Agent fired for light-skinned hobbit casting call
NEW ZEALAND: It has been beset by budget blowouts and strikes and now the casting agent for The Hobbit has been fired over accusations of racism.
Naz Humphreys, a Briton of Pakistani origin, was in New Zealand on holiday when she decided to try out for the part of a hobbit in the pounds 320million prequel to The Lord of the Rings films.
After travelling 80 miles (130km) and queueing for three hours to audition Ms Humphreys was told that she was not white enough to be a hobbit.
"The casting manager basically said they weren't having anybody who wasn't pale-skinned," Ms Humphreys, a social policy researcher, told The Waikato Times.
"It's 2010 and I still can't believe I'm being discriminated against because I have brown skin."
A video of the auditions taken by the newspaper reportedly shows a film company representative telling the crowd: "We are looking for light-skinned people. I'm not trying to be - whatever. It's just the brief. You've got to look like a hobbit."
A casting agent had also placed newspaper advertisements seeking extras with "light skin tones".
The advertisements listed the requirements for potential hobbits, including age (16-80), height - below 5ft 7in (1.7m) for men and 5ft 2in for women - and the requirement that women should have light skin.
A spokesman for WingNut Films, the production company owned by The Hobbit director Sir Peter Jackson, said that no such instructions had been given to the casting company and described it as an unfortunate error.
"The crew member in question has been dismissed from the show," he said. "It's something we take very seriously."
Ms Humphreys said that she was a fan of the Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy and, with a height of 4ft 9in, had thought that she was perfect for the role of a hobbit.
"I would love to be an extra," she said. "But it just seemed like a shame because obviously hobbits are not brown or black or any other colour.
"They all look kind of homogenised beige and all derived from the Caucasian gene pool."
A spokesman for Sir Peter said: "All people meeting the age and height requirements are welcome to audition."
The two-part film is scheduled to begin filming in 3-D in February with Martin Freeman, a star of The Office television comedy series, playing the lead role of Bilbo Baggins.
In the meantime Ms Humphreys has started a Facebook group called "Hire hobbits of all colours! Say no to hobbit racism!"
Thursday, December 2, 2010
No place for a brown hobbit
From The Age