No, I didn’t visit the set of “The Hobbit,” which is one of the great injustices in history. However, ComingSoon did, and they have a tremendous, long report on who they saw and talked to. You can read it here.
I’ll give you a few interesting quotes to get you started:
First, Ian McKellen talks about how they expanded the story:
“Yes, there are scenes which are not in the book, but that doesn’t say they’re not in Tolkien somewhere, or in the back of Tolkien’s mind…[W[hen Gandalf leaves the dwarves to get on with their job, you get to discover why he is supporting them. And that involves an overview of Middle-earth, which Wizards and High Elves get involved with."
And what he thinks about his character, Gandalf the Grey, who he hasn't played since "The Fellowship of the Ring" (he played Gandalf the White in the other two LOTR movies):
"I don't make much connection between White and Grey and I've never really liked the White. I never said I didn't like playing him, but I didn't warm to him. He's a man with a mission. He's a commander and he's a man working right at the end of his tether. Gandalf the Grey -- I think Peter agrees -- is a much more congenial person, humane and full of all sorts of life, particularly when he's with the Hobbits."
Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins, talks about playing the character, established in an older version by Ian Holm in the LOTR movies:
"[T]here’s only so much you can run with someone else’s thing,” he says. “It’s very helpful, in the way that it’s brilliant as he is always brilliant, and it’s a beautiful establisher of that character. A very loved one, for obvious reasons. But it can also hamper you if you’re thinking… ‘How would Ian have done this?’ Then I’m f-ed. So I’ve got to let that go.”
The film also has to deal with the differences between the portrayal of the ring in “The Hobbit,” written much earlier and in a lighter tone than “The Lord of the Rings” books. Freeman says:
“I think it definitely has an effect on him,” Freeman explains, “Maybe I shouldn’t say how much of it is negative or positive, but it’s clear that it has a pull on him, that, I guess would be recognizable from ‘Lord of The Rings.’ But it takes a different turn…. It definitely still has to matter that he is in possession of this thing and I think a lot of the time, even he doesn’t realize why he wants to hold onto it so much, but there is an unspoken hold that it has on him. An unconscious hold.”
So there you go, something to get you in the mood as you slog through these last six weeks until the first “Hobbit” movie is released. You can read the rest of the set visit and interviews at ComingSoon.