The Hobbit director Peter Jackson and star Martin Freeman at today's press conference in Wellington.
The Hobbit director Peter Jackson and star Martin Freeman at today's press conference in Wellington. Seanna Cronin

Peter Jackson rejects 'The Hobbit' animal cruelty claims

THE stars of The Hobbit have described working on the film as a family atmosphere at a press conference this morning in Wellington.

Beloved Froddo actor Elijah Woods said it felt like "no time had passed at all" when he returned to Hobbiton to film his brief appearance in The Hobbit and Martin Freeman praised the film crew for being so understanding about his reservations of being away for his family for 18 months.

Freeman, who plays central character Bilbo Baggins, said he nearly had to turn down the titular role because of scheduling conflicts with his UK drama series Sherlock.

Speaking to media ahead of tonight's world premiere, director Peter Jackson said there was no one else but Freeman to play Bilbo.

Jackson said it felt like "the country was behind us" and hit back at claims of animal cruelty on The Hobbit set, describing them as "an insult to everyone who worked on the film".

Filmed at 48 frames per second and in 3D, The Hobbit is much more technologically advanced than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Jackson said it was "not impossible" for the Lord of the Rings films to one day be re-released in 3D.

One of the many new additions to the Jackson fold, Barry Humphries joked about his "first nude scene" as his character The Goblin King and was teased by co-star Cate Blanchett for his "goiter".

Blanchett stood out in the line-up in a bright red dress and said she feel "madly" in love with Ian McKellen during the scenes they share together in the film, the first of Jackson's Hobbit trilogy.

The jovial atmosphere continued when the cast of dwarves took questions.

William Kircher joked about how the 13 actors had become "close with yaks" after wearing elaborate yak-hair beards for the past 18 months of filming.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in Australia on Boxing Day.



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