Jed Brophy is currently known thanks to the Hobbit trilogy. He plays Nori, one of the Dwarf, in the Thorin Oakenshield company.
But all the fans of Peter Jackson know this actor since a long time now.
From his beginning in Braindead, to other characters in King-Kong, the Lord of the Rings, and now The Hobbit, Jed Brophy is one of these complete actors.
Moreover, is also a really nice person, who has accepted to meet www.jaimepaslactu.com and Planet FM 104.6 in Auckland, for an audio interview.
15 minutes of fun, jokes, and anecdotes, welcome to Middle earth ! You can also find our written interview.
Your career started 21 years ago, why did you choose cinema ?
J : Cinema really chose me. My four years out of drama school, graduated in 1987. I really wasn’t prepared to do films, I was just gonna do theatre. That was my passion. There wasn’t a lot of big films being shot in new zealand. We maybe made 2 or 3 films a year, but not you know, not with any sizable budget.
I was doing a theatre show in small theatre called Taki Rua. And, the co-writer of Braindead, one of Peter’s early films, was the director of this show, he said that there was a part on a zombie film, that they hadn’t cast and that Peter was quite keen on me… And Peter offered me to pattern. I didn’t really want to be in a zombie movie. But I read the script and It was hilarious. It was kind one of these situations where you are just really lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
How was your first meeting with him ?
he sort of explain what my character had to do in the film. The fact that he was beating up the lead character, and then he was turned into a zombie so, my first meeting I didn’t really know him. I haven’t seen his films « meet the feebles » or « Bad Taste ». He suggested that I watched them, which i did …
But it was very clear from the very first meeting that he was a very visual director. He talked about the visual aspects. How it was gonna look, how it was gonna play out.
The fact that it was a comedy, but, that we will gonna play the comedy very serious and therefore it will be funny for other people watching it.
He struck me being someone who… Had thought for everything. He really does have the clear picture in his head, at all times. And he’s very good at imparting that to his actors.
It was exciting because I hadn’t, as I said, I hadn’t done cinema before. I had been in one film and I still didn’t really know what I was doing
Yeah… it was clear it was gonna be fun, and it was also clear is gonna be very hard work.
He talked about long days, and he talked about the fact that he wanted the actors to do their own stunts when they could.
So I knew I was up for the challenge, but I was excited.
After 20 years, and lots of movies, Is he more a boss or a friend ?
… We’ve got a great working relationship
He is still the boss, but I have one of these relationship with him, most actors do after they work with him. for a couple of occasions where you can make jokes, so then we can make suggestions.
You know, we have a short hand, I pretty much know what is gonna say before he directs me. I know that he’s gonna want me to be very physical. Cause that’s why he cast me. I’m a very good physical actor.
But, yeah, we get on really well. I don’t get any special treatment. He still treat me the same as the other actors but, there was a kinf of… Is an easiness that we have. It’s an easy relationship. I know that I can go and ask him to have a meeting, and have a conversation about my character. I don’t feel, like this gonna be any hassle about that. You know, he’s very approachable.
He is, he is, truely, one of those relaxed directors that you can have a good time with. It isn’t a boss sort of relationship. Further than a boss. Several relationship, you very much feel like you are in the same wavelenght as him, and that you are on the same level. He doesn’t put himself up there as the boss, unless he has to.
Yeah, it’s a great working relationship. He and I are not particularly social people outside of our job. We’re both quite private, and I think there’s a mutual respect for that.
About the Hobbit now ! How where these two last years with the dwarf company ?
Amazing ! We have an amazing ensemble.
One of the great thing for being a kiwi after coming into this, is getting to work with six other new zealand actors that I’ve worked with on another projects. But we never worked together in a big film. So, that was very exciting to see some of my cohorts, who I thought were good actors, actually getting an opportunity.
And then getting to work with the likes of Richard Armitage, Jamie Nesbitt, and Martin Freeman, and Ian Mckellen… And those guys from overseas ken Stott! You know people whose work I’ve admired from afar
It was like a dream come true.
When you had a look at the cast list, every day going up on the wall, and saying who is gonna be coming, playing some of the smaller or some of the bigger parts.
It really was a « Who’s who » of british and american television. Great australian actors as well. And it was great to also work with people I’ve worked with in Lord of the rings.To get to work with Hugo Weaving again, and Cate blanchett again.And Elijah, see Elijah again, and also get to work with Ian again. It was fantastic.
I didn’t think I’d ever get to do, anything of that scale, after the Lord of the rings. So, to come back and be on a project, as one of the leading, as one of the call cast was exceptionally exciting. It was cool.
And at the end of the two and a half years we are all great friends. We see each other at conventions around the world.
When I travel to London or I travel to the states I get to stay with those guys and… Yeah it’s gonna be very sad not to be coming back and doing re-shoots.
I think we are all looking for the possibility of coming back next year but I don’t think it’s gonna happen.
So, now a new game ! 13 dwarves, 13 questions, you have to answer fastly and honestly.
1) Who’s the Coolest ?
Ian Mckellen is the coolest. By far. He’s the epitome of cool. He’s a cool Granddad.
2) The most funny ?
Martin Freeman without a doubt. He is like a walking time bomb of Jokes.
3) The most successful with women ?
With women ! Probably, probably me, Nori ! No… Probably Jamie Nesbitt, he’s a real charmer !
4) The smartest ?
Hmmm, I have to say Mark Hadlow would be the smartest. Yeah he’s a very smart guy. But don’t tell him I said that.
5) The most greedy ?
That’s definitely Stephen Hunter. He takes everyone else’s food. Not just in character, but also at the table. He’s always taking over people’s food.
6) The most Skinflint ?
That would be John Callen. Yeah, He really keeps everything for himself. He doesn’t spend any money, he’s really tight, but very funny !
7) The most grumpy ?
Ken Stott, without a doubt ! Balin is a the most grumpy, and Ken was quite grumpy too.
8) Who has the most « Twisted mind » ?
Hmmm… I say again Martin Freeman, he’s the most twisted mind. He comes out with the most bizarre things. He really does like the darker side of life, but in a funny way.
9) The most geeky ?
Probably Adam Brown would be the most geeky. Yeah, he’s the one who likes the technology. Comes from the kind of geeky side of life. Not just because he’s my brother, but he’s definitely the most geeky of the company.
10) The most Kiwi ?
That would be me ! I’m definitely the most kiwi of the company. Cause I’m a farmer, I came from a farm. I wear gumboots. I epitomize kiwiness.
11) The most sleeper ?
The one who sleeps the most was Aidan Turner. Always asleep. Had to wake-him up, and between texts all the time. He manages to sleep in awful lot. I think it’s cause he really likes the nightlife.
12) The most athletic ?
The most Athletic would be Graham McTavish. Yeah, he’s really really fit. It should be between him and Richard Armitage for the most athletic. Those two really did step up. That was pretty amazing. They do their all stunts. weren’t doubled by their stunties very often at all.
13) And who is the best cook ?
Stephen Hunter ! By a long shot he was definitely the best cook. And not just in the company of dwarves. But, outside of that, he really is a real foodie.
Now, come back to the real interview ! What is your best memory of this « unexpected journey » ?
Probably getting to go on locations, in the most beautiful spots in New Zealand. An some of them are places that I hadn’t been. And I think for me it was one of the best parts of the job, is getting to show, what an amazing country, and the diversity of our country to international guests.
And also remind myself how I lucky it is for us to live, and be able to film in this country. Because it is really… The landscapes in New Zealand, and the people… Really does set it apart from anywhere in the world.
We couldn’t have shot this anywhere else in the world, in terms of those landscapes.
And also the ability to actually get to them. We have an amazing group of people. The crew are fantastic in terms of getting the roadshow to all of those locations, you know. The amount of helicopters we used, and the amount of trucks that we used, the four-wheel drives to get to where we were. That was the incredible thing. It’s like going to war. Very well organized, and a great deal of fun.
What about your future ? Could you explain the Minister of Chance, this sci-fi audio series ?
Yeah, it’s an audio series that starts with a thing called « Death comes to time » when Doctor Who was in hiatus.
And Stephen Fry, and a guy called Dan Freedman, and Sylvester McCoy made an audio series about the killing of a Doctor Who… And from that, it’s spawned the series called the Minister of Chance which just set. It’s a science-fiction which set in a place not earth. It’s a great series with some incredible talents like Paul McGann, Tamsin Greig, Sylvester McCoy, Jenny Agutter, Julian Wadham… And I found out about that some friends of mine at weta. And I listened to it, and then I got in touch with Dan freedman, the director, and I asked him to wrote me a part, which he did.
When I was over there for the World premiere, last year, I recorded my episode, episode 5, playing the pilot.
From the interest from the downloadable audio series, then they are looking to make it into a feature, and they are shooting the prologue this year. Mainly with Paul McGann’s character.
And it looks like, you know, if they get the money to make the feature, I’ll be other there either at the end of the year, or the beginning of next year.
And have you got other projects, other movies ?
I’m directing a short film for a friend of mine, in december, the first week of december. Which is all set in a cherry picking farm, down on the South Island. An actor called Ryan O’Cain who’s working in Australia on a TV series has written a film.
After act in a lot of films but this will be the first time I’ve actually tried to direct a film. So that’s quite exciting for me.
And then, January next year, I’m doing a theatre show with my son, who’s 21. And we’re hoping to take that to the Edinburgh Festival either, next year do we have to say. That’s my next two projects…
Apart the Desolation of Smaug, which comes out in December and I’m doing some ADR for that next weeks so, be interesting to see how that looks.
And will it be the end of Middle Earth after the Hobbit ? Do you know something about that ?
Look, I’d like to say no ! I believe that with the infrastructure that we set up there, and certainly with WETA and WETA Digital and Peter Jackson all being in New Zealand, that would be a really smart move to do more of the stories.
The problem is getting the rights. That was very lucky to get the rights for these two franchises. For The Lord of The Rings and For the Hobbit. And that’s only because Tolkien himself sold the rights, back in the late sixties.
I don’t think that we get the rights to do the other stories, unfortunately. I think that the Tolkien Estate are pretty keen to keep them these litterary masterpieces.
I also think that the Silmarillion although it’s an amazing book it will be very difficult to make into a movie. It would be an amazing TV series. But… But I don’t imagine that will be any other Middle Earth stories unfortunately. They might be spin-offs, we never know. But I don’t think that will be from Tolkien’s actual writings.
Having said that who knows ? People said that the Hobbit wouldn’t be made, and here we are. You know, at the end of three films… I may well be wrong.
Another game now, but about you this time. 10 questions, you still have to answer honestly and quickly !
1) What’s your favourite place in New-Zealand ?
Taihape. Because that’s where I’m from. I just feel… That’s one of the most beautiful and unsullied places. Yeah, the farm that I grew up on.
2) Your favorurite actor ?
Richard Armitage. And I say that because I really admire his work before this, but I also watching him on this project. I just fell on love with him as an actor. I think he is one of the best actors I’ve worked with.
3) And your favourite movie ?
Hmmm… Probably. Oh that’s a really difficult one, but I have to say… And I don’t know if I’ll answering this quickly because I’m trying to remember the name…. City, of lost souls ? Come back to that question… I’m trying to remember how is actually called.
4) A bad guy now : Sauron, Darth Vader, or Voldemort ?
Sauron ! By far, he is the meanest of the mean. And not just because you don’t really see him !
5) And your favourite dish ?
Fish ! I love fish. Anything comes from water. Anything from the sea I love.
6) Your favourite destination for holidays ?
Probably have to say Canada.West coast of Canada, British Columbia. I think that that’s one of the most beautiful places that I’ve been to in the world. I’d go back there anytime.
7) Your favourite dwarf in the company ?
Hmmm… Ori ! I think he’s the one that has the biggest journey. I think he’s my favourite dwarf of all of them.
8) Your favourite quote from a movie ?
« Yeah ! Why can’t we have some meat ? » From the Lord of the rings. One of my lines. I think that’s great because I get it quoted back to me all the time when I travel overseas. People love that line. I don’t know why. I think they love that particular orc. But I think that’s my favourite quote from a movie. Or, Yipikaye M*F*. That’s pretty cool too. I just saw Die Hard again the other day.
9) Favourite band or singer ?
Red Hot Chili Peppers ! Love the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Love them in live, I’ve seen them in live. I’ve seen them in live again. It’s fantastic.
10) The favourite character you played ?
I have to say Snaga, from the Lord of the Rings. I think he’s just… He’s one of these character that you fall in love because he is… he’s always gonna die but he’s quite fun to play ! I think that’s my favourite character. I’m not sure, maybe Nori ! It has been a n amazing experience, but I still think that Snaga was quite fun.