ACTOR Stephen Hunter has always been a fan of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
He has immense respect for Sir Peter Jackson, director of the film versions of the Middle Earth adventures.
"I auditioned for Lord of the Rings, but wasn't successful," he recalls.
"As soon as I heard about The Hobbit, I wanted a crack at it."
The New Zealand born actor won the part of Bombur, one of the dwarves who retake the Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit trilogy.
He has worked with and dined with the great Ian Mckellan, who plays the wizard Gandalf in the productions.
"He's an incredible guy," he said.
"He has such presence.
"He took the time to download pictures of all the cast members and learn their names.
"He walked in one day and asked where Stephen Hunter was.
"I was very complimented by that."
Mr McKellan leases a pub called The Grapes in London.
"We all trotted along for a meal there," Mr Hunter said.
One of the trickiest parts of playing a dwarf in The Hobbit is the make-up.
"At first it took hours," he said.
"But we got it down to a fine art.
"It was awkward eating at times.
"A great way to lose weight.
"It's pretty hard to eat with all the hair on your face," he laughed.
"It's just so much fun working with Peter Jackson and the crew.
"I've made a whole bunch of new mates and watched many a game of rugby with some of them."
Stephen is heading to the Supanova Pop Culture Expo on the Gold Coast at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 20-21 as part of the The Magic of Middle Earth expo.
Strangely, the thing he is looking forward to most is meeting The Hoff.
"What can I say," he laughed.
"I've always wanted to meet The Hoff."