While he missed out on joining the promotional swing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Manu Bennett has not been forgotten by Empire Magazine. The actor, most famous for his role as Crixus in Spartacus and Slade Wilson in Arrow, is also the voice and body of Azog, the large white orc arch nemesis of Thorin. The actor himself does not appear but instead was the motion captured on stage and inserted into the film, after initial filming had wrapped. Jackson had decided the previous actor wasn't quite working and replaced him Bennett which required going on a green screen and re-creating the role. It seems Peter enjoyed the performance enough that Azog is going to get a lot more screen time in the next two films with Bennett expected to report to work when filming begins again this summer to get the extra footage needed to complete the trilogy. In the meantime, below are highlights of a great interview with the actor or you can read the whole thing at Empire.
- Had auditioned for Azog but lost to another actor. Later was cast for it and filmed scenes on weekends while filming the final 3 scenes of Spartacus.
- Was still filming Azog scenes 4 weeks before world premiere of movie.
- Conan Stevens, actor he replaced, was recast as Bolg the son of Azog. The character will appear in the next two films. "Recast" is kind of wrong because really the CGI designs of the characters were swapped by Jackson so Bolg actor kept the same character design with different name.
- When cast, watched The Empire Strikes Back and Jaws to "to get a voice as sinister as Darth Vader and the menacing physicality of the shark."
- Never met any of the other The Hobbit actors until premiere.
- Name the fake warg he rode "Daisy"
- Does think he will have any additional scenes of the extended edition of An Unexpected Journey when released around Christmas.
- Has not seen the scripts for future Azog scenes but was told by Peter Jackson that the character would be built up over the next two films.