Following his lead cast role as Bifur the Dwarf in The Hobbit trilogy of movies, William Kircher returns to the stage after a 20 year absence with The Hound of the Baskervilles. This week in drama* on the waterfront, William talks to Colleen McColl about Bifur, Sir Peter Jackson, the joy of being back on stage.
Q: You have recently been seen in The Hobbit movie trilogy playing Bifur the Dwarf which must have been very rewarding. How did you prepare for the role? And what were the highlights and challenges of working with Sir Peter Jackson?
A: Pretty much as soon as I signed off on the contract, which was around six months before we began principal photography, the production arranged a top personal trainer at one of the most prestigious gyms in Wellington. I trained very hard! Then for ten weeks the main cast came together for a ‘boot camp’. We trained everyday in a diverse range of skills including body movement, dialogue, weaponry, horse riding, stunt fighting, dialogue, improvisation, teamwork… it was a very intense and rewarding experience. Almost like going back to Drama School! Peter Jackson is a fantastic “Actors’ Director”. He is a creative genius, who has a definite vision for his art, and yet remains open to suggestions and ideas from his actors. He is very respectful of the actors craft and it was an incredible honour to be chosen to be part of a team that worked with one of the greatest film directors in the world for over three years!
Q: Has appearing in these movies impacted on your career?
A: Being in the films has opened doors all over the world for me. It has enabled me to take my acting career to an international level.
Q: Twenty years ago you were in Brilliant Lies also directed by Ross Jolly. It must be interesting to be back working with someone after all this time?
A: Ross has always been one of my favourite Directors and it is very fitting that my first project back on stage after all this time is with Ross at the helm. He has put together an amazing cast and I am loving every single second of the rehearsal period. It is like a family reunion for me. It is so great to be back working at Circa!
Q: This is the first time in twenty years you have appeared on stage. Apart fromThe Hobbit movies, what have you been up to?
A: I have always stayed in the creative industries, but in the late 90s I concentrated more on television and film acting. Then I moved away from acting for several years and worked in the corporate side of the screen business. I worked as a Producer with Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment. In the meantime I also worked with Nicole, my wife, at her talent agency Possum Talent. I wrote and directed some theatre, plus many comedy dinner shows, and I developed my singing career with our 60s vocal group The California Dreamers. We also were hard at work bringing up our family!
Q: Had you read Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories before you began working on this production and in particular The Hound of the Baskervilles?
A: Yes… read quite a bit of Conan Doyle when I was a younger and The Hound of the Baskervilles was always a major favourite!
Q: It would be hard to ignore all the influences from actors playing Sherlock Holmes. Is there an actor you have seen in the role of Sherlock that you have admired and has it influenced your interpretation in any way?
A: No actor in particular has influenced me…. in fact you can say that ALL the actors I have seen playing this role have influenced me.
Q: This is a very different way of playing this story with four actors playing all the many roles. Has that brought challenges for you?
A: The style of this show is wonderfully theatrical… and yes, all the actors play diverse roles. I love this, as it takes a great deal of craft and skill to bring these roles to life. Many years ago I was in a major hit show titled Bouncers that utilised exactly the same technique. Bouncers was a massive hit at all around the country and this culminated with a sell-out season at Circa that then shifted to the Opera House! So this style is not new to me… it is true ‘Theatre’ and I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge of working in this way once more.
Q: Last year was very busy and successful for you. What were some of the highlights?
A: Throughout the year I got to work all around the world in Germany, Sweden, London, America and Australia…. then in December I was in Hollywood walking the Red Carpet at the Dolby Theatre for the premiere of the final Hobbit film. What a fantastic adventure… and I count myself very, very fortunate!
Q: What is the favourite role you have ever played and why?
A: Well, of course, apart from playing Bifur in The Hobbit trilogy… I have to say Sherlock Holmes. Because as an actor, you are only as good as your next role!
Q: And one that is an ambition to play?
Sherlock Holmes! And maybe the villain in a James Bond movie!