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Benedict Cumberbatch Rolled Around On A Carpet To Bring The Dragon In 'The Hobbit' Movies To Life

Smaug the hobbit Warner Bros.

Benedict Cumberbatch seriously got into his role in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

In the “Hobbit” sequel, Cumberbatch plays the role of the perilous dragon, Smaug. However, the “Sherlock” actor didn’t simply voice the dragon. He also acted out the role in a motion-capture suit.

Ahead of the release of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” on Blu-Ray and DVD Nov. 4, Warner Bros. has released video showing the 38-year-old actor immersing himself into the role.

The best footage comes from the L.A. Times which has an exclusive video showing Cumberbatch act out the dragon in the motion capture suit.

It’s amazing to see how much Cumberbatch really gets into it.

To get into the role, little motion capture tracking dots were placed onto Cumberbatch’s face.

Benedict cumberbatch motion capture smaugWarner Bros. via LA Times

He was fitted with a helmet that has a little camera attached to capture his every facial movement.

Benedict cumberbatch motion capture helmetWarner Bros. via LA Times
Benedict cumberbatch motion capture the hobbit Warner Bros. via LA Times

To prepare for the role, Cumberbatch told Los Angeles Times last year he went to the London Zoo to study animals including lizards.

Smaug benedict cumberbatch motion captureWarner Bros. via LA Times

“They really like doing very little,” added Cumberbatch. “Then, when they act, it can suddenly be very violent or very slow and they really take their time. I tied all that in to the playing I did rolling around on that carpet.”

Benedict cumberbatch smaug the hobbit Warner Bros. via The LA Times

Motion capture king Andy Serkis, who has played Gollum in both “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” films, gave Cumberbatch advice on playing Smaug.

“I said, ‘Treat it like you’re playing the role. Don’t think you’re just providing the voice. Go in there physically. Get what you can out of it,” said Serkis in a Warner Bros. featurette. “There will be head turns. There will be moments from that performance that you give that can be pulled out and extrapolated and will become part of Smaug’s being.”

Benedict cumberbatch face smaug hobbitWarner Bros. via LA Times

A quarter of the shots in the film were CG, according to the special effects crew at WETA. Cumberbatch says about 80% of the dragon was created by them.

Here’s how it looks side by side.

The hobbit the desolation of smaug benedict cumberbatchWeta

The actor didn’t just roll around on the carpet. He also acted out the character from his own platform.

They built a wooden platform on stilts and they had this hard board that they’d padded with some foam and mats and stuff and on top of that they put this sheepskin,” Cumberbatch told the LA Times. “It was literally like ‘Baum chicka baum baum,’ me up on my Smaug-y platform. I was like, ‘This is cool, I can slink around like a porn star dragon.'”

Benedict cumberbatch smaugWarner Bros.

Cumberbatch said he can see pieces of his motion capture performance in the final rendering of the dragon in his eyebrow movements and with the mouth during closeups with Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Thorin (Richard Armitage).

Benedict cumberbatch motion capture hobbit Warner Bros. via LA Times
Benedict cumberbatch motion capture the hobbit desolation of smaugWarner Bros. via LA Times

“I absolutely loved it after a minute of stepping on and feeling completely like a nob,” said Cumberbatch. “Once you get over that bit of self-consciousness, it’s so freeing. I just played like a kid in a bedroom, just imagining this thing, which is great.”

Benedict cumberbatch smaug crawl the hobbitWarner Bros. via LA Times

Here’s the finished product on screen.

Smaug the hobbit dragonWETA

You can watch a portion of Cumberbatch’s motion capture performance below.

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