As one of the beloved cast members of Peter Jackson‘s first venture into J.R.R Tolkein‘s fantasy universe of The Lord of the Rings, Scottish actor Billy Boyd was lucky enough to be able to return through to Middle Earth and The Hobbit, albeit not onscreen as Pippin, as many fans will know. Boyd, also a seasoned musician, added an extra level of emotion to the final instalment of The Hobbit trilogy in writing and performing the official theme for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, “The Last Goodbye”. As our chat about Oz Comic Con inevitably shifts towards music, Boyd reflects on reconnecting with Jackson for this project and what it meant for him.
“I’ve been really lucky in a way to go back and write the final song for it. When I was talking to Pete [Jackson] about that, he says, ‘There’s going to be a generation of people who don’t care or don’t know about the order that they were made.’ So they’ll watch The Hobbit and then they’ll hear Pippin’s voice and then The Lord of the Rings starts! I thought, ‘God, how lovely.’ To join them together somehow! He’s a really smart filmmaker. And not in the in way that you would notice or is annoying, he’s just always thinking, things are always ticking away. He’ll think of an idea and he’ll do that, it’s lovely to watch.”
“I didn’t think there was any way I could be involved as an actor,” he says. “I didn’t want to go back as Pippin, I think that would’ve been weird because we’re not alive and flashbacks…I didn’t want to play someone else like my grandfather, because that would’ve been weird as well. I thought, ‘Well that’s that finished’, but then to go back as a musician, it’s a totally different thing. I was down in Wellington for the first time myself, normally I’m there with Dom [Monaghan] or Elijah [Wood], to be able to just walk around and see things at my own pace…It wasn’t like having closure, but it was like a reawakening in some ways! The joy I had making those films, you know? Then, to go into the studio and for everybody to be working at a point in filming I had never seen before, which was putting the music on and editing, I’d never seen any of that with the Middle Earth movies. I would be sitting writing music all day and then I’d go to Pete’s edit room and watch him edit, it was sometimes until three in the morning, you know? It was a joy. That’s like going to film college! To watch one of the greatest filmmakers of our generation edit a movie, in his edit room, you can’t pay for that! Even when I was exhausted and Pete was like, ‘Do you want to come into the edit room?’, I’d be like, ‘Yeah!’ and sometimes I’d just fall asleep on the couch!”
Being able to indulge in his passion for music through his band Beecake, Boyd does note the difficulties in trying to strike a balance between his acting work and writing music. With a new album on its way, he admits to having his head in the game, musically in 2015.
“To be honest, it’s almost impossible.” he admits. “People and media…they don’t like you to not be pigeon-holed, you know? If someone sees you as one thing, it’s hard to see you as another, especially in the age that we love in, where everything has to have a name. It is really difficult, but I love it so much that I don’t want to give it up. My band has a new album coming out at the end of May, so we’re going to do some shows and my head is kind of in that world just now. I’m really excited to see what people think of this album.”
“We’ve got a new drummer in, which has kind of changed the sound, it’s just much more of a groove now. That was really exciting. For the first time, we were working with a producer, we worked with Paul Savage, who’s worked with Mogwai and Franz Ferdinand…some of my favourite records. The chance to work with him came up and we were just over the moon, it was a real collaboration that we hadn’t had before. I think we went in with much stronger songs as well and we knew how we were going to record them, so I’m really excited for this.”
Having come through to Adelaide off the back of a successful appearance at Perth’s Oz Comic Con last weekend, it’s not surprising to hear that the love for Boyd at the event has been as strong as ever. When looking at the amount of guests from either The Lord of The Rings or The Hobbit who have come through Australia to meet fans at these conventions in the past year, there’s been a lot of nostalgia amongst the long-time fans and these actors, not to mention some great introductions between them and those who are just coming to the franchise for the first time.
“Basically, gifts, is what I’m saying! I like to be given gifts!” Boyd jokes, commenting on his favourite parts of these conventions. “I love it when people get to know you as a person. Someone gave me a lovely gift of this surfing book from New Zealand, she’d come up from New Zealand to go to Perth and she gave me this beautiful book, which was lovely. Somebody else gave me a really cool book; I’d mentioned I’d read the first of these books and I couldn’t find the second one, so she brought me that.”
Ever humble about the success of The Lord of The Rings franchise, which proves itself year after year at these events, Boyd comments on the idea that the films could have been another other than direct smash hits.
“You go and you do it,” he says simply. “You try to do the best that you can. I mean, people sometimes ask if we knew it was going to be a big success and we really didn’t, and people don’t really believe that. It could’ve gone straight to DVD, it really could have. It didn’t, thankfully!”
Oz Comic Con is being held at the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds this weekend, April 18th & 19th. For more event and ticketing information, head to www.ozcomic.com.