“F—king hell… I worked my arse off”: Benedict Cumberbatch Was Furious After All His Work On Hobbit Film Was Cut Down to a Voice Role

Benedict Cumberbatch clarifed his role in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was full physical acting.

Benedict Cumberbatch Was Furious After All His Work On Hobbit Film Was Cut Down to a Voice Role


  • Benedict Cumberbatch was enraged after people called his part in The Hobbit sequel a voice role.
  • The English actor asserted he did full acting with his body and voice during production.
  • Cumberbatch admitted portraying Smaug was like playing a mermaid character.
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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.

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Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch

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.


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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!’

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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.

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Benedict Cumberbatch Admitted Smaug Role Was Like Playing A Mermaid

benedict cumberbatch smaug
Benedict Cumberbatch

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.


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Written by Ariane Cruz

Ariane Cruz, Senior Writer. She has been contributing articles for FandomWire since 2021, mostly covering stories about geek pop culture. With a degree in Communication Arts, she has an in-depth knowledge of print and broadcast journalism. Her other works can also be seen on Screen Rant and CBR.