Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's novels are getting ready for the second film in "The Hobbit" trilogy." The Desolation of Smaug” features new adventures with elves, wizards and angry orcs. Director and co-writer Peter Jackson brought some of "Middle Earth" to Beverly Hills this week and gave CBS News’ John Blackstone a tour.
For 16 years Jackson has been turning Tolkien's tales of Middle Earth into blockbusters.
“I've enjoyed making these as much as I've enjoyed doing anything in my life,” Jackson told Blackstone. “This movie, the pace and the sort of energy of it, I think, is almost reflecting my kind of increased excitement and enthusiasm and spirit as I go along.”
In "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," Bilbo Baggins joins the dwarves in their continuing quest to reclaim their homeland.
In creating his film, Jackson again turned to his native New Zealand, with its dramatic locations enhanced by 3D and dazzling special effects.
“No matter how hard it is,” he said, “I always just take a moment to think, ‘Hang on, you're doing exactly what you dreamt of doing when you were eight or nine years-old. How many people are lucky enough to actually say that ... they're living their dream?’”
In fact, Orlando Bloom, one of the stars of the film, feels Jackson seems never to have really grown up.
“He's a big child and his approach to his work is so creatively freeing - you know - so I love working with him, he's great,” said Bloom.
Growing up as an only child with a big imagination, he recalls how an unexpected gift changed his life when he was just eight years old.
“And so suddenly one Christmas, this camera shows up in our house, a Super 8 Camera, that my mum and dad didn't even really want,” said Jackson. “So I grabbed it and I kind of commandeered this camera.”
Almost from the beginning he was creating movie magic, like punching pinholes in the film to create flashes of gunfire. He used stop motion photography to make his homemade monsters move.
“I literally didn't have friends particularly. I didn't hang out. I wasn't socially kind of good with people. I had a projector in my bedroom. I had a big sheet on the wall, pinned on the wall,” he said. “The bed in the middle and toxic fumes and glue and solvents everywhere in my bedroom where I was making, gluing up, you know, monster suits and things.”
In the mid 1980s, Jackson wrote, shot and starred in his first feature film, "Bad Taste," a sci-fi tale with invading aliens. He built everything from the camera crane to the aliens' masks.
“Hopefully, this next year, I'll revisit my old movies and actually just really polish them up and release them on Blu-Ray,” he said. “So I'm actually going to go back to that world again.”
However, it's Tolkien's world that has made Jackson famous. "The Lord of the Rings" movies are among the most successful films of all time, raking in nearly $3 billion worldwide. "The Return of the King" won 11 Academy Awards, including three for Jackson.
Jackson's take on the novels has courted controversy among purists. In his latest film, he's created characters that don't exist in the books. Still, he embraces the attention by maintaining a blog to allow fans to follow his filmmaking.
He appears in every one of his movies. His fans enjoy trying to spot him.
“I get a lot of questions where people ask me ‘What character would you be?’And even though the obvious answer is an elf - you know, tall, handsome, slender - I'm much more of a hobbit,” he said.
And hobbits, like Jackson, are most comfortable at home
“The idea of a cup of tea, sitting with my feet up in front of the fire and not coming to mysterious dark places like Hollywood or Los Angeles,” said Jackson. “Scary places, scary, scary places – ‘I don't like to venture beyond the borders of the Shire,’ as Bilbo says.”
Though ever so tempting, that warm home hearth will just have to wait. The final chapter in the Hobbit trilogy is due out next year and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” opens in theaters next Friday.