He is the clue finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. He was chosen for the lucky number. He comes from the end of a bag, but no bag goes over him. He is the Barrel-rider. And, soon, he’ll be the centerpiece of one of the biggest big-screen fantasy epics of all-time.
“The most salient virtue of Bilbo is a very relatable, basic decency and honesty - the fact that here's a guy who's going to do the right thing,” Del Toro said of the titular character in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. “Bilbo is a good-hearted man, and the honesty of Bilbo is in direct contrast to the greed of Smaug, which looms large in the entire narrative, but also in the newly acquired greed and pride of Thorin, who becomes intoxicated with power and gold.”
(Check out his thoughts about Bilbo here, then head over to the MTV Movies homepage for our full Guillermo del Toro interview about "The Hobbit" and other projects, as well as "Hobbit" casting news and his new role for Doug Jones!)
Tolkien, of course, wasn’t interested in one to one analogues and famously detested the notion of allegory - that one thing or character in his books represented something else in the real world. He also wasn’t much for character simplicity. (“An incredible emotional intelligence in the piece in without creating a dry, symbolist thing,” Del Toro said.)
So while at the end of the day Bilbo is always going to do the right thing, it’s the path he takes to get there that interested Tolkien – and Del Toro too, the director insisted.
“There's a passage in the book that I love that says Bagginses were normally so predictable that people knew how they were going to act even before they asked the question,” Del Toro said. “But the great thing about Bilbo is that since he is half he influenced by the [Tookish] side of his mother he is more unpredictable character and therefore is faced with moral choices, and it's beautiful in the narrative when he makes those choices.”
What do you make of Bilbo? What’s his defining character trait to you? Think Del Toro has a good grasp on what makes him tick? Sound off below.