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.

Q&A with Artist Daniel Reeve

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Fantasy Calligraphy and Cartography

It’s all in the details. To craft the perfect fantasy world, impeccable attention to the smallest detail is what makes the story come alive. These elements are the touch, feel, and cultural history of the characters and lore. In some cases it’s the maps, setting the scene and scope of vast planets or planes.

Meet the man behind some of the most subtly impactful pieces of the fantasy film genre. Daniel Reeve is a freelance artist from New Zealand, best-known for the calligraphy and cartography of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. His intricate work is also featured in the films Van Helsing, King Kong, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Dead Letters, The Warrior's Way, Underworld 3, Kingdom Come, Spartacus, Tintin and The Hobbit.  He has also worked on merchandise for The Pirates of the Caribbean and Prince Caspian.

We’re lucky to have Daniel as an associate of Red Carpet Tours, and he will be part of a special upcoming tour as our “Artist in Residence.”

5 Minutes with Daniel Reeve

Q: Daniel how did you get your start on the Lord of the Rings films as the official calligrapher?

A: I heard they were making a movie of my favourite book, so I created some calligraphy and sent it in to them. I asked if they didn't already have a 100 guys that could write in Elvish, would they consider me? My phone rang very quickly, that's the one thing they hadn't thought of in all the huge amount of pre-planning.

Q: Do you have any favourite pieces of work?

A: Every piece has its own merits, I enjoy creating the maps and the individual cartouches / borders for each one. I enjoy working on each piece of artwork and seeing it to completion.

Q: Have you been busy since the Hobbit films have finished?

A: Yes, it hasn't really stopped for me. I am still doing lots of projects to do with the films, DVDs and merchandise. I also have monthly presentations with the Red Carpet Tours fellowships here in Wellington and will be mentoring a special Artists Sketching and Photography Tour with Red Carpet Tours. I am really looking forward to this special tour, 7th - 20th November 2016. I hope to see many familiar faces returning for this Tour.

July 2015 News - New Tours Announced!

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Kia Ora from Middle-earth, New Zealand.

We are just back from Melbourne Comic Con, what a great event.

It was great to meet new people and to catch up with past fellowships.

Don't forget the Comic Con special folks when booking over the next 2 weeks for those we met in Melbourne.

Thank you to Billy Boyd and David Wenham for your kind words, photos and autographs. It was lovely to meet you again.

Come and see us in New Zealand !


New tours we would like to share with you!

Artists Sketching and Photography Tour with Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Calligrapher and Map Maker Daniel Reeve as your mentor.

This special tour is scheduled for 7th - 20th November 2016 only and numbers are limited.

Travel Middle-earth with Daniel and enjoy daily sketching, photography and water colour painting of the magnificent scenery and film locations from both trilogies.

Highlights / Reunion Tours

These special Itineraries are well suited for those that have toured with us before and want an expanded experience from their previous tour and also those that want to have the Te Anau and Doubtful Sound experience included.

These special 14 day LOTR tours are scheduled for 29th February - 14th March and 5th - 19th December 2016.

Come on Fellowships, get your groups together for this one !


Keep in touch and have a great July!