(USA TODAY) -- Benedict Cumberbatch has two chances to showcase how he's the worst of the worst in
The British actor's sizable fan base may not be able to see his face or body, but they get a full dose of his voice and presence with both the evil Necromancer and a greedy, psychopathic talking dragon in director
And when it comes to playing that gruesome twosome, "trust me, he relishes it," says Hobbit screenwriter and producer
Cumberbatch's baritone gives villainous depth to the Necromancer - a dark, nebulous force that ultimately becomes the baddie Sauron in Jackson's The
When confronting the wizard
To capture more of an inhuman vibe, Jackson had him actually say his lines backward and then they were reversed via audio effects so when they're uttered, "it gives you these almost swallowed, real creepy sounds," Boyens says. "It's like someone speaking who almost has no voice."Smaug's name is in the movie title, though, so his role is a bigger one for Cumberbatch. The dragon rules the former dwarf kingdom of
Cumberbatch was clad in a motion-capture suit so filmmakers could get a sense of the movements of this "powerful, fire-breathing, all-destroying, flying napalm machine," the British actor says, and also to capture his facial expressions - such as the way he would tilt his head or glare at Bilbo out of the side of one yellow eye.
"We gave Smaug almost this noble character, where in a way it was almost beneath him to just eat the hobbit without at least exchanging some pleasantries first," says
Smaug is unlike any of the other major CG characters from Jackson's movies, a reptilian creature with nods to European and Asian dragon designs that proved a different challenge from the big ape of the director's
"Talking dragons are pretty terrifying things," Jackson says. "So many people over the years have said, 'What's he going to look like?' that you're horrified you're going to let people down."
But it's Cumberbatch's voice as Smaug that ultimately makes him a new cinema icon, Jackson adds.
"You walk away from the movie and it doesn't matter how many teeth he's got or how many bloody claws he's got. The voice, the character, is what lingers."