‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum (Andy Serkis). Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities … A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson, ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ is the first of three films based on ‘The Hobbit’ novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. The trilogy of ‘Hobbit’ films are set in Middle-earth 60 years before Jackson’s ’The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.  The release schedule for the three ‘Hobbit’ films are as follows: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ is set for a December 13th release; ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ arrives in cinemas December 13th, 2013; and ’The Hobbit: There and Back Again’ concludes the trilogy on July 18th, 2014. My other interviews for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Jounrey’ can be found through the following links: Andy SerkisRichard Armitage, Martin Freeman and Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman and James Nesbitt (more to come). In the films Cate Blanchett plays Galadriel, while Hugo Weaving plays Elrond.

Over a decade has passed since the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, how was it for you diving back into this Middle-earth universe and these beloved characters?

Cate Blanchett: I had no expectation that there would be anything more after the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. I thought that was sort of the end of the journey – and my time on that trilogy was all too brief. I was there for three or four weeks, even though they shot for such a long time, I was only there for that amount of time. So when I heard that Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh (producer/screenwriter) and Philippa Boyens (screenwriter) were going to embark upon ‘The Hobbit,’ I became a stalker (laughs), and I literally called my agent – and I don’t really bother my agent that much (laughs), but I called her pretty much everyday to say, “Is there any word yet? Is Galadriel going to be in it?” I kept getting the answer that Peter doesn’t know yet, because of course Galadriel doesn’t appear much in ‘The Hobbit’ book, so I was hoping against hope. And then when I got word that, in fact, she was going to be in a small section of it I was over the moon. It was a little bit like returning to Summer camp (laughs), in that so many of the people that were a part of the first journey are a part of this journey. It’s an amazing thing to be able to return to something that begun 12 years ago.

With the White Council – which is comprised of Gandalf, Saruman, Elrond and Galadriel, can you tell us a little bit about them and the role they play in this story? Aside from Galadriel, the other members of the Council aren’t best pleased with Gandalf’s quest?

Hugo Weaving: Yeah. My character Elrond, the Elf Lord of Rivendell, he’s one of the older souls in Middle-earth and therefore he has vast experience and wisdom. I think there’s a great deal of respect between Elrond and Gandalf. But Gandalf is doing something Elrond doesn’t approve of by protecting Thorin and the dwarves. Elrond feels that if they go to the Lonely Mountain and awaken Smaug, that will just stir things up. But there is Gandalf’s other agenda too, and that’s a whole other problem to contend with. The White Council is essentially working towards a peaceful world and is mindful of the fact that there are forces around them which could, at any time, reignite and threaten their way of life.

Galadriel is a vital ally to Gandalf….

Cate Blanchett: Yes. I would hazard a guess that our part of the story – the fact that Gandalf and Galadriel sense that something’s wrong – will have particular resonance and prescience of what is to come. The White Council just doesn’t see it. And what is noble and heroic about Gandalf and Galadriel is that they are prepared, together, to look the future in the eye. That’s what makes Gandalf the most wonderful hero, the courage, against popular opinion, to move into the darkness that no one else is prepared to go into.

While ‘The Hobbit’ is an incredibly human story with fundamental and universal themes, it’s very much set in a fantastical world with fantastical characters. As an actor, how is that to portray and delve into….?

Hugo Weaving: We’re all dressed up and pretending, creating this world – and that’s the wonderful thing about it. That’s why you do it, you try to illuminate another reality, or illuminate another internal reality for a particular person or a group of people, create a whole new world. And in this sense it’s a really fantastical world, which has repercussions for who we are as people, even though they’re elves and dwarves and hobbits, there’s obvious parallels between the world which we inhabit and in which these characters inhabit. That’s a delight, it’s why we do it. For me this Middle-earth world is so interesting.

How was it working with Peter Jackson again after all these years?

Cate Blanchett: Peter Jackson was the reason that I was so excited about being part of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. And of course Galadriel is just a tiny, weeny piece of the puzzle, and it’s such an extraordinary puzzle! It’s a puzzle that I really don’t think anyone other than Peter could have pulled together. He’s got such an extraordinary sense of the sublimely beautiful and the grotesque. The way he combines those two things, that’s utterly unique.

Hugo Weaving: Peter Jackson is an incredible man because he’s dealing with so many issues and characters, but then the big picture, that’s his focus. But at ground level he’s making smaller pictures, focusing on the minutia of each character, the details of each locations that are set in this larger world. From day to day dealing with all of those details, these films really suit his fantastic character (laughs). It’s been really lovely to come back and see people throughout the cast and crew whom we haven’t seen for so many years.