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Exclusive: The Hobbit's Richard Armitage looks back on playing Thorin Oakenshield 11 years after its release

12 December marks the 11th anniversary of The Hobbit's UK release 

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield
Megan Bull
TV Writer
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Eleven years ago, Tolkienites rejoiced as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey landed in UK cinemas. With Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson, at the helm, a legion of actors including Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, and Orlando Bloom signed on to star. 

Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Sir Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, James Nesbitt, Andy Serkis and Peter Jackson at the 2012 premiere of The Hobbit© Getty
Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Sir Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, James Nesbitt, Andy Serkis and Peter Jackson at the 2012 premiere of The Hobbit

Joining them, British actor Richard Armitage won the role of Thorin Oakenshield – the legendary King of Durin's folk. Determined to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug, and secure the coveted Arkenstone, Thorin's redemptive story of greed made him one of the most interesting characters in the trilogy. 

Reflecting on The Hobbit's enduring legacy and the profound effect that the franchise had on him, Richard, 52, spoke exclusively to HELLO! about his time on set. 

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield© Sky
Richard had been a huge fan of Tolkien's books before signing on to play Thorin Oakenshield

On why the role of Thorin was so special to him, Richard explained: "It had an impact on me because I think The Hobbit was one of the first books I ever read where I really allowed my imagination to engage. 

"I was completely absorbed by Tolkien. Then I found Lord of the Rings and I think it was where my early feelers were going towards being an actor, but I didn't realise it at the time," he continued. 

"So, when I came to playing Thorin Oakenshield as a 40-year-old, I was retracing my steps right back to being an eight-year-old in school and finding that book for the first time. So, it was just such a massive thing for me."

As for his time on set, Richard revealed a particularly poignant memory from day one of production. 

Richard Armitage holding a sword as Thorin Oakenshield © Sky
On his first day of shooting in New Zealand, Richard was asked to speak Maori to the crew

"One of the fondest memories I had was on the very first day of shooting when Peter Jackson blessed his new sound stage with a Māori Haka. I had to speak Māori to the crew because they saw my character as the King of the Dwarves," he tells HELLO!.

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"And so they asked me to make this speech in Māori and the door was lifted and the sun was rising across the floor and it was incredibly moving. It was a really special moment."

Richard Armitage in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. © Sky
The actor was allowed to take home a few props from the set

After wrapping the trilogy with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), Richard was able to take home a number of his most treasured possessions from the set, which he continues to cherish. 

"I have the map and the key to the mountain that was used in the film in a frame," he notes. "And I have Thorin's sword and his oaken shield. It's on my bookshelf!" 

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Richard would be open to a cameo in the new Rings of Power series

After the success of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Tolkeinites have since entered the Rings of Power era, following the release of Amazon Prime's high fantasy series in 2022. 

With the show renewed for a second season, naturally, we had to ask if Richard would be interested in a role of some sort. "I mean, I would love to, but I think it's very hard to do that. I'd have to be a different character because you couldn't bring Peter Jackson's version of Thorin Oakenshield into somebody else's. But I love the story," he said. 

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