Dainty, posh Englishman Benedict Cumberbatch — Is it redundant to refer to someone named “Benedict Cumberbatch” as dainty, posh, and English? — was just cast as the villain in Star Trek 2, and he’s also voicing two characters in The Hobbit. Everything’s coming up Cumberbatch. In the two Hobbit films, Cumberbatch will play Smaug the Dragon and the Necromancer who became Sauron (this part shouldn’t require a spoiler alert).
Cumberbatch (I am compelled to type this as often as possible) spoke to Empire about The Hobbit, dropping what looks like a spoiler:
“I’m playing Smaug through motion-capture and voicing the Necromancer, which is a character in the Five Legions War or something which I’m meant to understand. He’s not actually in the original Hobbit. It’s something [Peter Jackson]’s taken from Lord Of The Rings that he wants to put in there.”
If he’s talking about the Battle of The Five Armies, that would help explain why they split up the relatively short book into two movies and brought back several characters not in The Hobbit, including Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Christopher Lee, and Orlando Bloom. Bringing the Battle of The Five Armies into The Hobbit could also be used to combine two storylines that were separate in the books:
Gandalf disappears halfway through (the book of) The Hobbit to lead a coalition force and drive the Necromancer out of his Mirkwood stronghold. But in the book they dispatch the Necromancer back to (as it turns out) Mordor well before the Battle of Five Armies. Here, however, it looks like he’s going to turn up to the finale in person, presumably at the head of the goblin and Warg army, and face Gandalf’s team there. If that is the case, it’s a narratively neat way to combine the two story threads, that of Bilbo and the dwarves and the other following Gandalf and his team. It also gives the goblins a stronger motivation to suddenly turn up: in the book, they’re avenging the earlier death of one of their leaders and (like all the other armies present) hoping to get their grubby hands on the dragon’s hoard. If they’re incited or led by Sauron, however, their actions will hang more coherently with their behaviour later in Lord Of The Rings.
That’s the nerdiest thing I’ve cut-and-pasted lately, and I regret nothing. Also, did Cumberbatch say he’s doing motion capture for the dragon’s movements but not for the Necromancer’s? Strange. I guess someone has to be the dragon since Macho Man Randy Savage Dragon is no longer available. R.I.P. brother. *extends pinky while pouring out some malt liquor*