Monday, December 31, 2012

The Hobbit: an unexpected connection

James Nesbitt as Bofur

I went to the Hobbit yesterday. Not without some trepidation. The reviews I'd seen said it was over long & slow-paced. I wondered if I'd be better waiting for the DVD. I especially wondered if the kids would sit through it. But, the boys really wanted to go ... and as the promise had been made before I'd seen the reviews, go we went!

I was glad we did. The cinema in Carlow was three-quarters full on a Sunday afternoon nearly three weeks after the film has opened.  That's a pretty fair indicator that word of mouth is having a bigger impact than any negative reviews. I'll give no spoilers, but I liked what Peter Jackson did with the narrative arc. The movie may have been nearly three hours, but I didn't notice the time drag, not did the three of my boys whom I took aged 10, 12, & 16. The Hobbit held our attention.

An expected delight was when the dwarves showed up and Bofur started speaking. Hang on a mo', I thought, I recognise that voice. It was the actor James Nesbitt, a 'Norn Iron' man. The delight wasn't that there was an Irish man in the film, but rather that I had met him once.* 

When I worked for Revenue on Nassau Street, my colleagues and I went for our mid-morning coffee in a bar nearby called Renard's. At night, Renard's was a rather exclusive place, the haunt of the rich and semi-famous but during the day it was pretty quiet & they were happy to let middle-aged civil servants have their elevenses there.

Renard's at some point decided to do a bit of a re-brand as a sports bar (which mainly seemed to involve sticking in a few plasma screen TVs). And a re-brand requires a launch. And a launch requires a celebrity guest. The celebrity guest was James Nesbitt. Being sort of regulars, we mid-morning coffee drinkers got invites too. Arriving early, long before the too-cool to be on time crowd showed up, we nearly had the place almost to ourselves. And thus I had a chance to have a small chat with Mr Nesbitt.

Truth be told, there wasn't much to say. He was a nice guy, happy to chat (tall and thin, he probably wasn't obvious dwarf material!). He was working on his series 'Murhphy's Law' at the time (where he played, you guessed it, an Irish cop called Murphy). I liked the series. I told him so. He thanked me for my opinion. We discussed the grittiness of the series. And that was pretty much it. He had a drink in his hand, & I in mine, so I suppose technically you could say we had a drink together. After a couple of minutes of very small talk I went back to my colleagues. 

Not much of a story. But it did mean that during The Hobbit I was able to nudge my boys and say: Hey! D'you see that guy? The dwarf? No, not the one with the shaved head! No, not the one with the red beard and huge belly! The one with the funny hat and the big mustache. I met him once. We had a drink together. OK, we had a drink near one another. But I did meet him.'

Slightly cool. Perhaps no great reason to recommend The Hobbit to you. Which is why I don't. I think it stands on its own merits. 

But the fact that it has an Irish guy in it that I met once can't hurt, right?

Happy New Year!

*disclaimer: this is Ireland folks. It's a pretty small place. There is a very good chance that a large percentage of the population of this island has met Mr Nesbitt at some time. There are probably over a million stories out there of how others met James Nesbitt. This is one of them. 

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