What most caught my attention in the first visuals to emerge from the making of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," including stills, photo shoots, the first trailer, and so on, was neither how perfect Martin Freeman seems for the role of Bilbo (which he is) nor how exciting it was to see a hobbit hole again (which it is). Rather, I was struck and delighted by the attention Peter Jackson and his scary-artistic, visionary team paid to the thirteen dwarves. While watching the first trailer, I marveled at how each dwarf had a different hair style, a different lively expression to match their demeanor, and a different detailed, yet functional-looking costume. And oh, my goodness -- those beards. No ordinary beards will do for Peter Jackson's dwarves. A beard is, after all, the mark of a dwarf. These beards are braided and sculpted and manicured and have every color of the hair rainbow. Fans, myself included, find themselves fascinated by these thirteen wild, larger-than-life personalities whose on-screen presence, at least, we haven't even had a chance to meet yet, and shall not until December.
But another phenomenon has been sparked by the anticipation of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" -- the idea that dwarves can have (dare I say it?) sex appeal.
It all started with the casting of Richard Armitage in the role of Thorin Oakenshield. Every woman I know (and this is only a slight exaggeration) first fell in love with Mr. Armitage when he played the industrious and gentlemanly cotton mill owner, John Thornton, in "North and South." My first thought when I learned of this casting choice - not that I disapproved, mind you - was, "Oh, wow. I have an ongoing crush on a guy who will now be playing a fairly ancient and arrogant dwarf. A dwarf! A mythical creature of short stature and a reputation for being bumbling and comical. And then I knew I couldn't be crazy, because I spotted this picture on The Mary Sue:
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, giving "the smolder"
Is this or is this not a softly-lit photograph of an expression on Thorin Oakenshield's face that Flynn Rider would conclusively call "the smolder?"
And THEN I read an article on the Digital Spy that quoted James Nesbitt professing (somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I'm sure, but nonetheless...) that he is "sort of the thinking woman's dwarf, the George Clooney of dwarves," thereby implying that women everywhere are picking a favorite dwarf! And indeed we are! (Dibs on Fili...)
James Nesbitt as Bofur - The "thinking woman's dwarf"
After I got my head around the fact that the growing fanbase for serious fantasy - largely thanks to Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" films, "Game of Thrones," "Snow White & the Huntsman," etc. - might actually be ready to view the dwarves of Middle-Earth as...swallow...heartthrobs, I had to subscribe wholeheartedly to the genius of Peter Jackson. He and his crew have truly brought a new (and not altogether unattractive) dimension to the epic story we all so love.
To view the full gallery of the thirteen dwarves from "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," visit The Hobbit Blog.