Luke Evans on the way the massive sets of ‘Desolation Of Smaug’ helped his performance

One of the characters who gets a fair amount of attention in “The Desolation Of Smaug,” this middle chapter of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” trilogy, is Bard, played by Luke Evans. I moderated a WonderCon panel with Evans for the film “Immortals,” and when I walked into the room, he immediately remembered me. I had been warned that he wasn’t feeling great, but he certainly held it together while we were talking.

Evans should be pleased with the way Bard’s part was expanded for these films. Ultimately, he’s there to complete one action, and that won’t happen until the third film. Everything he does here is about laying the groundwork so when that moment finally happens, it is an emotional payoff for the audience?

Do they succeed at making us care about him? I think Evans helps a lot. Many of the roles we’ve seen Evans play before have had that same sense of swagger that he has when you meet him in person, a playful confidence that defines him. Not Bard, though. This is a guy who has had to accept that he has a certain role in life, and while he yearns for some sort of redemption for his family’s name, he has accepted that it will never happen. Instead, he does a million small kindnesses for the people of Lake-town, hoping each one chips away at the humiliation he wears like a blanket, wrapped around him at all times.

By far, one of the most remarkable sets you’ll see in anything this year is what they built for Lake-town. It’s not just a few small buildings and some clever angles. They built a sprawling community with a staggering attention to detail paid to making it all feel real and lived-in. Evans has a real feel for moving through those sets, making them feel like they are familiar to him. It’s one of those things I’ve always said make Mark Hamill so great in the “Star Wars” films… he always felt like he 100% believed in the world around him. Talking to Evans about how amazing the environments were to work in and how they aided him as an actor was great fun, and I think it’s going to be a blast to see Evans finally fulfill the Bard’s destiny when we see “The Hobbit: There And Back Again” next Christmas.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug” conquers theaters on Friday.