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Irish Writers in America: Dennis Lehane, John Banville
Smaug is described as "the greatest of the dragons of his day", and was already centuries old at the time he was first recorded. After driving the Dwarves out of their stronghold, Smaug occupied the interior of the mountain for the next years, guarding a vast hoard of treasure. Assuming that Smaug would not recognize the scent of a hobbit , Gandalf also recruits Bilbo Baggins to join the quest, which is the subject of The Hobbit. Upon reaching Erebor, the Dwarves sent Bilbo into Smaug's lair, and he was initially successful in stealing a beautiful golden cup as Smaug slept fitfully. Knowing the contents of the treasure hoard which he had slept upon for centuries to the ounce, Smaug quickly realized the cup's absence upon his awakening and sought for the thief on the Mountain. Unsuccessful, he returned to his hoard to lie in wait. Having been nearly killed in the dragon's search, the Dwarves send Bilbo down the secret tunnel a second time. Smaug sensed Bilbo's presence immediately, even though Bilbo had rendered himself invisible with the One Ring , and accused the Hobbit correctly of trying to steal from him. During his discourse with the dragon, Bilbo detected a small bare patch in the jewel-encrusted underbelly of the dragon. When Bilbo narrowly escapes an attack from the dragon and collapses amidst the Dwarves at the entrance to the secret tunnel, a thrush overhears Bilbo's frantic retelling of his interaction with the dragon and learns of the bare patch on Smaug's underside. This becomes important later when Bard the Bowman kills Smaug during the dragon's attack on Laketown by shooting an arrow into this bare patch, mortally wounding him. Concept and creation[ edit ] Tolkien created numerous pencil sketches and two pieces of more detailed artwork portraying Smaug. The latter were a detailed ink and watercolour labelled Conversation with Smaug and a rough coloured pencil and ink sketch entitled Death of Smaug. From to , Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University , and a prominent critic of and expert on Beowulf — on which he gave a lecture at the British Academy in  and which he described as one of his "most valued sources" for The Hobbit. Smaug was intimately familiar with every last item within his hoard, and instantly noticed the theft of a relatively inconsequential cup by Bilbo Baggins. Tolkien writes that Smaug's rage was the kind which "is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy lose something they have long had but never before used or wanted. Smaug was depicted by Tolkien as an intelligent being capable of speech, easily pleased by flattery and fascinated by Bilbo's description of himself in riddles. This is also portrayed in later film adaptations such as The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. He is described as having "quite an overwhelming personality"; every time his eyes flash across Bilbo's invisible form, he feels almost compelled to tell him the truth about himself because of the hypnotic power within. Portrayal in adaptations[ edit ] Smaug as seen in the animated version of The Hobbit. In general, Smaug's design in the animated version is consistent with Tolkien's description, save for his face: His hypnotic speech is absent, but his acute eyesight is portrayed by highbeam-like lights projected from his eyes. The Hobbit film series [ edit ] On June 16, , it was announced that Smaug would be voiced and interpreted with performance capture by Benedict Cumberbatch in Peter Jackson 's three-part adaptation of The Hobbit ,  wherein Smaug is presented with a long head, red-golden scales, and piercing yellow-red eyes. The dragon speaks with Received Pronunciation with an underlying growl; Cumberbatch's vocal performance was vocoded using alligator growls. Weta Digital employed its proprietary "Tissue" software, which was honoured in with a "Scientific and Engineering Award" from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to make the dragon as realistic as possible. In the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey , the audience sees only his legs, wings, and tail, and his eye, which is showcased in the final scene of the film. Smaug is a topic of discussion among the White Council as Gandalf's reason to support Thorin Oakenshield 's quest. Smaug appears as the titular primary antagonist in the second film, The Hobbit: In an interview with Joe Letteri, Smaug's design was changed to this form after the crew saw how Benedict Cumberbatch performed Smaug while moving around on all four limbs. He makes veiled references to the One Ring and a "coming darkness" which tie in to the film's secondary plot concerning the resurgence of Sauron. Smaug battles Thorin's small group of dwarves when they come to Bilbo's aid, before flying off to Lake-town. He is killed by Bard with an elongated iron arrow and his body falls on the boat carrying the fleeing Master of Lake-town. It is later revealed that Smaug's attack on Erebor was all part of Sauron's design, meaning that Smaug and Sauron were in league with each other. Others[ edit ] In the "J. Tolkien Calendar", the Brothers Hildebrandt depicted Smaug with bright red scales and large bat-like wings. In the video game release, Smaug was voiced by James Horan. Francis de Wolff voiced the red dragon in the long-lost BBC radio dramatization. The estimates are tied directly to Smaug's size and the assumption that he lies directly on the largest part of his hoard. A more literal reading of Tolkien's text and comparison to historical instead of living factual persons notably John D. The Battle of the Five Armies. He also claimed to have turned down a role on Sherlock because he didn't want to "play second fiddle to that hack Cumberbatch", before going on a rampage after Colbert made light of a scene from the movies. Smaug later made a non-speaking cameo in the series' final episode, joining the series' other previous guests in a rendition of " We'll Meet Again ". In science[ edit ] In , scientists in the United States and South Africa named a genus of southern African girdled lizards, Smaug , after the character  the lizards were originally part of the genus Cordylus but reclassified after molecular phylogeny studies. The lizards were so named after the fictional dragon due to being similarly armoured, dwelling underground, and native to Tolkien's birthplace - Bloemfontein , Orange Free State , which is now Free State province , South Africa.
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