Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed the titular role of the villainous dragon in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. While most viewers only heard his voice, the actor insisted he worked his entire body to bring the character to life.
The 2013 movie was helmed by Peter Jackson, who also directed The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The film saw Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his companions go on a quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug.
Benedict Cumberbatch Clarified He Did Full Physical Acting In The Hobbit Sequel
Benedict Cumberbatch could not believe fans reduced his extremely strenuous role of Smaug to a voice-over instead of actual physical acting. He was furious at outlets reporting he only lent his voice to the character. He said via Vulture:
“It was publicised that I ‘voice’ Smaug, and I thought, ‘F—king hell. My voice, my motions – I worked my arse off to create that dragon!’”
In his other interview with Collider, the 47-year-old English actor revealed how he prepared for his role as Smaug. He said his previous experience portraying another monster character helped him have an idea:
“I’m playing Smaug. I mean I’m physicalizing him as a dragon. I’m not just doing the voiceover, so it’ll be a physical role which I’m no stranger to. I did Frankenstein at the beginning of the year with Danny Boyle at the National Theater, and playing the creature in that was a very full-on and sort of corporeal experience.”
He also shared he began stretching his limbs for all those crawling movements he had to do while filming for the movie:
“I’ve already started working out and doing various movement exercises to get myself limber for that all-important jumpsuit with balls on it, otherwise known as motion capture.”
Cumberbatch’s role definitely sounded more rigorous than what people gave him credit for. Indeed, the actor literally worked his entire body for the movie.
Benedict Cumberbatch Admitted Smaug Role Was Like Playing A Mermaid
To describe further how difficult his role as Smaug is, Benedict Cumberbatch spoke with Rotten Tomatoes and revealed he acted like a mermaid while performing his scenes in The Hobbit sequel:
“I’m literally just doing that and moving myself along, and my legs were trapped together, and I was moving them from my core like a tail, like a palm-breathing mermaid… It was really great. It was just such fun to play.”
Cumberbatch enjoyed his role despite the grueling production, and that’s what matters. Hopefully, fans would rightly acknowledge his work on the film as full physical acting and not just a voice-over.