'He’s a dwarf who’s seen too much...'
Scottish actor Ken Stott has been known not to be a particularly good fool-sufferer – he once stopped a production of A View From The Bridge to turf a group of noisy schoolkids out of the theatre – and while his dwarf, Balin, probably won't be giving the younglings of the Shire too many lessons in good manners, he will be delivering some of The Hobbit's sager moments. “He has some wisdom,” the one-time Inspector Rebus tells Empire of his character. “I’m not sure how much wisdom a dwarf has, but he has some..."
Tell us about Balin...
For a dwarf he has some wisdom. I’m not sure how much wisdom a dwarf has, but he has some. But dwarves can always make mistakes. Dwarves can get things wrong. And he gets things wrong, too. He’s the force of dignity for the dwarves. He’s worried about the whole adventure. He takes no pleasure in killing. He’s a dwarf who has seen too much of it in the past. So he does not enter the venture wholeheartedly.
Are you a Tolkien man?
I read the Hobbit at the age when you’re supposed to read it. I didn’t read The Lord Of The Rings. My father, who was an English teacher, advised me that once I had read the Hobbit, that would be enough. I could then move on to Dostoyevsky.
On set, it seemed like Peter Jackson was drawing a lot of comedy from the dwarves.
It’s hard to look at these characters and not smile.
Tell us about Peter.
Well, this project was in his mind for goodness knows how long. It has been in jeopardy for so long and we all want it to work. He has made Wellington the spiritual home for the Tolkien books and it’s great to be part of that. I’m sure no doubt it will be as beautiful and as engrossing as The Lord Of The Rings, though possibly with more humour. We’re like The Dirty Dozen. A Dirty Baker's Dozen.
Did you have any preconceptions about your look?
Like all of us, I marvelled at the artistry. But not the wearing it. The best bit of wearing it is taking it off. Because it is ghastly... utterly ghastly.
How was the dwarf training?
We wanted to establish that kind of walk – a centre of gravity. How we walked, the way we held ourselves. Walking with a slight bend in the knee and a shift in the gravity. Unfortunately, what we didn’t take into account was the sheer weight of the costumes. Stumbling and falling around are very common.
But in the end it must be an extraordinary thing to play.
Well, it’s unusual. Death Of A Salesman is a great acting job.
How is your dwarf singing?
Enchanting. We’re bringing out the single...
Do you think small?
Only when we’re with others do we think about it. When we’re with Gandalf, which is either Ian on a box or a scale double who is, you know, up there. Only then do you notice the difference.
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Interview by Ian Nathan
Source (including photos): Empire Online