Monthly Archives: February 2016

Meet Hobbit Actor John Callen

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John has worked for 40 years as a professional actor, director and writer in theatre, radio, film and television. He has performed in or directed more than 100 stage productions and more than two dozen television series, and narrated close to 150 documentaries, including National Geographic, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.

His experience as actor or director has covered everything from the absurd to the classical, including roles as Shylock and Polonius. He relished his recent experience playing the dwarf Oin in the core cast of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit.

We're excited to announce that John will be giving a special presentation at the welcome dinner for our March Highlights Tour!

Can you tell us about your character, Oin, from the Hobbit?

Oin is sometimes considered curmudgeonly but much of that is because he is hard of hearing. His brother Gloin is far more grumpy. As a close relative of Thorin Oakenshield he feels duty bound to be a part of the great adventure. He and Gloin put money into the venture. Oin is a healer and sees himself as “medic” on the journey. He is not afraid of a good fight though somewhat older than most of the others.

What was it like having to wear prosthetics, did you have to adjust your acting style?

An actor will change his or her acting style according the production in which they are performing. Oin was might “lighter” to play than, say Macbeth, for instance. The prosthetics were a new item of make-up for me, though I did once have a prosthetic nose for the role of Shylock. However, these were something else. I sweat a lot naturally but we all sweated very much.

What was the costume and weaponry like to wear and wield?

The costume was hot, very hot. With the prosthetic I was drinking water all day and hardly ever had to visit the loo … just as well for doing so with the many layers of costume, and the fat suit, made a toilet break a real mission. My costume weighed up to 25/28 kilograms with one day, carrying blankets and extra cloaks and additional travel bags, in the rain, my stuntman, the brilliant Ike Hamon, determined we were carrying 53 kilograms. (My wife weighs 55kg). The weapons were brilliant. I had a long fighting staff with a pointy ends and a leather strap. Since my arthritis prevented me from wearing the prosthetic hands I used woollen gloves. At one point Peter Jackson asked me to rush at the camera as if I was going to kill a goblin or orc beneath the camera. I rushed in, swung the staff over my head and brought it down with such force I smashed in on the concrete floor of the studio.

Do you have a highlight from the Hobbit trilogy?

It may sound corny but it really was meeting the team and developing a great relationship them all. As far as shooting was concerned the Pelorous River in the barrels will live forever with me.

The bond between the dwarves was obvious, have you kept in touch with them?

I had worked with all the Kiwi actors (directed Dean O’Gorman on Shortland Street when he was about 17 or 18) except Stephen Hunter. For me it was a treat to be alongside the other Kiwis and then we met the Irish, the British, the Scottish etc and we all blended brilliantly. I keep in touch with some of them on a regular basis but most of them from time to time. Only one, Dean, lives in Auckland. We did a voiceover together recently. Mark has become a family friend, and Peter I’ve known forever


Contact us for more information and to book the March Highlights Tour.