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January 16, 2004 - January 24, 2004

1-23-04 Latest News

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Frode @ 12:25 am EST

The time has come to have a look at the villains of Peter Jacksons 'The Return of the King'. In Tolkiens story you never really get to see the main badguy - Sauron. How has Jackson solved this when making his movie? Besides Sauron who are the villains and how are they portrayed?

I'm sure many will have a thing or two to say about Saruman. And what about Denethor? Is Denethor intended to be the main villain of this movie or maybe that's Gollum? Join us in #thehalloffire as we debate the villains of 'The Return of the King'.

Upcoming topics:

weekend 310104-010204
Frodo/Sam/Gollum in the movies

Saturday Chat:
5:30pm ET (17:30)
[also 11:30pm (23:30) CET and 9:30am Sunday (09:30) AET]

Sunday Chat:
7:00 pm (19:00) CET
[also 1:00pm (13:00) ET and 5:00am (05:00) Monday morning AET]

ET = Eastern Time, USA's East Coast
CET = Central European Time, Central Europe
AET = Australian East Coast

Do you have a possible topic for Hall of Fire? Drop us a line at

1-21-04 Latest News

Emerald Rose in Santa Monica
Xoanon @ 8:34 pm EST

Emerald Rose has scheduled a debut public performance in L.A. area, in advance of their appearance as featured entertainers at the Post-Oscar party for The Lord of the Rings (www.theonering.net). The Celtic folk-rock band from North Georgia will perform a special showcase of their high energy music at 14 Below, a music club in Santa Monica on February 27 from 7:30 to 9:00. The show will be followed by a meet and greet with the artists at the club.

In 2003 the band played their first LOTR Oscar event at last year's "Two Towers" Oscar party. The band has risen from the Atlanta area Celtic music scene, releasing 3 CDs to date and touring on the East Coast (USA) and in Ireland, building a passionate following at Celtic festivals, science fiction conventions and Irish pubs. For over seven years Emerald Rose has blended tradition, mythic themes and humor to develop a unique "Celtic American Folk-Rock sound." Their songs have been featured on radio shows ranging from "The Thistle and Shamrock" and "Green Island" to "The Dr. Demento Show".

Emerald Rose was discovered by The One Ring at DragonCon, an annual Atlanta SCI-FI convention in 2001 and is proud to be the headline band at the post-Oscar party for the second year.

1-20-04 Latest News

'In Conversation with Ian McKellen' Report
Xoanon @ 5:48 pm EST

Ioreth's Kinsman writes: I thought you might be interested in "In Conversation with Ian McKellen", which I went to see in Sydney at the Theatre Royale tonight. It went for about 2 hours and was basically a chat with Sir Ian and an interviewer, who was never actually introduced but knows him well and has worked with him in the past.

The scene was very intimate, even for a large space. There were two chairs very close to the edge of the stage and a table between for water. The rest of the stage (which is currently set up for Dances with Death which Sir Ian is currently playing in) was curtained off. I was lucky enough to be four rows from the front, if a bit far to one side.

For the most part, it was a very casual discussion about Sir Ian's life: how he got interested in acting as a youth by spending time backstage in his home town, how his grandfather was a role model for him in terms of oration and presentation (his grandpa was a preacher), and a lot about his career, both recent and past. He talked openly about coming out of the closet (bravo!) and the how others felt that he gave better performances once he could be more honest with himself and those around him. He gave many useful anecdotes to any budding actors in the audience about how to connect to a character and get the "DNA" right, by which he meant that by getting one piece of it right (say, the voice, or the walk) often the rest would come a lot easier because, like DNA, it was all there just waiting to fit together.

From a LOTR perspective, he talked a bit about how he and the various makeup people spent three days getting the look of Gandalf just right - all he had to do was sit there while others made the decisions. He joked about Tolkien's actual description of Tolkien with eyebrows jutting out beyond the brim of his hat, and how unlikely that would have been for film. He also thought that Gandalf the Grey was much more interesting than Gandalf the White (I have to agree), and came very close but never actually showed us his tattoo of the Elvish number 9 (which is on his right arm near the shoulder), when requested by someone in the audience during Q&A time.

Nazz's Phillipa Boyens Interview!
Xoanon @ 11:54 am EST

Justifications, tears and triumphs, an interview with Phillipa Boyens

by Nazz

Onto our intrepid round table of journalists' last interview of the day: Phillipa Boyens (co-writer). It was a marathon effort by anyone's standards­ especially after a night on the booze, but anyone who found this a trail needed a good smack in the chops. So after quickly downing two coffees, a tall glass of water and a few slaps in the face, I felt about as ready as I could've been. Luckily for us, New Zealander Phillipa was alert, full of irreverent fun and an embodiment of the most endearing Kiwi qualities (of which there are legion). She's also a radiant woman, very hard to dislike and full of open, positive energy ­ yet practical. Off we go

PB: "How are you guys holding up?"

Umm okay. What about you, you poor love?

PB: "Okay but a bit drained. How's this for a deal: let's not talk about The Lord Of The Rings?"

Umm cool. What about King Kong?

PB: "Yes! Give me some ideas! We're just starting the script."

Okay, firstly are you rewriting the whole thing from scratch?

PB: "Yeah. Well no. We're basing it on the 1933 version. He's definitely going to be a gorilla. We thought about changing him into a Kiwi but [laughs], it didn't work."

[male reporter] Why are you setting it as a period piece?

PB: "Coz it's a fantastic well Pete should really answer that but I think one is, one of the reasons he became a filmmaker is because of the very first movie; so he's honouring that. But actually, if you look at the '30s, it's an incredible era ­ and it's a much easier era to work in than it is today. To me, it's the decade the world shrank. That's the decade where there still seemed possibilities of a creature like Kong existing­ y'know like deepest, darkest Africa.

"And it was a very dark decade. The writers from the era describe a huge depression. It's got fantastic stuff that you can draw on; like I'm going to draw on the depression for Anne's background. And yet the appetite the audiences had for film and Hollywood ­ the pure escapism ­ was rampant. They just wanted to escape that whole thing.
"Yet at the same time, capitalism or just the possibilities of the world were at a high. Like I said, [to the people of the time, there was the possibility] that there was an island out there with these men desperately trying to find it. We're still in the process of making it real, coz that's what Pete wants. He wants it to feel real, so we're still grappling with that concept that there was an island that could exist in the world, under the radar, where dinosaurs could exist and that there could be this huge gorilla on it. How do you make that work?

"That's one of the things you can look at, when you set it in the '30s, you have that ability literally. It's the decade where it stopped taking you six or seven weeks to get to England from Australia. Suddenly you could do it in a week. It was also a decade of adventure, where they embraced the future and things like that. And there's also the great clothes c'mon!"

We all agree.

"Yeah you know, not unlike Indiana Jones. That proves this era works in people's hearts and minds. It gives you that, 'of our world but not of our world' feel. Interestingly enough, Fran found this thing on the internet no, in her research I don't know if it was on the internet. She did find that for some people, King Kong is so ingrained in the New York culture, that urban myth has supported his existence. You know, you can still freely get little statuettes of Kong on the Empire State. Urban myth actually says that a giant gorilla did climb th Empire State Building! Why mess with that it's a gift! That's great [giggles] and totally not true [everyone else laughs]. But people think it is?"

[Me, in one of the recurring questions I had for anyone involved. After all not only have they adapted one of my favourite books in The Lord Of The Rings, but now they're faithfully adapting my favourite monster movie. My friends and I were so impressed that we wrote, recorded and performed three songs in three nights, a trilogy of songs­ kinda like a three-act tongue-in-cheek 'rock opera' for the filmmakers going on to work on Kong that's (PJ, Phillipa, Richard Taylor and Andy Serkis) ­ as a personal, handmade present. They were all gracious and surprisingly pleased to get them] Were you a fan of the original King Kong?

PB: "I love the original Kong. There's some interesting things that happen in that, in that it's a very, very simple story in that we just watched Homicidal? Have you seen that? One of the William Castle movies? Talk about cutting to the chase! It's all about ,'a homicidal maniac on the loose!' Which is a great example of 1930s storytelling ­ you just cut to the chase. You sort of just grab the audience and ugh! Rip the into it [giggles]. That's what I love about the original King Kong. You know we try to be too clever sometimes. You see all that high concept scriptwriting but it'll be interesting to see."

[Me] You're spot on. As soon as they hit the island, there's zero fat. It's one scene after the other and no pauses.

PB: "Which is one of the primary things you do in the screen writing. You start it as close to the story as you possibly can which is what we need to do with this one. But umm I love this process part. Everything's still possible.

"I remember The Lord Of The Rings days before we went through the nightmare of realising, 'ah well, it's not possible because we've already shot this instead! And damn, this is such a good idea [wicked laugh].'"

[female Woman's Day reporter] I saw you at a Writer's Seminar in Auckland.

PB: "Was that with Ed Foley?"

[female Woman's Day reporter] Yes, I think so. I remember you being so enthusiastic that you'd just finished writing The Lord Of The Rings. Looking back now

PB: "[shrugging off in comical nonchalance] Ahhh, I was so naïve. I just thought the third one would be the easy one, because we've finally got an end and it's done, it's over ­ but actually it was really hard. Just because ­ I sound like I'm whining and complaining ­ but it was trying to make the multiple storylines fit together; trying to deliver on all those great characters that you've met other with in the other two films; honouring the book (but you can't have that many endings ­ even though we managed to fit quite a few in [squeals with delight]!); but y'know finding our way through all of that stuff was harder than we thought it would be."

"I remember when we started this project. Actually it was when we'd just wrapped production. We were sitting and having a cup of tea and Peter said, 'you know what'd be really cool? If we were hypnotised so we didn't know anything and could you sit and watch the films.' Now I know actually get what he meant. We don't get to do that. I know for myself and Fran Walsh [co-scriptwriter] - who I just want to acknowledge by the way, because if Peter was the heart of these movies, she was their soul - that we can't watch them without seeing things we'd want to improve or change. Not yet anyway. But to see them with an audience who love them is as close as we can get."

Could you give us an indication of how what the Tolkien estate's approval process on the films and script were?

PB: "No. Actually they wouldn't have attempted to do that either. It wasn't that kind of a process. They left us to decide for ourselves. Professor Tolkien himself, when he was writing letters about the concept of these being turned into movies, one of his letters actually said he'd put them in the hands of other people because that was not his thing. He hoped other hearts and minds would come to them with art, music and drama, and use them to bring his world to life in the best way they could. In a way, that's just what we've done."

[male reporter] How much debate was there about the endings, because there were quite a few?

PB: "Yes, absolutely. We left quite a few out. They'll be on the Extended DVD. That's our second bite at the apple, our, 'oh no, we can do better!' forum [laughs]."

[male reporter] Were there any parts of the book you thought would be unfilmable but worked out how to do?

PB: "Not in terms of the technology. If we could imagine it, they could conceive a way to make it happen. It was more the classic story-telling problems that everybody faces: making sure we kept the pace right; the tension right; that we had enough clarity in what we were doing that we actually telling a story and there was a reason behind doing what we were doing, and that the characters also had a reason for doing all the things they were doing. All of those things were much harder than any technology problems because Weta were so on top of it. For me, that is.

"None of the really hard things were technology things, they were the hard drama scenes; like the scene were Gandalf says, 'I can't see him any more.' And Aragorn is saying something else. That was a hard scene to write because it had to have the right feel, the right pace, but it's all about an awkward moment ­ so how were we to do it? How much were we to include? The audience wants you to keep moving and it can't be exposition. They couldn't suddenly say, 'I know! Let's ride out to the Black Gate!' They had to go for a real reason and it had to feel also like a reversal, if you like. It was all of those things and that made it really hard. Those sorts of things were much more difficult. "And, the multiple characters. That was hard to maintain."

[male reporter] Do you feel a sense of relief that you've got out of this project with Tolkien fans on your side?

PB: "Dunno yet. We'll see. It's funny because in one of the last round-table interviews, one of the very first questions ­ and I could see he was quite upset ­ was, '[told in stilted, barely measured anger] How do you justify Frodo sending Sam away? And was that true to Tolkien?' That's interesting because you can really see people care. Now we know this, we know people passionately love these books ­ and why shouldn't they? We do. We can destroy for them, this world they love so much. So yes, I did have a sense of that.

"But I also know what my job is. And that's that I had to bring these books to life with Peter and Fran. We didn't do anything arbitrarily ­ we did it because we needed to make these books work onscreen.

"And the reason why Frodo sent Sam away, just so you know, is: what would happen if he didn't? He would have a very long climb up the stairs, then you would get Sam ­ which happens in the book ­ get lost in the tunnel which not dramatic. If you just think about what you would have if you didn't do something there, you understand why we did it ­ which is why we did it."

[Female reporter] Did you see the article, Running Rings Around Hollywood, about you guys taking the scripts to Hollywood and being turned down by everyone? Did you feel any pressure?

PB: "Yes. In the early days, it was an organic process, because in the early days we did a selling script and yes we did pander to the studios ­ when I say pander, I mean trying to be realistic in what they'd give the time of day to. You can't sell someone in Hollywood on this love story between two great characters and that they only have one scene together. Or that she basically stays home and, in the book, is embroidering [everyone laughs] his banner. They're just not going to respond to it! So we did do things to bring Arwen more into it.

"Thank God for Liv because she had a very strong instinct that it was wrong. And we felt that it was wrong ­ and it was wrong. We had to find a way, which was part of the endless revision process, to tell the truth of that story. It's a very private and intimate love story. It's actually not a boy-meets-girl love story. It's a boy and girl who've known each other for decades and decades and have loved each other that whole time. It's actually quite a mature story and we spent a huge amount of time on it.

"That's what I like about ­ and it's not in the book! ­ but when she's leaving Middle-Earth because she cannot conceive of their future. I love that she stays because she sees the child, because to me it's more interesting. And it has truth. If you go into the appendices, you'll see they did have a child and that she was very aware that she was staying for a very specific reason: to give away one kind of life to offer another kind of future.

"But you try pitching that in Hollywood! It's a theme of these films. If you try pitching the theme of this film, which is 'death', they just say go away [laughs]."

[Me] Would you like to work with these actors again, as a sort of repertory company?

PB: "I'd love to work with all of them again. They're all wonderful really great. Seriously. I'd love to work with ALL of them again. I don't know about Kong, though I know they're all volunteering to come down to be killed by him; but we'll see. Elijah, Billy and Dom want to be in the first wave of sailors destroyed by Kong. He's definitely climbing the Empire State again You gotta do it. Eh?"


And that was it for the last interview of the day.

We all made it.

Thanks and credit must be extended the other journalists who shared these round-tables with me. Each of us had to share the talent time with others. I've endeavoured to credit the journalist when their names and publications where mentioned; unfortunately this rarely happened. This one's dedicated to them.

Alex Funke Discussion Report!
leo @ 7:39 am EST

Miniatures Unit-guru Alex Funke captivated a small audience in Pacific Palisades, California last night during a small panel about the movies. Ringer Spy and TORn Friend Garfeimao was present, wrote the following report and even took some pictures!

Alex Funke, who was in charge of Visual Effects with the Miniature Units did a discussion tonight in Pacific Palisades, California. He talked for about an hour and a half, and was very interesting to listen to. As you can see from these pictures, he's very animated when he talks, which just helped to illustrate how much he enjoyed his job on the LOTR films.

He began by telling us he's first read the books way back in the early 1960's and thought they were just great. When he'd got the call from New Line to work on the picture, he was already a fan of Peter Jackson's work. He couldn't believe his luck to get to go to New Zealand, work with Jackson, and make this wonderful book into a film. He says that his first day wandering around the rabbit warren that was WETA was amazing, because there were artisans shoved into every corner making everything imaginable for this film. He describes it as being a very surreal experience, since most of the stuff was rather medieval in look. He then said that he could not believe how big some of the miniatures were, and then proceded to name off all the miniatures that would have been too big to fit into the store we were in.

The discussion then moved onto some very detailed descriptions of passages in the movie, where he'd say what was shot on location, what was a miniature, what was digital effects added later, and how it was all melded together. It was fascinating getting some of the details on how some of the incredible imagery in the film was created.

Finally, Alex Funke mentioned winning the Oscar last year, and how that Oscar sits in the WETA Digital offices, along with some of the BAFTAS and other awards the films have garnered. As he put it, his name may be the one put forward by the producers as head of the Department, but it's his entire 37 man team that made it possible. He very specifically described bringing that Oscar back to Wellington and giving it to his staff as being theirs. He was also very proud of the family feel his department has and named off 15 births, a number of weddings, etc, to have happened to the group, but no separations or divorce, and no one has left from his group. In fact, he'll be heading down to Wellington next month to begin work on King Kong, and his whole team will be right there with him.

It was clear from his talk how much he loved his time spent on the films, working for Peter and with his crew, and his love of the job he does. He seems to really love the craft of filming miniatures and it shows. We had a copy of the recent Cinefex magazine, and that coupled with some of the other LOTR companion books gave him ample opportunity to discuss each miniature in detail. He pointed out the snorkel used to get the camera lens into streets that were too small for it, showed completed shots and used his hand to show where the real set ended and the miniature shot was digitized in. It was very cool indeed.

Finally, he signed a few books for a few people, since
most had just come to hear him talk. This was a small bookstore in the Palisades, and it was a small, intimate crowd, which was perfectly enchanting. The last thing I did, before leaving, was to get him to sign a theater banner that we will be auctioning off at TORN's Oscar Party. There will be loads of signatures on it by the time it makes it's way to the party, the things I do for TORn. Alex Funke even took a picture with the banner, which was cute. As you can see, that's only about two-thirds of the banner in the picture. You'll see the rest on February 29.

1-19-04 Latest News

ROTK Earns 12 BAFTA Nominations
Strider @ 8:51 am EST

In light of The Return of the King's recent surge in momentum, it came as no suprise this morning when the final installment of Peter Jackson's trilogy was nominated for twelve British Academy of Film and Television Awards, one less than frontrunner Cold Mountain. While the Academy have over the past two years shunned The Lord of the Rings trilogy when it came to the most coveted of categories, New Line's prize project has faired much better across the pond, taking home Best Picture, Director and Actor for The Fellowship of the Ring in 2002. This year, with Return of the King's growing momentum both critically and on the awards circuit, February 15th should be a very very good night for 'Ringers around the world.


THE ALEXANDER KORDA AWARD for the outstanding British Film of the Year

THE CARL FOREMAN AWARD for special achievement by a British Director/Producer or Writer in their first feature film
SERGIO CASCI - Writer (for American Cousins)
JENNY MAYHEW - Writer (for To Kill A King)
PETER WEBBER - Director (for Girl With A Pearl Earring)
EMILY YOUNG - Director/Writer (for Kiss of Life)

THE DAVID LEAN AWARD for achievement in Direction
BIG FISH - Tim Burton
COLD MOUNTAIN - Anthony Minghella

21 GRAMS - Guillermo Arriaga
FINDING NEMO - Andrew Stanton/Bob Peterson/David Reynolds

BIG FISH - John August
COLD MOUNTAIN - Anthony Minghella
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING - Fran Walsh/Philippa Boyens/Peter Jackson
MYSTIC RIVER - Brian Helgeland


BEST ACTOR in a Leading role
BILL MURRAY - Lost In Translation
JOHNNY DEPP - Pirates of the Caribbean
JUDE LAW - Cold Mountain
SEAN PENN - 21 Grams
SEAN PENN - Mystic River

BEST ACTRESS in a Leading role
ANNE REID - The Mother
NAOMI WATTS - 21 Grams
SCARLETT JOHANSSON - Girl with a Pearl Earring
SCARLETT JOHANSSON - Lost In Translation
UMA THURMAN - Kill Bill Vol. 1

BEST ACTOR in a Supporting role
BILL NIGHY - Love Actually
IAN MCKELLEN - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
PAUL BETTANY - Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
TIM ROBBINS - Mystic River

ACTRESS in a Supporting role
EMMA THOMPSON - Love Actually
JUDY PARFITT - Girl with a Pearl Earring
LAURA LINNEY - Mystic River

THE ANTHONY ASQUITH AWARD for achievement in Film Music










1-18-04 Latest News

Elvish Double Act: Nazz Chats with Tyler & Bloom
Xoanon @ 12:37 pm EST

Wellington Premiere Pictures - Tyler & Bloom
Tyler & Bloom at the ROTK Premiere Parade in Wellington

Out of all the people I talked with throughout the course of this 9-5.30pm interview day, this pair that had the most distance and attitude. It's understandable in both cases, as Liv grown up with attention ­ which has gone into overdrive since her modest role as Arwen, and been a since well before the film; while Orlando's star continues to rise with his burgeoning pin-up hunk status as he goes from film to film. It also proved a little off putting after the amazing accessibility of people such as Viggo and Peter Jackson.

There's was also an odd coupling in the minds of many reporters, as they were the two most sought after interview subjects for the women's mags (maybe it's because of this very reason).

To be quite honest, their closeness seemed to be very much like an actual couple - Liv's married so we'll put it down to genuine familiarity ­but there was a lot of touching each other, sitting very close, picking lint of each other's clothes and finishing each other's sentences. Due to the rising star frenzy, I chose to minimalise my involvement to allow the other journos­ who obviously desperately needed these interviews or their job would be on the line.

I must also admit to being a little star-struck at a couple of moments, especially by Liv. She really is gorgeous, without being too ridiculous (that's intended as a compliment Liv, if you happen to read this!), very tall (appearing to be six foot) and with flawless, glowing skin.

Let me paint the picture a little. Liv spoke with her sing-song, almost Melanie Griffith like voice and Orlando was constantly very laddish. Both were dressed casually but to impress, with Orlando in particular, wearing sunglasses, draped in all manner of bandannas and looking a little disinterested or possibly ADD, looking off in all directions and generally being anywhere BUT the room when not being spoken to directly. This happened frequently, since many of the questions were aimed exclusively at one over the other, hence there would be chunks of time were the other wasn't involved at all.

Liv seemed very uncomfortable and undisguisedly unimpressed whenever any of the many inappropriate, personal questions were levelled at her. Try to put yourself in her place for a moment: she's asked all manner of invasions of privacy and frankly disgusting shock jock questions regarding sex and her openness to sexual proclivity. How would you react? It may seem amusing the first few times but, after a while, these slips in protocol and general ethics become tiresome and embarrassing; even to us onlooking journalists.

My group were fine in general, but I did happen to have to follow them down a corridor a little earlier in the day when they'd come out of a particularly brutal session and overheard them groaning over the thought of another interview especially like the last one.
So here we go


Liv: "Look at all of you! We've just come back from lunch. Is this for radio?"

Some of it. If you could just hang on while our radio colleagues finish checking their tapes

Orlando: "And time's up!"

[Lizzie, Triple M]: Liv, do you believe in love at first sight?

Liv: "Yes. Um, I've fallen in love at first sight before [looking directly at me ­and yes fellas, as innocent as it was, I did get a little heart flutter]. But I think it can't just be a physical attraction. Two people have to be able to feel comfortable with each other to really be together. I hear that­ not all the time­ thing about people first meeting and saying, [whispers] that's the man I'm going to marry!"

Orlando: "That's such a chick thing. I never go, [whispers] that's the chick I'm going to marry!' [everyone laughs]."

Liv: "Maybe you don't!"

Orlando: "We're always worrying if we'll get to take them home!"

[Lizzie, Triple M]: Is that what happened to you Liv, when you met Royston?

Liv: "I don't know if it happened that fast [laughs]!"

Do you see a similarity with your relationship directly between working with Beresford, Jackson and the differences between their styles?

Liv: "I was 16 when I made that [laughs]. I can't hardly remember it, never mind reflect on it! I was more worried about what I was doing.

"I find it so hard to compare directors because they're absolutely unique, all of them, in their own way. That's what makes their directing style so beautiful. You're really watching their vision. I never am able to compare directors or favour them or say that they have similar styles."

What's it been like working with Peter over these years?

Orlando: "Obviously he was such a geezer. He was the coolest customer and kept the ball rolling at all times at such a graceful pace. Often it would feel like we were trying to wrangle a wild horse or something. He always just kept moving along, getting it done and scenes kept getting completed. It's quite a miracle really, looking back over the last three years, or three films anyway­ having just seen the last one now. It's unbelievable that he achieved that. The dedication, concentration and group effort needed to do that is just an incredible thing.

"You can only really comprehend it in some ways, if you work in the film business and if you worked on a film set. I didn't really understand it because it was my first film experience and it's only subsequently, because I've worked on other movies, that I'm like, 'how the hell did he manage to do that?' It really is a miracle."

[Me] Has working on the films 'ruined' you for other movies [Orlando unfortunately gets the wrong end of my stick, so to speak]?

Orlando: "Not so much ruined it as just brought it to the boil."

[Female NZ reporter]: So how does it compare moving to Pirates Of The Caribbean and Troy?

Orlando: "That was a trip. But it was a different trip. They were all incredibly different experiences. I feel very lucky to have had the launching pad that The Lord Of The Rings gave me, to be able to work as an actor the way I have."

[Female reporter]: Did you ever imagine your career would take off the way it did?

Orlando: "Never, never, never, never. I could never imagine that. I had those dreams were I'd wish for the opportunity to show the world what could do ­because that's what it is. It's all about having the opportunity, being given the opportunity to play a character and really do something with it."

[Male NZ reporter]: How is the surfing going?

Orlando: "Excellent. I love to do it every chance I get. I just invested in a longboard and a new pair of shorts. It's great. I love it."

[Male reporter]: At what stage are you with Troy?

Orlando: "Done. All done now. It should be out in May ­they're turning it around quickly."

[Male reporter]: I asked Elijah they same question about how different you feel to the same person I interviewed here two years ago. There's quite an obvious change in both of you.

Orlando: "Ummm. If my first film had been some goofy, fun little romantic comedy or something, it would've totally changed the shape of my career. The Lord Of The Rings was such a classy, highly recognised, remarkable piece of filmmaking that, just to be attached to it in any way, shape or form, gives you a cut above. It raises the bar and is different to any other film. It's like winning the world cup. If you've won it once, you're always the country that has won the world cup. It doesn't matter what you do, from here on in, everyone will know you for that. It's the greatest thing about having been a part of it as my first experience on a film. It's put me into a different category and gave me a whole set of skills I don't know any other film could have given me."

[Male NZ reporter]: Do you think it's opened doors that you wouldn't have normally had access to?

Orlando: "Certainly. I've been given a chance to work on films where I haven't been jaded. I've worked on really amazing projects, but I've also been given a chance to grow with them and into them. I've learned from such amazing people.

"I just worked with Johnny Depp and Heath Ledger and Viggo and Brad Pitt. I've pretty much covered the leading man demographic [everyone laughs]!"

Liv: "You're on a roll!"

Orlando: "And they're so gracious and humble and real. There's no ego or whipper snapper thing. There's no keeping the boy down. It's all about growth ­ and that's what's remarkable. And it's the same as it was working on Rings."

[Me] What about you Liv?

Liv: "I'd forgotten I was here for second [everyone laughs]."

[Me] You really stretched yourself for this part, even though your screen time is limited, the character's effect is felt on all the storylines. Could you talk a little about that, how to play an elf of great age and grace, including the decision to lower your voice? And is it true you were instrumental in bringing Arwen back closer to the way she was written?

Liv: "That was kind of a process that happened with everyone. The initial character of Arwen I was watching the DVD and Peter said something about something that didn't happen and I felt quite sad about but it was kinda interesting.

"It was that Arwen was incorporating into these screenplays as a selling point to the studios, to show them the vastness of this world and the relationships. It was an adventure, and it was action and also a love story! So initially you've got these two people that are in love, but in this dreamy, classic way -but yet they're never together! They're on the opposite side of the world from each other, Tolkien hardly writes about them [rolls her eyes]. It's just not much of an issue.

"How do we make that happen? Well, we're going to incorporate her more into the story, she's going to fight with him and do this and that. And it didn't work. And it didn't work for me which is really interesting, because I think they were right in casting me as Arwen but not that Arwen.

"So that was a struggle for all of us, because it wasn't working for me and it wasn't working for them, so I didn't know what to do. And it was really tough. And when we were finally able to admit that it wasn't working and that we had to figure out what we needed to do to bring her back closer to who she was in the books, that was when the whole world opened up for me.

"I found it really liberating and exciting. I felt this incredible sense of being given a second chance; because I'd already been through months of getting to know everybody, training and being in the world of working on the movie ­ but I hadn't really worked yet. So I suddenly leapt forward into something that was really great and so, what you've seen character-wise, were just things that we came up with during the shooting of it.

"I think my voice probably changed anyway, because I'm a bit older now but we realised that [does the voice, to all our amazement] if I spoke in a much deeper register that she suddenly sounded ageless. As opposed to when I speak in my normal voice, you can tell I'm young because I'm like [a caricature of her own voice on helium], 'hi, how are you!' Suddenly, as soon as you put some depth to her voice, the picture changes so much."

Orlando: "Yeah, the ushers have to clean more seats [laughs]."

Were you worried you'd be hanging around for a long time with nothing to do or training endlessly for nothing?

Liv: "Sure. That's what I was doing! I was here for three months doing training."

Orlando: "She did very good actually. She was a bit intimidating [laughs]."

Liv: "I would go on to Sword Trainer Bob Anderson and train with 20 stunt doubles y'know, huge, big men. And we were choreographing entire fight scenes for Arwen where I slaughtered 20 Uruk Hai at one time! But we never shot them.

"And it was actually really scary for me. I wasn't naturally comfortable with all that. I found it very If I was approaching the part now, after learning everything and it was more physical, I would approach it very differently. But at the time, I was just panicked. I didn't feel comfortable. There was a scene we shot at Helm's Deep where I was on a horse with Theodon and Aragorn, and we're being attacked by Uruk Hai. I was supposed to be hacking at them while we were on the horses ­ and they're stuntmen! So you can't hurt them! And I was expected to look as tough as the guys coz it was wideshot ­ and it was impossible really. Because "

Orlando does impressions of some very girly sword hits for laughs.

Liv: "Not that I'm not strong but I'm not as strong as Viggo or Bernard are! It just didn't work. The balance of it just did not feel right."

Orlando: "You had to get it to pull up to what you needed."

Liv: "Right."

[Male Reporter] Do you ever worry about being typecast as Arwen and are you ever besieged by Arwen freaks?

Liv: "I think they definitely exist ­ and it can go the other way too. But Arwen and Legolas are in the world of Tolkien and that may exist forever but honestly, I really don't have a problem with that. I find it touching and great, and I remember being a kid and thinking about Princess Leia ­ and I won't ever think of Carrie Fisher as anyone else. It's not that I don't respect her and her work," she giggles, "I like it. But I will always remember her that way and I think that's okay. I personally don't feel defensive about anything like that. I love the fact the children like us now. It's so incredible, y'know, these little kids who think of me as a princess."

Orlando: "They're really thinking, what bastard. Why can't I have his life [laughs]. Now watch Liv confirm that."

[Second male Reporter] Does the constant public recognition bug you?

Orlando: "The funny thing is, it's all really state of mind. If I want it to be a problem, then it's a problem. If I don't then it's not a problem. I just go about my business and occasionally if someone stops me, I just say hi, sign an autograph or pose for a photo, then move on with my day. It's when you're in an arena like this in Wellington right now [a day before the World Premiere, where 100,000 people ­ all surprisingly polite and friendly, in my experience anyway ­ amassed to get a glimpse at their favourite stars and wish them well] where people are expecting to see you. When we go down the red carpet, people will be expecting to see us and it'll be an absolute frenzy. But then, you have gals and guys and families who've been waiting since goodness knows what time in the morning to see everybody. And so when they get to see us, that's what they're living through. It's important to stop and try to see it through their eyes. I'm more aware than anything that maybe I get overwhelmed by the idea of celebrity or fame or whatever that is. But it's all a state of mind. If I can keep my head together, it'll be fine. It's only a problem in my head."

[Lizzie, Triple M]: Have you had psycho fans?

Orlando: "I think thankfully I haven't had many psycho fans. I seem to have a pretty nice group of people as my fans, I must say."

[Woman's Day reporter] Did you expect an elf to turn into a sex symbol?

Orlando: "No I didn't. You don't You know what it is? I think Legolas is a really safe place for a young girl of 13 or 14 to pin their hopes on. He's kind of pretty asexual as an elf, you know what I mean? He's a warrior type and kinda handsome but he's not sexually threatening or trying it on. He's just this blond dude who's doing his thing [Liv laughs throughout]. S**t gets taken care of when he's around and he's got nice hair. They can brush it and stuff. What can I tell you? I'm a male equivalent of a Barbie doll!"

Was it difficult to have to spend so much time with the project?

Liv: "It's been tough and not tough at all. In a realistic way, imagine if you had to up and move to the other side of the world and commit yourself to working there, back and forth, for four years of your life. It's hard. Definitely hard, no matter what. But what's come along with that has just been incredible.

Orlando: "The positives outweigh any negatives."

Liv: "We've made these movies, made beautiful friendships there are so many incredible people happening to live in New Zealand and to get to learn about the culture here wow. There's definitely a balance for everything but we've done so much work that's being responded to in a really nice way that they'll live forever. We can kind of walk away feeling really proud of them."

Orlando: "I sort of feel as though I grew up in New Zealand. I feel like I came here at an age where I could now really find myself. I was suddenly in New Zealand in this incredible landscape and "

Liv: "He was a young cocky Englishman that came to New Zealand - and they showed him the real world [laughs]!"

Orlando: "Summed up in a line. That's my whole life in a line. I set 'em up and she knocks 'em down!"

[Female reporter] Before you go, did you go to Margaret Emma [? Evidently a body shop] while you were here?

Liv: "The second I got off the plane! And I went and had the most incredible facial."

Thanks and credit must be extend the other journalists who shared these round-tables with me. Each of us had to share the talent time with others. I've endeavoured to credit the journalist when their names and publications where mentioned; unfortunately this stopped early on in the proceedings.

1-17-04 Latest News

Andy Serkis Booksigning Reports: California
Xoanon @ 9:14 pm EST

Andy Serkis Booksigning Reports: California
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Andy Serkis was a complete sweetheart when I met him at his booksigning in Pasadena. My friend and I were lucky because we got there 4 hours early and there were only about 30 people in front of us. When we left, there were hundreds and hundreds of people lined up all down the street. I started crying when I met him, telling him how he inspired me to persue acting and I gave him a poem I wrote and dedicated to him. He stood up, gave me a hug, and said, "Aww, thank you, you're so sweet. Good luck with that. Good luck with your carreer." One person gave him a fake oscar too and when I saw him, he was slightly teary. He seems like such a sweet down-to-earth guy who really appreciates his fans.



Living in Sierra Madre, California, I'm just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Vroman's, Pasadena, where I've been a regular customer ever since I was old enough to read!

A few days ago, my National Geographic Beyond the Movie Return of the King DVD arrived - with a coupon for ROTK, so I treated myself to a matinee on the 16th at a nearby theatre. Then, on to Vroman's to see Andy!

The line was long, but many people - some in Gollum T-shirts - were carrying interesting memorabilia, including some rather large Gollum standees. There was a notice saying that Andy's book had completely sold out, so I was glad I purchased mine in advance! The line itself was more like a party! Everybody was chatting about Tolkien, Gollum, and Andy as we waited for our turns to see him!

It was amazing to meet a Lord of the Rings star, right after having seen him on the big screen! I was sure to tell Andy I had come directly from the theatre, as I thanked him for his magnificent performance as Gollum! Andy's smile was warm and genuine, and he is very down-to-earth. He is truly a delightful person!

The Vroman's Staff was also friendly and courteous. They had placed Andy's table in an area of the store where everyone could also enjoy the delightful ambience of the bookstore.

After meeting Andy, I had an espresso in the Vroman's cafe - where I made some new friends who had come all the way from San Diego to see Andy! We discussed Tolkien and history! Tolkien would have approved of all the fellowship that was happening that happy day at Vroman's.

Thank you, Andy! Thank you, Vroman's Staff!


Merry Hatebear

There was a pretty good turnout at the Andy Serkis book signing event in Pasadena,CA today. I would estimate that there were around 200 people (maybe more? I'm not so good with estimating!) in line by the time Serkis was set to begin signing. The line of people wrapped around the corner from the bookstore and the store sold every copy of the book they had . Unfortunately the signing was set to last only 2 hours and because of this Serkis couldn't talk to the crowd, personalize signed items or allow fans to take posed pictures with him or anything like that. It was still a pretty good event though. Poor Andy's arm must be SO tired from all the signing he's been doing!



He showed up a bit early, and we'd been prompted by staff that if he did, they would begin early so they could fit more people in. They had another signing event going on at 7pm, so they wanted to make sure he was done before then. The line wrapped halfway around the building, then down the block, then around the corner, and back towards the parking lot. I know the bookstore actually ran out of the Gollum book well before the event was set to begin, so I guess that means it was a success.

When I got inside with my boyfriend, and sister, Andy actually looked at my boyfriend and rememebered him from previous meetings. OK, that's
nice. He was signing at a rather furious pace, but did take the time to look up often, smile or say hello when he could, and was always charming and pleasant, as usual. Last year, my boyfriend had given him a pass to the Magic Castle, in Hollywood. Apparently, he used it and liked it, so he asked for another one today.

People were not supposed to ask for individualizations of signatures or pictures with Andy, so we didn't. But, my sister has Down Syndrome and she just has to shake hands or hug the people she meets, and so she gave Andy a hug. He was ready to pose for a picture, which made me fumple for the camera. The picture I'm sending is the results, with my sister's shoulder disappearing into the foreground.

Tolkien Lecture At USC Report
Xoanon @ 8:53 pm EST

Gil-Estel writes: I had the pleasure of attending the Tolkien Lecture at the University of South Carolina on Thursday evening (thanks to the spy reports from TORN). It was a very interesting, and delightful experience to listen to the U.S.A.'s leading authority on Tolkien discuss the Modern and Medievel aspects of Tolkein's literature.

After introductions were given, Dr. Micheal Drout walked into the lecture hall reciting the first twenty lines of "Beowulf" in old Anglo-Saxon, just the same way that Tolkien began all of his lectures. Five minutes into the lecture gave all the impression that he was an amiable, and likable man. And he spoke to all as though he was not above them, more on their level (even though we all knew that this man was a genious!).

I took notes on all he said about Tolkien's literature and Medievel literature so here is an overview of the presentation.

*First of all, I must point out that Dr. Drout has read all of Tolkien's manuscripts and is currently putting together Tolkien's writings from a book he wrote that will be published this summer called Beowulf: The Monsters and Critics.

-All of the names of people, places, and things began all derived from the old Anglo-Saxon toungue, but a Tolkien revised, only the Rohirrim kept the names. For example, all the kings of Rohan's names mean "King" in Anglo-Saxon (Fengel, Thengel, Theoden, Eomer, etc.). But as you journey farther back to the first king in the Mark, their names begin to be derived from the Goth's language (Visigoths). This symbolizes the fact that, although it has never been proven, Tolkien believed that the Angles and Saxons where from the Geats and them from the Goths. There were many more instances like this from the book, and the reason for this is because Tolkien's ideas were so controversial, he was afraid to publish them in any other documents.
(more Anglo-Saxon words he used were Ent:giant. Eored: Troop, and although nobody knows what it means, Tolkien used the Arkenstone in the Hobbit that was from "Beowulf").

-The complexity in Beowulf is in it's people, not the situations, but in LOTR, it is quite the opposite. None of the LOTR characters are exactly what literary critics would call "well-rounded."

-Also, everything in all of Tolkien's fantasy literature came from other sources, like orcs, elves, dwarfs, dragons, etc. but the one and only thing that was truly Tolkien was the Hobbits. Tolkien invented the hobbits so that normal people could relate to the book. Like Dr. Drout said, " I mean, how many people do you really know are like Aragorn. Seriously, who's as superhuman as he is, whacking orc's heads off and becoming king and everything while the hobbits stand by and are like, 'Okay!" The hobbits are meant to be the median for us. These creatures are not "slaughter happy" and it totally contradicts the medievel ways. Medievel writers would have looked at this and thought Tolkien was an idiot, and that is where the modernism comes in: the hobbits are a simple people that have no desire to kill unless it becomes a requirement. Even in the Lord of the Rings, Frodo and Sam kill no one (except for an orc or something).

-Also, King Leer, from Shakespeare, forms almost a triangle between the similarities between Denethor, Eomer, and the Witch King (I can't really expand on that because Dr. Drout assumed we all knew King Leer, but I don't so...) What is furthermore, is that all three people (Denethor, Eomer, and the Witchking) stem from what King Leer was. They all made choices that led them in different paths and thus creating a whole new character.

-The whole idea of good and evil is fully presented through the theme of sacrifice (verily embodied by Frodo and Sam). Frodo and Sam made ultimate decisions of sacrifice and put themselves in the situation where they HAD to do the right thing, the only thing they could do was succeed. Here again, we depart from modernism, because, left out of 20th century literature was heroism.

-As Dr. Drout ties up his lecture, he concludes with the statement that "Tolkien presents ways of looking at problems, but never actually gives the answers except through the actions of the characters in the books."

Afterwards Answer and Question:

"Obviously, C.S. Lewis wrote all of his stories and books as complete allgories, and many people make the mistake in believing that the Lord of the Rings an allegory. But why is it not considered one."

Dr. Drout answers by saying that even though LOTR was not created to be allegorical, the Christ image does come through, but in an allgory there can only be one Christ figure, whereas the LOTR has the seperate attributes to Christ alloted into at least three different characters. Many people also make the mistake of saying things about how Bill Clinton or George Bush represents Saruman, but there is no truth to that. Tolkien just made the books so general so we could relate to them in our own way, not that they really represented any one thing.

Another comment was brought up, by a woman, about Tolkien's distance towards women in the books, but Dr. Drout fully disaggreed that women were distant. Although the women were not brought up to the forefront of the story for most of the time, they were constantly the driving force for the book. For instance, Arwen could only marry Aragorn if he succeed in his journey to become King. She was the one that kept Aragorn on his path, if ever he got the idea to turn around (not like he did), he would remember their love for eachother and keep going. Also, through Tolkien's personal experiences in WWI, were these painted images of women. The elves stood for the perfect angels that the men thought of in the trenches, Eowyn was the brave nurses and other women who risked their lives to help, and Rosie Cotton can even be seen as a mans simple, but wonderful wife waiting back home for him. The only bad woman in all of Tolkien's writings is Shelob, but by doing this, Tolkien almost makes women look too good, becuase he gives all the evil attributes to an insect/spider, making it seem as though the attributes aren't even womanlike. Shelob also had a part in the WWI, she was like the prostitute woman who was greedy and wanted it her own way. Dr. Drout said that if you read the encounter with Shelob again, you will notice much sexual inuendoes and evilness Tolkien shows towards her. So Tolkien's image of women are really not cold and distant at all.

Many people there were also interested in the movies as well. Dr. Drout actually, instead of criticizing the movies, he liked them. He said "it is the best that Hollywood could do for The Lord of The Rings at this point in time." But on a side note he said, "Sure, I am not someone who would watch the DVD at home about 9-10 times...But I would watch it about eight times!" So even he, a really scholarly kind of man, enjoyed the movies. (Obviously this shows evidence that Peter Jackson did the impossible!).

One last thing Dr. Drout said was that Tolkien had revised, revised, and revised. He wrote the first chapter in the Lord of the Rings almost 36 times! Also, the character of Aragorn began a hobbit named "Trotter" and had wooden feet because he lost them in past encounters with Sauron. I believe revision is a good thing!

If anyone ever hears that Proffeser/Dr. Micheal Drout is giving a lecture on Tolkien, I highly advise them to see and hear what he has to say (although many were dissappointed that he only spoke for an hour- I never knew I could learn so much in one hour!) The experience was very delightful and I would definatley do it again!

Nazz Chats with Viggo Mortensen
Xoanon @ 8:41 pm EST

ROTK Premiere: Los Angeles
Viggo Mortensen at the ROTK Premiere in Los Angeles

If there was one interview or person I was looking forward to meet above all others it was this one. In the flesh, Viggo Mortensen is an unassuming, softly spoken and attentive interview subject, looking quite different in the flesh to his rugged Aragorn character; barefoot, seemingly five-foot 10-inches with closely shorn blond hair with grey tinges. Yet his blue eyes glimmer with unflinchingly genuine care and attention for all that surrounds him. Modest and devoid of any negative ego, his quiet presence and considered responses were quite captivating; particularly because you knew he was going out of his way to present a sincere attempt to meet each person on a human level no matter what their question.

Of all the remarkable talent I spoke to that day, I had both the most pleasure after and the greatest anticipation for this one (as a fan for over 10 years - I even sent what I believe was one of the first, if not the first e-mail of support regarding him to the OneRingNet way back when he was first cast and several readers, unfamiliar with Viggo's best work, showed some concern about his casting. Now his success is seen as academic and I couldn't be prouder. You think I can find that e-mail now? Dammit!).

He shuffles into the interview room with little fanfare, barefoot, and holding a stainless steel individual tea urn sporting a metal straw not unlike the kind I've seen my Middle-Eastern friends using.

Viggo: "Are you all getting along?"

Everyone agrees - it was a surprisingly amicable table where people understood and respected that each different publication had its own requirements and line of questioning.

[Me] Did you enjoy the show the night before?

Viggo: "Which one?"

[Me] The Howard Shore concert (as I'd seen him perform at the show)?

Viggo: "Oh yeah. It was amazing to see them up there and to see Howard Shore, the consummate professional, whose done an amazing job over all these years, to actually see him looking nervous [laughs].

"It was very touching and obviously meant a great deal to him and I think he was very moved by the peoples' response. Were you there?"

[Me] Yes.

Viggo: "Did you like it?"

[Me] Was the song you did an Elvish version of the Lay Of Luthien (at this point I'd seen it once and was too staggered to gather what it was and had assumed it may have been the entire Lay Of Luthien which we only heard him sing a few words of in The Fellowship Of The Ring)?

Viggo: "No, no it wasn't that. It was the song that Aragorn sings at the coronation."

[Me] I was actually wondering if the song you'd done at the coronation might not have been more of the Lay Of Luthien.

Viggo: "From the first movie? No that would've been interesting though. What I sang is in the book though. I mean those words and I just made up the melody for that. It's the words Elendil, his ancestor, first spoke when he came to Middle-Earth from across the sea.

"He says, 'I come across the sea, to Middle-earth, in this place I will dwell with my heirs until the end of time.' Or something like that. It's sort of a ritual performance - I don't know if Tolkien says it - but I imagined that each king in the past had probably spoken these same words even though they, after Elendil and like Aragorn, were born in Middle-Earth. It's almost like if it was a Maori thing, it would be a song from Hawaki or something like that. Even though they're not from there, but there's this notion out of respect for the past and looking forward to continuing the tradition. It was nice to be able to do that.

"And it was a very last minute thing to do that [laughs]! He [Howard] asked me a few days ago if I wanted to [perform the song with him as part of the symphony]. I said, 'I'm not sure if that's going to be a good idea. I'm not going to be able to rehearse I don't think or anything. And I couldn't. So I got there whilst they were under way. In the intermission, I met the gentleman who was going to do it and said, 'it's not my idea. It was Howard's suggestion [laughs loudly]!'

"It was fun. I don't think I'll be singing with a symphony again [laughs]! It was a once in a lifetime thing. But because Howard wanted that, I certainly wanted to support him and his wishes; so I got up there and did my best," he giggles coyly. "But it was nice. It was a really good - and deserved - night of recognition for Howard I think. People responded to him very strongly to him. It was great to see that and be part of it."

[Male NZ reporter] Have you sung in front of large audiences before? I know you've done recordings.

Viggo: "Yeah, that's mostly in the studio. I've sometimes done poetry readings where I've sung a cappella. It's harder when you're singing with someone. There's like a Twilight Zone sort of moment. I had made up that melody for those words originally when we did it years ago. I got a hold of the CD of the song - that is out now - and I was desperately trying to find it on the walkman before I had to go on. The guy I was with - Roger was his name - said, 'don't worry about it, let's just practise.' So we practised and I was trying to sing like he was, in tone, but on the other hand he was as unfamiliar with Elvish as I was with professional singing like he does. He was very kind and patient with me [laughs]. But it was interesting because I think I was able to help him a little bit with singing in Elvish or singing it this way or that. So there I was, backstage at the symphony, telling this man how to sing in Elvish! But, uhh, I think it worked okay. I think we more or less got through it. Fortunately it was brief and thank God it was a language that no one understands.

"It was interesting being back there by the way. All the musicians' cases were open and they had all their family pictures in their instrument cases. That was interesting just to be backstage."

[Corey, Triple M, Melbourne] Viggo you're now at the stage where you could get the majority of roles you wanted. You've had love scenes with Gwyneth Paltrow and now Liv Tyler. Is there anyone you aspire to have a love scene with, in the world?

Viggo: "Gimli? That was cut from the movie - maybe it'll be in the Extended Version."

[Me] I did hear about you and the bearded ladies.

Viggo: "There was a very nice beard tugging moment between me and Sean, if they ever go back and make a more extended version. You can ask Sean about it. He may pretend not to remember. And there were bearded ladies on this production, quite a few."

[Female NZ reporter] Aragorn will probably be one of the most fondly and strongly remembered romantic heroes of cinema - how are you going to cope with that?

Viggo: "[deep breath] I don't know. I may have nothing. If the first movie hadn't done so well, I don't think we'd all be sitting here or had a week long party. It just had a domino effect, the second one then did very well and the third will probably do better than the first two. Not regardless of content but, in a way, yes. Regardless of how it's seen historically or if it's the Extended Version or any of that, I think there's so much affection and has been such a positive response to the effort Peter made - and that we did our best to help him with - that a lot of other things go with it for the other actors and crew members involved. But whether movie does well or whatever the movie is on the screen, and certainly is in regards to those reactions you're talking about, to me or anyone else they are not things I can control. I can do the things I can do. I obviously learned as much as I could about the part and the man and [the reaction is] not something I would really know how to I don't really have any input there. You know what I mean? That's someone else's concern."

[Queensland press?] Have you bought your stretch of land in NZ or are you still looking?

Viggo: "Awww, I think a lot of us have done that. Yes, there are some places I really like but I would hesitate to point you in any direction north or south. I wouldn't want to ruin the fishing! I dunno. In a way, you certainly don't need to buy land to love a place or visit a place. I think New Zealand is ahead of most countries in their efforts. And I know there are problems and differences of opinions and lumber companies with the forests, and use of public land. But New Zealand has made a real effort as a society to take care of their environment and preserve what is really a place to treasure.

"I will always come back and travel around. But whether I have a place in the woodsŠ I would like that very much but I don't think one needs to own land to love a place."

[Sydney Morning Herald?] You obviously have a passion for the arts with painting, photography, poetry and other writing. I was wondering where this passion came from?

Viggo: "Well like most kids I liked to draw and having stories told then making them up and enacting them. Here after all, that's what we got to do as adults play acting at being in perilous situations and helping our friends; running from disaster over and over again. They were the same sort of games but with better equipment [the room erupts with laughter] and more dangerous."

[Sydney Morning Herald?] Did you find you have any preference or leaning one way or another?

Viggo: "No, and I would have a hard time in separating them - and I have no inclination to do so. I find them all to be connected. Each activity fuels the other. It all comes down to tuning into where I am, being present as much as possible. When we were shooting at times, we'd get a lunch break and some people would go take a nap. For me it was drawing, photography or just taking a walk. There are so many beautiful places.

"You're exercising different muscles but it's the same approach: what's going on here? I should jot this down; keep looking and I find if I don't make that effort, then things go by. Especially when I'm stressed or working - or not. Here I am sitting with you, but I'm not just here. I mean I'm now in the habit of doing it anyway [being present] so it's not like I have to harness anything. I'm better able to somehow deal with this thing and that's what it's about for me. Being in the moment."

[Second NZ female reporter] You have all these talents. Is there anything you're not good at?

Viggo: "Awww sleeping."

[Queensland press?] You've referred to that a number of times.

Viggo: "I think it's probably true. Sometimes my brain gets a little scrambled towards the end of the day. I space out like I'm just about to right now."

[Me] The world knows you now as Aragorn but you've done many other roles, including The Indian Runner which was where I was first made aware of you and found you electrifying. Are there any that were specific landmark achievements in your own life?

Viggo: "Well I've never played a character I didn't have affection for. I've never worked on a movie when I knew going in that it wasn't a very good script but that I was just lucky I had a job. Coz for most of us actors, we're lucky to work at all. Many fine actors, for some reason, don't make a living from it, in this country or any other. So I think fortunately I've always been able to learn something or gotten to know someone or something new about production. I wouldn't be able to point out any experience in particular. Obviously, for The Indian Runner, it was a very interesting experience. I loved working on with Jane Campion [in Portrait Of A Lady] as well. I didn't have as big a role as I did in say, The Indian Runner, but it's not always about that. For me it can be about the connections you make with people and what you can learn. I like the way she works a great deal.

"But there's so many people I've worked with over time. I have been very lucky in a relatively short time, to have worked with such fine actors and technicians. In this movie, especially for the young actors - and I'm thinking of those who had done no movies such as Orlando Bloom [Legolas] in particular and Dominic [Monaghan, Merry Brandybuck] to a degree and some of the others; for them to have this as their first experience is really they were very fortunate I think. We all were but especially for this to be the way you break in - regardless of the end result and popularity - but just the process of it: every way of shooting a movie and every trick in the book, was used by Peter. And many were invented by Peter and his team. In any kind of weather condition, any sort of dialogue scene or action scene, blue screen anything you can imagine, any challenge was like the best possible school for an actor they could have had. Plus being in an ensemble. It was almost like a repertory group in a way. You're with these people whether you like it or not for a very long time, of all ages, from different countries, different personalities, different approaches to acting. I think that must've been I mean any experience those guys have from now on is going to seem relatively easy."

[Queensland press?] What's the difference in that collaborative process of acting with your solo projects in the past?

Viggo: "The difference is I don't control the end result."

Is that frustrating?

Viggo: "It can be sometimes. There are certainly sequences, not just of mine but of others, I would like to have seen in each of the movies, but then eventually most people are going to get the Extended Versions so there's a certain satisfaction there. I don't know about the third one but certainly with the first two movies, in my opinion, those extended versions will be the legitimate ones in time, the ones that people will prefer to rent, buy or watch. I certainly would watch the Extended Versions of the first two, if I had a choice, before the Theatrical Versions because they're more complete. And liking them both as I do, they've just got more material."

When asked about what souvenirs they were allowed to keep, Mortensen offered this:

"Like everyone I got my sword or whatever prop seemed most particular to their character, but if that sword doesn't get through customs or gets stolen, lost or damaged, in the end it's not that a big deal. It's just an object. The thing that I know I take with me - and everyone else does - is something that's inside: the friendships and memory of the experience of making these movies and getting through 'Tolkien school' for four years. That's the gift I take away with me."

The moderator enters the room to call time.

Viggo: "Thank you. Good luck today."

[Me] Is that a Middle-Eastern drink, Viggo?

Viggo: "No it's Argentinian a mata. Would you like some?"

[Me] Absolutely.

Viggo: "I've had a few shots so it's not as strong as it might be. You can put other things in it. It's not lawn clippings, I promise."

I pass it back with a thank you.

Viggo: "Keep up the good work everyone."

TV Watch: Serkis on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' Transcript
Xoanon @ 8:22 pm EST

A BIG thank you to AELFWINE for sending us this transcript of Andy Serkis' appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" last night.

Jimmy: We're back with Enrique Iglesias. Monet Mazur on the show tonight. Dave Anthony on the show tonight. From the capital city of Gondor to the fiery climbs of Mt. Doom, our first guest tonight slithered and hissed his way into our lives as Gollum in 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy. If you haven't seen it already, see him now in 'The Return of the King' and read about him in his new book 'Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic.' Please say hello to the precious Andy Serkis.

[Cheers and applause; Andy enters and shakes hands with Jimmy and Enrique before sitting down. He's wearing a black blazer over a yellow shirt with shiny stripes, and jeans.]

Jimmy: So this is what you look like!

Andy (in a jokingly candid fashion): Apparently. Well, ok, I'm a CG manifestation of an actor who plays me.

Jimmy: This is not you?

Andy: No, no, no, no, no.

Jimmy: Is the hair real and everything?

Andy (touches his hair): I think so.

Jimmy: It;s real. It;s surprising. You can see a little bit in there of Gollum.

Andy: Yeah, you would because the whole face of Gollum is actually based on, believe it or not, the facial structure of the way Gollum is supposed to be is based on the muscles in my face.

Jimmy: Wow.

Andy: That's what the animators did over the years. They redesigned it to move in the same way.

Jimmy: Was it scary for your mom to see?

Andy (laughs): Very scary. And very scary for my wife. But it has its charms.

Jimmy: I heard that, how did you get to picked to play Gollum?

Andy: It was a straight-forward auditioning process. They said, 'Andy, they're doing a little film called 'The Lord of the Rings' in New Zealand.' They were looking for, at the time it was going to be more of a voice for an animated character or so I thought and then Peter Jackson came to London and he saw the tape I did and said, "no I want the CG character to be the most interactive and real character in a live-action film."So he wanted an actor to play the role.

Jimmy: Is it true that Vern Troyer tried to kill himself when he heard you got his part? [Light audience laughter]

Andy (smiling): Yeah


Jimmy: It's amazing. It really is an amazing-looking character. Let's look at a clip for the two of you who have not seen 'Lord of the Rings.' (Andy laughs) Here is Andy as Gollum. Take a look.

[Clip of when Gollum frames Sam of eating the lembas bread and convinces Frodo of Sam's 'disloyalty']

[Cheers and applause, shot of Enrique clapping his hands]

Jimmy: Yeah. That's great. And so you that's your head, and they put your head on that, on that deal?

Andy: Yeah. We shot everything on the set. Every scene we shot in the movie, on the volcano or on the stream or in a forest, me, Elijah and Sean, we shot all those scenes. And then the animators painted frame by frame over my movements or use a technique called motion capture wearing a suit with dots on it. That controls the computer-generated movements of Gollum; it moves in real time. I move and he moves in exactly the same way.

Jimmy: And the voice is that computer altered at all?

Andy: Nope.

Jimmy: How did you do that? Was it based on anyone?

Andy: It was based on my cats. You know, fur gets trapped in the back of their throats when they lick their bodies, and then they go through a [wretches, makes throaty noises].

Jimmy: I do that too.

[Light audience laughter]

Andy: I do it sometimes too.

Jimmy: Yeah.

Andy: And so that became [as Gollum] 'gollum, gollum.'

Jimmy: Wow. Can you a little bit of it for us?

Andy: Well, you know, people do ask me to do the voice.

Jimmy: I'll bet.

Andy: One of your writers on your team just asked me to do an answering phone message.

Jimmy (bit concerned, but in a humorous manner): Oh really. Oh really. Who is it? Do you remember his name?

Andy: 'yeah Tony. [as Smeagol; the transmission of this part of the show had some audio problems, so this part isn't that clear] Hello precious, Tony is not here right now '[as Gollum, angrily] no, he's on the toilet doing drugs!

[Audience cheers and whistles loudly]

Jimmy: That's pretty good. That's really good. You do Gollum well. That's something else. Do you do other do you do other voiceover work and characters and stuff?

Andy: no, I'm a regular actor. The whole point was that wasn't just a voice part. I've never done this before.

Jimmy: It's pretty great. And you're in a movie with Jennifer Garner, as well.

Andy: Yes. I know you're fond of Jennifer.

Jimmy (excitedly): I was the guy she was talking about through the whole thing, probably. I'm the Jimmy she's talking about!

Andy: It's famous in England. Your reputation for being your talk show, your thing for Jennifer Garner.

Jimmy: She's a lovely woman. She is. [propping up 'Gollum' book] This is a fascinating book. Is it true you wrote this book just so people could stop asking you questions all the time?

Andy: You know its just really kind of you know you go to conventions and you meet a lot of fans you meet

(Jimmy: I'll bet you do [Audience laughs lightly].)

Andy: a lot of people who ask you how it was done and everything. I just thought it would be a cool way of summing it all up instead of explaining.

Jimmy: So you can say, you know what, for $11.95 or whatever, $9.95 I'll tell you the whole story. Do you get along with the 'Lord of the Rings' fans?

Andy: They're the best.

Jimmy: Are they really?

Andy: They're fantastic. They've supported the movies for a long, long time. There was funny enough not too long ago, I did a convention where, you know, mums always come with their kids and 'look, look Johnny can do a really good Smeagol impersonation' or 'a really good Gollum impersonation.' And I go 'okay.' And she's like 'they say to me 'can you do the voice for him' and I go [as Gollum, scarily] 'HELLO, PRECIOUSSS.' And actually the poor kid he nearly had a heart attack. [Audience laughter] They had to nearly call the paramedics. He had palpitations.

Jimmy: Really? Wow. You almost murdered a child with your voice (laughs). That's the great thing about being famous, you know?

Andy: Terrible.

[Audience laughs]

Jimmy: That's something else. Wow. That's great. Are there any pictures of Jennifer Garner in the book?

Andy (jokingly): Yeah. There's a whole, there's the back

Jimmy: Really? All right. There you go. Gollum and Jennifer Garner. [Addressing audience and viewers] Andy Serkis is here. Enrique Iglesias is here. We'll be back with Torque's leading lady the lovely Monet Mazur.

[Right before commercial, there's an advertisment for peole who want to be in the studio audience of the show. Andy, as Gollum, advertises this, in a prerecorded bit: [as Gollum] Hello precious if you want to see the show go to abc.com, AOL key word 'kimmel' [as Smeagol] Oh oh [it's not very audible, but Smeagol sounds afraid (of Gollum)]

1-16-04 Latest News

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Frode @ 10:12 pm EST

It's time for the Great annual Whine and Cheese Party. Each year after people have had some time to digest the new offering from Peter Jackson, we gather in #thehalloffire and talk about the scenes we loved the most, what irked us, what actors played their parts best etc. Or perhaps you want to talk about the score or the special effects or just why you think this is the best movie ever made?

Upcoming topics:

weekend 240104-250104
Villains in RoTK the movie

weekend 310104-010204
Frodo/Sam/Gollum in the movies

Saturday Chat:
5:30pm ET (17:30)
[also 11:30pm (23:30) CET and 9:30am Sunday (09:30) AET]

Sunday Chat:
7:00 pm (19:00) CET
[also 1:00pm (13:00) ET and 5:00am (05:00) Monday morning AET]

ET = Eastern Time, USA's East Coast
CET = Central European Time, Central Europe
AET = Australian East Coast

Do you have a possible topic for Hall of Fire? Drop us a line at

Hobbit Stageplay in Trenton, MI
Xoanon @ 4:47 pm EST

Tigerlily Gamgee writes: Show Biz Starz presents an adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit
Adaptation by Patricia Gray

The play is being performed at the Trenton Village Theatre 2447 W. Jefferson, Trenton MI

Admission: Adults $7, Children/Seniors $6

To order tickets by phone, or for more info call 734-837-6730

This theatre group is a very talented group of young performers, mostly in their teens. I have seen their shows in the past, and they do a very good job.

Friday, January 16 at 7:30pm
Saturday, January 17 at 7:30pm
Friday, January 23, at 7:30pm
Saturday, January 24, at 7:30pm

Andy Serkis in Seattle Reports
Xoanon @ 4:21 pm EST

Evil Homer

I was lucky enough to see Andy Serkis speak a the University of Washington in Seattle last night as part of his book tour. He didn't have a lot of time to speak because he had about a thousand autographs to do, but he had time to do a reading of the "Leave now and never come back" scene from TTT and to answer a handful of questions. When he had time for only one more question, the woman he picked said "I'm still not clear on the filmmaking process..." and Andy mock-fainted onto the floor, then stood up and said "You know, I've just written this book..."



I was lucky enough to get a ticket to attend Andy Serkis' book signing at the University of Washington in Seattle last night and gladly made the 270 mile round trip journey in order to be there. I have to admit that I utterly LOATHED Gollum from the first time I read The Lord of the Rings over 25 years ago. I could not see anything redeemable in the character and always thought that he got what he deserved. That is, until I saw Andy Serkis' performance as that character in Peter Jackson's movie "The Two Towers". Andy was able to show us a side of the creature that reminded me very much of survivors of abuse of various sorts and his "dialog" with himself nearly broke my heart. Tonight, we were treated to a reenactment of that particular scene from "The Two Towers" and, if anything at all, it was even more powerful watching Andy perform it in person without the aid of computer generated effects. The man is truly amazing!

And to top it all off, he is a genuinely nice human being! He exhibited an amazing amount of patience with a woman in the audience (who happened to be selected to ask the last question of the Q and A portion of the evening) who wanted to know how they filmed the sequences with Gollum and kept interrupting him, asking for elaboration on how things were done. Andy displayed a great sense of humor throughout it all and took the time to explain how they went about it, even though the process is detailed minutely in the book which the woman was holding in her hands! Andy also ensured that everyone in the auditorium who wanted an autograph received one, even though there were more than 1200 people in attendance, most with 2 items (the stated limit) to be signed. To top the evening off, he very graciously agreed to stay for a few moments after things wrapped up for group photos with the folk of the Northwesternesse fan group and suggested that we say "Precioussss!" and "Rrraw and wrrrigggling!" instead of the standard phrases to evoke smiles as one of the UW staff took photos with several peoples' cameras.

I've been a fan of Andy Serkis' performance as Gollum since my first viewing of "The Two Towers" and am now very much a fan of the man himself. I sincerely hope that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences elects to do the right thing and give this man the recognition he so truly deserves by nominating him for an award in the Best Supporting Actor category this year!


Elven Alias:

Andy Serkis talked to a packed (read: overflowing) auditorium at the University of Washington in Seattle yesterday evening. I think it was fairly safe to say that the audience was impressed by the nature of this truly talented performer – a witty speaker, and an engaging and patient answerer of questions.

The talk was loosely based around his new book in which he discusses and comments on Gollum as a character in Tolkien’s books, and the challenges in making him manifest in a movie production. Not only that, but I think one of the (many) evident factors, was the degree of consideration and sensitivity that Peter Jackson and Andy Serkis (along with Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens) put into ‘crystalizing’ Gollum’s presence in this movie production. Far more than just a CGI character, Serkis gave some intriguing insights into how Gollum truly crossed the boundary from human to CGI character – like none other before him. The fact that they shot the Smeagol/Deagol scene in ROTK several times in order to play out different themes (such as cold-blooded Smeagol, versus spoilt rich kid Smeagol), says an awful lot about how much care and attention was embedded within the filmmakers’ reflections on each character, their context, etc, etc. The highlight of the evening (by a long way), was Andy giving a live performance of the whole ‘schitzophrenic scene’ seen at the end of The Two Towers. A truly mind-blowing performance. In moments, Andy had become Gollum(and Smeagol), and we were all transported back to Middle Earth…

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