attitudes in Australia are pretty casual about both sex and violence in film, but I hope another Aussie weighs in with their opinion!


  2. Funny, this was a bit hard to read in German, even as a German. Seems mostly like a translation from an English interview (which it naturally must have been..ha, ha..), but somehow clumsily and badly translated/expressed in its (original) German phrasing. Web-nerd German?? Or is it because they are Swiss 😉 ?


    • This was not what we got with the last two interviews in French and Spanish, which was sort of stream of consciousness Armitage speaking. This was obviously edited.

      One thing I’ve started wondering is how closely what I’m translating would correspond to what he actually said … there are a couple odd moments in this one.


      • There wasn’t any flow in the sentences. I needed to start reading every one repeatedly because I lost the thread again and again. It almost seems as if they, like you’ve said, edited it or took parts from other interviews and somehow threw them together. Anyway, this is a bit sloppy and uninspired (no clue who RA (or Thorin!!) is) and we already see, that the questions now keep recurring more regularly. Or maybe WE read far too many interviews??? 😉


        • IMO, and it’s only my opinion, the German entertainment press isn’t very sophisticated, especially as regards this kind of film. He’d have to be a classical actor for the German media to take him seriously, in which case he’d be interviewed in Die Zeit or something. There’s nothing really comparable the U.S. ed. of Vanity Fair, which is where I’d love to see him interviewed. This interview was clearly done to pique the interest of the readership in the film and not to ask us anything about what Armitage thinks. That contributes to the problem, insofar as if he’s being asked superficial questions, he will answer them that way, because he wants to make his interviewers happy. That’s something that streams through all of these interviews.


          • I’m not familiar with German entertainment press as I definitely don’t read them. Celebrity gossip and looking at pictures of people that doesn’t interest me bores me to death. RA is a an exception! *cough* but as he still is totally unbeknown to a larger audience here, I’m sure I haven’t missed out on anything. I used to buy a couple of editions of the German Vanity Fair, which was a weekly magazine, mainly because they sold it really cheap (2,- €) and I knew the American original. But it existed only 2 years. I’m a regular reader of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung and they every now and then have really interesting interviews especially in their cultural-supplement or weekend editions. And you know, the feuilletons….
            They had a brilliant interview with Cate Blanchett this spring, when she played “Gross und Klein” on stage in Vienna and Recklinghausen (where I went to see her!! Unforgettable..)
            There are some serious, reputable film magazines like “epd film” I used to read. I have to check them about articles on “The Hobbit”.
            What made me smile is you mentioning that RA wants to make the interviewers happy. Probably you are more than right here…


            • LOL, my ex was a religious reader of epd-Film and the SZ. I didn’t realize that epd-film did interviews with actors. I thought it was all film reviews. Now, that I would read. I could also see something maybe in the Feuilleton of the taz.


              • Phew, you floor me..again… I was kind of a press junkie for decades, but when I stumbled over RA a bit over 2 years ago, and I started reading blogs and writing short comments, I almost completely stopped buying and reading magazines and newspapers, watching TV and going to the cinema. Unfortunately a day has only 24 hours!
                As to the taz, since my brother is a subscriber to the taz, I’d ask him to have an eye on a possible article about “The Hobbit”. Would be interesting..


                • the German press is such a high level in comparison to the U.S. press. I was a really dedicated reader for many years (esp the Feuilleton of the FAZ), but at some point it started overwhelming me.


                  • Sorry, but I have to piggyback the reply to comment and I’ve already said this once, but I’m going to say it again since we’re talking interviews here: I have a daydream — that Servetus interviews Richard Armitage! Can we start a petition or something? Or is that something you would even want to do? It would be so much more interesting than what we’ve heard so far.
                    Now this really is frivolous but I’d like to know which of the Hobbit characters he identified with when he read the book as a child. Was it Thorin? Or somebody else?


                    • It’s kind of you to suggest it, but it would be terrible misstep for him to do it, and I would be ambivalent to negative. I probably am going to need to blog soon about the “bubble rule,” which is my code for how I deal with the presence of Richard Armitage as a real person in the universe as opposed to just someone whom I see on my screen.

                      That would be a great question, though, Sloan, and maybe you should interview him!


  3. Like linda60, I like your English translation much better than the original German version, Servetus. Even the ‘Du’ freaks me out in German, but is totally o.k. in English.


    • I’m uncomfortable about the number of people that I’m using “Du” with on the Internet, I have to say. I feel really weird typing it into blog comments and so on …


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