Peter Jackson rejects 'The Hobbit' animal cruelty claims

The Hobbit director Peter Jackson and star Martin Freeman at today's press conference in Wellington.
The Hobbit director Peter Jackson and star Martin Freeman at today's press conference in Wellington. Seanna Cronin

THE stars of The Hobbit have described working on the film as a family atmosphere at a press conference this morning in Wellington.

Beloved Froddo actor Elijah Woods said it felt like "no time had passed at all" when he returned to Hobbiton to film his brief appearance in The Hobbit and Martin Freeman praised the film crew for being so understanding about his reservations of being away for his family for 18 months.

Freeman, who plays central character Bilbo Baggins, said he nearly had to turn down the titular role because of scheduling conflicts with his UK drama series Sherlock.

Speaking to media ahead of tonight's world premiere, director Peter Jackson said there was no one else but Freeman to play Bilbo.

Jackson said it felt like "the country was behind us" and hit back at claims of animal cruelty on The Hobbit set, describing them as "an insult to everyone who worked on the film".

Filmed at 48 frames per second and in 3D, The Hobbit is much more technologically advanced than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Jackson said it was "not impossible" for the Lord of the Rings films to one day be re-released in 3D.

One of the many new additions to the Jackson fold, Barry Humphries joked about his "first nude scene" as his character The Goblin King and was teased by co-star Cate Blanchett for his "goiter".

Blanchett stood out in the line-up in a bright red dress and said she feel "madly" in love with Ian McKellen during the scenes they share together in the film, the first of Jackson's Hobbit trilogy.

The jovial atmosphere continued when the cast of dwarves took questions.

William Kircher joked about how the 13 actors had become "close with yaks" after wearing elaborate yak-hair beards for the past 18 months of filming.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in Australia on Boxing Day.

Topics:  editors picks movie premiere peter jackson the hobbit: an unexpected journey

Casuarina Beach Rugby Club to launch senior side in 2017

BIG NAMES: Adam Wallace-Harrison and former Waratah  Adam Leach are ready to launch Casuarina senior rugby.

Green light to go for Casuarina senior rugby

Girl guides gather

The group of ladies meet every year to remember their time as Girl Guides.

Girl Guides from the past reunite.

Dann died 'doing what he loved'

Dann Jenkins was killed in a crash yesterday morning.

Tribute to much-loved 22-year-old Dann Jenkins, who died yesterday

Local Partners

Kristie doesn't mind being the third wheel in Survivor final

Kristie Bennett in a scene from Australian Survivor.

SOLO player will take on Survivor's power couple Lee and El tonight.

Scary hoping Posh and Sporty will re-join The Spice Girls

Mel B

Mel B hoping Victoria Beckham, Mel C will re-join The Spice Girls

REVIEW: Michael McIntyre has Brisbane in stitches

Michael McIntyre in a scene from his TV series Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow.

BRITISH comedian is in the country on his Happy and Glorious Tour.

Cliff Richard doesn't need Rod Stewart's help with legal bills

Sir Cliff Richard

"'Don't worry, I'm loaded. I won't keep you to it.' "

Bindi Irwin named in MAXIM HOT 100 list

Wildlife Warrior named among Australia's most beautiful women

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals