Peter Jackson, the visionary director of 682 minutes-worth of The Lord of the Rings, has recently come under fire amid allegations he is using the cast of his upcoming epic, The Hobbit, as slave labor. Originally slated to be released as two films, The Hobbit is now confirmed to have been extended into a third. Authorities are keeping a close eye on production as it skirts dangerously close with violating the New Zealand Employment Relations Act 2000. Under the act, "The salary/wages for this position cover all time worked in meeting the performance requirements and the employee is not entitled to additional payment for time worked outside the normal hours specified. However, where a significant number of additional hours are worked, the employer will, if possible allow the employee to take time off in compensation for the additional hours worked."
Many in the press have been pushing Jackson to reveal the working conditions the actors have been under since production began, but he's been less than cooperative so far. "Who doesn't want more Lord of the Rings?" the one-time helmer of other movies said. "I assure you, everyone involved is thrilled to be filming four more hours. Well, more like six more hours, what with special editions and whatnot."
Jackson will "have none of that" when it comes to asking questions about the health and well-being of his contractually-obligated actors.
Despite Jackson's claim, many of the actors I talked with dispute the merry nature of playing the same characters for ten years of their lives. Elijah Wood told me he sometimes forgets his real name, and he thinks he can turn himself invisible when he wants to get out of a bind. "It's not fun. I think I'm losing my mind. Sometimes it feels like Elijah Wood is a character of Frodo's imagination. Is he? I'm not so sure any more."
This picture was taken in Elijah Wood's back yard as he tried to bargain a ride to the studio from a tree.
Ian McKellen's mental state is even worse. "Dressing up in that wizard costume just reminds me that I'm not dead yet. I wish I was. I'm just tired. So tired." McKellen had to cut our interview short when he began complaining about his staff-holding arm feeling like it weighed eighty pounds.
McKellen is resigned to the fact that he is no longer recognized by his birth name.
Some of the new cast members have yet to realize what they're in for, and that attitude is reflected in their enthusiasm for filming an entirely new portion of The Hobbit. Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins), for example, is looking forward to being a part of a franchise he loves. "Ian Holm was fantastic in The Fellowship of the Ring, and I'm excited to take the torch from him. I mean, my wife has already threatened to leave me if I'm not home in three years, but I think she's overreacting a bit, don't you? She said it's like I've enlisted in the military or something. Every time she says goodbye, she thinks it might be the last time she'll ever see me."
People have even started to protest on-location, citing Jackson's apparent inability to be a reasonable human being. "Evangeline Lilly has feelings, too!" one protester shouted at the top of his lungs. "Is she even getting bathroom breaks?"
Angry fans just want everyone to be treated fairly.
GPS will be monitoring the situation as it unfolds, so stay tuned to this bizarre turn of events as The Hobbit continues filming until Peter Jackson either becomes old and senile or is forced to quit by the courts.