Ken, We Hardly Knew Ye

I am getting myself in the Hobbit mood. Whatever that is. We’re about to find out, because this piece is the first of at least thirteen and maybe a few more designed to bring on the Hobbit hysteria for myself if no one else. Oh sure, most of you are focused on Sleepwalker. I’ve always been out of step, so for now I can’t stop thinking Hobbits, er, dwarves. Oh you know what I mean.

And note most of the research on these actors is whatever the first page or two of Google unearthed. Yep, this is how they appear on Google — at least in my part of the world.

Since Scotland was recently in the news, I decided to come with the Scottish guys first, and Ken Stott was my pick for the opener. Why Ken? I knew the least about him and so was most curious about his life and work. Oh, and he’s only half Scottish. The other half is Sicilian. When I was done reading about this half Scot, half Sicilian, I was fascinated with him. Still am. He also plays Balin, one of the most important dwarves in the Hobbit storyline and quite naturally should go first.

Balin

Balin is second in command of the dwarves and the conscience of the group if not the entire story at times — at least in the movies. As such, he is a calm force who often characterizes the series of events for others in order to encourage and inspire them to continue the quest. This serene mien is somewhat lacking in Thorin, whose royal presence alone is supposed to encourage and inspire, and it does but not entirely without Balin.

Given the usual demeanor of Balin, I was expecting Ken to be similar in nature. I suppose that’s the beauty and the hazard of being an actor. When someone is so good at what they do, you really can’t see past that to what else they may be capable of doing. Imagine my surprise when I came across Ken’s portrayal of Rebus:

If you didn’t watch that video, just know that Rebus is a badass. See around 4:20 if you don’t believe me. Balin is a badass as well, but he’s a kinder, gentler badass.

As I continued to research, it became apparent Ken is a bit of a badass in real life. I’ve picked up from several interviews and/or reviews about him that he does not put up with much crap (one article said, “he doesn’t suffer fools gladly”), and he tends to hit between the eyes. In 2009 he was in a West End performance of the Arthur Miller play A View from the Bridge when he got fed up with a school kid’s mobile phone going off one too many times. Ken stopped in the middle of the performance, had the house lights turned up and switched from his effected American accent into his native accent to let the school kids and their teacher know he wasn’t going any further until the nonsense ended. When I read that, I started laughing out loud and thought, “Go, Ken!” Then I read the bit to SO who chuckled and said, “I have no idea who this guy is, but I like him already.”

So Ken may be a curmudgeon at times, but he also has a sense of humor:

Most important, to me anyway, is that he seems extremely honest. I love that.

He also has a twinkle in his eye:

Embed from Getty Images
This is Ken in 2009 with his partner Nina Gehl. Nina is a piece of work herself. She’s an artist and seems to be pretty honest too. My favorite interview of Ken is one where he talks about Nina.

Fun fact about Ken: in his teens growing up in Edinburgh, he was part of a band called Keyhole who later became (or some members became) the Bay City Rollers. If you’re not familiar with them, here you go:

I did try to find a picture of Ken from his days with Keyhole, but to no avail. However, I did come across a photo of him I really like:

debt-collector-3This is from The Debt Collector. I don’t know if he smokes, and I really don’t give a damn if he does. That’s just a cool looking picture of a cool guy. Also looks like a character out of a Coppola or Scorsese movie.

One more fact about Ken or maybe two. 1) He supported Scottish independence. Why does that no surprise me? 2) It was his birthday a little over a week ago. I was going to post this then, but if I’ve learned anything about him, I imagine him thinking about all the birthday posts, “Dammit. Can they just stop?!” :D


Dear Ken:

Okay, so it was me! I was the one who didn’t know much about you. I’m sure there are others who know tons. But I’m on the other side of the pond, man. What I will tell you is now that I know a little more about you and your illustrious career (and I do not say that with any snark), I am making a point to watch some of your other roles and would love to see you in a live performance.

As for the rest, Nina sounds interesting too. Would love to have you two for dinner and discuss art and theater or whatever subject you want to pursue and especially anything you may want to call bullshit on. Oh, yeah, you can call vigorous bullshit on some things if you like.

Signed,
A Crazy Fan who loves it when someone has a finely honed bullshit detector

P.S. I have to ask: what instrument did you play in Keyhole? I would dearly love to know but could find the answer nowhere, or maybe I missed it.

I’m serious about wanting to see Ken Stott’s other roles. After reading the wonderful reviews of his stage work, I would go to see a play based on his casting alone.

note: I hope those among you who take me too seriously at times will read my disclaimer that I have no hope Ken Stott will ever answer my question or come to dinner. But that was fun to write. :D And hey, if anyone does know what instrument he played, please tell me.

The Year of the Dwarf?

Timeout from my FanstRAvaganza exploration.

I was followed on Twitter by another movie trailer site. I think they know I’m a sucker for these things. So I went over to watch some and came away with the need to post this.

Who woulda thunk one of the hot topics in entertainment this year would be dwarfs? (Or is that dwarves? Damn that Tolkien!) Not that I have any kind of problem with it or that it’s my first encounter with them — I have been a fan of the Roloffs. But I never imagined so much would be coming at us.

The premiere of “Mirror, Mirror” on Friday:

And supposedly ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ in June:

Of course the best is being saved for last since no dwarf before and probably since will be like this (Thank you, Sir Peter. :D):

But I do wonder why this much emphasis on Snow White? I’m sure the producers of those movies are irritated with each other, and I wonder if Peter Jackson is irritated by this as well or if it helps with ‘The Hobbit.’ Yeah, I think about useless stuff like this when I should be doing some paperwork such as the kind needed to file my taxes. See?! See?! why I get so caught up in this useless pastime?! Who in God’s creation wants to do their taxes?! Yep, that’s what I thought. This is much more soothing.

edit: E.B. Darcy reminded me about ‘Once Upon a Time’, which came out last year, and I think may be part of the reason Snow White is getting so much treatment.