Blog| 27 March 2011 | Halflings

One of my favourite scenes in Fellowship of the Ring didn't make it into the final cut. Gandalf was joining in the fun of Bilbo's birthday party by entertaining the youngest guests, half a dozen halflings cross-legged on the Hobbiton village grass: the Wizard as children's entertainer. I had laboriously prepared a simple conjuring trick, producing ten tiny pointy Gandy hats out of thin air, one for each finger. At first viewing, on "Action" this went down a treat — squeals of approval from the wide-eyed 3-6 year olds. Repeated for numerous takes, the illusion soon palled and the director was dependent on his child actors to act, rather than re-act spontaneously.

Peter Jackson knew his children, his own I mean, because Katie and Billy Jackson were the two cutest kids in the deleted scene. It wasn't their fault if dad reduced their appearance in LOTR to the length of his own Hitchcockian, two-second appearance as a reveller at the Prancing Pony.

A decade on, Katie has caught the acting bug and much joy may it bring her but Billy (16) may be looking at a future away from the family business. He goes to the prestigious Scots College a stone's throw from Stone Street where the senior Jacksons work at their film studios. At their annual Gala, the school's playing fields were the site of a fund-raiser for Christchurch victims, some of whose boys have been relocated gratis to Scots while their own schools are out of order.

Amongst the second-hand books, coconut shies, and bouncy castle there was tempting home-made food on sale in the sun. I'd had a good breakfast so could resist; even Billy's invitation to buy a hot dog assembled by him and his friends. Is Billy planning a career in catering? After all he's the only one in an apron. Will Katie, meanwhile, land an appearance in The Hobbit? I've a pointy hat trick I could show her.


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