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Incredible Behind The Scenes Footage Shows Benedict Cumberbatch Acting Role Of Smaug Without CGI

Cameron Frew

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Incredible Behind The Scenes Footage Shows Benedict Cumberbatch Acting Role Of Smaug Without CGI

Benedict Cumberbatch becoming Smaug behind the wonders of CGI is a sight to behold. Watch him in action below:


While not short of acclaim, the British actor has three iconic characters to his name: Sherlock; Doctor Strange; and Smaug, Middle-earth's fearsome dragon in the Lonely Mountains, surrounded by treasure.

Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy was disappointing compared to The Lord of the Rings – splitting up the book into three parts was a bad idea, really – but Cumberbatch's performance ranks among the biggest highlights.

First appearing in the prologue of An Unexpected Journey, he makes his full debut in The Desolation of Smaug after Martin Freeman's Bilbo Baggins causes a landslide of gold, sparking a chase and conversation between the two.

Smaug in The Hobbit trilogy. Credit: Warner Bros.
Smaug in The Hobbit trilogy. Credit: Warner Bros.

Unlike Cumberbatch's other notable performances, Smaug is the result of dazzling visual effects, voice work and committed motion-capture – the latter of which didn't always make the actor feel like a star.

During the premiere of The Battle of Five Armies, he said (as per the Radio Times): "You get in the gear and feel like a complete knob... wandering around in these sparkling pyjamas."

In footage shared by Warner Bros., you can see Cumberbatch spreadeagled on the floor, his face covered with little dots, speaking in that Smaugian drawl. He might have felt a bit silly at the time, but it's still really commanding.

Immediately after saying he felt like a 'knob', he also described it as 'the most extraordinary technology, unlike green screen, which can be really demanding'.

In an interview with Den of Geek, he also spoke about enjoying his performance on the big screen because it wasn't like his usual appearances. He said: "What they’ve done is extraordinary.

Benedict Cumberbatch in mo-cap. Credit: Warner Bros.
Benedict Cumberbatch in mo-cap. Credit: Warner Bros.

"So unlike the usual experience of being a little self-critical, or vain or self-conscious about something where it’s supposed to be suspension of disbelief, I could just sit back and enjoy it, rather than be tortured by that movement or that facial expression or that choice of edit. I could just luxuriate in it like the rest of the audience."

It should also be noted: without Cumberbatch's performance as Smaug, we wouldn't have Josh Brolin as Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In an earlier interview with SiriusXM, he spoke about being taken aback by the video of Cumberbatch in mo-cap.

"He's crawling around like a snake and he's snapping his tongue out, doing this incredible performance and I saw that and was like, alright, that's the bar.

"This is not bulls***t. This is something you have to sink your teeth into – conviction, embarrassment, all that kind of stuff."

Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Topics: TV and Film, Celebrity

Cameron Frew
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