A Fantasy Fan Visits The Hobbit

TIME's Lev Grossman sees where the magic happens

In the middle of an empty lot in a movie studio in Miramar, New Zealand (it's a suburb of Wellington), a bunch of people are standing on a rock. Some of the people are famous--Martin Freeman, for example, who at the moment is doing a little dance to keep warm between takes. It's June, but New Zealand is opposite-land, so it's winter here.

These are most of the principal cast of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second movie in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, to be released Dec. 13. Freeman plays the hero, Bilbo Baggins; the other actors play a...

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