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'Hobbit' star Armitage finds a wee bit of fame

7:53 AM, Dec 17, 2012   |    comments
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Richard Armitage plays the fierce, complex dwark warrior Thorin Oakenshield in 'The Hobbit.'(Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)

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His boots were made for walkin' - across Middle-earth.

In Richard Armitage's case, the shoes indeed make the dwarf in director Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. For a span of 240 production days that wrapped up this past summer, Armitage trudged around New Zealand in his unique footwear while filming the just-opened movie and two more Hobbit chapters: next year's Desolation of Smaug and 2014's There and Back Again.

The 6-foot-2 British actor plays Thorin Oakenshield, a dwarf warrior on a quest to take his land back from the evil dragon Smaug. And thanks to some movie magic, Oakenshield is a full foot shorter than the guy playing him.

Armitage liked his boots so much, he jokes that they'll soon take the fashion world by storm. "They are the most funky things you've ever seen," Armitage says of his gear, made of leather and fur and featuring a three-inch steel toe cap.

"You had to learn how to run with effectively what felt like concrete blocks on your feet. You had to make that look natural."

Orlando Bloom wore elf ears for his breakthrough role in Jackson's The Lord of the Rings series, and the Hobbit footwear may do the same for Armitage, who could pass for a blue-eyed James Bond underneath all of Thorin's facial prosthetics and hair.

"When we knew he was the guy we wanted, I was worried that he was going to have a hesitation about playing a dwarf," says Hobbit writer-producer Philippa Boyens. "But he didn't at all. He got it."

In The Hobbit, Thorin and his people are exiled from their home on the Lonely Mountain when Smaug attacks and takes their treasure, including the rare Arkenstone. He leads a company of dwarves on an adventure to reclaim their land with the help of the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman).

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