Character Profile: The Great Goblin

Great Goblin

Make way for the biggest goblin of them all …

When you think you’ve seen all sorts of goblins, orcs, and other foul creatures in Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle-earth, there comes a fancy chap by the name (or rather, title) of the Great Goblin.

When you read The Hobbit, this character comes across as a highly sarcastic individual; a vain leader of sorts; and, to a certain extent, a narcissist.

The Great Goblin makes his abode in the deep subterranean caverns beneath the Misty Mountains, in a lovely place going by the equally welcoming name of Goblin-town.


In illustrations, this character is often portrayed as a pompous, larger-than-life individual. Peter Jackson has used the term “Great” in a very literal way – expanding his physical stature to almost 4 times the size of a normal goblin and thrice that of a man. This towering, blobbing mass of fat and egocentricity was brought to life thanks to two important names: WETA Digital and Barry Humphries.

Some people have been repulsed by the physical appearance of the Great Goblin (and the other goblins general), deeming him too disgusting – especially that particularly grotesque sack under his chin …

Personally, I’ve looked beyond that and really focused on the performance and overall impact of the Goblin-town sequence. Peter Jackson’s decision to differentiate goblins from orcs, making them appear like a disease-riddled race, was a very interesting touch and added more breadth to the already expansive universe of Middle-earth.

Barry Humphries emulates all the necessary qualities of this character, both through his voice and physical performance. Needless to say, WETA’s motion capture technology GreatGoblin(although nothing can surpass Gollum and Smaug’s realistic rendering), gives life and a compelling personality (or lack of, in case of a goblin) to a CGI character.

At certain moments I could see how the Great Goblin was being cleverly portrayed from the pages of the book to the cinematic screen. Β 

A feast of emotions spew forth from Humphries’ performance as he provides anger, humour and mockery in one clever sequence. One minute he’s sneering, the other he’s singing (or shrieking) at the top of his voice. He behaves like a theatre actor and explodes with fury.

Whether you hated him, found him repulsing, or thought the CGI wasn’t realistic enough, I find that Peter Jackson’s Great Goblin is one of the highlights of An Unexpected Journey (whether for the wrong reasons or not, it’s up to you to decide).

7 thoughts on “Character Profile: The Great Goblin

  1. Nice article. I like the Great Goblin. Thought he was a great character, a bit on the gross side, but a great character. Looking forward to reading all of your posts. I read the post on the Nazgul this morning, thought it was very well thought out. Middle Earth is a great place to be. Thanks.

    1. Hey Cas, thanks for your great comments πŸ˜‰

      And I hope you like the other posts on this blog.

      I agree, Middle-earth is definitely a most wonderful place πŸ™‚

  2. Enjoyed your post. I was repulsed by the character but thought the rendering and the acting was perfect. It brought the nature of the Goblin King to life, made it memorable and really made you feel the ick factor. I felt that I was supposed to feel repulsed and I was. Now I need to go read your other posts. First time I landed here ^_^

    1. Hey Ciara, thanks for commenting. Yes the fact that the Great Goblin is so horrendous, makes him even more memorable!

      I really hope you enjoy the other posts πŸ™‚

  3. Great post! I love to watch that scene over and over just for the performance.

    “Very well, if they will not talk – we’ll make them squawk! Bring up the Mangler, bring up the Bonebreaker! Start with the youngest!*

    Awesome performance and lines. I’m going to look for your Smaug post next

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