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November 16, 2003 - November 22, 2003

11-22-03 Latest News

Monaghan Spotted in NYC
Xoanon @ 10:30 pm EST

Spy KFitz writes: I just saw Dominic Monaghan shooting a movie on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, just a stone's throw away from Gracie Mansion (the mayor's residence). He is now (Saturday afternoon, 11/22) at E. 86th Street and the East River, at Carl Schurz Park, filming a drama called "Shooting Livien" with Jason Behr ('Roswell'). Dom had on a rumpled green jacket, dark trousers. His hair is much longer than in LOTR. He has almost a beard. I asked what they are shooting, and a person with a walkie talkie said the name of the movie and that it also has Sarah Wynter ('24') and Joshua Leonard ('The Blair Witch Project'). They just started shooting this week, so you can look for them around town. They are shooting in New York until next month, I was told.

Critic 'Un-Pans' TTT
Xoanon @ 10:01 pm EST

Beorthnoth writes: I wasn't sure if anyone had brought this to your attention, but chief Kansas City Star movie critic, Robert Butler, was one of the very few reviewers in the country to pan The Two Towers last December.

...But for those of us who thought the first film was at its best when reveling in the little details of life in Middle-earth and examining the relationships between its characters, "The Two Towers" is a letdown.

What can you say about a movie in which the best performance is given by an animated creature? In which our heroes spend most of their time running around, assuming stock company heroic poses and spouting groaners like, "The red sun rises. Blood has been spilt this night"?

...Just when we're starting to get into one particular story, we're torn away and presented with another. We never get a clean dramatic arc to any of the three.

Moreover, some characters -- Elrond (Hugo Weaving), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and Arwen (Liv Tyler) -- appear only in unremarkable flashbacks. They seem to be here only so the actors' names can appear on the poster.

Far more troublesome is the film's lack of humanity -- if that can be said about a film populated by elves, wizards and hobbits. New characters like Theoden and his niece, the warrior princess Eowyn (Miranda Otto), and the Gondor war chief Faramir (David Wenham) should have their own stories to tell. Instead they're shallow, colorless and unremarkable.

[Click here for the whole interview]

Well: I think it worth noting that he has completely revised his take in his review of the Extended Edition. I think it worth noting for the broader community - a mark of just how much better this Extended Edition is over the original.

The review is NOT available online at this time. It may be later; then again they may decided to keep it as print-exlcusive content.

Extra time makes 'Towers' stand up taller

Robert W. Butler
November 21, 2003

All too often the special DVD "director's cuts" are of movies that were too long to begin with and certainly don't need additional padding.

But the new extended DVD version of "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" is a case where more is better. In fact, it changes everything.

I was one of maybe five critics in the country who didn't like the theatrical version of "The Two Towers" that opened a year ago. Aftet the excellence of "Fellowship of the Ring" it seemed to me that "Tow Towers" quickly deteriorated into a runaround movie. Everybody runs over here, then they turn around and run over there.

Moreover, the film seemed terribly stilted, with actors striking grandiose poses and making stentorian declarations. "Towers," I thought, was too much bombat and not enough soul.

Now, I'm happy to report, all that has changed. For the extended DVD director Peter Jackson has released has included 45 minutes excised from the theatrical release, and the additions transform the film.

What happened is obvious. Required to turn in a three-hour cut, Jackson sliced away everything that wasn't related to pure advancement of the story. Left in the can was tons of relationship stuff and character development which, for me anyway, is the equal of all the fighting and riding. The restored footage affects nearly every passage in the extended "Tower." We get more Gollum and Frodo. We get an entire back story about Faramir (in the theatrical version a maddeningly undeveloped character) and his brother Boromir that finally gives this character a personality.

Pippin and Merry get a lot more time to explore the world of the Ents - the tree creatures which now are allowed to show more personality. In an amusing coda after the fall of Saruman's citadel, the hobbit cousins discovered a vast cache of victuals and pipeweed seized from the Shire - a moment of pure Tolkien pleasure.

We learn a good deal more about Eowyn, the princess of the horse warriors, and her unrequited love for Aragorn. The friendly rivalry between Legolas and Gimli fully develops.

Great stuff. But there's more.

The PG-13 rated violence of the theatrical cut struck me as sanitized. In the extended version, though, heads fly. There's a scene of Faramir's soldiers beating a captive Gollum that's genuinely disturbing.

There's also a good deal more humurous interplay this time around.

So what at first struck me as a tentative and under-inhabited spectacle now emerges as a truly gripping work that succeeds on a much more human, emotional level.

Watching the three hour theatrical version was a chore. But this nearly four hour DVD cut seems to fly.

In short, it's a great way to get pumped up for next month's opening of "The Return of the King." And, yes, Peter Jackson is a genius.

Are you the Ultimate LOTR Fan?
Celeborn @ 9:29 pm EST

Are you the ultimate "Lord of the Rings" fan? Tell why you are the #1 fan and you may win an opportunity of a lifetime. New show in development wants to hear from true fans!

Please send a two minute tape showing/telling us why no other fan compares to you. Be outgoing, energetic and don't forget to be creative! Also, if you won an international trip, what two people would you bring with and why?

You must:
Be over the age of 18
Have a valid passport
Available from December 2-12

Please send videotape and your contact information to:
Jill Bandemer
E! Entertainment
5750 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Deadline for submissions is December 1st.

Tapes will not be returned and become the property of E! Entertainment Television.

© 2003 E! Entertainment Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

Trilogy Tuesday: Hong Kong
Xoanon @ 5:24 pm EST

Koala writes: UA cinemas in Hong Kong have just released this information.

Fellowship of the Ring Dec 4-10 (3:10pm & 7:15pm)
The Two Towers Dec 11-17 (3:00pm & 7:00pm)
The Return of the King Opens on Dec 18

Package Price: $150

OR, there's this option:

Screening Marathon

Do you want to compete with other "The Lord of the Rings" fans to finish the 12-hour screening marathon? Here comes the chance! The screening marathon will be held on Dec 17, from 2:30pm to midnight.

From Dec 1 to 5, 8 to 10, pay attention to "RoadShow" (KMB) to know more about the game details. A "The Lord of the Rings" T-shirt and a certificate will be given to each participant. Furthermore, winners of the game may win a trip to New Zealand, get special movie premiums and even cash! Don't miss the chance. Check "RoadShow" (KMB) for further details.

Trilogy Tuesday: Hawaii
Xoanon @ 4:44 pm EST

Isilnáriën writes:

Aloha Xo!

I just wanted to let you know about some of the great things going on here in Hawaii for Trilogy Tuesday and the premier of ROTK. Naturally, we are all counting the minutes until December 16th. Although it took three weeks to sell out the theater (rather than the 30 minutes or less it took elsewhere), at last all seats (400+) have been sold.

We have something called "Concierge Services" at the Ward Theater complex where Trilogy Tuesday will transpire. The most excellent and admirable Hobbit in charge is a fellow named Pono Shim. Pono is not a rabid LOTR fan; however, he knows this is going to be a Once-In-A-Lifetime experience for us and has the wits and foresight to ensure that it will be a total LOTR happening. To this end, he has enlisted the aid and suggestions of LOTR fans here, working with us to make it extra-special and not just a movie-viewing outing.

He is purchasing lots of LOTR related merchandise, things that most retailers in Hawaii do not provide, such as T-shirts, posters, bookmarks, caps, denim jackets, etc. He has discovered that things go out the door almost as fast as he can order them, like the new ROTK magnet set. Most notably, he is having special Trilogy Tuesday shirts made to commemorate the event. Naturally, "I'm getting one!" as Pippin said!

And, in true Hobbit fashion, between the first film of FOTR and the showing of TTT we will have FOOD available at the theater! Just for us! Hobbit food! He is providing two different boxed dinners for purchase. The first is "Rabbit Mushroom Stew" which has chicken (rabbit substitute!), mushrooms, potatoes, and carrots, accompanied by Middle-Earth sausages and a chocolate scone. The second is "Vegetarian Stew" which has tofu (okay, not exactly Middle-Earth, but hey, we vegetarians need our protein too!), mushrooms, potatoes, and carrots, accompanied by a variety of cheeses and a chocolate scone. Now I ask you, is this fantastic or what?!

The excitement here is building for the ROTK Premier Party on December 14th (visit www.tolandune.net for the details) followed by Trilogy Tuesday on December 16th. Although we are way out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, far from the fevered frenzy of fans in the larger cities where greater events happen more often, where resources are thick and fan bases broad, let it not be said that we did not hold our own! That we of the Polynesian-Paralysis-Laid-Back-In-The-Sun-Riders-Of-The-Big-Surf did nothing! The countdown has begun!

'Much on Demand' Wood, Boyd & Serkis Transcript
Xoanon @ 4:37 pm EST

TV Watch: Wood, Boyd and Serkis on MuchMusic's MuchOnDemand
Click for more images

Courtney writes: I typed up the interview Elijah Wood (E), Billy Boyd (B), and Andy Serkis (A) did on MuchMusic's MuchOnDemand show on Thursday. It's not 100% verbatim, more about 90% because Andy Serkies rambled quite a bit, and all three actors tried speaking at the same time at some points in the interview.

Rick and Jen introduce the guys. Much screaming. Someone, maybe Elijah, says 'Holy S**t!: tsk tsk tsk.

R [to Elijah]: I like how you led the pack there it was like doing a conga line or something.

*all nod heads, and mumble*

R: it's a huge movie man. December 17th

E: that's right

R: 12:01 am. How pumped are you guys?

E: so pumped.

R: if you know they're pumped (the audience), how excited are you?

E: Oh my God I didn't even see outside.

R: *mumbles* They're shutting everything down today

E: that's insane. We're so excited, we haven't even seen the movie yet so we're jazzed man.

R: you haven't seen it yet?

E: haven't seen it yet.

R: you get to check it out December 1st at the world premier *all three mumble and nod*

R: I don't know if you can hear us?

E: I can't hear a word you're saying

B: I can't hear a thing. I'm just nodding.


R: I think Jen has something here for you as well.

J: Yeah that's right we have a phone call.

[they try to get a girl on the line but the connection goes dead}

*more screams*

J: we have an e-mail request for some Coldplay. I know the three of you are music fans. Do you like Coldplay?

All: various forms of 'yes' answers

Cut to video

*more cheering*

R: I keep stepping on someone's foot back there. We're back. We're joined by 3 actors in Lord of the Rings. You got Elijah, Billy, Andy. Thanks for coming down guys.


R: We gotta calm things down here. Oh here we go again. *fans outside on the street chant*

E: what are they chanting?

R: 'Come outside.'

E: I wanna go outside.

R: we will we will. *mumbles* It gets very hot in here so we gotta cool down by going out there. Let's get some more questions out of the way. Cause we haven't really talked about the movie yet. It's a big adventure just watching this movie. How much of an adventure was it for you guys filming this? It must have been overwhelming.

E: it was comparable to that of the ?book? for us in some ways

B: yeah I mean actual filming it really kind of reflected what we were doing. You know we were on top of mountains. We were getting exhausted. People were getting ? at each other it was just a incredible time.

R: You guys were over there for a good what 18 months to two years?

E: about 16 months of principle photography. And we've gone back every year since to work on each individual movie for like pickup shots and additional footage so it hasn't really ended.

R: How much of an impact do the people and the culture of New Zealand have on you guys by spending that much time in a country like that?

A: oh man *mumbles* These people are really fantastically generous human beings and are very compassionate very passionate. The films couldn't have been made anywhere else. It's totally New Zealand. What you see on screen is like one hundred percent New Zealand.

E: Ah, so true.

R: And it's weird cause they got 30 million sheep over there and you never see one sheep in the movies [author's note: I could have sworn I saw one in Hobbiton]

B: there's no sheep in Middle Earth. Or chickens.

R: *mumbles* that's why there's no sheep in middle Earth. But it's hard not to run into sheep in New Zealand.

E: I think there's twice as many as people or something like that.

R: I think the ratio is ten to one.

E: oh my God.

R: ten sheep per person. We gotta get to the shot the trailer, the scenes from Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King. Let's check it out then we're back with the dudes.


R: oh my Lord. We're back. Right there Lord of the Rings in theatres Wednesday December 17th at 12:01. I love when they do that these days.

E: it's so cool.

R: you're there

E: around the world

R: it's beautiful. I'll be back with you guys I gotta go check on the video game [there are two people playing what I think was the ROTK game off to the side} We gotta get the guys to check that out. After seeing the footage from the movie you're on the journey on Mount Doom. You're on this journey to destroy this ring. It looks like there's going to be a major ass kicking dude. There's going to be a massive battle taking place.

E: there's some serious battling. In fact the second film with Helm's Deep everyone thought that was the huge battle. In this film it's the Battle of Pellenor Fields and Minas Tirith with two separate battles.

B: yeah absolutely huge. The biggest battles ever seen on film.

R: is that right? *all nod*

A: they make Helm's Deep look like *?* scrap.

R: how many people were involved?

E: well I mean lots of animators.

B: yeah but we had the New Zealand Army at one point as well and if you've ever run into battle with the New Zealand Army, which you probably haven't, it's quite scary.

R: Billy Boyd from Glasgie [that's how Rick pronounced it] Scotland. Let's get to one thing. We've all been on this journey with you guys for two years on the trilogy. Can you give us a little bit about the ending. Is it going to be a surprise? Are we going to be cheering with you guys? Will we be cheering these characters on?

E: you're going to be cheering these characters on and I think there's going to be some tears shed.

R: there's not going to be a twist is there?

E: not really

B: well

A: wait and see *all mumble*

R: We go to get to a video

*cuts to a video*

[Billy and Elijah are off playing the ROTK game with those two people}

J: Andy Serkis who played Gollum is joining me we're online at muchmusic.com

A: *mumbles something in what might have been a Gollum voice*

J: the Return of the King Lord of the Rings fans have an idea of what Gollum is. What role did you have in character development?

A: well quite a lot. The whole way Gollum is really essentially an addict was an idea I had which was really important to link him into the modern age so people could really understand. Not just treat him as an alien and then get kind of bored with him. He's sort of psychologically quite complex and screwed up you know. I thought people would really appreciate that and therefore feel a certain amount of sympathy for him and connect with him which people have. It's amazing really, you know for a CG character it's extraordinary the response we've had to it.

A: that there's kind of an emotional connection.

A: yeah. I think people really respond to the fact that we all have flaws in our characters. You know out of all the characters in the book he's the most screwed up and I think it's interesting the way people kind of have veered towards feeling sorry for him.

J: What's this I head about Gollum porn?

A: well there's a site.

J: There's a website?

A: there is a website out there , it's people who kind of find Gollum attractive which I don't think is far from the truth

J: Why?

A: in his own sweet way.

J: I guess so. It seems so bizarre. The Academy denied last year your chance being eligible for an Oscar because we can't see you as an actor. That could change with the new Lord of the Rings movie. Do you think that the Academy is behind the times?

A: I just think it takes time. You know books, all sorts of awards, technological awards, take time to sink into the fabric of filmmaking. You know the Steadycam when it was invented or whatever, that took time to become part of it. But I think eventually that the actors will be awarded or given acknowledgement for virtual roles. It's just a matter of time.

J: when you see your character on screen do you see yourself?

A: for sure yeah.

J: you do?

A: all my family and friends, my wife and kids they just go 'Oh Dad look it's you.' And they see it's no different. It's like so much personality comes from the performance.

J: let's take a look at some of that footage. [footage of Gollum, Frodo, and Sam climbing up that nasty high flight of stairs]

J: I see your face.

A: well the face was kind of designed around the way my face moves.

J: you're a father of two. Have you read Lord of the Rings to your kids?

A: I've read them The Hobbit and I've read them segments of Lord of the Rings, they're a little bit too young. Ruby my daughter, who's 5, she was in New Zealand for like the whole of filming and principal photography. She saw me all dressed in the makeup and stuff and she used to go 'Oh silly Daddy,: you know but she was really into it.

J: I have to ask, in character, would you read us something from the new book [not his Gollum book, she meant ROTK]. I've highlighted a passage.

A [as Gollum]: Wicked master! Wicked master seeks us seeks Smeagol gollum gollum. He mustn't go that way, no he mustn't hurt the Precious. Give it to Smeagol yes give it to us.

*mass applause*

J: Wow. So cool. More after this.

*cut to an ad break*

R: we're back with Much on Demand and Elijah, Billy, and Andy, they're all joining us today.

E: we're back to madness central.

R: it must be like this wherever you go.

E: not like this no no no. We're not used to this by any means.

R: I'm sure it gets a little worse than this in some locations.

E: it depends.

R: Before we get down to this quiz I want to talk about Viggo and how Viggo is actually featured in the title track, the song he's singing in the song [all the actors looks rather perplexed]. Isn't he isn't his voice featured in the title track to Return of the King?

E: is it?

A: I dunno

E: he sings on the record (points to Billy).

B: yeah.

E: he sings in the film

A: that he wrote himself

R: you wrote yourself and you sing in the film?

B: yeah so that's I don't know is Viggo sings does he?

E: I dunno

B: *mumbles*

R: one of the hundred of Lord of the Rings websites I read that somewhere. And so you sing and you're actually a singer and a guitar player and a drummer aren't you Billy?

B: yeah I used to do a lot of music before I started acting and I get asked to write a song for the film so I wrote this kind of Celtic tune that now appears in the film.

R: and the soundtrack is doing so well. I think its *?* over 3 million world-wide.

E: Wow, already?

R: you guys didn't know this?

All: no

R: c'mon guys.

B: we just go from hotel to ? to

R: you know you guys are like rock stars. Let's get to this quiz quickly. What are hobbits most afraid of? Would it be 1. A lack of food 2. Ringwraiths or 3. Jennifer Hollet's [the other VJ] mad dancing skills?

E: I'd say lack of food

B: I'd go lack of food

A: definitely lack of food and I include myself in that.

R: and your character used to be a hobbit a while ago. What's the one thing in today's world that would have made your journey a lot easier: a cellphone, an ATV, or a courier?

E: oh right.

B: courier yeah.

E: cause you could ship the Ring to Mordor *all mumble*

B: and once you're there just throw it in the volcano.

E: put it in a package you know 'Crack of Doom' To Sauron, and send that thing to Mordor that would be quite good.

A: that's very cool.

E: an ATV though would be quite nice.

R: you would need a few of them.

E: you couldn't navigate the mountains and rocks though.

R: lastly, which was your favourite movie to watch. Was it Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, or Dude Where's My Car?

A: Dude.

B: a classic of the genre.

R: you all agree?

E: I've actually never seen Dude Where's My Car? *group mumbles* I've actually heard it's really funny.

R: maybe tonight you could rent it.

E: okay.

R: we've got to go outside they've been begging for us to go outside. Well they've been begging for you guys to go out there

*much screaming, camera flashes all around, actors frantically sign autographs*

R: we've also come out here for another reason. If you guys could just keep it down we came out here for a question and Amanda you have a question for the guys?

Amanda: if you guys weren't hobbits what other characters would you have liked to been?

E: I was always a really big fan of Gollum. Gollum's one of my favourite characters.

R: I don't know if Billy and Andy heard us [asks Billy said question]

B: so many good characters, probably Gollum. That's a really interesting character. Or Arwen cause she gets really nice dresses.

R: good answer.

*chit-chat, and cuts to a video*

J: how do the actors deal with the cult of Lord of the Rings *?* Saturday Night Live giving a *?* to all the Trekkies? How do you deal with all the fanatics who probably know more about everything than you do?

E: it's beyond our own comprehension. It's amazing. I think they're great. It's fantastic.

A: these movies are for the fans. Pete would say so. Pete Jackson would say that these movies are for the fans primarily. I mean they're such huge support to the films it's incredible.

E: yeah.

B: yeah totally. It's more than just having good films, it's kind of affected people's lives and that's amazing to be part of something like that.

E: it's been wonderful to have been able to touch people in that way.

B: It's nice to be able to touch people.

E: he had to turn that around didn't he?

B: yeah.

R: as you know this is the majority of your careers right now. What's next for you guys and other projects. (turning to Billy) You're in Master and Commander.

B: yeah, that was just released here this week I think. That's a great movie, and it gives you some idea what life was like on one of these old ships. It was a lot of fun to make.

R: Better than Dude Where's my Car?

B: I dunno.

E: it's a different kind of thing.

B: It's not Dude Where's My Ship.

J: I have a bag of gifts. [actors looks excited]. We have a ring [one of those Ring Pop candies;

A: Woooo.

J: We have some munchies. [hands Billy a bag of carrots]

B: oh carrots very nice [looks right into the camera and makes a psycho-sexy face, very funny].

J: and a t shirt, I hope it's the right size (has 'Say No to Wraiths: on it)

E: Say no to wraiths! (appears to very much like the shirt)

Pavement Magazine’s stunning LOTR The Return of the King issue!
Tehanu @ 5:55 am EST

After the phenomenal popularity of New Zealand magazine Pavement’s previous two The Lord of the Rings special issues, the magazine is about to publish its third and final instalment to this amazing trilogy.

Once again, Pavement editor Bernard McDonald spent a week on the set in Wellington during pick-up shoots for Return of the King, interviewing cast and crew, including director Peter Jackson, conceptual artist Alan Lee, writer Philippa Boyens and New Line executive Mark Odesky. In addition, Pavement writer Melinda Williams interviews a number of New Zealand cast members, Stephen Jewell interviews Oscar-winning composer Howard Shore and correspondent Desmond Sampson interviews Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee) and Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) at the New York press day.

Viggo Mortensen has been photographed exclusively by Pavement for the cover and 6-page feature, while the 30-page extended feature on Return of the King features dozens of film stills and production photos.

The issue can be purchased directly from Pavement. Contact Pavement via email on:



PO Box 309, Auckland 1, New Zealand.

Cost of each copy is NZ$40 (rest of world), NZ$30 (Australia) or NZ$15 (NZ). Includes postage and handling. Please supply relevant credit card details. Bank cheques must include an additional NZ$15 to cover bank charges.

In addition, A2 cover posters featuring Viggo Mortensen are also available for NZ$20 each or NZ$10 if purchased with a copy of the issue. Allow 2-3 weeks for delivery. Pavement also has 60 copies left of The Two Towers issue (NZ$80 each), featuring Orlando Bloom on the cover. Sorry, no copies of Fellowship of the Ring issue left.

11-21-03 Latest News

NYC Middle-earth Shuttle Photos
Xoanon @ 9:20 pm EST

NYC Middle-earth Shuttle Photos
Click here for more photos

Suspiria777 and Eilozette write:

Hi, we visit theonering.net frequently and thought you might like a report on the Middle Earth Shuttle in New York City today. Sorry to report it was a bit of a disappointment.

We've attached pictures--we apologize in advance if they give you email any problems or if they're too big. We don't know how to reduce the image size.

We work within a short subway ride of Times Square, so we decided to go up to see the "Middle Earth Shuttle" on our lunch hour on Tuesday Nov. 18th. The official press release said the event would run from 11:30-1:30.

We took the S from Times Square to Grand Central and arrived at about 12:15 or 12:20. To our disappointment, they were turning crowds of people away. The woman who seemed to be in charge said, a bit irritably, that they ran out of free giveaways and decided to end it. They were letting the press through but no one else. There was no explanation beyond that, no apology. We asked if we could just look into the subwar car, but she said no. Her tone was rude. We do want to mention that the cops manning the event were polite.

Anyway, we got at least a glimpse of what was going on:

A single car on the S train was decorated and lit with a green light--it looked pretty atmospheric. There were twigs wrapped around the subway pillars. The best part were the Golum figures--about 2-3 feet high, there were several crouched on Lord of the Rings stands. There were big banners announcing "The Middle Earth Shuttle."

The press release turned out to be misleading. We only saw one decorated subway car, but the press release stated that "cars" would be decorated and it would "carry commuters...between both stops from 11:30AM-1:30PM." The release also mentioned "12-foot ents" but we saw no sign of them. As for giveaways, we had absolutely no expectation of "getting" anything except maybe a few pictures and a story to tell.

While the experience hasn't dimmed our excitement about the films, we feel that New Line Cinema, or whoever sponsored the event, could have been a bit more respectful to the fans. Maybe New Line could organize events in a way that doesn't leave fans annoyed and disappointed--we all remember how well New Line and other large companies handled Trilogy Tuesday ticket sales.

Odile writes:

To promote the release of TTT:EE DVD being released today, They (not sure who was responsible) decorated the Times Square Shuttle with green light, gollums and Ents (who were outside.) I'm attaching a couple of pictures...

They were also giving away pewter(?) medallion thingies embossed with Treebeard from Sideshow WETA.

TV Watch: Cate Blanchett on The Late Show
Xoanon @ 9:04 pm EST

TV Watch: Cate Blanchett on The Late Show with David Letterman
Click for more images

On Monday November 17th, 2003 Cate Blanchett was a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman. She was there to promote her latest film 'The Missing'.

Cate Blanchett just flew in from Rome on a whirlwind promo tour for 'The Missing', she was slated to fly back to Itlay in a matter of hours after this interview. She was very cordial and open with Dave about her pregnancy, she stated that she was currently 4 months into it. She told Dave how she found out about being pregnant for a second time. Ironically enough she was getting fitted for a fake pregnancy body suit for 'The Missing' when she suddenly fainted. After getting looked at by a doctor she went for blood tests and heard the good news.

She also mentioned working on her new film in Rome with Wes Anderson (A Life Aquatic). She said that her 2 year old son is learning Italian rather quckly, she did a little imiatation of him saying 'ciao bella' for her.

Click on the image above to see some screenshots from the interview.

Hobkins NOT Attending Portland Con
Xoanon @ 3:30 pm EST

Corsair writes: As I know TORN is renowned for the accuracy of its reporting, you may be interested in knowing that the TentMoot people are incorrectly listing Bruce Hopkins as a confirmed celebrity at their event, when he in fact will be attending elsewhere. Another group has a written contract with him at an event on another coast entirely... and the actor has since informed organizers that he is definitely NOT attending TentMoot, and has told the TentMoot people so some time ago.

But.. in point of fact... in that link that TORN posted today, not only is Mr. Hopkins listed as coming... he is still listed as being available for financial sponsorship by fans.

Don't know about you... but as for me... this now puts the credibility of the rest of the "confirmed" guests somewhat in question.

You may want to check this out... or get someone else to do so. It would be a shame if Ringers were misled by incorrect information.

Trilogy Tuesday: UK - A Non Event?
Xoanon @ 3:10 pm EST

SW writes: I just spoke to UGC Cinema Group Head Office in UK - ( they had said that they were going to do a trilogy in one or two places). Now distributor has pulled plug on this idea. Spoke to distributor - they said - "no decision" has been made, but probably will not do a trilogy showing until after opening of ROTK. Direct quote from them was "This film has cost us a lot of money and we're going to do whatever we can to make the most out of it." When I pointed out that we seemed to be the only country on the planet that seems to be incapable of organising this event reply was "We don't care what other countries do - we will make our decisions on the basis of what is best for us"

They obviously are totally unaware of the strength of interest in this event. I do believe that this bunch could not organise anything in an alcoholic drink production establishment.

Xoanon here, this is the first I've heard of the event NOT taking place...if anyone else has more information (not theories or complaints or petitions...INFO) drop me a line at xoanon@theonering.net

Trilogy Tuesday: South Africa
Xoanon @ 2:42 pm EST

Ringer Spy Lucas writes: The bad news is that it seems NewLine has decided not to send the extended editions of FOTR and TTT to South Africa. The good news is that South African distributors Nu Metro will however be rereleasing them prior to the ROTK. From their website (www.numetro.co.za):

"Nu Metro Theatres is proud to announce the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on 17 December, 2003. To celebrate this eagerly-awaited conclusion of the epic trilogy, Nu Metro Theatres will re-release the first movie, The Fellowship of the Ring and the second movie, The Two Towers, at Nu Metro Canal Walk, Menlyn Park, Pavilion, Montecasino and Village Walk on 5 December.

The screening times are:

09:30 :The Fellowship of The Ring
13:15 :The Two Towers
17:00 :The Fellowship of the Ring
20:45 :The Two Towers

Then, on Tuesday, 16 December, going into Wednesday, 17 December, Nu Metro Theatres will host special midnight screenings of The Return of the King at Nu Metro Canal Walk, Menlyn Park, Pavilion and Montecasino."

Have just booked my tickets at Computicket (www.computicket.co.za):

FOTR - Tue 16 Dec 2003 17:00
TTT - Tue 16 Dec 2003 20:45
ROTK - Tue 16 Dec 2003 23:59

Note that not all movie theaters will be showing the three in row.

Star Wars Insider Magazine Talks ROTK
Xoanon @ 1:55 pm EST

Christian writes: The Star Wars Insider Magazine this month had a report on Daniel Logan (Boba Fett in SW Episode 2 and 3) and quote "Logan reported that he was soon journeying to New Zealand to do last-minute shots for the upcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. No word on what character he's playing in the final film of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but by the time you may be reading these words, you may have already spotted him in Hobbiton." This magazine was sent to me on Tuesday. It also had an interview with Christopher Lee just stating how he wasn't in TTT all that much and he filmed more scenes with Saruman this summer for ROTK and is still working with Peter Jackson on ROTK. He also commented on how PJ wasn't getting him in a gorilla suit for King Kong.

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Frode @ 9:27 am EST

Durins Folk - Appendix A III of the Lord of the Rings

Durin was the eldest of the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves, and in the deeps of time he founded Khazad-dum beneath the Misty Mountains. After the end of the First Age the might of Khazad-dum waxed greatly when it's people was swelled with refugees from Nogrod and Belegost after the drowning of Beleriand. Behind shut doors the city endured through Saurons dominion of Middle Earth, and was named Moria - the black pit - by the Elves of Eregion. In the middle of the Third Age however, evil things were again stirring in the world, and in Moria the Dwarves delved ever deeper in their search for Mithril. Under the foundations of Barazinbar they at last delved too deep and released the terror that would drive them out of the halls of Durin.

For the rest of the Third Age, Durins Folk lived in exile. A great many went to Erebor, the Lonely Mountain. Until in time the rumour of it's wealth reached Smaug the Golden, greatest Dragon of the Age, and he descended upon Erebor and chased the Dwarves away. King Thror gave the last of the Seven Rings to his son Thrain, and went to Moria where he was slain by Orcs. The murder enraged the people of Durin who gathered from far and near and waged pitiless war on the Orcs. In the final battle of Azanulbizar the dwarves had the victory, but at a great cost, and they were unwilling to follow Train on a re-conquest of Moria.

Now Thrain, Thorin and their folk made a home of exile in the Ered Luin, but Thrain grew restless and soon departed. He was hunted by the emissaries of Sauron and at last captured and brought to Dol Guldur, where the Ring was taken from him. Now Thorin was the heir of the House of Durin. An heir without hope it seemed, brooding in his dwelling on the wrongs of his House, but one day his fortunes would change when he met Gandalf on the road. A chance meeting as they say in Middle Earth.

Did the Dwarves waken the Balrog or did they just release it? What part did greed play in the downfall of the House of Durin, and how did the last of the Seven Rings affect their fate? Dwarves are considered strange and solitary, and yet they made great communities with Elves and Men in Eregion and Dale. Could it be that they, in fact, more than the other races saw the benefits of dealing with others?

What were their motivations? What places were special to them and why? Where did they come from? What set them apart from Elves and Men and hobbits? Join us in #thehalloffire as we take a look at this strange people and the great impact they made in Middle Earth.

Upcoming Topics:
November 29-30: The Scouring of the Shire - Chapter VIII of the Return of
the King.

Saturday Chat:
5:30pm ET (17:30)
[also 11:30pm (23:30) CET and 7:30am Sunday (07:30) AET]

Sunday Chat:
7:00 pm (19:00) CET
[also 1:00pm (13:00) ET and 3:00am (03:00) Monday morning AET]

ET = Eastern Time, USA's East Coast
CET = Central European Time, Central Europe
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Do you have a possible topic for Hall of Fire? Drop us a line at

11-20-03 Latest News

Cinema Magazine: The Final Battle
Xoanon @ 11:38 pm EST

Cinema Magazine Talks ROTK - Cover
Click here for more images


The Return Of The King

Exclusively for CINEMA, LOTR director Peter Jackson and his stars write about the shooting of the third and final part and explain, why saying goodbye was so hard for them…

It is the third Christmas in a row that millions of people all over the world are looking forward to with especially shining eyes. On 17 December, “The Return Of The King”, the long-expected finale of the triology will at last be released. “I assure you that this film is the best”, promises Gandalf-actor Ian McKellen. Director Peter Jackson also seems to be lacking some of his Kiwi reservation: “It is the part of the saga I am most proud of.” The confidence that the stars and makers are using to increase the curiosity of the fans, does not come from nothing. Not only has the series already grossed several hundreds of million dollars, but also the producers succeeded to convince the skeptical fans of Tolkien all over the world.

Accordingly, there’s hardly any doubt that part three will crown the story of success (see also our review in the next issue, to be released 18 December 2003). In order to provide you an all-embracing impression, we have traveled around the globe in the past weeks in order to collect exclusive photos in London, Los Angeles, New York and New Zealand capital of Wellington, and to talk with Peter Jackson and his actors about the brilliant finale of the saga.

Cinema spoke with Sean Astin (Sam), Orlando Bloom (Legolas), Billy Boyd (Pippin), Peter Jackson (director), Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Dominic Monaghan (Merry), Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) and Elijah Wood (Frodo).

Wood: Next year at Christmas, I will probably be at home, packing my suitcases and wonder why no one picks me up and drives me to a LOTR premiere. Let’s not fool ourselves: This end in instalments is bitter, even though most friendships will be more than the usual set-friendships and will continue long after.

Mortensen: I usually don’t tend to be sentimental, but when we finished the last pick ups in the summer, I was overwhelmed by the feeling of goodbye. Of course, there’s still the premieres in Wellington and Berlin to come, but we saw most members of the crew for the last time. There are actors who don’t care about such experiences. I do. In the end, we all become senile very early, and until then I will feed on the memories and will carry the smell of the New Zealand woods with me. I will never ride into battle as Aragorn, but what I felt in these moments, will give me power and strength for a very long time to come. About that, I am certain.

Boyd: Our goodbye was a little relieved by great presents. Everyone was given an affectionately composed video full of scenes and outtakes of his own roll. Also, we were allowed to chose a souvenir and take it with us.

Wood: I received the ring. The original ring. But I do not exhibit the ring – it’s covered in cloth and packed away in a little box which again was packed away in two larger boxes. And there, it’s well kept.
Bloom: I received Legolas’ bow and a set of sharp arrows. But when I wanted to fly to England, the souvenirs were collected by the New Zealand customs and I was told that they would be dispatched separately. Well, I am waiting still, and I guess that somewhere in this world a fan now owns original props.

McKellen: I requested the doorknobs of Saruman’s tower of Orthanc, beautifully made of fibre glass in the form of lizards. You could hardly recognize them in the film, but it was characteristic for the production: Even the tiniest detail was treated with the same accurateness as the most important total shots. But what astounded me even more: When I showed the doorknobs to a couple of fans, they immediately knew where they belonged. Hardly to believe, isn’t it? You could almost believe they’ve watched the film under the magnifying glass.

Mortensen: I was allowed to take my original, terribly worn steel sword. I’ve always used it despite the enormous weight, whenever the danger of the scenes allowed it.

Astin: I am the proud owner of Sam’s rucksack and, most of all, a pair of Hobbit-feet.

McKellen: I consider myself the luckiest of all LOTR actors because I got to play two roles, and this development comes to a fulminant conclusion in part three. I started out as Gandalf the Grey who has little energy and has to face his greatest fears first – and now I play a mighty role as a leader and fighter who gets mud in his face on the battlefield.

Bloom: ROTK is Aragorn’s story who learns to take a terribly large responsibility. Legolas? Hey, he’s firing off a pile of arrows and does the usual hero sh**. The TT scenes where I surf on a shield or mount a horse in full gallop, were so well received by the audience that Peter thought of a special sequence for Legolas which will top anything else. Promised!

Jackson: I am still in the editing, but I guess that we will be exceeding the three-hour-bounds. Before my inner eye, ROTK had always been the most exciting and moving part of the triology. I’ve never been prouder than on this part! Last but not least because I worked up my most terrible nightmares in the scenes with Shelob. She is designed after a so called tunnel web spider that had been tantalizing me in my childhood in New Zealand. Giant spiders in films are often very slow, because they are filmed in slow motion to magnify their dimensions. Not with us: Shelob is a damn fast beast and will not only make Frodo panic.

Mortensen: After the first films have been received very positively, and the giant battles this time outshine even Helm’s Deep, everyone is expecting a hit at the box offices, and I am sure ROTK will be. Still, I would not want to measure the worth of our work in Box-Office-categories, only. If I look at the snapshots of my colleagues that have been made four years ago, and compare them to pictures of today, I see a change in their eyes. These are looks of people who were put to an unbelievable test and passed it.

Wood: I have seen the final hour of the film – never in my life have I cried that hard while watching a movie. Even experts of the book will be amazed by the intensity and darkness of the story. The highest compliment I ever received as an actor was the fact that even peter had tears in his eyes when we were shooting the crucial scenes between Frodo and Sam on Mount Doom.

Jackson: The secret of our success? We’ve made the story authentic even though it operates with a lot of clichés. Good Hobbits, bad Orcs – that could easily land near Monty Python. But by taking the characters seriously, we made Tolkien’s world absolutely believable on screen, as if we were telling a true story – like the one of Alexander the Great or Napoleon.

Wood: Some people are mocking, when I tell them how sworn a community the team had been. But the other day, at a Radiohead concert, I met the actor Stuart Townsend who had been replaced by Viggo. It had been a hard decision for him, but that’s the business. However, Stuart said that he’s never felt bitter because he’s missed three world hits. But he did miss the family feeling he had already developed after months of training together. I felt that he will never experience anything like this again.

Astin: Maybe it sounds stupid: I realized that LOTR had been made for eternity when I played against Bill Clinton at a celebrity golf tournament and he actually knew who I was.

Mortensen: Call it luck, or call it fate. I for my part will always be sure that I never did anything to get the role of Aragorn. It was a present, and it has changed my life forever. For that, I am sincerely thankful.

Jackson: Viggo is known to chose his projects very carefully and basically arrived on spec. While I was already shooting, we had a very delicate talk where he asked me all kinds of questions about Aragorn’s motives that I couldn’t answer even nearly as detailed as he expected. I tried in vain to lie, until suddenly that embarrassing silence arose. I was sure at that moment that I had spoiled the talk and started to mentally go through a list of names who I could cast as Aragorn. But Viggo just looked at me and said, “O.K. so we see each other on Tuesday at work.” Gosh, I was relieved!

McKellen: It’s crazy how life can lead you onto the right tracks. Today, more
people on the street address me as Gandalf thank with my real name. Back then I had already decided to turn down the role, because the prospect of such a long production scared me and at first could not be coordinated with “X-Men”. But believe it or not: I felt that I would regret it if I turned down the role.

Monaghan: How we would have dealt with it if one of the core would have turned out to be an asshole? I don’t think that this would have been possible. The first one and a half years during the main shooting we basicly were stuck together so closely that no one could have tried to get off the hook without committing suicide or being fired. Of course, there were cliques, island trantrums and smaller conflicts – privately, we are no Hobbits. But the togetherness was never endangered, never. I guess Peter has a diploma for psychology and casted us socially acceptable.

Jackson: I don’t think much of a dictatorial style, but I prefer to be surrounded by people who on their particular field have better ideas than me.

McKellen: I cannot remember one single moment of the past years when Peter had screamed. You have to imagine the set much more like a magnified version of his garden, and there he’s off with impish joy, making the most expensive home video of all time, even though we actors needed getting used to him generally demanding an extreme variety of angles.

Jackson: Out of all characters of the saga, I identify mostly with Bilby Baggins.

Wood: Peter used to be bare-footed on set, and I must confess that it calmed me a lot that all this stress and chaos was supervised by a real, live Hobbit. And I think that eccentrics are absolutely trustworthy.

Bloom: During the shooting in New Zealand we were so isolated that there was no chance for any airs and graces. The media may pick someone from the ensemble, that’s normal. But fame is conceptional and did not make it onto the set. I personally have to be a bit more careful in public only since “Pirates of the Caribbean” – in LOTR, of course, I was perfectly disguised with the blond wig and the pointy ears.

Astin (laughing): Unbelievable that someone as ugly as Orlando makes it onto magazine covers! He must have a clever agent!

ROTK Production Notes!
Xoanon @ 1:38 pm EST


The past seven years my life has been consumed with writing, directing and producing The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It has been an exhausting journey, not unlike that of our fictional protagonists, Frodo and Sam; there has not been much sleep, no time for a normal life and there were days when we all wondered if we would make it to the end.

Two years of pre-production were followed by two hundred and seventy four days of principal production, which in turn have been followed by three years of post-production. Each stage of the process of making these films has presented unique challenges; I remember asking myself, whenever things got particularly hard, would I rather be doing something other than making The Lord of the Rings?

And the answer was always no.

This is because I have been lucky enough to work with some of the most talented cast and crew any filmmaker could wish for, anywhere in the world. Through the long years of production it was apparent that we all had one thing in common: a great and enduring love of the books, which in turn, resulted in an unfailing commitment to do our best work on these films. I will always be grateful to New Line Cinema for giving me the opportunity to bring my version of The Lord of the Rings to the screen.

Professor Tolkien once observed that "the Pot of Soup, the Cauldron of Story, has always been boiling, and to it have continually been added new bits, dainty and undainty."

I am happy to let these films go off into the world and for them to become whatever this generation, or future generations, make of them. Whether my contribution is ultimately judged 'dainty or undainty,' it has now been made.

The trilogy is truly out of my hands now and in the hands of those for whom these films were made; the people who love these books and who have always loved film.
--Peter Jackson


“In addition to the huge battles, you have these intimate stories, the emotional story, and that’s where most of the power of The Return of the King really lies.” - Producer/Director/Co-writer Peter Jackson.

The Fellowship’s journey is coming to an end.

Sauron’s forces have attacked Gondor’s capital of Minas Tirith in his final siege against mankind. Watched over by a fading steward, the once great kingdom has never been in more desperate need of its king. But will Aragorn find the strength to become what he was born to be and rise to meet his destiny?

As Gandalf desperately tries to move the broken forces of Gondor to act, Théoden unites the warriors of Rohan to join in the fight. Even in their courage and passionate loyalty, the forces of men - with éowyn and Merry hidden among them - are no match against the swarming legions of enemies raining down on the kingdom.

With each victory comes great sacrifice. Despite their great losses, The Fellowship charges forward in the greatest battle of their lifetime, united in their singular goal to keep Sauron distracted and give Frodo a chance to complete his quest.

Traveling across treacherous enemy lands, Frodo must rely increasingly on Sam and Gollum as The Ring continues to test his allegiance and, ultimately, his humanity.

New Line Cinema presents The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the conclusion of the compelling journeys at the heart of J.R.R. Tolkien’s revered trilogy. Produced, co-written and directed by Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King tells the story of an epic heroic quest of men, their relationships and rivalries, and reveals how through courage, commitment, and determination even the smallest of us can change the world.
It is the juxtaposing of the intimate against the immense and the emotional resonance of the journey’s end that connect Tolkien’s classic novel to our hearts and give it such enduring power. It is also what makes this final installment of Peter Jackson’s epic motion picture trilogy a landmark cinematic achievement.

With the release of The Return of the King, Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne, co-chairmen and co-chief-executive-officers of New Line Cinema and executive producers of the film, reflect back on the immensity of Peter Jackson’s achievement. “Michael and I had made a leap of faith on some levels,” Shaye comments. “Films were not made this way - with three installments shot back-to-back. But we had a lot of faith in Peter’s commitment, and our faith was ultimately rewarded. We rolled the dice and it came up sevens. Peter has made three extraordinary motion pictures.”

A company that made its name on innovation and risk-taking, New Line took a gamble on Jackson’s vision for Tolkien’s mammoth book. “We were confident enough in Peter and the timelessness of Tolkien’s story to know that audiences would want to see these films,” Michael Lynne adds. “So, in many ways, it was a risk, but one well worth taking.”

Though Shaye and Lynne knew Jackson would deliver an epic on an unprecedented scale, the real surprise of the trilogy emerged in the emotional gravity Jackson and his ensemble cast would bring to the trilogy. “The cast of The Lord of the Rings have, in some cases, delivered the performances of their careers,” says Shaye and Lynne. “The mutual trust and respect shared by Jackson and his cast bears out the promise that he is very much an actor’s director. The action is spectacular, but the performances contained in these films are truly breathtaking.”

New Line Cinema Presents A Wingnut Films Production, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, starring (in alphabetical order) Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Bernard Hill, Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, John Noble, Miranda Otto, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler, Karl Urban, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, and Elijah Wood.
UK casting is by John Hubbard and Amy MacLean, with U.S. casting by Victoria Burrows. New Zealand casting is by Liz Mullane and Australian casting is by Ann Robinson. The costume designers are Ngila Dickson and Richard Taylor. Special make-up, creatures, armour, miniature and miniatures are by Weta Workshop’s Richard Taylor, while digital visual effects are designed and created by Weta Digital. Jim Rygiel is the visual effects supervisor. Music is orchestrated and composed by Howard Shore, featuring “Into the West,” performed by Annie Lennox. Jamie Selkirk is the film editor. Grant Major is the production designer. Andrew Lesnie, A.C.S. is the director of photography. The film is co-produced by Rick Porras and Jamie Selkirk. Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne are the executive producers, along with Mark Ordesky. Produced by Barrie M. Osborne, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is based on the book by J. R. R. Tolkien, with a screenplay by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson. The film is directed by Peter Jackson. www.lordoftherings.net or America Online Keyword: Lord of the Rings

© MMIII New Line Productions, Inc. The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, and the names of the characters, events, items and places therein are trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Tolkien Enterprises under license to New Line Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


“You have a massive war on an external level, and on an internal level you have two little Hobbits, Frodo and Sam, on their hands and knees literally crawling up a mountain. The relationship between those two characters is the heart of the movie.”
-- Peter Jackson.

More than any other installment in The Lord of the Rings saga, The Return of the King illuminates the enduring themes at the heart of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel. “All of the storylines we have followed, the journeys that these characters are taking -- what they care about, what they’ve been fighting for, even what some of their friends have died for -- lead to this film,” comments Peter Jackson. “None of these characters is going to come out of this story unchanged. They’ll never be the same again. The Return of the King is the most emotional of the three films.”

Though the stage is vast in scale, the true heart of The Return of the King is in the dramatic struggles of each character introduced in the epic trilogy. “There is an emotional resolution to each and every character whom we've grown to know and love throughout the telling of these stories,” comments producer Barrie M. Osborne. “Will they succeed or will it end in tragedy? I think it will bring people to tears and joy both.”


The title, The Return of the King, refers to Aragorn, played by Viggo Mortensen. The heir to the Kingdom of Gondor, Aragorn has hidden from his heritage, living out his life instead disguised as Strider, one of the mysterious Rangers - wanderers who perform discreet military operations against Sauron. Yet the throne of Gondor is empty. The Kingdom is in decline. As Sauron threatens to eradicate all the races of Middle-earth, the moment has come for him to step forward and face his urgent destiny to lead. “How do you assume the mantle of a king?” Jackson asks. “How do you take that on yourself? How do you say ‘I am the one that you must follow’? I think that is what he’s struggling with, because he has seen what power can do.”
Ambivalent about his lineage and the ancestors who fell in disgrace through their quest for power, Aragorn struggles with personal doubts that he is truly the one. “He is the heir to the throne; he is the sole person capable of assuming this position in Minas Tirith, but he is unsure of his worthiness to lead mankind,” comments Jackson. “Aragorn needs to believe in the nobility of his own people.”

Mortensen identifies Aragorn with the image of the prodigal leader whose true nature is initially hidden, “from his companions and, for a while, from the world at large,” he explains. “A person such as Aragorn, much like King Arthur or Moses, for example, is raised by non-blood relatives, hidden until he is ready to learn of his true identity and the great responsibility that is his birthright. Aragorn, who was brought up by the Elves in Rivendell and tutored by Elrond, must eventually fulfill a destiny that requires him to understand the complex and tragic history of Middle-earth, and to ensure a future born of hope and justice for all beings of that world.”

Yet to Aragorn, the throne represents the very quest for power that tempted and ultimately destroyed his ancestors. Power would alter everything that makes him who he is. What Aragorn finds in his journey is that the call to lead is not for power at all. “What's at stake is a city which is falling to an enemy,” explains co-screenwriter Philippa Boyens. “Many people will die as a result. Aragorn decides that if it is in him, and it is going to save people's lives, he will do it. He steps up to the mark. His motives are pure, which is one of the reasons he's not corrupted by The Ring. Because it's not power for power's sake.”

With Sauron’s forces also comes recognition that death is encroaching with the irrevocable passage of time. Aragorn’s journey requires a confrontation with the very souls that betrayed his ancestors in the treacherous Paths of the Dead. It’s a road from which he may not return, yet he enters it without hesitation to stave off not only mass death but the intractable destruction of those he loves. “For me, the story is about confrontation with death, about the consequences of death for us and for those we love,” Mortensen reflects. “That’s a significant reason why the story continues to resonate with modern audiences.”

Gandalf (Ian McKellen), who sets The Fellowship’s quest in motion - and sends Frodo into Mordor - must confront the repercussions of his own role in the quest. No longer a benevolent outsider, Gandalf, too, actively joins the fight on the side he believes must triumph. “In a way, Gandalf is a general in this war,” comments Boyens. “He initiated this and caused it to happen, and he must bear the responsibility for that. It was an awesome gamble. That is power wielded in another way and it bears a different, but equally profound cost.”


Frodo is The Ringbearer, the one who has been entrusted with the pivotal quest -- to carry The Ring to Mount Doom, the only place where it can be unmade. Yet The Ring around Frodo’s neck becomes heavier with each step, eroding him the longer he wears it until nearly robbing him of his very essence. “Essentially, you see his complete deterioration to the point that Frodo ceases to be Frodo anymore,” comments Elijah Wood.

Yet his proximity to Gollum reveals not only what The Ring has done, but what it will do to him. “Frodo has a true understanding now of what The Ring is,” says Boyens. “He understands the nature of what it is that he carries, and that it will try to destroy him. The Ring's weapons are things like despair. But he also has this understanding from Sam that they have to keep going forward, no matter what. They have no choice but to persevere.”
The most enlightened beings in Middle-earth - such as Gandalf and Galadriel - are conscious of the ubiquity of good and evil - in neighbors, strangers, adversaries, and, most importantly, themselves. They are reluctant to even touch The Ring. The totem and its connection to power warped Gollum and is working its influence on Frodo. “Gollum is the dark side of humanity,” says Andy Serkis, who portrays him in the films. “But I tried to look at him in a nonjudgmental way - not as a sniveling, evil wretch, but from the point of view of, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ We can choose to demonize anyone with uncontrollable obsessions, but if we don’t seek to understand them, then we can never hope to grow as human beings.”

Frodo’s constant companion throughout the quest is Sam. “Frodo and Sam are affected in different ways, and yet the two of them have to be together to see this through,” comments Jackson. “Frodo is The Ringbearer. He is the only one that can carry this Ring, yet every footstep that he takes closer to Mordor, closer to Mount Doom, becomes harder and harder for him.”

Sam never abandons Frodo, even as The Ring drives a rift between them. The presence of his old friend presents an alternate reminder of his home in Hobbiton, and what he was before The Ring came into his life. Putting their friendship and Frodo’s well being above even his own life, Sam’s loyalty and determination alter the balance of power in subtle but powerful ways. “There’s a wonderful line that Tolkien wrote about Sam and it is, ‘His will was set and only death would break it,’” comments Jackson. ”I think we’ve moved most of our characters to that point.”


Éowyn (Miranda Otto) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) are left behind at the Rohan outpost of Dunharrow - Éowyn, because she is female, and Merry, because he is a Hobbit. “Éowyn is very dissatisfied with her role as a female in the land of Rohan,” comments Jackson. “She has a warrior spirit. She wants to defend her people. She wants to defend her uncle, who is the king, about whom she is fiercely passionate. So, we see her in a rather devious way sneak off to battle; and, of course, she must confront the true horrors of battle once she’s in the thick of it.”

Éowyn’s kindred spirit and companion into battle is Merry, who is likewise transformed by this war. “To see war from his eyes is just horrific,” comments Monaghan. “To see Merry in that situation, covered in blood, sweat and tears, and living the terrible reality of war is really traumatic. But in Merry’s heart he has every bit as much of a right to be there as anyone else. He’s fighting for the same things they are - to save his friends and to save his world.”
At a crucial moment in the battle, their unexpected courage and fierce loyalty help turn the tide against their enemies.


"In film three, a huge part is the conflict between fathers and sons,” comments Boyens. “Just as Gollum's schizophrenia is buried in the story and you have to dig it out, you have this story of fathers and sons."

In The Lord of the Rings, the actions of every father come back to rest at the feet of his son. Likewise, sons or daughters are often put into direct opposition with their parental figures. Éowyn’s surrogate father, Théoden, forbids her from going to war. Yet she ultimately plays a critical role in his army. And Théoden himself is haunted by his own son’s death while Théoden was under Wormtongue’s poisonous influence.

In his love for Arwen and desire for her to stay with him, Aragorn is in direct opposition to the will of his surrogate father, Elrond, who raised him. This conflict comes to bear in Aragorn’s fated decision to ride to the Paths of the Dead, for it is Elrond who must reforge the Sword of Kings (Narsil) and essentially give Aragorn his blessing to use it. And Gandalf, who is very plainly a father figure to entire Fellowship, sends his vulnerable "son," Frodo, on the most brutal and unforgiving mission -- to destroy The Ring in Mount Doom -- yet cannot come to his side when Frodo direly needs him.

But perhaps the most prominent and heart-wrenching relationship is that of Denethor (John Noble) and his sons, Boromir (Sean Bean) and Faramir (David Wenham).

Denethor, who is charged with watching over Gondor in absence of its King, is despondent over the death of his favorite son, Boromir, and believes that Faramir, his only surviving son, has failed him by not taking The Ring for Gondor when he had the chance. “Boromir was Denethor’s favorite in the sense that he was a mirror of his father,” says Noble. “He was a strong warrior and a born leader; whereas Faramir was more introspective and academic perhaps in the image of Gandalf. The death of Boromir was unbearable for Denethor. It was as if he’d been killed himself.”

In guilt or perhaps madness, Denethor sends Faramir into a fight he can’t win - to lead troops into battle against the Orcs in the fallen city of Osgiliath. And Faramir willingly goes. “Faramir is very straightforward and not political at all,” comments Wenham. “His father distrusts him, in a way. He has put Faramir in the excruciating position of doing something that doesn't come naturally to him. He’s being forced to lead an enormous group of men into very difficult and harsh circumstances. Yet Faramir loves and trusts his father, and essentially rides to his death in obeisance to win his father’s approval. He realizes there’s no hope in going back into Osgiliath, but he would gladly give his life for the future of Gondor, and for Middle-earth.”

“It's a waste, a foolish act,” comments Boyens. “Yet the act itself is enormously heroic. It is being driven by pain and suffering of this young soldier who is trying to gain a father's love. Gandalf says to him, ‘Your father does love you, and he's going to remember it before the end. So don't throw your life away.’ Within the context of war, futility often springs from very personal causes that people play out with other people's lives.”


The two kingdoms of Rohan and Gondor have spent a lifetime in uneasy co-existence. Yet as both fall under siege, combining their resources and power becomes their only option for survival.
As Rohan and Gondor ultimately join together against their common, and overwhelming, enemy, so does an unlikely trust spring out of the hardships experienced by Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), a Dwarf, and Legolas (Orlando Bloom), an Elf. Though they set out on the quest in opposition, as they rely increasingly on each other for both survival and companionship, they form a bond that transcends race and prejudice. “At our best, we, like the Fellowship, realize individually and collectively that peaceful co-existence can be achieved only through vigilance and conscious compassion,” says Viggo Mortensen. “Compassion for oneself and others, especially for those determined to do us harm. An effort to identify with others leads to an understanding that there is no absolute difference between us.”
“To me, the characters in this film exemplify the positive aspects of life,” reflects director of photography Andrew Lesnie. “It’s not necessarily promoting one particular ideology, religion or philosophy, but saying that you accept that there are differences in the world and you are prepared to embrace those differences. If enough people manage to approach the world in a positive, loving way, you may actually change the nature of the human race on a regular basis. And this story is an example of a group of people who triumph by following that aim.”


The presence of hope may level the playing field between Sauron’s massive forces and the coalition united against him. Yet even Gandalf recognizes that this monumental quest on the shoulders of a small Hobbit carries little more than a “fool’s hope” of success.
In times of war, a tremendous price is paid for every victory. But as long as hope lives, the chance for good to prevail will continue to exist. Though Aragorn grapples with his own confidence in the worthiness of mankind, Arwen (Liv Tyler) maintains unshakeable faith in the future of the world, sacrificing her own immortality to support Aragorn in his quest. “Tolkien was passionate about the goodness that can reside in men,” Boyens comments. “This notion is embodied perhaps most strongly in Arwen, who never gives up hope that mankind has a future.”

What drives the characters forward is not an urge to prove themselves worthy. They are interdependent, fighting, as Boyens explains, for each other. “Their faith is being put to the test,” she adds. “Their faith in each other, in good, in the ties that bind.”
In crafting the screenplay, writers Boyens, Jackson and Fran Walsh were constantly reminded of these universal touchstones to the human experience. “These are themes that are very close to what we live every day,” Boyens explains. “How do you feel about the people you love? What comes next after this life? How do you say goodbye? All of those emotional threads are very powerfully written by Professor Tolkien in the story. The eternal nature of the struggle of good versus evil is portrayed in little silver threads that run through the story, like Sam who, as Frodo sleeps, looks up into the thick industrial skies over Mordor and sees a star.”

“It is the humanity of the characters that rewards the reader,” says producer/co-writer Fran Walsh. “And we hope we’ve been able to translate that for the film audience.”

“These are extraordinary times that Gandalf and the rest are living through, and extraordinary demands are being made on people’s spirit,” Ian McKellen adds. “All the characters can be seen in that way whether they have magical powers or not. They are reflecting back on our experience of being human. For everyone is being measured. Can they survive? Can they live up to their responsibilities?”


Though written a half-century ago, The Lord of the Rings remains relevant while history churns on. Many readers, particularly during times of darkness in the world, believe that Tolkien was commenting on wars and militaristic behavior in his mammoth book. “I can’t be the only one of my generation that was born in 1939 to think that here was some sort of parable of the real world politically and militarily that Tolkien was living in,” McKellen says. “Tolkien had himself served in the First World War and wrote The Lord of the Rings during the Second World War while his son was fighting in northern France. I don’t think there are any Saurons around today but in 1939, there was one. Sitting in the middle of Europe. A spider who wanted to control it, and the world joined together in a mighty coalition to defeat him.”

Christopher Lee, who plays Saruman, adds that men of genius, intellect and power who take the dark path - like Saruman -- will always require their opposite to take them on. “Tolkien places Gandalf in opposition to Saruman - two sides of the same coin,” says the actor. “Here you have the universal conflict between good and evil, and the powers behind those two elements. That will have a relevance for every audience, everywhere, because we all know, or have heard of, such people and conflicts in our world.”

“I think The Lord of the Rings will live forever because it’s truthful,” adds executive producer Mark Ordesky. “And because the issues it deals with will be pertinent forever. It doesn't matter what generation and what age is experiencing it. The story will always have something relevant to say to that audience.”

Over the centuries, clearly human archetypes appear and recur throughout Greek, Roman and Norse mythologies, from Eastern and Judeo-Christian ideologies to the works of William Shakespeare. The human truth contained in these experiences is what makes them universal, not the time or place. “Myth - just like religion - is dead unless you keep reinvigorating and reapplying it,” says Viggo Mortensen. “I think that what Tolkien did with some of the elements from the sagas and Celtic legends that I know and love was to forge something new, reinvent a lot of these archetypal stories and characters for his generation. Now, Peter Jackson is doing that for ours.”
Against the vast, sprawling canvas of war is an intensely human story. “It was about inner courage and about close friendships and about the possibility of wisdom somewhere in the world, by defeating the forces of stupidity and evil,” reflects McKellen. “I think the story goes on being relevant not necessarily because of its subject matter but simply because of the brilliance by which it is told, and Peter Jackson’s film is also the work of a brilliant storyteller. That’s why these films are as popular as the books have been and continue to be.”

“Like Tolkien, Peter is taking us on a journey that is as big as our own history,” adds Weta Workshop’s Richard Taylor. “It is an historical document to some degree. But in all history, there are intimate and heartbreaking stories. Love, hate, viciousness and jealousy fuel the world and ultimately create the history that has come from the writings of Tolkien. And Peter, in turn, has filmed these characters and these moments that give the story the intimacy that it so deserves.”

Each individual journey taken by the characters of The Return of the King, the losses they suffer, the sacrifices they make, continue to resonate in today’s world. “There is not an easy or permanent answer to the troubles of today or tomorrow,” says Mortensen. “A sword is a sword, nothing more. Hope, compassion and wisdom borne of experience are, for Middle-earth as for our world, the mightiest weapons at hand.”


“If you want to know where the third film is going, just wait and see where Elijah goes. And what happens to poor Mr. Frodo.”
-Sean Astin (Frodo)

In the final moments of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the Battle of Helm’s Deep has ended, but the battle for Middle-earth has just begun. “Helm’s Deep was just a skirmish,” says Peter Jackson. “This is the real battle. It’s the battle where the future is decided. Is Sauron going to prevail? Is mankind to prevail?”
The Fellowship remains divided, with Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) united with Théoden (Bernard Hill) in Rohan, while Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) witness the destruction of Saruman’s Tower of Isengard at the hands of the Ents. Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) continue to edge closer to Mount Doom, with Gollum (Andy Serkis) leading them towards an uncertain fate.
Hope Comes to Gondor

As The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King begins, Pippin’s (Billy Boyd) curiosity places his hands on the Palantir at Isengard, a device that links him to Sauron’s eye, convincing the Dark Lord that Pippin is The Ringbearer. “After Pippin takes the Palintir, Gandalf realizes Pippin is in grave danger and decides that the only safe place they can go to is Minis Tirith,” says Billy Boyd. “So, Pippin finds himself in another country and a new adventure.”
It is the first time that Merry and Pippin have been separated since their journey began. “They are two friends who operate almost as one,” comments Philippa Boyens. “But even when ripped apart, they stay true to each other, because of what they've learned from each other, which is one of the gifts of friendship.”

Entering the White City, Gandalf and Pippin ride Shadowfax hundreds of steps upward to the seventh level, a thousand feet above the ground. In the Court of Kings, the once White Tree of Gondor, a symbol of its rule and the emblem on its flag, has withered. Since the disgrace of Aragorn’s ancestors, Minas Tirith has fallen into decline and is now under the care of Denethor (John Noble). “The leadership of Gondor is in the hands of the Stewards who are supposed to be the caretakers of the throne,” comments Jackson. “Denethor, who is actually the father of Boromir and Faramir, is the current Steward. And John Noble plays him notably well. He’s a man under immense pressure because Mordor has now grown strong again and is mounting its final offensive against Gondor.”

Denethor himself has lost faith that humanity will prevail. “Denethor is a great tragic character in the mold of King Lear,” says Noble. “He knows he is simply caretaking until the return of the rightful King. His nobility and sanity are challenged by his fear of, and lust for, The One Ring; the impending return of Aragorn; the death of Boromir; and finally, the wounding of Faramir. And eventually, his depression and paranoia lead to horrific consequences.”

Loss and Mortality in Rohan and Rivendell

Across the plains at Edoras, the Rohan capital, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) offers himself into the service of King Théoden (Bernard Hill) in the coming war, joined by his compatriots Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom).

For Arwen, across Middle-earth in Rivendell, the choice to live as a mortal with Aragorn instead of living in immortality with her family, was one she has already made. “Arwen maintains hope and faith in her future with Aragorn,” says Liv Tyler. “She would rather die hoping than live forever without the man she loves. And even as the darkness around her grows, she holds on to that hope.”

“Her ability to survive in this world is slowly starting to diminish,” describes Jackson. “She is getting weaker and weaker. It really becomes a race against time as to whether Aragorn and Frodo will triumph against Sauron before she succumbs to this darkness, this weakness which is set upon her.”

For her father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), her choice to stay is like a death sentence. “He has to accept the consequences of what may mean her ultimate demise,” comments Hugo Weaving. “Aragorn is a human being and his daughter is an Elf. If she stays with him, she will ultimately be living without him because Aragorn will die.”
Elrond cannot stay neutral. He forges Andúril, made from the shards of his ancestor Isildur’s ancient sword, Narsil, which was used to cut The Ring from the Dark Lord’s hand. “The shards of Narsil have been in Rivendell for thousands of years,” explains Weaving. “Aragorn needs to have that sword in order to fight Sauron. As Aragorn’s adoptive father, Elrond acts as a catalyst to spur Aragorn into taking up the sword.”

Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in the Paths of the Dead

Emboldened, Aragorn believes he must ride through the Paths of the Dead in the White Mountains above Dunharrow, a route no man has ever taken and lived. “There are beings trapped between this world and the next who had sworn allegiance to Isildur a long time ago but were corrupted by Sauron,” explains Mortensen. “At a moment of great need for Gondor, they betrayed not only Isildur but also the great alliance of Men and Elves, the forces of good, that were fighting against Sauron. After the fight was over they were condemned to live as ghosts in this place until summoned by an heir of Isildur.”
As the rightful heir to the throne, Aragorn is the only one capable of releasing the spirits from their living death, to regain their honor by fighting alongside him in Minas Tirith. But he must overcome his plague of self-doubt to even enter their realm. “If you’re not focused or your motives aren’t pure then you will fail, even if you are descended from a line of Kings,” Mortensen explains. “It’s a choice that Aragorn makes that isn’t popular with anyone. There are many who feel that he is betraying them. No one has ever ridden into these mountains and lived. It’s especially difficult because he is one of their best fighters, and they have never needed fighters more than now.”

Éowyn (Miranda Otto), Théoden’s strong-willed niece, has complex reasons for wanting Aragorn to remain with the Rohirrim. “She can’t believe that he would go because it’s almost suicidal,” says Otto. “Why not stay and fight with them? It represents the loss of hope for the Rohan people. She really believes that Aragorn is the man to lead them to victory. I also think she’s still holding on to hope that perhaps there will be something between them because she is in love with him. When Aragorn leaves, Eowyn loses so many things; it’s complete despair, really.”

Gimli and Legolas insist on joining Aragorn on his quest. No matter what comes, they will not leave his side. “Gimli always had respect and an affection for Aragorn,” comments John Rhys-Davies. “This has now turned into recognition and reverence that he is King, that he is a great leader who can unite the people at this moment of great need for a leader.”

The three disparate warriors - Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli - have become like brothers. “They have gone from paranoia and suspicion to, by the end, the deepest camaraderie that you can get,” Rhys-Davies continues. “I think by the end, it’s pretty clear that they would happily sacrifice themselves for the others. They have gone through the furnace, and they have not broken.”


Théoden and the Riders of the Riddermark head toward Minas Tirith. Though the Rohirrim need every soldier, they insist on leaving both Eowyn and Merry (Dominic Monaghan), who has been named a Squire of Rohan, behind. Though Eowyn is a skilled warrior, she is restrained from fighting alongside her brother Eomer (Karl Urban) simply because she is a woman.

Eowyn doesn’t want to be left behind,” Miranda Otto notes. “She feels an affinity with Merry, in that Théoden bestows on him a uniform and calls him a squire but has absolutely no intention of letting him be in the front line. Like her, he’s being told that he can’t fight for what he loves. He’s worried about his friends and he has come this far on the journey with The Fellowship, why should he be left behind now?”

Disguised as a man, Eowyn takes Merry along with her. “You don’t really see war through the eyes of a Hobbit too much in the movie, but Merry becomes a warrior,” says Dominic Monaghan. “He finds himself with an army that he then has to go into battle with.”
They are headed for a fight that will eclipse the Battle of Helm’s Deep in both ferocity and personal losses, the Battle of Pelennor Fields, outside the once great capital city of Gondor, Minas Tirith. “Peter had this very strong instinct that what we needed to do with Pelennor Fields, besides showing it from a Hobbit's point of view, was to push it to a point of despair,” comments Philippa Boyens. “The Riders of Rohan are summoned to the aid of Gondor, and Merry is right in the thick of that, as is Eowyn, as is Éomer, as is Théoden.”

“In a sense, we are the Hobbits,” comments Jackson. “They represent the innocent person who has no experience of war, no experience of conflict, who suddenly finds himself in the middle of it all.” himself in the middle of it all.”

Courage and Honor at Pelennor Fields

Gandalf is orchestrating the defense of Minas Tirith. “Sauron is on the offensive and is coming out to meet the forces of Middle-earth who oppose him - an extraordinary coalition led by Aragorn and Théoden, King of Rohan, and Gandalf,” describes Ian McKellen.

Gandalf commands that the defenders fire their massive catapults out at the marauding Orcs. Gondorian archers rain arrows down upon the enemy from all seven levels of Minas Tirith’s battlements. But nothing, not even the Great Gate of Gondor, can withstand their massive battering ram, Grond. Orcs spill into the first circle of the city. “There is only a certain amount of time that the city is going to be able to hold out,” says Jackson. “The enemy’s massive battering rams are able to breach the city, which is built in seven tiers, and the defenders have to retreat layer by layer.”

The captain of the Nazgûl, a specter called the Witch-king, makes his way into the city to confront Gandalf. Yet as his sinister Fell Beast looms over Gandalf, from a distance comes the sound of war-horns: Rohan has arrived. “The Rohirrim are the cavalry, essentially,” says Bernard Hill. “That kind of chivalry, that kind of honor, that kind of horsemanship. They go to Minas Tirith to add what they can to the fight.”

The Battle at Pelennor Fields is what The Fellowship initially set out for Rohan to ensure - that the two divided kingdoms of Rohan and Gondor would unite in this desperate moment. “Gandalf is fighting a very difficult battle,” Jackson describes. “He is underpowered. He doesn’t have enough men. He doesn’t have the means to defend the city. And then the Rohirrim appear, and for a brief moment they turn the tide.”

Though vastly outnumbered by Orcs, Théoden and his forces - Eowyn and Merry among them -- charge. Joining the Orcs are a race known as the Haradrim, who ride massive elephant-like Mûmakil. Hope is waning despite Gandalf’s strategic leadership.

“Minas Tirith is a decisive battle that has to be won,” comments Ian McKellen. “This is a siege that has to be lifted. It is crucial to the survival of everybody involved that they don’t go under. It’s a very worrying moment indeed. This could be the end of Middle-earth.”
As the enemy forces begin to overtake even the Rohirrim, Eowyn and Merry seize the moment to avenge their losses and do what they can for their friends.

But while Orcs clash with Men, the most important element in Gandalf’s strategy is making its way toward Mount Doom. “All the massing armies, Aragorn, Gandalf’s brilliant strategy, everything that happens is solely about, ‘Can we buy Frodo a chance?’” says executive producer Mark Ordesky.

A Fool’s Hope: Frodo, Sam and Gollum in Mordor

Frodo must contend with the increasing weight and influence of The Ring, and an attack by the giant spider, Shelob. So much must be overcome by Frodo and Sam, yet their journey is far from complete - the monumental task of destroying The Ring lies ahead - yet Frodo is beginning to fade. “Frodo is becoming much more influenced by The Ring than we’ve seen him yet,” says Wood. “He can’t think for himself. He’s confused by the influence of The Ring. He can’t remember the Shire. He is essentially losing all the characteristics that make him who he is. It almost strips him of his soul to a certain degree.”

Barely capable of walking, hardly able to see, Frodo must rely increasingly on Sam to help him realize his task. “It gets to the point where Frodo can’t physically walk on his own and Sam must carry him,” says Wood. “In a lot of ways, Sam is a true hero, because he is the one that is actually able to hold it all together and take his friend, who is unable to see what is right and what is wrong, and almost drive him to do what he must do. As much as Frodo is the hero, it is Sam that maintains his own strength and clarity to allow Frodo to carry out the task.”

“What gives him comfort from Sam is his everyday strength and ordinariness, in a way,” adds Philippa Boyens. “For someone who has begun to be overtaken by an extraordinary evil, and who is battling this thing every day, Sam becomes Frodo's touchstone to reality, to normalcy, to decency, to goodness. And that's something that he cherishes.”

Like his fellow Hobbits, Sam also reveals hidden strengths in the final chapter of the story. “Sam is so much the sidekick who relentlessly remains there for Frodo,” comments executive producer Ordesky. “He is always the one the jokes are about; he is thought to be the fat one and the not-quite-so-smart one. Yet the extraordinary character of Sam comes into his own in The Return of the King.

“He starts out as really Frodo's sidekick, a jovial guy that is also an extremely loyal friend,” adds producer Osborne. “And by the end, he becomes the rock. He is the person that Frodo can rely on. He drives him forward on their mission, and this humble friend actually takes on heroic proportions.”

End Game: FRODO’s TEST AND The Return of the King

Wearing the armor of his forebears, with the White Tree of Gondor on his chest and bearing the Sword of Kings, Aragorn leads the remainder of his men to the west toward what must surely be their deaths. They face unlikely odds, yet hope still remains. “There is a realization amongst all our characters that the best way to help Frodo -- since they can’t physically be with him, they can’t take the journey to Mount Doom with him - is to provide a diversion,” says Jackson. “Sauron and his forces are searching for them. He knows something is afoot. And it’s up to everybody else to take Sauron’s eye away from his own land long enough to enable Frodo and Sam’s journey to be fulfilled during the last difficult stretches.”
Thousands of feet above them lies the volcanic peak of Mount Doom, and the lava-filled pit in which Sauron first forged The Ring. It’s the only place in the world where it can be unmade. Yet as Frodo and Sam make their painful way up the mountain, a third creature follows along, increasingly desperate for his “precious” … Gollum.

It will require immense strength of will for Frodo to carry his great quest through to the end. Yet always there with him is Sam. “They stand together against all odds,” comments Wood. “Although they are only little people who would never normally be given such a responsibility, the fact that they reach the top of the mountain is a reminder, perhaps, that any of us can do anything if we only put our mind to it.”

But at what cost will good win, asks Jackson. “Who will have to suffer, what will be lost, what kind of pain will have to be endured by the characters that people have grown to love?”

“There are great victories, but there are losses as well,” says Mortensen. “Everyone will have suffered, some will not have survived. There’s a price to every choice that is made by each character.”

“Everybody that we know in some form or another comes out of it differently,” says Jackson. “It is an immensely affecting experience for them, and I hope for the audience as well.”


“The people who have watched the first two movies have stuck with us, and everyone is waiting now to get to the last one, including us, the filmmakers.” -- Peter Jackson

From the earliest development through the release of the first and second films in the trilogy, and the continuing production of the final film, producer/director/co-writer/ Peter Jackson has poured his heart into every aspect of making The Lord of the Rings a reality. “It was like an immense jigsaw puzzle that we had to somehow fit together and end up with something that felt like it was worthy of the title The Lord of the Rings, and yet still worked as a movie,” Jackson comments.

Richard Taylor compares the journey of the filmmakers with that of the characters in the story. “In some ways, this large group of people that helped Peter bring Middle-earth to life in the form of these films have been on their own journey, leaving the Shire innocent in some ways, a little cautious, not quite sure of what was out beyond the edge-but journeying on with faith in each other, and really climbing to the peaks and through the deepest valleys.”


His favorite book in Tolkien’s 1,000-page epic, Jackson calls The Return of the King the most filmable of the three. “It’s the culmination of everything that we’ve set up,” says Jackson. “All the different stories lead to this film. This is really, in a sense, climactic from beginning to end.”

For over a half-century, J.R.R. Tolkien’s works have continued to have a profound effect on generations of readers. Revived and re-appreciated throughout the decades, the books have garnered new life since the release of the first film, vaulting back onto bestseller lists and driving a new generation of young readers to bookstores and libraries. With Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship comes a message that even the smallest person can change the course of the world, and the revelation that friendship and individual courage may hold at bay even the most devastating forces of darkness.

Five years ago, Jackson and his co-writers Frances Walsh and Philippa Boyens set pen to paper for the first time in their attempt to adapt a sprawling work of imaginative fiction into a film narrative structure. For the writers, the visual spectacle of the third film never eclipsed the need to focus most intensely on the emotional resolution to each individual character’s quest. “We've tried to be faithful to the spirit of the end of the story,” comments Boyens. “The final passage of this incredible story is one of the gifts, I think, to all readers in literature.” “Nobody comes out of this story unchanged,” Jackson adds. “They’ll never be the same again.”

One of the most pivotal guiding forces behind The Lord of the Rings has been conceptual artist Alan Lee, who created the seminal illustrations of Middle-earth for Harper Collins’ award-winning illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings. Perhaps more than anyone in the production, Lee understood the challenges Jackson and his co-screenwriters would face in adapting Tolkien. “If you're not accustomed to the book, that form of storytelling and language could seem a little odd,” the conceptual designer notes. “But they have thrown themselves into this world. I think they have done quite courageous writing. They're putting poetry into an epic, spectacular movie.”

Breathing Life Into Middle-earth

Jackson made an early decision to bring Lee in to work with Oscar-nominated production designer Grant Major in creating a realistic, multi-faceted Middle-earth that would give the film an historic feel rather than a mythical one. Likewise, John Howe, who is regarded as one of the most successful Tolkien illustrators in the world, also joined the design team. Together, they formed the cornerstone for the visual harmony that would inform the design for all three films.
“Alan Lee and John Howe are the two people who have defined what Middle-earth looks like,” comments miniatures director of photography Alex Funke. “They’ve both devoted their lives to images of Middle-earth. There is no question that you can ask Alan Lee that he can’t answer. He knows; he’s been there. He’s a fantastic resource. Not only is he a brilliant artist, but he can draw something and then sketch how it has to be built and hand that to the construction department.”

Lee remained on set throughout production, giving input and often picking up a paintbrush to add an authentic finishing touch to a set. “There are some sets that I'd been drawing one day that would be in the process of being constructed the very next day,” Lee comments. “A few days later, they're finished. A couple of days later they were being filmed, and then dismantled. It was a very quick and exciting process.”

With so many practical and digitally created locations and characters to be realized, all three films were storyboarded before production began by artist Christian Rivers. These illustrations were ultimately assembled into an animatic pre-visualization of The Return of the King, which rigorously informed the work of every department - from the production design to cinematography to the groundbreaking physical and visual effects work performed by Weta Digital.
To realize the enormousness of Jackson’s vision for The Lord of the Rings, Jackson entrusted his frequent collaborators, Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger of New Zealand-based Weta Workshop. Taylor in turn immediately employed a crew of over 120 technicians divided into six crucial departments: Creatures, Special Effects, Make-up and Prosthetics, Armor and Weapons, Miniatures and Model Effects.
In their 65,000 square foot Weta Workshop, Taylor and his team created over 48,000 separate items - from prosthetic limbs to hand-forged swords; 2,000 stunt weapons; 1,600 pair of Hobbit feet; and 200 handcrafted Orc masks. Weta was also responsible for the design, manufacture and operation of the creature animatronics.

The crew numbered 148 at the height of production, with another 45 technicians on set dressing five hundred actors in Weta product, with over 200 background players in full body prosthetics.
Weta set up a foundry with two full-time armor smiths, Stu Johnson and Warren Green, to hand-beat and hand-make the armor from steel. From these original suits, molds were made and 48,000 separate pieces of armor were created for all of Tolkien’s Middle-earth civilizations, including Elves, Orcs, Uruk-hai, Rohirrim and Gondorians. A department of four full-time chain maille technicians assembled more than 12 million circular links to make up the “hero” chain maille suits (those photographed most closely) featured in the trilogy.

One thousand, six hundred pair of Hobbit feet were made to be used throughout production. The prosthetic feet took hours to apply to actors Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd. The swords that Weta Workshop created are all inscribed with messages in Tolkien-conceived languages.

Every prop item was created from scratch. The One Ring was made by Jens Hansen, a renowned jewelry designer whose studio is in the art community of Nelson, New Zealand. Though Hansen passed away prior to the start of principal photography, his son Thorkild Hansen took over during production.

A pivotal item in The Return of the King is The Flame of the West, the Andúril, the reforged sword of Aragorn’s forefathers. Designed by John Howe, the Andúril was hand-ground out of plate-spring steel, then inlaid with brass and acid etched by master sword smith Peter Lyon.

Weta Digital, a separate arm of Weta, also took on the challenge of creating the groundbreaking computer-generated creatures and effects for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Taylor and visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel received two Academy Awards® for their work on the first film and an additional Oscar for the groundbreaking effects in the second - most predominantly for creating the first completely performance-based digital character with Andy Serkis’s Gollum.
For The Return of the King, Weta Digital’s major challenges would come in the form of not only the giant spider, Shelob, but also Sauron’s armies and their creatures, such as the massive winged Fell Beasts, the Wargs and elephant-like Mûmakil, in addition to the continuing pivotal role of Gollum. The film also stages the colossal battle at Pelennor Fields, created through a complex fusion of live action, miniatures and Weta Digital’s proprietary Massive software, which gives each digital character a mind and will of its own.
Before a single 35mm frame was shot, Weta created the major structures and landscapes of Middle-earth entirely in miniature, through which Jackson maneuvered using a miniature "lipstick" camera, in order to conceptualize what would eventually be shot in live action on full-size sets. Once the sets were completed and shooting was to begin, it was as if he had already been there.

Cameras Roll on Live Sets, Miniatures and Motion Capture Stages
Jackson broke ground with his decision to shoot all three films at once, something that had never been undertaken in the history of filmmaking. The production requirements for such a project demanded the deployment of a logistical operation on par with an intricate and wide-reaching military campaign. An army of artists - including digital experts, medieval weapons designers, stone sculptors, linguists, costumers, make-up artists, blacksmiths and model builders - as well as a cast that ran the gamut from newcomers to internationally renowned veterans, and over 26,000 extras - converged in Wellington, New Zealand.

Each element of the live action sets had to be reflected in excruciating detail with the variety of miniatures and “bigatures” the miniature unit created to compliment it. Realism and a depth of detail from the largest constructions to the smallest designs were rigorously pursued. “From the very beginning, Peter said, ‘We have to feel this place exists,’” says co-producer Rick Porras. “That’s a pretty significant thing to say for a movie in which everything is created. Twenty thousand objects were created for this film, from glassware to wardrobe. Everything. The bar was set incredibly high. And I think one thing that got us through was the fact that we had such a wonderful art direction team. But at the center of all those spokes on the wheel was Peter.”

For a year and a half, Jackson and his devoted production team of over 2,400 filmed all over the spectacular landscapes of New Zealand.

Following the initial 276-day production, cast and crew reunited in Wellington, NZ, for supplementary shooting for The Return of the King, only this time, when they wrapped production, their journey was finally complete.


“In our visual journey, we’ve gone from the beautiful, rich greens of the Shire through the autumnal colors of the leaving of the Elves and the flaxen colors of the Riddermark. If we draw on what we believe are the analogies of Tolkien’s writings -- the coming of the industrial revolution, the sweeping aside of the beautiful countryside, and the pursuit of material wealth -- then our journey must ultimately conclude at Mordor, in the heavy, charcoal blacks of this industrial wasteland.”

Richard Taylor, Creature, Miniature, Armour, Special Make-Up Effects Supervisor

Production designer Grant Major oversaw the creation of life-sized sets for such varying locations as the haunting and grim Paths of the Dead, the fading but majestic Minas Tirith, the sprawling Pelennor Fields and the depths of Mordor. The mandate from the beginning was to breathe life into a totally real world with a depth of realism and functionality that would hold up under the closest scrutiny. “Tolkien describes the locations very vividly in the book,” comments Peter Jackson. “You can just imagine them in your mind’s eye, so finding them was almost like casting an actor.”

“Peter has continued through these three films to let Middle-earth be a character in its own right,” comments Taylor. “So, through the art of the film, through the visual effects, the physical effects, the art department, so much effort has been put into trying to create Middle-earth as a character. Audiences will hopefully understand why this small group of people would so vehemently and passionately fight to preserve what is good in the world of Middle-earth.”

To find the right locations, location scouts Dave Kolmer and Robert Murphy scoured New Zealand, taking photos and videos of possible sites. Once the choices were narrowed down, Jackson, along with director of photography Andrew Lesnie, first assistant director Carol Cunningham and a number of key crew set out on “wreckeys” (helicopter scouting trips) to find their locations. “We’d look at it from an artistic point of view, first of all,” Jackson describes. “Does this feel like it came from the pages of Tolkien’s book? Then, we looked at it from a logistical point of view. Where do we park the trucks? Where can we feed the crew? Sometimes there weren’t roads and we had to build them. But first and foremost, it had to look as it was described in the book.”

“I think the cast was inspired by these amazing locations,” comments director of photography Lesnie. “New Zealand, for its size, boasts a staggering range of very melodramatic locations. Many of them could have been recreated in the studio, but it would not have inspired the performances given by the actors.”

Minas Tirith

One of the most complex locations in The Return of the King is Minas Tirith, a seven-tiered city of kings where a huge portion of the film unfolds. “We were looking a little bit towards an equivalent for Ancient Rome or Ancient Byzantium,” comments Alan Lee. “It would be an extraordinary structure.”

Both Minas Tirith and the set for Helm’s Deep from The Two Towers were constructed at the Dry Creek Quarry, with its massive natural rock formations, just outside of Wellington. “The city of Minas Tirith is one of the things that I’ve been looking forward to in The Return of the King,” says Peter Jackson. “We created the city in two different ways. We built this huge set in a quarry. It was like a backlot. In all these nooks and crannies there were corners of it built. Then, we ripped it down and within a few weeks we built and shot the Helm’s Deep castle, and ripped it down and within a couple of weeks we built Minas Tirith.”

The city would reflect the Northern European-style sophistication of the Gondorians, who are a race of warriors but whose city would also reveal their sense of beauty and majesty. The architecture of Minas Tirith emerged from the drawings of Alan Lee. “Alan created a number of pencil sketches that began to develop the culture of Minas Tirith as well, not just the architecture, but to figure out how the different aristocracies and different segments of society would live,” says Richard Taylor.

It took production designer Grant Major’s construction crew of hundreds of people roughly six months to build. “Peter had so much he wanted to do in Minas Tirith,” comments art director Dan Hennah. “He wanted to see Faramir’s men marching down the streets on their way to certain death. He wanted the grandeur of that shot in the streets so you can have a hundred men with horses and a crowd for them to march through. And Gandalf gallops through the streets with Pippin in the saddle. To do that, you need some scale; you need some length to it. And then, when the extras turn up and line the streets, you’ve got a city. It’s real. And it’s a wonderful thing to be part of the creation of something real.”

Shelob’s Lair

For the lair itself, round and diamond-shaped chiseled rock were constructed from polystyrene to create interactive tunnels through which the actors and technicians could freely move. “The tunnels are real,” says Hennah. “We made lots of tunnels to run around in, cliffs to jump over and holes to dive through.”

John Howe initiated the concepts for the Lair, revealing the eroded rock that would house an ancient, venomous creature that would leave acid trails wherever she went. Dripping from the walls are intricate webs which the art department built out of F2 type glues set in water, which were then removed and applied to the walls to appear like the sticky spiders’ silk of Shelob’s web.

Mordor and Mount Doom

The major location of The Return of the King is the looming wasteland of Mordor, which Jackson and his team found in Mount Ruapehu, a “staggeringly amazing, graphic, violent landscape that is an incredibly difficult location to film, hard to access and subject to violent conditions,” describes director of photography Lesnie.
The epic journey of the Fellowship ends in Mordor, and the landscape had to pulse with the evil of Sauron. “We’ve got to feel this sense of dread and awe when we look across towards Mount Doom,” comments Alan Lee. “If we don't manage to capture that in the movie, we will have failed to a certain extent.”

A huge amount of symphonized elements went into the creation of Mordor - from CG elements to detailed miniatures of the Crack of Doom, at the mouth of an ancient volcano where The Ring of Power was forged. “We had shot lava tests for a couple of years on the miniature stage, trying to generate the element that will ultimately realize the conclusion of this film,” states Richard Taylor. “We wanted to generate the feeling that the world of Middle-earth is coming for The Ring; that the journey of Sam and Frodo, and ultimately Gollum, are drawing to an end on this precipice overhanging this huge cauldron of lava in the depths of Mount Doom.”
For the Black Gate, which Hennah describes as “the Berlin Wall times 500,” a full-size set was constructed on the soundstage to represent the highest point of the gate, to allow live shots of patrolling Orcs; and for Gandalf’s confrontation with the Mouth of Sauron, the base of the gate was also built into a full-size set. The totality of the Black Gate was filmed in miniature.

Though miniatures were created for the steps of Cirith Ungol and the entrance to Shelob’s lair, crucial scenes between Sam and Frodo required full-size sets. The sequence ultimately was created by weaving the two techniques.

The Paths of the Dead

At a pivotal moment in Aragorn’s quest, he makes the choice to go through the Paths of the Dead to awaken the disgraced soldiers entombed there. Realism was the guiding factor in creating these sets. “When you walk into a place and you can feel that its spiritual element is foreboding; that’s what we were trying to create in the Paths of the Dead,” comments Dan Hennah. “This is an area where you tread cautiously.”

Alan Lee’s concept for the Paths of the Dead envisioned huge rock structures that would spectrally shift and change into massive cities where the long undead soldiers live out their days. A large exterior set was built in Deerpark Heights, near Queenstown, with a huge black orb marking the entrance. The production team carved destroyed buildings, consisting of several stairs, doors, towers and domes, in the black polystyrene walls. For an avalanche sequence that takes place in the Paths set, Weta churned out thousands of synthetic human skulls.

The Miniature Liberation Army

As large and intricate as the live action sets were, the physical element represented only a fraction of what would appear in the final film after being married with miniature and digital elements.
Miniatures director of photography Alex Funke lovingly calls the film’s miniatures unit “The Miniature Liberation Army.” “We have a nice, compact little unit that rotates around 30 key people,” Funke describes. “Then, we bring in extra people or actual model makers, because the workload in the art department is always the one that fluctuates the most.”

Alan Lee also oversaw the work as his sketches became miniature sets that seemed to take on a life of their own. Guided by Funke, who won Oscars for his effects on Total Recall and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the unit filmed an unprecedented 64 miniature sets, some of the most complex ever rendered. Miniatures for The Return of the King include Sauron’s tower of Barad-dûr, the Dunharrow Plateau, the Black Gate, Cirith Ungol, Minas Morgul and the Crack of Doom, among others. Funke and his team - including miniature cinematographers Chuck Schuman and David Hardberger -- constantly consulted the book for reference.

The majority of miniatures were built on the stages at Stone Street Studios, sized to “somewhere between twelfth and fourteenth scale,” only a fraction of the size they are meant to represent. With every set being so massive, even at this scale, the miniatures barely fit inside the building (a phenomenon that inspired these constructs to be instead called “Bigatures”). All the detail work on the miniatures was completed under the lights and cameras that would record them - painting, decorating, dressing and detailing. “It’s very labor intensive during the first part of setting up a shot,” Funke describes.

The most challenging miniature was the complex city of Minas Tirith. “Our only way of creating the full-size city was to build a giant miniature,” comments Jackson. “It’s wonderfully detailed. And we have our cameras getting really close to the models for microscopic detail.“

Weta Workshop built a 72nd scale miniature of Minas Tirith to represent the 700-foot seven-tiered city, with over 1,000 architectural houses dotting the streets. Sections of the city were built at a larger 14th scale, enabling Funke’s team to actually walk through the streets. Miniatures supervisor Paul Van Ommen oversaw the final detailing of each miniature. “The colors, the little plantings and washing lines ultimately add the fine edge of reality that will allow the city of Minas Tirith to come to life and feel as though it’s been populated for thousands of years,” describes Richard Taylor. “One of the greatest benefits of building a miniature is that it will capture the textural surfaces that reflect the reality of our own world. You can create these architectural structures, these organic places, these mountainsides, at a level of reality that is still sometimes difficult to create digitally. But ultimately, it is a combined effort because the digital department then takes those elements and seamlessly places them in the picture plane.”


With each film, Oscar-nominated Ngila Dickson and her team started from scratch in designing, developing and hand-making the myriad costumes for each of the three films in the trilogy. Dickson sees her work as not deriving from fantasy, but creating clothes that could have existed thousands of years ago. At the earliest stages of preparation, Dickson wrote her own histories for each character to develop how their costumes would evolve throughout the journey. “We’re developing a completely new world with each film that we do,” Dickson describes. “Enormous arcs happen with each character and part of that is aided through costume changes.”
The most dramatic transformation in The Return of the King is undergone by Aragorn -- from anonymous Ranger to the destined King of Gondor. “The biggest element of the final film is Strider assuming the mantle of king,” says Dickson. “It represents the side of him he always knew was there but kept hidden. In bringing him to that moment in the character, we drew on a lot of different things. We brought in the White Tree of Gondor. We made the colors stronger and more resolute for him. Royal red becomes very important. And they actually relate back to parts of his costume -- in his Strider costume he wore, for quite a period of time, this very faded red shirt. We've carried that through thematically.”

For the Hobbits, the third film also represented dramatic changes in wardrobe. From their previously earthy, simple designs, Dickson created miniature versions of the Rohan Guards’ costume (for Merry) and the Gondorian uniform (for Pippin), extrapolating on where these smaller uniforms would come from. “It comes back to the idea of always making sure that you can believe how this happened,” Dickson explains. “The Rohan Captain costume was based on the idea that Théoden's first outfit as a child of the court was gifted to Merry. Pippin’s would have belonged to Boromir or Faramir when they were children. As in the nature of any great court, specially made wardrobe for children would be kept in the family and passed down through the generations.”

Dickson used all organic fabrics that appeared lived in and realistic when aged, and made two sets of everything to accommodate the scale doubles for the different characters in the film, particularly the Hobbits. The wardrobe department managed between 30 and 40 costumes per actor.

Wellington, New Zealand-based Jasmine Watson provided the jewelry to complement the wardrobe.


“When I read the book as a child, the lasting image I had in my head was the Battle of Pelennor Fields taking place with millions of people on this massive plain. And in the foreground, there were two little figures climbing this mountain.” - Drector of Potography Andrew Lesnie

As the third film in the trilogy tells a more internal story than the first two films, director Peter Jackson and director of photography Andrew Lesnie tightened the focus to intimately capture the human emotion in the cast’s performances. Though the film is comprised of numerous elements at the same time - from miniatures to visual effects to motion capture - the unifying factor was always the emotions of the scene. “The strength of this project has always been the script and the performance, not the effects, not the locations, no matter how amazing they are, but the cast,” Lesnie comments. “Peter managed to bring together an amazing cast that audiences relate to on a human level. The priorities for me are to just watch the performances more carefully and be more critical about the coverage in terms of trying to draw the subtext out of every scene.”

In moments when Jackson might conceivably use a wide two-shot, he often re-envisioned the scene using only close-ups. “The moment you film a close-up of Ian McKellen, you don’t want to cut to a wide shot anymore because Ian is so compelling,” Jackson notes, “and when you cut to Elijah his eyes are conveying so much information and emotion that you now want to film the scene as two close-ups. Though it was a nice idea at the time, the wide shot doesn’t matter anymore.”
This need to maintain focus on the characters was never more important than in the large-scale battle sequences. “Battles have to tell a story,” comments Jackson. “And fortunately, we have a lot of our principal characters involved in Pelennor Fields - Gandalf, Pippin, Merry, Éowyn, Théoden, Éomer, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli. We really wanted to focus on those characters and their stories within the spectacle of the battle. You never want it to be just a faceless battle. It’s got to be personal.”

The challenge for such a sprawling production hit on issues of organization and stamina. “The logistics of keeping track of so many units during principal photography is awesome; it’s of a scale that I've never encountered before,” Lesnie says. “You're not only doing the cinematography, you're doing quite a lot of management.”
As early as November 2002, Lesnie, along with the core filmmaking team, watched a preliminary cut of the film. From that, Lesnie and supervising digital colorist Peter Doyle put together a “Look Bible” - a half-hour miniature representation of the film, which helped them establish the looks, flows and visual rhythms of major sequences.
Photographing The Return of the King was once again collaboration between director Jackson, director of photography Lesnie and miniatures director of photography Alex Funke. “During principal photography, I would view all of Alex's stuff and Alex would see a good percentage of our stuff,” Lesnie describes. “We talked about lighting styles early on, the ratios and characteristics that I wanted to try and achieve in particular locations, and the look of various things. And then he would watch my footage, and I would watch his. We got into sync with each other incredibly quickly.”

With multiple units shooting at once, Lesnie was also aided considerably by several New Zealand-based cinematographers, including main unit “A” cameraman Richard Bluck, who became second unit DP as production progressed; John Cavill, who helped supervise, among other things, the Helm’s Deep assault in The Two Towers; Allen Guilford, one of New Zealand’s top cinematographers, who served as DP of “clean up” Unit 1B; Simon Raby, who shot second unit footage of the Battle of Pelennor Fields, among other key moments in the film; and Nigel Bluck, who shot numerous blue screen visual effects sequences that are scattered throughout the film.


The story is tied to human emotions. It touches deeply on a lot of things that we feel about rightness and honor and doing things the right way.

Miniatures Director of Photography Alex Funke

As the action in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King intensifies, a massive battle breaks out on the outskirts of Minas Tirith in a place called Pelennor Fields. It is the greatest battle of the entire trilogy, the ultimate clash between Men and the armies of Sauron - comprised of Haradrim, Easterlings, Orcs and Mûmakil, as well as the Ringwraiths under their captain, the Witch-king. “Sauron brings all the weight of his army to bear on Minas Tirith and Pelennor Fields on a scale that truly dwarfs Helm’s Deep,” comments executive producer Ordesky.

To create the siege of Minas Tirith, Weta Digital once again went to work creating a virtual army that would accompany the live action actors and stuntmen into battle. “You can’t just invent the sequence shot-by-shot because there has to be a continuity as the battle unfolds,” comments Jackson. “We needed to plot out the formation of enemy soldiers; where they are; how quickly they close in around the walls of the city; when the siege towers go forward; when the catapults fire. It is like plotting a real battle the night before, figuring out the campaign strategy.”

A practical component in the attack of Minas Tirith is a giant siege tower -Grond -- hauled by armored mountain Trolls and manned by hordes of Orcs. Over 100 feet in length, with a huge wolf-like head and swinging on huge iron chains, the crew constructed the large battering ram out of wood.

The demands for active participants in this battle eclipse the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. “Where at Helm’s Deep there were 10,000 Uruk-hai, the enemy forces at the battles of Minas Tirith are probably 200,000 strong,” describes conceptual designer Alan Lee.

Envisioning the battle required intensive previsualization to understand the precision geometry involved in what was going to be staged, and how it was going to be accomplished. “We built this landscape in the computer just simply to get the geography, the size and the scale, obviously based on the descriptions in Tolkien’s book,” Jackson explains.

During principal photography, the massive battle was staged on the South Island location of Twizel, New Zealand, on the site of a sheep farm. A tent village was created out in the middle of the area to house the cast and crew and to use as a staging area for the action that was to be shot. “We served 1440 eggs for breakfast, and 400 loaves of bread,” remembers producer Osborne. “We also built a tracking road so that we could get very smooth shots of the charging horses as the Rohirrim come galloping across Pelennor Fields.”
“They put out a call from all able bodied riders in New Zealand,” recalls Karl Urban, who plays the Éomer, a Rohan warrior and nephew to King Théoden. Hundreds of riders and horses were enlisted from New Zealand and elsewhere. With distinct fighting styles developed for each of the principle characters and the various combatants in battle, much of the live action fighting was coordinated by legendary fight choreographer Bob Anderson.

WETA Digital

The visual effects team behind The Lord of the Rings motion pictures was honored with Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects for both The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers.

The challenge for The Return of the King was to capture the same intimate focus as did the physical/live action photography on a far larger canvas. The Weta Digital team would create numerous new creatures -- an increased profusion of Mûmakil, Fell Beasts and Wargs, glimpsed in the first film, as well as Shelob, the lethal giant spider that traps Frodo in her web -- and continue to chart the arc of Gollum, the pivotal character performed by Andy Serkis and captured digitally by Weta’s visual effects artists. Weta’s proprietary software, Massive, has also continued to evolve to take on the exponentially greater forces taking part in the Battle of Pelennor Fields.

Like every other aspect of The Lord of the Rings production, the visual effects process worked in concert with live action to strike a visual harmony in every shot of the film, be it raw or a composite of numerous effects, from miniature to matte to Massive. Jackson, director of photography Lesnie, visual effects cinematographer Brian Van't Hul, and each member of his team were committed to raising the bar on every aspect of the production. “That spirit has been true across the entire production, from the acting to the visual effects and editing teams, the music, everything,” says Jackson. “We just want to deliver what is truly the best of these three films.”
“I think we’ve definitely benefited from having the same creative think tank on the team because we developed a practical shorthand between each of us,” comments co-producer Rick Porras. Porras also notes that even in the final stage of the final film, cast and crew alike continued to carry Tolkien’s book with them, constantly returning to the source for inspiration or details. “Nobody is losing sight of where it all came from. None of us wants to drop the ball in the 11th hour or not deliver on the promise that was made when people saw the first film. And I don’t think we have.”

The Soul of Gollum

Andy Serkis calls co-screenwriter/producer Fran Walsh the “guardian” of Gollum. “Fran very much became the guiding force for Gollum,” he says. “She’s got an extraordinary mind and I think she has drawn from her own life. She took on the mantel of writing the character and ensuring truth in each step of his journey.”

The collaboration between creative teams and Serkis has resulted in the first character of his kind -- an entirely performance-based digital creation that "acts" as much as any actor in the film. Because of Gollum’s integral role in Frodo and Sam’s journey with The Ring, Jackson wanted his presence to carry as much reality and emotional weight as a live actor.

As Jackson and director of photographer Lesnie supervised actor Andy Serkis’s performance on set, the animators at Weta Digital studied the resulting performance to remake it digitally, using his movements and facial expressions to animate the Gollum that would ultimately "act" in the scene.

His body and voice design was then taken further into an animated world through motion capture photography, computer generated imagery and digital sound mixing. The resulting synthesis is a totally new visual effect.

Gollum’s creation involved several stages. Like the other non-human characters in the film, his physical appearance was first sketched by conceptual artists John Howe and Alan Lee, then created in Weta Workshop as a maquette, which was then scanned in 3D by a device adapted by WETA from an instrument used for measuring size and space of meat carcasses for the New Zealand butcher industry. But unlike the other creatures, Serkis’s face was also scanned to be adapted into the ancient skeletal creature in the computer. Creature supervisor Eric Sainden then imbued this physical presence with a full skeleton surrounded by more than 300 different muscles, but as with people, all of that operates under his skin.

Serkis then performed the role on set with his fellow castmembers, then covered in a motion capture suit (a tight lycra bodysuit covered with motion capture nodes that were recorded by special cameras, both in full-body and close-up). "Gollum is probably the most actor-driven digital creature that has ever been used in a film," Jackson comments.

Serkis feels that though the character is funneled through a computer, Gollum’s single most important quality is truth. “I think Gollum is so much more powerful for the fact that he is computer-generated,” he says. “Peter’s tenacity and his belief and vision made everyone go the extra mile in investing in the character as a true member of the cast. In many ways it’s been more liberating and more challenging to perform this character this way rather than through make-up because there is a purity to the performance. You are not reliant on any costume or make-up. It’s pure performance in front of the cameras or on the motion capture stage.”


To create the massive battles in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Jackson once again utilized Weta Digital’s proprietary Massive software to transform motion capture movements and expressions into battling armies numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

"Pelennor Fields is such a huge battle scene," comments co-producer/editor Jamie Selkirk. "600,000 Orcs and 6,000 Rohan horsemen. You would never imagine from the little piece of action that was shot on location that it could develop into the scene that it is now. You're getting back to the way Pete's vision is. He sees everything so clearly of how he wants the path of the film to travel and how it should look. His vision has gotten bigger, and he is more and more able to create the effects that he wants to do as the technology has become available. He can now pretty well do anything "
While the dimensions and proportions of actors or animals (horses, elephants, etc.) would be scanned for the digital artists to use for reference, "motion trees" were created on the motion capture stage to provide a library of movements, techniques, attacks, etc. for the characters to portray in battle.

The design process - moving from maquette, to digital creature, to final action -- was repeated with three species that come to the fore in The Return of the King - the massive, elephant-like Mûmakil (Oliphaunts), flying, reptilian Fell Beasts, and Frodo’s spider-like nemesis, Shelob. “It’s a broader range of things, because you’ve got very naturalistic things to create,” comments animation supervisor Randall Cook. “The basis of the movement of all these characters is natural as opposed to supernatural, yet you have characters who push our ability to keep the movements totally natural. You’ve got these 70-foot-long flying Fell Beasts and Mûmakil, which resemble elephants, only they’re eight stories tall. Nothing’s small in this film. The challenge becomes how you get an elephant creature to walk believably with about 50 people riding on its back. You can’t fake the way an elephant moves. You’ve got to make it look like one, except that it’s three times as big.”

The revolutionary Massive software written by Weta Digital’s Stephen Regelous was glimpsed in the prologue to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring as well as the Battle of Helm’s Deep sequence in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. In the spirit of the continuing push into artificial intelligence technology, Massive works by creating "agents," with their own randomized characteristics and the ability to make their own decisions in a crowd situation - encompassing not only human soldiers, but all the various species joining the fight. Each agent reacts naturally to its environment, using the same “senses” as human beings, such as vision, sound, touch, etc. Each agent has its own personality traits, i.e., boldness, aggressiveness, cowardliness, as well as distinct physical characteristics. This ensures a unique image each time it’s rendered, with the accompanying unpredictability of a live action battle.

The final step following Massive’s simulation is the rendering of the image, which is done by another device invented in New Zealand, affectionately called a Grunt. Massive supervisor John Alitt created the Grunt to render CG images faster than any commercially available device.

The Shadows of Shelob

Among the cast and crew of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson’s irrational fear of spiders is well known, which made the final film’s most deadly and threatening creature a particular challenge for the director. “Peter is an arachnophobe, and that ultimately has come to play in the realization of the design of Shelob,” comments Richard Taylor. “He has constantly pushed the design team to see Shelob as a real insect. What are the elements of a real spider that give fear to him? The polished legs, the fine hairs growing out of those hard shells on the legs, the huge mandibles, the saggy, fleshy body? All of these things he described in great detail. Shelob was then designed as sculptures and scannable maquettes.”

With a mandate to make Shelob more evil, and imbue the creature with a greater feeling of age and history, Taylor and his team based their designs on the kind of spider that terrified Jackson as a child - New Zealand’s native Funnel Web Spider. “I used to play in the basement of my parents’ house where these Funnel Web spiders used to have all these little nests,” Jackson recalls. “And every time I went under there, I wanted to play but I was always terrified of running into one of these things, which I occasionally did. So, my revenge on the Funnel Web is to base Shelob on this spider.”

Though Shelob takes life in maquettes and in digital rendering, as opposed to physical makeup effects, the filmmakers sought to make her completely naturalistic and of the real world. “I wanted Shelob to move in that skittery, creepy spider kind of way,” Jackson says. “What I find scary about spiders is when they move fast, and they find things to pounce on, move again and stop. That’s what I wanted to capture. So I gave instructions to the animators at Weta to make Shelob so she moves quite quickly, surprisingly quick for such a big creature. And the Shelob shots do scare me,” he adds. “They make me want to flinch back, so I guess I’m succeeding in scaring myself.”

For Jackson, the spider presents a formidable adversary to Frodo. “This evil spider character ultimately plays a major part in turning the Hobbits, making them realize just how fragile their lives are,” he says.

©MMIII New Line Productions, Inc. The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, and the names of the characters, events, items and places therein are trademarks of the Saul Zaentz Company, d/b/a Tolkien Enterprises under license to New Line Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King introduces scores of compelling new characters, civilizations and creatures.

GONDORIANS - Gondorians are the remnants of a once-great civilization that still reside in Minas Tirith, an ancient city of Kings now under the rule of a steward. The Gondorian capital is a relic from a time when mankind held a more prominent position of influence and power in Middle-earth.

FELL BEASTS - In The Return of the King, each of the Nazgûl (undead spirits of corrupted Kings) rides a creature called a Fell Beast -- a huge flying creature, its vast, leathery wings like those of a monstrous bat. It is a creature of the older world. Mounted on these beasts, the Nazgûl travel at great speed and oversee every part of Sauron's realm.

THE WITCH-KING - As the commander of Sauron's dark forces, the Witch-king (also known as the Witch-king of Angmar) leads the charge out of the gates of Minas Morgul to invade Gondor and lay siege to the city of Minas Tirith.

HARADRIM & Mûmakil - From the South comes a race of Men, inhabitants of the realm of Harad. Battle-scarred warriors with spears, bows and curved swords, their greatest advantage in war is the use of Mûmakil - known to the Hobbits as Oliphaunts. These colossal beasts bear great war-towers packed with Haradrim archers into the midst of battle. Their massive feet trample and crush their enemies, men and horses alike, and their spiked tusks impale anyone or anything that gets in their way.

THE MOUTH OF SAURON - At the Black Gate appears a creature known only as the Mouth of Sauron. He rides a huge black horse with an armored face like a skull mask. He delivers the false news that The Ringbearer has been apprehended and taken to the torture chambers of the Dark Tower.

SHELOB - An ancient, giant spider-like creature that lurks in a labyrinthine cave near the steps of Cirith Ungol. Shelob has lived here for millennia, before even Sauron came to Middle-earth, weaving webs in shadow and gorging herself on unwitting travelers.


“It’s very much a story about homeland, and about the love and care that people feel for the place that they come from. Whether it's England, or Japan, or Namibia, or wherever, I think that we can all identify with that need, when we travel, to feel that we can return to that essential part of us -- that Shire, that Gondor, that home.”

Conceptual Designer Alan Lee

In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the quest takes the
characters across Middle-earth as they move west toward Mordor. The locations include:

EDORAS & DUNHARROW - The capital of the Kingdom of Rohan, Edoras was seen in The Two Towers. On their way to Minas Tirith, the Rohirrim stop at the Rohan outpost of Dunharrow.

THE PATHS OF THE DEAD - The Paths of the Dead is a treacherous, haunting pathway through Dwimorberg Mountain. In the Second Age of Middle-earth, the Men of the Mountains swore an oath to Isildur, the last King of Gondor that they would aid in his fight against Sauron. But when his need was desperate, they fled into the mountains where their souls remain trapped. Isildur cursed them that they should never rest in peace until they had fulfilled their oath. Now, Aragorn, Isildur's heir, must venture into the Paths of the Dead to enlist their help and give them the opportunity to free their souls.

SAURON’S FORTRESS AT BARAD-DÛR - From torture chambers in its dungeons, factories of war, windowless prisons and mighty courts, to the vast iron crown of its apex, Barad-dûr climbs thousands of feet, as massive and forbidding as a mountain peak. Between the spiked pinnacles at the top of the tower, the Great Eye shimmers, constantly awake and aware, seeking The Ring and the one who bears it.

GONDOR: MINAS TIRITH, MINAS ITHIL/MORGUL, OSGILIATH - Gondor, the great kingdom of Men was founded by Elendil in the Second Age of Middle-earth. In its early history, it counted among its chief cities Osgiliath, Minas Tirith and Minas Ithil. But Minas Ithil was lost to the Nazgûl and is now known as

Minas Morgul, and Osgiliath has become little more than an outpost of war. Where the White Mountains come to an end is the great peak of Mount Mindolluin. There lies Minas Tirith, the City of Kings, a vast and elegant city built in seven levels of white stone carved into the hill, each level ringed by a wall with battlements and a gate. The topmost circle rises more than seven hundred feet above the Great Gate. At the summit lies the Citadel. It is the greatest stronghold in all of Middle-earth.

STAIRS OF CIRITH UNGOL - Frodo and Sam follow Gollum up a twisting, treacherous series of steps on what he tells them is a secret route into Mordor. Off the stairs of Cirith Ungol is the entrance to Shelob's Lair.

SHELOB'S LAIR - A webbed and acid-scarred cave through Orodruin Mountain in which Frodo is lured, believing it to be a secret tunnel into Mordor.

ORODRUIN/MOUNT DOOM - The Mountain of Fire, where Sauron created The One Ring and the only place where it can be unmade.

THE GREY HAVENS - The destination for the Elves leaving Rivendell and Lothlórien, from whence they will take the ships across the sea to the west.

PELENNOR FIELDS - The flats at the base of Minas Tirith where a major battle of men against Sauron's forces is staged.
THE BLACK GATE - The treacherous entrance to Mordor, manned by legions of Orcs.


Character: Frodo Baggins
Culture: Hobbit
Description: An adventurous Hobbit who undertakes the quest to destroy the One Ring

Widely regarded as one of the most gifted actors of his generation, Elijah Wood continues to challenge himself with roles in films spanning the spectrum of style and genre.

Wood can next be seen in the lead role of Frodo Baggins in the final installment of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: Return of The King. He recently completed filming Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind opposite Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, and Kirsten Dunst.

Wood has also lent his voice to one of Miramax's first animated films, The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina. Produced with Hyperion Studios, the film features Wood voicing the 'Tom Thumb' role opposite Jennifer Love Hewitt's 'Thumbelina.' Based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale, the story follows the two tiny people who are separated from their kin after a giant overruns their village. Returning home 15 years later, they learn they were royally betrothed to each other during childhood. The vocal cast also includes Peter Gallagher, Rachel Griffiths, Jane Leeves, Bebe Neuwirth, and Jon Stewart.

He was recently seen in the mobster drama Ash Wednesday, starring opposite Ed Burns. Written and directed by Burns, the film chronicles the story of two brothers (Wood and Burns) trying to escape their past in 1983 New York City.

Wood received critical acclaim for his performance opposite Christina Ricci in Ang Lee's film, The Ice Storm. Also starring Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen, and Tobey Maguire, the Fox Searchlight film follows a suburban family dealing with their mutual sexual awakenings.

His most recent films include Jeffrey Porter's Try Seventeen, a romantic comedy starring Franka Potente and Mandy Moore; Martin Duffy's independent film The Bumblebee Flies Away; James Toback's Black and White; The Faculty, written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Robert Rodriguez; and Mimi Leder's Deep Impact.

Wood's impressive list of film credits include Alan Shapiro's Flipper with Paul Hogan; Pontus Lowenhielm and Patrik Von Krusenstjerna's Chain of Fools, opposite Salma Hayek, Steve Zahn and Jeff Goldblum; Jon Avnet's The War, opposite Kevin Costner; Rob Reiner's North, with Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss; Joe Ruben's The Good Son, opposite Macauley Culkin; Stephen Sommers' Huck Finn; Steve Miner's Forever Young, with Mel Gibson; Mary Agnes Donohue's Paradise; Richard Donner's Radio Flyer, with Lorraine Bracco; Barry Levinson's Avalon, opposite Armin Mueller-Stahl and Aidan Quinn, and Mike Figgis' Internal Affairs, with Richard Gere.

On television, Wood recently appeared on ABC in Tony Bill's "Oliver Twist." The Disney production starred Wood in the 'Artful Dodger' role opposite Richard Dreyfuss' 'Fagin.' Other television credits include the NBC telefilm, "Dayo," and the CBS movie, "Child in the Night."

Wood was named 1994's Young Star of the Year by NATO/ShowEast following his performance in The War.

Character: Gandalf
Culture: Wizard
Description: A very powerful wizard who faces his greatest test in destroying the One Ring

Sir Ian McKellen has been thrilling audiences for 40 years on both stage and screen, and has won more than 40 major international acting awards. For his performance as Gandalf the Grey in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring McKellen won a Screen Actors™ Guild Award as best supporting actor and was nominated for an Oscar.  Since then he has starred on Broadway in Strindberg’s Dance of Death and filmed X-Men 2 as, once again, Magneto, the Master of Magnetism. For the telefilm Rasputin, McKellen was nominated for an Emmy and won the Golden Globe Award.

Other recent films include Gods and Monsters (Academy Award nomination for Best Actor), Apt Pupil and Richard III (co-screenplay writer and executive producer).   His many stage performances are legendary. He has acted in and produced classical and new plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre in London and on tour. His solo shows, Acting Shakespeare and A Knight Out, have been acclaimed throughout the world.

Complete biography available on www.mckellen.com.

Character: Arwen
Culture: Elf
Description: The Elf princess who falls in love with a man, Aragorn

Liv Tyler made an auspicious film debut with the leading role in Silent Fall, directed by Bruce Beresford. After another lead in Empire Records, Tyler portrayed a waitress in a local diner in Heavy, a favorite at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival. Tyler went on to shine in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty, Inventing The Abbotts, Armageddon and Robert Altman’s Cookie’s Fortune. She reunited with Altman to star in the critically acclaimed Dr. T and the Women with Richard Gere. For her role in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Tyler and the rest of the principal cast were nominated for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture by the Screen Actors Guild.

Tyler’s other recent work includes Onegin co-starring Ralph Fiennes, Plunkett & Macleane and One Night at McCool’s opposite Matt Dillon.

Tyler will next be seen opposite Ben Affleck in Kevin Smith’s Jersey Girl, set for release March 2004. Tyler is also the Face of Givenchy fragrance and cosmetics.

Character: Aragorn, aka Strider
Culture: Human
Description: A brave warrior who joins and defends the Fellowship

Since his debut as a young Amish Farmer in Peter Weir’s Witness, Viggo Mortensen’s career has been marked by a steady string of stellar performances. Critics have continually recognized his work in over thirty movies, including such diverse projects as Jane Campion’s Portrait of a Lady, Sean Penn’s Indian Runner, Brian DePalma’s Carlito’s Way, Ridley Scott’s G.I. Jane and Tony Goldwyn’s A Walk on the Moon. Mortensen’s latest work is playing Strider/Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Born in New York to a Danish father and an American mother, Mortensen spent the early part of his childhood in Manhattan. His family traveled a great deal and he spent several years living in Venezuela, Argentina, and Denmark. He began acting in New York, studying with Warren Robertson. He appeared in several plays and movies, and eventually moved to Los Angeles, where his performance in “Bent” at the Coast Playhouse earned him a Drama-logue Critic’s Award. Mortensen is also an accomplished poet, photographer, and painter. Mortensen founded Perceval Press in 2002, a small independent publisher specializing in art, critical writing, and poetry. The intention of the press is to publish texts, images, and recordings that otherwise might not be presented.

He is currently working on his third book of poetry, and recently exhibited a new photographic series, “Miyelo” at the Stephen Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles. Mortensen will also be exhibiting at the Wellington City gallery and Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand from November 28, 2003, to Januray 25, 2004. He previously exhibited his work at Track 16 Gallery in Los Angeles, and Robert Mann Gallery in New York City.

Mortensen can next be seen starring in Hidalgo for Disney.

Character: Sam or Samwise Gamgee
Culture: Hobbit
Description: An ordinary Hobbit who becomes the most extraordinary and loyal of Frodo’s friends

Sean Astin made his feature film debut in The Goonies and soon had a starring role in the critically acclaimed Rudy. Other film credits include Bulworth, Courage Under Fire, Memphis Belle, Encino Man, Like Father Like Son, Where the Day Takes You, Staying Together, War of the Roses and Safe Passage. Astin received Best Actor honors for his performance in Low Life at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival. Astin has also been seen in the indie releases Deterrence, Kimberly, The Last Producer and Boy Meets Girl. He made his professional debut with his mother, Patty Duke, in the television After School Special “Please Don’t Hit Me Mom.” For his role in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Astin and the rest of the principal cast were nominated for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture by the Screen Actors Guild.

A promising director, Astin garnered an Academy Award nomination for his short film Kangaroo Court, which he also co-produced with his wife, Christine. Astin’s short film, The Long and the Short of It was shot on the set of The Lord of the Rings. The film is featured on the DVD of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and recently screened at Sundance. A Directors Guild of America member, Astin also directed an episode of the HBO anthology series ”Perversions of Science.”

He is next starring opposite Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in the Sony comedy Fifty First Kisses, which will be released on February 14, 2004. Astin will appear in the Showtime drama series "Jeremiah" this fall. Behind the scenes, Astin has directed an episode of "Jeremiah" and an episode of "Angel."

Astin has earned a degree in History/American Literature and Culture from UCLA.

Character: Galadriel
Culture: Elf
Description: An Elf Queen of power and wisdom who assists the Fellowship

Since graduating from Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Cate Blanchett has worked extensively in the theater: with Company B, a loose ensemble of actors including Geoffrey Rush, Gillian Jones and Richard Roxburgh based at Belvoir St. under the direction of Neil Armfield. Her roles included Miranda ("The Tempest"), Ophelia ("Hamlet" -for which she was nominated for a Green Room Award), Nina ("The Seagull") and Rose ("The Blind Giant is Dancing").

For the Sydney Theater Company (STC) she appeared in Caryl Churchill’s "Top Girls", David Mamet’s "Oleanna" (awarded The Sydney Theater Critics award for Best Actress), Michael Gow’s "Sweet Phoebe" (also for the Croyden Wearhouse, London) and Timothy Dalys "Kafka Dances" (also for The Griffin Theatre Company) for which she received the Critics Circle award for best newcomer.

For the Almeida Theatre in 1999, Blanchett played Susan Traheren in David Hare’s "Plenty" on London’s West End. Her television credits include lead roles in “Bordertown” and “Heartland,” both for the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Her film roles include Susan Macarthy in Bruce Beresford’s Paradise Road; Lizzie in Thank God He Met Lizzie, an anti-romantic comedy directed by Cherie Nowlan for which Blanchett was awarded both the Australian Film Institute (AFI) and the Sydney Film Critics awards for Best Supporting Actress; and Lucinda in Oscar and Lucinda, opposite Ralph Fiennes and directed by Gillian Armstrong, a role that earned her an AFI nomination for Best Actress.

In 1998, she portrayed Queen Elizabeth I in the critically acclaimed Elizabeth, directed by Shekhar Kapur, for which she received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama and a BAFTA for Best Actress in a Leading Role as well as Best Actress awards from The Chicago Film Critics Association, The London Film Critics Association, On-line Film Critics, Variety Critics and UK Empire Award. She also received a Best Actress nomination from the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts, & Sciences.

In 1999, Blanchett appeared in Pushing Tin with John Cusack, directed by Mike Newell; An Ideal Husband, directed by Oliver Parker; The Talented Mr. Ripley, directed by Anthony Mingella for which she received a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actress; The Gift, directed by Sam Raimi; and Sally Potter’s The Man Who Cried, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and for which she was awarded “Best Supporting Actress” by the Florida Critics Circle.

For her 2001 film, Bandits, with Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton, directed by Barry Levinson, Blanchett was nominated for a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress. The film, along with The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings, and The Shipping News, also earned her the 2001 Best Supporting Actress Award from the National Board of Review. Her 2002 performances include the title role in Gillian Armstrong's Charlotte Gray, based on Sebastian Faulks’ best-selling novel; The Shipping News, alongside Kevin Spacey and directed by Lasse Hallstrom, based on the 1994 Pulitzer-Prize winning novel by Annie Proulx; and Heaven, opposite Giovanni Ribisi and directed by Tom Tykwer, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival.

She is currently starring in the title role of Veronica Guerin, directed by Joel Schumacher, the fact-based story of the Irish journalist who was slain in her homeland in 1996 by drug dealers; and the Warner Bros. Pictures thriller, The Missing, opposite Tommy Lee Jones for director Ron Howard.

Blanchett most recently wrapped production on the Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator for director Martin Scorsese. She is currently in production on The Life Aquatic for director Wes Anderson. In 2004, Blanchett will return to Australia to film Rowan Woods’ Little Fish.

Character: Gimli
Culture: Dwarf
Description: A courageous Dwarf with great strength and sense of justice

John Rhys-Davies began acting in Shakespeare plays at the age of thirteen at Truro School in Cornwall, England. By the time he had graduated from the then new University of East Anglia, where he founded the University Dramatic Society and starred at the acclaimed Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich, he had created an impressive amateur resume. He taught for a year before spending two years at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), graduating in 1969. He then worked in repertory theatres throughout Britain and at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Rhys-Davies made his feature film debut in Don Siegel’s The Black Windmill, starring Michael Caine, where he was blown up before the title sequence. His one-hundred plus film credits include Victor/Victoria, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Living Daylights and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. For his role in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Rhys-Davies and the rest of the principal cast were nominated for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture by the Screen Actors Guild. He will next be seen in Highbinders, opposite Jackie Chan and Claire Forlani.

For television, he was nominated for an Emmy for his performance as Rodrigues in “Shogun,” starred as Professor Arturo in “Sliders,” and is remembered for performances in “I, Claudius” and “The Naked Civil Servant.” He would like to spend more time piloting planes, playing with old cars and writing.

Character: King Theoden of Rohan
Culture: Human
Description: King of Rohan, now awakened from Saruman’s Spell, joins with Rohan to oppose Sauron’s forces at the Battle of Pelennor Fields

Bernard Hill has enjoyed a multifaceted acting career on both sides of the Atlantic, starring in top British (Mountains of the Moon, Shirley Valentine) and American (Gothika,Titanic, True Crime, The Ghost and the Darkness) feature films as well as scores of television and stage productions.

Born in Manchester, England, he made his English television debut in 1973 in Mike Leigh’s first film, Hard Labour. Balancing stage, film and television work, Hill starred in films such as Gandhi, The Bounty, No Surrender, Blessed Art Thou, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Going Off Big Time and The Criminal. He was most recently seen in The Scorpion King and The Boys From County Clare. He was also seen in the award-winning television productions of “I, Claudius,” “Henry VI” trilogy and “Richard III”; “Antigone”; “Boys From the Black Stuff”; “The Mill on the Floss”; and “Great Expectations”. Hill will next be seen in Wimbledon in 2004.

He made his debut in The Lord of the Rings trilogy in The Two Towers.

Character: Pippin or Peregrin Took
Culture: Hobbit
Description: A fun-loving Hobbit and member of the Fellowship

Billy Boyd, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, began his acting career in the Scottish television series Taggart. He went on to amass UK television credits including Coming Soon and Chapter and Verse. Boyd made his feature film debut in An Urban Ghost Story, followed by Julie and the Cadillacs and a film short entitled Soldiers Leap. He and the rest of the cast of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring were nominated for the Screen Actor’s Guild ensemble award.

He will next be seen in Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Prior to Master and Commander, Boyd filmed a groundbreaking science fiction one-man short film, Sniper 470, financed by Scottish Screen and STV, which world premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2002. It was one of only two films to have been chosen from the Newfoundland series to be blown to 35 mm. Since when it has been invited by 18 Film Festivals and screened on Scottish National Television.

On the stage, Boyd has performed in various UK productions including “The Speculator,” “An Experienced Woman Gives Advice,” “Therese Racquin,” “Britannia Rules,” “Kill The Old, Torture Their Young,” “The Chic Nerds,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Merchant of Venice,” “Trainspotting” (Tour), “Merlin the Magnificent” and “The Slab Boys.” Last year, Boyd starred in the Traverse production of “The Ballad of Crazy Paola,” a new play by Anne Sierens. This year Boyd opened the Edinburgh International Festival with the World Premiere of “San Diego,” a play by David Greig.

Boyd is also a singer, musician and composer. In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Boyd sings his own composition to Tolkien’s words.

Character: Merry or Meriadoc Brandybuck
Culture: Hobbit
Description: An adventurous young Hobbit who joins Frodo’s quest

Dominic Monaghan has starred as Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry) in all three installments of Peter Jackson's acclaimed The Lord of the Rings trilogy, of which The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the final film. He will next be seen in Chris Atkin’s The Purifiers, a film about martial arts clubs which have created their own city infrastructure after tiring of government initiatives, set for release in 2004; and Spivs, a heist film opposite Nick Moran of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame.

Monaghan was born in Berlin and grew up in Manchester, England. He is an active environmentalist. enjoys the outdoors, monkeys and football (US Soccer), particularly Manchester United.

He currently resides in Los Angeles.

Character: Legolas
Culture: Elf
Description: Lethal with knife and bow, Legolas represents the Elves in the Fellowship

Orlando Bloom, who made his major feature film debut in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. During his time at Guildhall, Bloom performed in numerous productions including, "A Month in the Country," "Peer Gynt," "Mephisto," "Twelfth Night," "The Seagull," "Antigone" and "Uncle Vanya."

Bloom was born in Canterbury, Kent. At 16, he moved to London where he joined the National Youth Theatre for two seasons and then gained a scholarship to train with the British American Drama Academy. Bloom's screen debut was in the feature film Wilde. He was then accepted to Guildhall and chose to put his screen career on hold for the opportunity to further his education.

For his role in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Bloom and the rest of the principal cast were nominated for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture by the Screen Actors Guild. He has since appeared in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down and in Ned Kelly, opposite Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush and Naomi Watts. He also starred in Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean, opposite Johnny Depp. His next release is Wolfgang Peterson's epic Troy, in which he stars opposite Brad Pitt and Eric Bana.

Character: Elrond
Culture: Elf
Description: Born of a human father and Elf mother, Elrond is the father of Arwen

Hugo Weaving’s many film credits include the new Australian feature Peaches; The Matrix; The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; The Interview; Bedrooms and Hallways and Proof. His performance in The Interview earned him an Australian Film Institute Award (AFI) and a World Film Festival Award (Montreal) for Best Actor. Weaving also received the AFI Award for The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and for Proof. In addition to his role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, he returns as the malevolent Agent Smith in Matrix: Reloaded and Matrix: Revolutions.

Weaving has appeared in such high-end Australian television dramas as After the Deluge, The Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Naked: Coral Island and Bangkok Hilton. A graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Weaving is a theatre veteran who has a particularly strong history with the Sydney Theatre Company and has recently appeared with the company in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing.

Character: Éowyn of Rohan
Culture: Human
Description: The niece of the King, who lost her Rohan parents to marauding Orcs, Éowyn yearns to fight the terrible forces threatening her homeland

After earning top accolades for her Australian film and stage work, Miranda Otto recently completed work on both sides of the Atlantic. She starred as the title character in Julie Walking Home (filmed in Canada and Poland) for acclaimed Polish director Agnieszka Holland. The film premiered at the 2002 Venice and Toronto Film Festivals. Otto will also star in The Three Legged Fox (filmed in Italy), directed by Sandro Dionisio, as well as Doctor Sleep (filmed in the UK), a thriller that also stars ER's Goran Visnjic.

Otto recently completed the Australian romantic comedy Danny and the Deckchair, in which she is re-teamed with Rhys Ifans. She appeared with Ifans alongside Tim Robbins and Patricia Arquette in Human Nature, Charlie Kaufman’s first feature since Being John Malkovich. The dark comedy, directed by Michel Gondry, premiered at both the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and was released in April 2002. She most recently appeared as Penny in the film In My Father's Den, directed by Brad McGann.

Otto garnered rave reviews this Spring for her portrayal of Nora Helmer in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of the Henrik Ibsen classic “A Doll’s House.”

A graduate of the prestigious Australian theatrical school NIDA, which also boasts such alumnae as Mel Gibson, Judy Davis and Cate Blanchett, Otto has been honored with Australian Film Institute award nominations for her work in In The Winter Dark, The Well, Daydream Believer, and The Last Days of Chez Nous. She also earned an Australian Film Critics Circle Award nomination for her performance in Last Days of Chez Nous, as well as for Love Serenade, which won the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Otto’s other credits include Robert Zemekis’s What Lies Beneath, with Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer; Terence Malick's The Thin Red Line; Kin; Dead Letter Office; Doing Time for Patsy Cline; True Love and Chaos, and Jack Bull, opposite John Cusack, for HBO.

Character: Faramir
Culture: Human of Gondor
Description: Son of Demethor and brother of Boromir, Faramir is a ranger who finds and captures the Hobbits in Emyn Muil

David Wenham has received critical acclaim for his diverse performances in film, theatre and television. Recent accolades include a 2003 Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA) Award nomination for Gettin’ Square, an AFI Award nomination for Molokai: The Story of Father Damien, AFI and FCCA Award nominations for The Bank, AFI and Inside Film (IF) Award nominations for Better Than Sex, and an FCCA Award nomination for his haunting portrayal of the psychopathic Brett Sprague in The Boys, which he also associate produced. Internationally, Wenham has appeared in Van Helsing, Pure and Dust. His next feature project is Three Dollars with fellow Australians Sarah Wynter and Frances O'Connor.

Wenham is well known to Australian television audiences as the lovable Diver Dan in the award winning ABC TV series SeaChange, a role which earned him an AFI Award nomination in 1998. He won the same award the previous year for the critically acclaimed ABC TV miniseries Simone de Beauvoir’s Babies. He will soon commence filming the Sam Neill-directed telemovie The Brush Off.

Wenham made his debut in The Lord of the Rings trilogy in The Two Towers.

Character: Éomer
Culture: Human of Rohan
Description: Nephew to King Theoden and brother of Éowyn, Éomer is a fierce warrior of the Rohan people

Karl Urban launches into the third installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King, starring in the dynamic role of Rohan warrior Éomer. Producer/director/co-writer Peter Jackson cast New Zealand actor Urban in The Lord of the Rings after viewing a rough cut of the critically acclaimed indie film The Price of Milk, which garnered Urban a Best Actor nomination at The New Zealand Film Awards.

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Urban first appeared on television as a child. Throughout his school years he wrote, directed, and starred in many film and stage productions. As a young adult Urban postponed his university studies to further pursue his acting career, training and working throughout "Australasia" in theatre and film.

Urban landed his feature film debut in Miramax's Heaven, starring Martin Donovan and Richard Schiff, and garnered his first Best Actor nomination at the New Zealand Film Awards for his work in Via Satellite. He also appeared in the Warner Bros./Dark Castle production Ghost Ship, starring opposite Gabriel Byrne and Julianna Margulies.

Most recently, Urban completed David Twohy's The Chronicles of Riddick, opposite Vin Diesel, and will next be seen opposite Matt Damon in The Bourne Supremacy, directed by Paul Greengrass.

Character: Denethor
Culture: Human
Description: The Steward of Gondor and father of Boromir and Faramir

As Artistic Director of the ‘Stage Company of S.A.’ for ten years, John Noble was involved in South Australia’s cultural explosion in the 1970s and 80s. He performed with all of the state’s major arts companies. He also directed on London’s West End (David Williamson’s “Sons of Cain”), and acted in an award-winning production at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland (Rob George’s “Errol Flynn’s Great Big Adventure Book For Boys”).

Noble has produced over 70 new Australian plays; commissioned and directed the enormously successful “Percy and Rose” for the 1982 Adelaide Festival of Arts and subsequent National tour; and produced four major pieces for the 1984 Festival of Arts, including the memorable “Masterclass.” During an eight-year term as a Trustee of the Adelaide Festival Centre, Noble was associated in the Australian productions of “Cats” and “La Miserable.” He was chairman of the inaugural Australian Drama Festival in Adelaide in 1982, and was a foundation member and chairman of the Association of Community Theatres. In 1984 the Premier of S.A. Mr. John Bannon nominated him as Young Australian of the Year for his work in the Arts.

Noble teaches acting at Brent Street School of Arts. He has conducted master classes at N.I.D.A., Flinders University, the R.A.A.F., The Centre for Performing Arts, Carclew Youth Drama Camps, the S.A. Education Department, the National Book Council and the NSW & ACT Writers Centres.

As an actor, Noble was featured in guest roles in TV series “Big Sky,” “Police Rescue” and “Water Rats,” among numerous others, in addition to a semi-regular role in “All Saints.” His feature credits include The Dreaming, Nostradamus Kid, A Sting in the Tail, Call me Mr. Brown, Airtight, The Monkeys Mask and A Virtual Nightmare.

Recently he has appeared in The Outsider, Superfire, The Natalie Wood Story and Fracture. In 2003 he appeared in the stage plays “The Arabs Mouth” and “Room 201 Nicola Tesla.”

He appears as Denethor in the second and third installments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers and The Return of the King

Character: Gollum/Smeagol
Culture: Stoor
Description: Once a Hobbit-like creature, his proximity to the Ring has transformed him into a grotesque creature

Prior to the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Andy Serkis most recently appeared on film as Quinn in the World War I horror feature Deathwatch, and as Factory Records producer Martin Hannett in 24 Hour Party People. He will soon be seen opposite Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo in 13 Going on 30, directed by Gary Winick. Other film credits include the eccentric choreographer in Topsy Turvy, and as the drug-taking yuppie in Career Girls, leading roles in Shiner with Michael Caine, Mojo, Among Giants, Loop, Sweety Barrett, The Jolly Boys Last Stand, as well as major roles in Stella Does Tricks, Five Seconds to Spare, The Near Room, and Pandemonium. Also, recently he wrote and directed a short film called Snake, starring his wife, Lorraine Ashbourne, and Rupert Grave. His extensive television works include a highly acclaimed performance as ‘Bill Sykes’ in a recent adaptation of “Oliver Twist,” and lead roles in “The Jump,” and the series “Finney,” along with many guest appearances including “Shooting The Past” and “Touching Evil.” Recently, his voice was heard on the Fox television show “The Simpsons.”

Serkis has played a huge range of parts in theatre in London and across the United Kingdom. Recently critically acclaimed roles include Iago in “Othello” (Royal Exchange Theatre); Potts in the original cast of “Mojo” by Jez Butterworth; “King Lear” and “Hush,” all for the Royal Court Theatre; “Hurlyburly” at the Old Vic and Queen Theatres; Decadence at the Bolton Octagon; and “Cabaret” at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. This year he made his directorial debut with the play “The Double Bass” at the Southwark Playhouse in London.

Character: Bilbo Baggins
Culture: Hobbit
Description: Known for his own adventures, Bilbo bequeaths the Ring to his cousin Frodo

Ian Holm has earned respect and praise from theater, television and film critics alike. He won a BAFTA Award, Cannes Film Festival award and an Oscar nomination for his performance in Chariots of Fire. Some of his memorable film performances include Another Woman, Hamlet, Frankenstein, Henry V, Naked Lunch, eXistenZ, and The Madness of King George.

Holm has also appeared in Greystoke, Kafka, Time Bandits, Brazil, Alien, Dance with a Stranger and Dreamchild. More recent films include From Hell, Big Night, Joe Gould’s Secret, Night Falls on Manhattan, The Fifth Element, A Life Less Ordinary, Bless The Child, Beautiful Joe and the acclaimed lead in Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter. Holm also starred in the television movie “The Last of the Blonde Bombshells” For the BBC and HBO alongside Dame Judi Dench, Leslie Caron and Olympia Dukakis.

Appearing in numerous productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Holm won the Evening Standard Actor of the Year award for both “Henry V” and “The Homecoming,” the latter for which he also won a Tony Award (Best Supporting Actor) for the Broadway production. He won rave reviews and a Critics Circle Award for Harold Pinter’s “Moonlight.” His 1997 performance in the title role of “King Lear” at the National Theatre won him another Critics Circle Theatre Award, the Olivier Award for “Best Actor” and the Evening Standard “Best Actor” (Drama) Award. In 1998 the Queen knighted him for his ‘services to Drama.’

Character: Boromir
Culture: Human
Description: Boromir joins the Fellowship, despite deep misgivings about destroying the One Ring

Sean Bean recently gained international recognition as Boromir in New Line Cinema's Oscar-nominated motion picture trilogy of The Lord of the Rings and has been working non-stop ever since. Bean recently completed production on Wolfgang Peterson's Troy for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures. Bean plays Odysseus alongside Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, and Orlando Bloom in this epic account of the Trojan War based on Homer's The Iliad, scheduled for release in May 2004. Bean is currently appearing in the indie The Big Empty, with Jon Favreau, Kelsey Grammer, Daryl Hannah, Rachel Leigh Cook, and Joey Lauren Adams, which premiered October 9 at AFI, and recently shot a cameo role in "Henry VIII" for Granada opposite Ray Winston and Helena Bonham Carter.

Bean is currently in production alongside Justin Bartha and Nicolas Cage on Walt Disney Co.'s National Treasure for director Jon Turteltaub and producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

His recent projects include Dimension's sci-fi thriller, Equilibrium, with Christian Bale, and 20th Century Fox's Don't Say A Word, with Michael Douglas, directed by Gary Fleder. Bean has dazzled audiences in such films as Tom and Thomas, Essex Boys, Ronin, Anna Karenina, GoldenEye, When Saturday Comes, Black Beauty, Patriot Games, Caravaggio, Lorna Doone, The Field, Stormy Monday and Windprints, among others.

On stage, Bean starred opposite Samantha Bond in a 2003 production of “Macbeth” in London's West End. He has received critical acclaim for his work in the title role, making the show the fastest non-musical to sell out in the West End.

Bean has appeared in numerous stage productions for The Royal Court Theatre, Glasgow Citizen Theatre, and The Royal Shakespeare Company, including “Romeo and Juliet,” “Fair Maid of the West,” and “A Midsummer Night's Dream.”

His television credits include Carlton Production's "The Sharp Series". His other television movies include "Bravo Two Zero", "Lady Chatterley", "Clarissa", "Prince", "Tell Me You Love Me", and many more.



Long-time J.R.R. Tolkien fan Peter Jackson makes history with The Lord of the Rings, becoming the first person to direct three major feature films simultaneously. Released in 2001, the first film in the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, including Best Director, and won four. The film also received the American Film Institute's prestigious Film Award and was nominated for 12 awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), winning awards for Best Film and garnering Jackson the David Lean Award for direction. In addition to four Golden Globe nominations, the film also received numerous distinctions and awards around the world. The second installment, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, was released December 18, 2002, to the highest December opening day in history. It was the number one film for three weeks running and went on to earn $921 million worldwide, making it the fourth highest grossing film of all time. The second installment garnered six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and won two awards, for Visual Effects and Sound Effects Editing.

Jackson previously received widespread acclaim for his 1994 feature Heavenly Creatures, which was awarded a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival and an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay. Written by Jackson and his collaborator, Fran Walsh, the film is based on an infamous New Zealand murder of the 1950s, and the story of two intelligent and imaginative young girls whose obsessive friendship leads them to murder one of their mothers.

Other film credits include The Frighteners starring Michael J. Fox, the adult puppet feature Meet the Feebles and Braindead, which Jackson co-wrote. Braindead played at festivals around the world winning 16 international science fiction awards including the prestigious Saturn. Jackson also co-directed the television documentary "Forgotten Silver" which also hit the film festival circuit.

Born in New Zealand on Halloween in 1961, Jackson began at an early age making movies with his parents' Super 8 camera. At seventeen he left school, and failing to get a job in the New Zealand film industry as he had hoped, started work as a photo-engraving apprentice. After purchasing a 16mm camera, Jackson began shooting a science fiction comedy short, which, three years later, had grown to a seventy-five minute feature called Bad Taste, funded entirely from his own wages. The New Zealand Film Commission eventually gave Jackson money to complete the film, which has become a cult classic.


As producer of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Barrie M. Osborne was nominated for two British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for Best Film, winning one; won an AFI Film Award; and was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Film.

In addition to his work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Osborne executive produced the worldwide box office blockbuster and groundbreaking special effects award-winner The Matrix. His other producing credits include John Woo's Face/Off and China Moon. He has served as executive producer on The Fan, Dick Tracy, Child's Play, Wilder Napalm, Rapa Nui and Peggy Sue Got Married.

A native New Yorker who earned a degree in sociology from Minnesota's Carleton College, Osborne rose to the rank of 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before entering the film industry in 1970, as an apprentice editor and assistant production manager. Accepted into the Directors Guild of America trainee program, Osborne worked under the tutelage of directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Alan Pakula and Sydney Pollack on films including The Godfather Part II, Three Days of the Condor and All The Presidents Men. He subsequently worked on a number of films in various capacities including Apocalypse Now, The Big Chill, King of Comedy, The Cotton Club, Cutter's Way, Fandango and The China Syndrome.

During a two-year tenure as Vice President for Feature Production at Walt Disney Pictures, Osborne oversaw features including Ruthless People, The Color of Money, Tin Men, Three Men And A Baby, Tough Guys, Outrageous Fortune, Roger Rabbit and Good Morning Vietnam.


For her work co-writing The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Fran Walsh was nominated for an Oscar, a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award and Writers Guild of America Screen Award, and (along with Peter Jackson, Barrie Osborne and Tim Sanders) won the AFI Film Award. The second film in the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, among other accolades.

Walsh first garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay for the feature Heavenly Creatures, which she co-wrote with her collaborator Peter Jackson. Other writing credits co-written with Jackson include Forgotten Silver, The Frighteners, Meet the Feebles and Braindead. Walsh, who has a background in music, began her writing career soon after leaving Victoria University where she majored in English Literature.


Since being named by Variety in their list of Ten Writers to Watch in 2000, Philippa Boyens, who made her debut as a screenwriter with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has been nominated for an Oscar, a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award and a Writers Guild of America Award, among others. Besides working as a screenwriter on the Trilogy, Boyens also worked with composer, Howard Shore, providing lyrics for most of the choral pieces in the scores of all three films.

Prior to working on The Lord of the Rings, Boyens worked in theatre as a playwright, teacher, producer and editor. Boyens moved to film via a stint as Director of the New Zealand Writers Guild. Her love of J.R.R. Tolkien's work brought her to this project, having been a fan since she was eleven years old. Boyens will continue her collaboration with Walsh and Jackson as they begin work on their next project - King Kong.


Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne are the Co-Chairmen and Co-Chief Executive Officers of New Line Cinema Corporation. Since Lynne joined the company, they have together guided New Line’s growth from a privately held distributor of art films into one of the entertainment industry’s leading independent studios.

In 2002, the success of the first two films in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as such releases as Blade II, John Q, Austin Powers in Goldmember and About Schmidt vaulted the studio into the number five position in both domestic and international market share for the year. The company reached a new watermark of success, earning $1.8 billion globally, which represents a 59% leap domestically from the previous year and more than double its international take.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King represents the final film in a trilogy that was shot concurrently over an unprecedented year and a half of production. Collectively, the trilogy has thus far earned $1.8 billion worldwide and garnered numerous Academy Award nominations and awards.

In previous years, New Line has released such blockbusters as the Rush Hour and Austin Powers franchises, as well as the hits Wag the Dog, Boogie Nights, The Wedding Singer, Dumb and Dumber, The Mask, Seven, as well as recent hits Freddy Vs. Jason, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Elf. The company’s specialty division, Fine Line Features, has released such acclaimed films as the Academy Award-nominated Best Picture Shine, Dancer in the Dark, The Anniversary Party, The Sweet Hereafter and, most recently, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, American Splendor.


A lifelong fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's novel, Mark Ordesky brought director Peter Jackson's film to New Line's attention, ultimately becoming an executive producer and active participant in the production of all three films.

Ordesky is currently executive vice president and chief operating officer of New Line Productions. In 1997, following his acquisition of the Oscar-winning Shine, Ordesky began his tenure as the head of Fine Line Features where he created a unique film culture supporting the efforts of the creative community. In this He has established on-going relationships with such directors as Bernardo Bertolucci, Lars Von Trier, and David Mamet and provided a haven for emerging talent such as Sundance winners Gavin O'Connor and Bob Pulcini and Shari Spring Berman. Ordesky has also nabbed such acquisitions as Saving Grace, as well as the Oscar-nominated Before Night Falls, Tumbleweeds, The Sweet Hereafter and American Splendor.

Ordesky's career at New Line Cinema began 15 years ago as he developed a taste for material as a script reader. Working his way up the ladder at the company, Ordesky did everything from managing the company's relationship with John Waters to successfully introducing Jackie Chan to U.S. audiences with the smash success Rumble in the Bronx.


Andrew Lesnie won an Academy Award for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and was nominated for the American Society of Cinematographers Award and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts cinematography award, among other awards and accolades.

Lesnie held the Australian Cinematographers Society’s coveted Milli Award for 1995 and 1996, making him Australia’s Cinematographer of the Year two years running. He also won the 1997 Australian Film Institute Award for best cinematography for Doing Time for Patsy Cline, and a 1997 A.C.S. gold award for the same film. He won the 1996 A.C.S. Golden Tripod Award for Babe, in 1995 for Temptation of a Monk, and in 1994 for Spider and Rose. His other feature credits include Two if by Sea, The Sugar Factory, Fatal Past, The Delinquents, Dark Age, Boys in the Island, Daydream Believer and Unfinished Business, among others. Lesnie also handled second unit photography on Farewell to the King, Incident at Raven’s Gate and Around the World in Eighty Ways, and shot the documentaries The Making of The Road Warrior, Stages (about Peter Brook and the Paris Theatre Company in Australia), and The Comeback, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. His television credits include ”The Rainbow Warrior Conspiracy,” “Melba” (A.C.S. Merit Award), and “Cyclone Tracy” (A.C.S. Golden Tripod Award for best photographed miniseries). In addition, Lesnie has garnered A.C.S. Awards for the short films The Outing and The Same Stream.


Richard Taylor, director of special effects company Weta, has been special effects designer on all of Peter Jackson’s feature films including The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Frighteners, Heavenly Creatures, Braindead, Meet the Feebles and the television documentary “Forgotten Silver.” For the groundbreaking work accomplished by Taylor, his partner Tania Rodger, and the team at Weta, Taylor won two Oscars and three British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards - for Best Visual Effects,Best Makeup and Best Costume, and received a BAFTA and Oscar nominations for Costume Design as well as numerous other awards and accolades.

Taylor’s feature credits include Heaven, The Ugly, Once Were Warriors, Jack Brown Genius, Tidal Wave, The Tommyknockers and A Bright Shining Lie. For television, Taylor has designed creature and special makeup effects for “Hercules,” “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “Young Hercules.”


Grant Major won the AFI Production Designer of the Year from the American Film Institute, in addition to being nominated for an Academy Award and a British Academy of Film and Television arts award, among other accolades, for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. For The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Major was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA Award, and won the Art Directors Guild’s Excellence in Production Design Award.

Previously, Major received a New Zealand Film and Television award for Best Design on Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures in 1995. Two years later Major picked up the same award for The Ugly. Major’s other film credits include Jackson’s The Frighteners, Memory and Desire, The Aberrations, Jack be Nimble, An Angel at my Table and, as art director, for Other Halves. Major’s work as an art director for television includes telefilms “Hercules” and “The Grasscutter,” the series “Hanlon,” as well as commercials and news programs. Major also worked as a production designer on the telefilm “The Chosen.”

In addition to The Lord of the Rings, Major most recently designed the production for the acclaimed independent film, The Whale Rider.

Born in Palmerston North, New Zealand, Major’s career in design began at Television New Zealand. His background ranges from production design for the Commonwealth Games ceremonies to designer for the New Zealand Pavilions at the World Expos in Australia and Spain.


Prior to his work on The Lord of the Rings, Rick Porras associate produced Contact and previously worked with Peter Jackson as post production supervisor on The Frighteners. After graduating from Stanford University, Porras ventured into the film business as a buyer for Filmline International attending the international festivals and markets. Porras then joined Robert Zemeckis Productions as a production assistant and later assistant to director/producer Zemeckis on the HBO series “Tales From the Crypt : Yellow” and the feature film The Public Eye. Porras continued working with Zemeckis in other capacities including production associate on Death Becomes Her and post-production supervisor on Forrest Gump. He was also post-production consultant on Tales From The Crypt: You Murderer and to the South-Side Amusement Co.


Prior to his work on The Lord of the Rings, Jamie Selkirk collaborated with Peter Jackson on the majority of his films, first as editor, sound editor and post production supervisor for Bad Taste, Meet The Feebles and Heavenly Creatures. With Jackson’s Braindead, Selkirk made the move to associate producer/editor and then to producer and editor on The Frighteners. Selkirk’s other credits include Jack Brown Genius, The Lie of the Land, Battletruck, The Scarecrow, Wild Horses and The Silent One.

Selkirk’s career in editing started at the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporations. He moved to editorial as a trainee editor and began cutting newsreels, current affairs, documentaries, and dramas. Before his foray into production, Selkirk formed his own post-production company, Mr. Chopper, and worked on a variety of productions and television commercials.


Ngila Dickson, born in Dunedin, New Zealand, was nominated for an Academy Award and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award, among other accolades, for her work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. In both 1997 and 1998, Dickson received the Best Contribution to Design Award at the New Zealand Television Awards; and for her work on “Xena: Warrior Princess,” Dickson garnered the Best Costume Award at the 4th International Cult TV Awards. Dickson’s film credits as a costume designer include Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, Jack be Nimble, Crush, Grampire, Ruby and Rata, User Friendly, and the telefilm “Rainbow Warrior.” For television, Dickson has designed for the series “Hercules,” “Xena, Warrior Princess,” “High Tide,” “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle” and the “Ray Bradbury Series.”

She is currently designing costumes for Edward Zwick’s The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise.


Howard Shore has composed the scores to more than 60 films and received the Oscar and Grammy Awards for Best Original Score for The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, for which he was also honored with awards from Los Angeles Film Critics, The Chicago Film Critics and The Broadcast Film Critics.

The soundtracks for The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers have sold over 3 million albums worldwide and both albums have remained on the Billboard Top 100 Soundtracks chart since their original release in 2001 and 2002, respectively. The U.K.’s Classic FM voted The Lord of the Rings soundtracks “Best Film Score of All Time” for two consecutive years.

Shore’s outstanding film work also includes The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, directed by Jonathan Demme; Ed Wood, directed by Tim Burton; Seven, The Game and Panic Room, directed by David Fincher; and Gangs of New York and After Hours, directed by Martin Scorsese. His other films include the well loved comedies Analyze This, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Big.

Shore's long-standing collaboration with director David Cronenberg has produced the scores to 10 films, including The Brood (1979), Scanners (1980), Videodrome (1983), The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988), Naked Lunch (1990), M. Butterfly (1993), Crash (1996), eXistenZ (1999) and Spider (2002).

Shore’s upcoming projects include another collaboration with Peter Jackson on King Kong and with Martin Scorsese on The Aviator.
Howard Shore was formally educated at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. He recorded with the group Lighthouse from 1969 to 1972 and was one of the original creators and Music Director of “Saturday Night Live” from 1975 to 1980.

Shore has been honored with two Los Angeles Film Critics Awards, three BAFTA nominations in Great Britain. He has also received a Gotham Award in New York, the Saturn Award for Science Fiction and a Genie Award in Canada, and three World Soundtrack Awards in Belgium. In May 2000, Shore was honored during a week-long retrospective of his work presented by the University of Ghent in Belgium. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art held a retrospective of his film music in December 2002.

Shore’s music has also been performed live in concerts throughout world. Most recently, Shore performed his Oscar- and Grammy-winning score The Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship of the Ring with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, his first UK concert performance, at the Royal Festival Hall. Other concerts include the Seville Film Music Festival in Seville, Spain; Cinesonic’s 1st International Conference on Film Scores and Sound Design in Melbourne, Australia; and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada. In November 2000, Shore conducted the world premiere Concert to Projection of his original score to David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch. The performance was part of the Belfast Festival at Queens, in Belfast, Ireland, and featured Ornette Coleman and the Ulster Orchestra. Naked Lunch Concert to Projection was performed in March 2001 at the Barbican Centre in London as part of the Barbican performance series Only Connect: A Series of Extraordinary Live Events. As part of a David Cronenberg film retrospective in June 2003, music from The Brood, and world premiere of music from Spider was performed in Mexico City.
Shore conducted the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in the debut of his symphony, “The Lord of the Rings: A Symphony in Six Movements,” at the film’s November 2003 Wellington, New Zealand, premiere. In the months that follow, he will be conducting the Symphony in the United States, Europe and Australia.

In addition to his film score work, Shore’s chamber music has been featured on Arabesque Record’s "Reel Life - The Private Music of Film Composers Vol. 1."


In 1980, after earning his M.F.A. degree from Otis Parsons School of Design, Rygiel joined Pacific Electric Pictures, one of the earliest companies to employ computer animation for the advertising and film markets. In 1983, Rygiel's work took him to Digital Productions where he began work on The Last Starfighter, a film notable for its pioneering use of digital imaging in place of models. While at Digital Productions, Rygiel's commercial work was nominated for numerous awards, winning a prestigious CLIO award for the introduction of the Sony Walkman. From 1987 to 1989, Rygiel supervised numerous projects while at visual effects companies Pacific Data Images (PDI) and Metrolight. In 1989 Rygiel was asked to form and head a computer animation department at Boss Film Studios. This department of one grew to over 75 animators and 100 support staff within a few short years, winning several awards, including a CLIO Award for the Geo Prism automobile commercial. While at Boss, Rygiel supervised many feature films, both as Digital Effects Supervisor and Visual Effects Supervisor. His credits there include Starship Troopers, Species, Outbreak, Air Force One, The Scout, The Last Action Hero, Cliffhanger, Batman Returns, Alien³, and Ghost. In 1997, Rygiel went on to supervise The Parent Trap, Star Trek: Insurrection, Anna and the King, and 102 Dalmatians.

In 2002, Rygiel received an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and the American Film Institute's first AFI Digital Effects Artist of the Year award for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. He has received numerous nominations and awards for his supervision of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, including another Academy Award and BAFTA nomination.


Alan Lee, who is responsible for the fifty watercolor illustrations in the centenary editions of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s Ring and The Hobbit, provided conceptual sketches for the design of The Lord of the Rings.

Lee has long had a preoccupation with the Celtic and Norse myths which influenced Tolkien. His other illustrations include such fantasy works as Faeries (with Brian Froud), The Mabinogion, Castles, The Mirrorstone, The Moons Revenge, Merlin Dreams, Black Ships Before Troy and The Wanderings of Odysseus. Lee has received several prestigious awards including the Kate Greenway Medal for Black Ships Before Troy. Most recently, Lee garnered the Best Artist Award at the World Fantasy Awards of 1998.

Lee began work in the film industry as a conceptual designer on the film Legend. Other credits for Lee include the feature film Erik the Viking and the acclaimed television miniseries “Merlin.”


John Howe is best known throughout the world for his contributions to a wide range of Tolkien projects such as calendars, posters, and jacket illustrations - and he brings his passion for Tolkien’s work to conceptual drawings for The Lord of the Rings.

Howe has worked quite extensively for the European film industry, illustrating Bande Dessinee comics and numerous books, primarily fantasy, historical, and children’s titles. He decorated the reception of the renowned Maison d’Ailleurs, the Museum of Science Fiction in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, and has personal exhibitions on show throughout Europe for the past twenty years. He has also produced backgrounds for animated television.

Born in Vancouver, John Howe eventually fled the family farm for the big city, but ended up a year later studying illustration in France. Upon graduating, he worked in a variety of media, from magazines to comics, animated film to historical and children’s books, as a writer, illustrator and photographer. While Tolkien-related work admittedly comprises a large part of his work, Howe works for a variety of fantasy and science fiction publishers, as well as continuing to write and illustrate books. His recent work includes the illustrations for the best-selling The Lord of the Rings board game.


Prior to working with director Peter Jackson on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Dan Hennah was the art director for Jackson’s The Frighteners. Other feature film credits as art director include Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, White Water Summer and Savage Islands; as supervising art director on The Rescue; as production designer on Mesmerised and as dressing prop on Mutiny on the Bounty. He was recently honored with Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

As a production designer for television, Hennah’s credits include the Cloud 9 television series “The Tribe,” “Twist in the Tale,” “William Tell” and “Treasure Island.” Further television credits find Hennah as associate designer on “99-1,” art director on “Heart of the High Country” and production designer on the movie-of-the-week “Adrift.” Born in Hastings, New Zealand, Hennah went on to study architecture at the Wellington Polytechnic School of Architecture. Hennah’s first position in the film industry was as a production assistant on the film Prisoner.


Over three decades ago Peter Owen started work at Bristol Old Vic while a student of Modern Languages at Bristol University. After working in theatre, television and opera all over Europe, Owen began work as a film make-up and hair designer on The Draughtsman’s Contract. His other early films include Prick Up you Ears and Dangerous Liaisons.

Owen won an Academy Award for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. His more recent feature credits include Little Women, Age of Innocence, Oscar & Lucinda, Bird Cage, Beloved, Portrait of a Lady, Onegin and Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow for which he received the 1st Annual Hollywood Guild of Makeup Artists & Hairstylists- Best Character Makeup, 2000.

Owen’s company with Peter King, Owen & King, counts as regular clients Meryl Streep, Michelle Pfeiffer, John Malkovich, Bruce Willis, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, Robert DeNiro, Helen Hunt and Ralph Fiennes, among others.


After training and working as a hairdresser, King joined Bristol Old Vic and worked on his first film The Draughtsman’s Contract. Thereafter King worked with Peter Owen on numerous opera, theater, and film production until they formed their own company. His early work as a designer includes The Blackheath Poisonings, Secret Weapon, Princess Caraboo, Fairytale-A True Story and Batman IV. More recently he has worked on Avengers and Little Voice and received BAFTA nominations for the films Velvet Goldmine, An Ideal Husband and Quills. For his work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King was nominated for both The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which he won, and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

As a company, Owen & King have as regular clients Meryl Streep, Michelle Pfeiffer, John Malkovich, Bruce Willis, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, Robert De Niro, Helen Hunt and Ralph Fiennes, among others.

Not-So-Sad News for Irish Ringers
Xoanon @ 1:03 pm EST

Ann writes: In response to your 'Sad News for Irish Ringers' post, UGC may not be showing either FotR or TTT, but Ster Century in Liffey Valley in West Dublin are.

See stercentury.ie for times for both Extended Editions, including a double bill on Tuesday 16th, fuelling strong rumours of a post midnight RotK.

Still some sad news though - the charity premiere planned for the 16th in the Savoy in the city centre has had to be cancelled.

I and my friends are some of the disappointed fans who were contacted by The Arthritis Foundation to confirm this. The gist of the reason is given here. More]

Spot TORN On the TTT:EE DVD!
Xoanon @ 12:25 pm EST

Our very own Asfaloth writes:

I was watching my "Two Towers Extended Edition" special features, Disk 3, "Designing Middle-earth" and about 37 seconds into chapter 2 of the program, (at the spot where Dan Hennah and Alan Lee are talking about how they had to ambush Peter Jackson to get him to sign off on their designs) they show a shot of Alan standing outside of a tent on location. Sitting next to him and beaming is our very own Tehanu!

And I'm not sure if this has been posted yet or not, but in the bloopers section of the WB "Behind the Scenes" special that can be found on "The Two Towers" theatrical DVD you can find Quickbeam sitting on a sofa in conversation with Sir Ian McKellen. It's the scene where everyone's throwing fruit.

TRL In Studio Report
Xoanon @ 12:16 pm EST

Heather writes: I attended the taping of MTV's TRL featuring Elijah Wood, Dominic Monaghan, and Billy Boyd (Sean Astin was originally slated to appear, but I'm guessing something came up last minute for him).

I arrived at the studio at 1 pm, braving gusty winds and rain. I didn't have a ticket, since you had to reserve them 3 months in advance, and I had found out about this 3 days ago! But since the ticketholders line was rather short, everyone who waited on standby got a wristband and was able to attend the taping. it was really exciting for me, not only because I got to see Elijah, Billy, and Dom upclose, but also because it was my very first time inside the MTV studios and I've lived in NYC practically all my life!

The crowd was really energetic and the boys were overwhelmed with the positive responses they were getting. I was seated in the back, right next to where the celebrity guests walk out onto the set, so I had a good view of them all. they basically talked about ROTK, the video game, and what it was like to spend 15 months together. and they did a little dance for the audience. it was cute. I was so thrilled to be in the same room as them, I don't think I've ever screamed so loud in my whole life for any celebrity. during the commercial breaks, they greeted the fans and such, and Elijah shook my hand and said hi to me with a big grin on his face. I smiled back at him, and told him that I loved him(I can't help it, I do!), and he smiled back at me and very sweetly said thank you! awww.

Dom and Billy also shook my hand and said hello and were extremely polite, even with all the screaming fans clamoring to touch them. once they were finished with their appearance, they waved goodbye to everyone. as they were heading towards the backroom, Elijah actually grabbed my hand again and said goodbye to me! it was so adorable. I couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the day. unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures or autographs because security was very tight, and the boys took off immediately after the taping ended at 6 pm. but being a part of something this unique was one of the best moments ever. LOTR holds a special place in my heart, and to finally come face to face with 3 of the most wonderful and talented individuals ever was absolutely breath taking. I think it's safe to say this was one of the most amazing days I've ever had. thank you Elijah, Billy, and Dom!

VARIETY: Let the games begin
Xoanon @ 11:52 am EST

Now that the screeners issue has been set in stone (if not resolved to everyone's satisfaction), the film biz can move forward and concentrate on what's really important in the awards season: the actual contenders.

At this point, it's not surprising that most people consider Oscar a wide-open race in most fields.

The bigger question mark is how new factors -- the shorter awards season and the fact that only about 4,500 Academy voters will be receiving screeners -- will affect the eventual outcome of the nominations and winners.

This year, there is the feeling that little has gelled and that most Oscar category races are wide open.

As evidence of this year's uncertainty, many Oscar prognosticators point to New Line's "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and Miramax's "Cold Mountain" as hot possibilities for a best-pic nom -- even though neither has been screened for anyone but a handful of folk within their respective studios.

Fox's "Master and Commander," which bowed last week, and Universal's "Seabiscuit," which opened during the summer, also raise an interesting question about this year's race. After so many recent empty-headed mega-pics from the majors, these two films prove that Hollywood can create intelligent, adult fare. The reception from critics and audiences (and, yes, industry members) indicates that Academy voters might be happy to vote for such films.

In the past few years, Oscar voters have included "little" pics like "The Hours," "Gosford Park" and "In the Bedroom" among its top five. But for the first time in a decade, it's possible that Oscar's five best-pic contenders will all be $100 million-plus major-studio biggies -- not necessarily because of the majors' "bullying" the small guys over screeners, but because the big pics are actually good -- and they have more promotional clout.

Is it possible? Absolutely. Is it likely? Don't bet any money just yet.

Awards campaigns can change quickly, and a lot will happen in the year's remaining six weeks.

In any case, the good news is that everyone is beginning to get the rancor over the screener ban out of their system. Now hopefully we can just get on with the race.

See Cameron Rhodes in Ladies Night!
leo @ 7:14 am EST

Everyone's favorite Farmer Maggot Cameron Rhodes wrote in to tell us about a fantastic new play he's currently appearing in called "Ladies Night". The play has been co-written by Stephen Sinclair, who also helped on the scripts for The Lord of the Rings!

"It is a New Zealand Classic comedy by Stephen Sinclair (credited on TTT as a co writer) about a group of unemployed guys who form a male strip group! It is very funny! It predates the FULL MONTY, and as a play Ladies Night has been tranlated into many languages...

I am one of the guys, and I do some funny dance routines, and a spectacular finale act..it is set in 1987 NZ.

It is on in AUCKLAND at the SKY CITY THEATRE now until DEC 13, can book www.ticketek.com, or at the theatre..(09 307 5000) It is selling fast!!!

Any FARMER MAGGOT fans in NZ for the ROTK Premiere or LOTR tours should check it out it is a very funny NZ play by a LOTR writer.. I have a big part, and it is a really spectacular show with high tech effects, kiwi humour and me doing alot of things... Stephen Sinclair is a friend of PJ's and the writing team!

The audiences HAVE been dancing and screaming!!!!!!



PS i dont have a dog or mushrooms in this one..

Oh, both women and men will love the show..and with out giving too much away..I am have a big surprize for the audience in the final scenes, if they come!!"

Go check it out and tell me what it is! (If I want to know...)

A Long-Expected Report
Demosthenes @ 7:04 am EST

It was a tale that grew in the telling - wait, I think that's been done before. Anyway, a more than several weeks ago now - more like two months, in fact - I had the privilege of representing TORn at the Best of Both Worlds convention in Canberra, Australia.

My report has been delayed on several occasions by the triple evils of work, a near-fatal lack of internet and moving house, as well as my finely honed skills of procrastination, but here it is finally. Enjoy!

You might notice a distinct lack of photos throughout this report - if you feel the need to go hunting for photo evidence of the event, Peter Fallon was BoBW's official photographer, and has some great photos up here.

Best Of Both Worlds

When you think of conventions, you usually conjure an image of thousands of people wandering round huge exhibition halls, stopping at booths to occasionally glance at merchandise and perhaps exchange a few awkward words with the person staffing the booth. Not to mention huge lineups to get into convention theatres where the guest presenter may as well be a mile away and your question is competing with hundreds of others.

Now imagine, if you will, a convention of just a hundred or so people. An intimate, friendly atmosphere. Where organisers greet you by name and are genuinely interested that you're enjoying yourself. Where the guests don't feel overwhlemed by the fans and are happy to just stop and chat during the day.

This is Best of Both Worlds 19.

Glenn (BOBW's MC) tells me they usually focus on Stargate, Babylon 5 or Andromeda. Best of Both Worlds 19 is their first venture into Lord of the Rings. Still, the guest lineup is great - Bruce Hopkins (Gamling), Sarah McLeod (Rose Cotton), David Weatherley (Barliman Butterbur), John Noble (Denethor), Craig Parker (Haldir) and Ben Wootten (Senior Designer, WETA Workshop) - I find myself really looing forward to it.

Costume recreations

I roll up on Saturday morning. I'm a little late - there's already a photograph session underway - but I haven't missed any of the talks.

I wander into the main room from the reception area. It's smallish - perhaps 20 tables set out in 10 rows, with half-a-dozen chairs at each. They're all laid out with white tablecloths, bottles of water, glasses and small bowls of complimentary Minties.

I catch up with a friend from the Barliman's chat channel - Luthien Amandil - while waiting for the action to begin. She's just there for the day with her friend Holly. I end up sitting with them for most of the day, but after the banquet in the evening, they'll be heading back to Sydney.

A short while later, a young girl in a fabulous-looking replica of Arwen's funeral outfit wanders past. We express wonderment; she tells us her Dad made it for her.

"He's a total Tolkien nut," she says, describing the many volumes of Tolkien books throughout his house.

"Can we swap Dads?" Luthien jokes plaintively.

Glenn tells us each guest will be onstage for 45 minutes. If that seems like a long time - it's not. Time really does fly when you're having fun.

Sarah McLeod

Sarah McLeod begins the day's proceedings. Someone asks if her daughter had any part in the film, drawing a comparison with Sean Astin's daughter being drafted as Elanor for Return of the King. Sarah answers her daughter has a (presumably brief) appearance as baby Frodo - one of Sam's 13 children.

She tells us she didn't have a size double, from which I conclude that she doesn't have any scenes with "Big People".

She entertains us with a rendition of the hobbit dance from the Long Expected Party. She confesses her memory of the steps is rather hazy more than two years on, but she still draws generous applause as well as a few "ooohs" and "aaahs" when she tosses in a turn or two and a signature flick of the fingers above her head.

Applause becomes laughter when she describes an embarassing moment dancing with Frodo. She tells us she and Frodo were supposed to step in towards each other, then step apart. She drafts an audience member to demonstrate. Unfortunately, on this occasion they got to close, and when Elijah attempted to dance away, he left a large chunk of big toe behind.

Sarah had stood on it.

She expresses a little bit of regret that a great deal of her dancing scenes will never see the light of day - even on extended DVDs.

Someone asks how well Sean Astin dances. She answers that she's sure that Sean is a great dancer, but Sam's a bit shy. "I had to take the lead," she tells us.

The realism of the sets just amazed her - and listening to her describe the feeling of having real butterflies fluttering about her in a garden of sunflowers at Hobbiton, you can't help but agree. Even the tankards at the Green Dragon Inn, for example, were wholly authentic.

Apparently, hobbit feet feel a bit like plastic slippers. She says that it was rather difficult to adjust to the extra length, though. She confides that if you didn't lift your foot just that little bit extra, you could easily catch and bend the big toe, or even fall over on your face.

The tells us about the makeup and prosthetic process. The wigs were held on tightly with clips, and while the bodices gave her sore ribs by the end of the day they weren't full corsets. "How people coped in the old days, I don't know," she says.

Call times could be as early as 5am, and the process of applying the feet was very particular - apparently the WETA guys would attach a bit, then spray, then attach it the next section.

Sarah says she would have liked to have kept one of her wigs, but she does have a keepsake - she managed to hang onto her scripts and call sheets.

David Weatherley

David Weatherley (Barliman Butterbur) reveals that he got into acting by accident - literally. As a young man newly arrived in New Zealand from Canada in the 1950s, he was looking to join the army. However, when his bicycle collided with a fast-travelling landrover his knee and hip were so badly damaged that an army career became impossible to pursue.

Crutch-ridden and unhappy his situation, his life changed when his mother invited him along to a reading of the Crucible. When they got there, one of the people meant to read hadn't showed up. He says his mother turned to him and said: "Oh, you'll read, won't you David?" To this day, he suspects it was a setup. But he adored it and immeditely leapt into a career in acting.

David says his injury - for which he's had both a hip and knee replacement - made standing on the set of Lord of the Rings quite uncomfortable and difficult. Understandable, given that he had to endure a week of 14-hour days. Two hours of that was makeup where he would wait patiently while he was padded enormously and had his signature sideburns and moustache applied.

He displays his incredible talent for accents, rapidly switching through a variety of English accents - West Country, Cockney, Yorkshire and several others. I'm no expert on accents at all, but each is perceptibly and subtly different. It's most impressive.

He says it proved useful when he auditioned. He asked the casting director: "Well, what accent would you like?" He tells us that accent makes a difference to the characterisation - cockney english is "cheekier", for example. He doesn't explicitly say it got him the part, but I get the impression it may have helped a lot.

He reveals that Barliman - sadly - won't be making a reappearance in Return of the King. I'm guessing that means we can firmly strike a return to Bree - and definitely the Prancing Pony - off the list of possible scenes for the final film. He says his teenage son - a Tolkien devotee - was somewhat disappointed, but David seems unfazed himself.

Asked if he prefers stage or screen, he says he has a definite preference for the former - on stage he's always in control of his performance. He know that everything he does is going to be seen by the audience - there's no cutting-room floor.

"You're it", he says. "You're on; you're in control."

He tells of his mild horror on discovering that Barliman was actually described by Tolkien as bald. "Enter Barliman: short, red faced and bald," David recounts. He recalls telling the makeup artist this on his first day.

"You've got such lovely hair, I don't think we'll bother," he says the artist replied. Later on, the guy wanders back. "Me and PJ have just had a talk ..."

When you next see Barliman on screen, spare a moment to think of David's locks, reduced to a mere combover for the sake of art.

John Noble

I was privileged to speak with John at length. Sadly the tape of the interview is simply not comprehensible - something that has caused me a great deal of frustration. Many of you will have seen John's work in the Tower's Extended Edition by now - I can only say that from my chat with him, the part of Denethor is one of the things I am anticipating the most for Return of the King.

Ben Wootten

Ben Wootten treats us to an inside look at how WETA Workshop produced the enormous amount of armour and weaponary for the films. He tells us that there was at least 1,500 'units' of armour created, and a total of some 48,000 different items - which seems a vast output, even across a four or five years.

Some items are undoubtedly tiny, but Ben tells us others are huge - the "bigature" of Orthanc, for example is five metres tall, while Minas Tirith is more than 20 metres in diameter. These are not items you can churn out in just five minutes.

To cope, WETA Workshop adjusts to the circumstances - sometimes there may be as few as 15 peoples, or as many as 150 when the need is there.

Ben says that the first project they worked on - the design of the Uruk-hai - was possibly the most difficult. Often it felt like they were drawing in circles. It certainly took the longest time - it was some 16 weeks from when they kicked off until the final designs crystallised.

He throws up a few early images on a projector screen to illustrate - they bear only the scratchiest resemblance to the final uruks that we've all seen in Fellowship and Towers.

Ben says everything changed when John Howe turned up. John Howe, of course, had been working in the Tolkien milieu for many years. John, a recreationist with real-world experience of how armour worked, brought a new level of realism to the work. Form - meaning appearance - became subsidary to functionality.

Ben describes John's beserker sword concept as a case in point.

"It's massively simple - you just hit people with it," he says. "The hook end is for pulling riders off their horses - either by snagging their armour or their cloak." He points out that the semi-circular divot on the end of the blade is for decapitation or limb removal once you have the rider helpless on the ground. Nothing of the weapon is there merely to look "pretty" or "fantasylike".

One can almost imagine John demonstrating each of these functions to the team at WETA.

John, along with Alan Lee set a whole tone for the world WETA was creating. They showed the designers that everything they created in Tolkien's universe had to hang together as a logical whole. As Jackson pointed out to his team, they weren't creating a fantasy world, but an alternate reality with it's own internal logic and rules.

"[So] the Uruks set the precedent for the whole world," Ben tells us.

He says that Jackson was heavily involved in the design early on - three to four times a week WETA would have design meetings to hone the direction that he wanted. For the first two years he was approving everything down to buckle designs. However, after filming began, Jackson's time shrank progessively, leaving the responsibility for 'small' stuff more and more upon the shoulders of WETA.

Occasionally they would have to design 'on the fly'. Mostly this was for armour. Breastplates were an example of this, orginially being too wide across the chest. WETA also that quiver straps would slide at awkward moments. Eventually, they worked around this by adding a harness underneath the outfit.

Someone asks what Shelob will be like. Ben describes her as 'really creepy', adding that if a person can't make a 10-foot tall spider scary, there's something wrong. So for those of you that have watched the trailer and worried that Shelob looks too small - you have it from the horse's mouth.

Bruce Hopkins

Bruce Hopkins leaps onto the stage. He's a bundle of energy and ebulliance. He begins with a striptease. Well ... more of a fashion shoot ... as he shows off his growing collection of LoTR-themed t-shirts. Most were gifted to him by fans; one he made as a thank you for all the cast and crew who he worked with.

There's about half a dozen of them including: Rohan Riding Academy, Minas Tirith Public Library, and Isengard Swim Club. He jokes that they're all available on his website.

"That's Bruce hyphen Hopkins dot com." He deepens his voice, and goes into 'ad-man mode', repeating it several times to the amusement of everyone. "Available at Bruce hyphen Hopkins dot com" rapidly turns into the catchphrase of the afternoon.

He tells us that he arrived on the Helm's Deep set quite late in the shoot. In fact, he'd pretty much given up on being involved.

He only anticipated being involved for a few days - maybe eight to 10 days of filming. It took him a little while to fit in - he says there was an incredibly tight bond between everyone, and it wasn't something he cared to disturb by leaping in and putting his foot in it. Bruce tells us his initial quietness lead to Ian McKellen dubbing him "Gamling the Silent".

Accidentally injuring one of the lead actors in the Helm's Deep gatehouse on your third day of filming probably doesn't help.

Bruce tells us he was involved in a "very random fight" with Bernard Hill defending the Helm's Deep gatehouse. The number of people and the cramped space made it extremely difficult to choreograph.

Defending the gate with Bernard beside him, Bruce swung his sword as a Uruk-hai came charging through the ruined gate into the melee. There was no time at all for him to react as the sword bounced off the Uruk stunt-guy's sword, striking Bernard in the side of the head.

It split his ear open. But Bernard was understanding, telling Bruce he saw the sword ricochet off the stuntie's sword and realised it was not his fault at all.

Bruce's role grew when Philippa Boyens came up to him one day and said they liked what he was doing - would he like to stay and shoot some more scenes?

He suspects that part of it was because the writers realised they needed someone for Theoden to issue orders to. Not for the sake of it, but so the audience would realise what was going on and where the plot was heading - whether it was to evacuate Edoras or retreat at Helm's Deep or something else.

So - in a sense - Gamling was one of the very few roles which expanded beyond what Tolkien wrote - something Bruce is naturally quite happy about.

He went back for further pickups for Return of the King recently. It was there he picked up his only set injury - straining his thigh while fighting on horseback.

He tells us he was about to lash out at someone in battle with his foot, but his foot got stuck in the stirrup as he kicked out, jamming his leg badly. He knew he'd done some damage, but it was only when he got off his horse and was barely able to walk that he realised how bad it was.

He was astonished to receive a parting gift this year from Peter and Fran - a book, a clapper board, and a (hero) sword. The message inside the book read: "Thank you for giving us a character we never knew we needed."

Craig Parker

Craig Parker has the crowd in fits talking about his failed "KISS" boots on the Lothlorien set.

"They needed to shoot over my shoulder at Viggo and Elijah, but I was too short to get the perspective right," he says. "And since I needed to walk, they couldn't just stick me on top of a box."

"After a lot of pondering, I suggested attaching polystyrene blocks to my feet. So we're all there hacking away at this polystyrene and taping it to my feet with gaffer tape."

He describes the incongruousness of the situation - kitted out in this fabulous elven outfit with huge polystyrene blocks taped to his feet. "Elf, elf, elf," he says, motioning at his head, arms and torso. He points at his feet. "KISS."

Unfortunately, it all went wrong when one of the blocks snapped under him, sending him tumbling. So much for elven grace.

Someone mentions the Toy Biz Haldir action figure to him. "I have an action figure?" The person holds up an Armies of Middle Earth pack (I think that's what it is) and Craig runs down to the back of the room to have a look. I'm pretty sure I hear the words "wow" and "cool" - memory is slightly hazy now.

Oh, for the want of $400

All the guests return to the stage for a charity raffle to raise funds for the Guide Dogs for the Blind. The first item is an Arwen dress replica. It gets passed in - John threatens to buy it tomorrow if no-one else does. Two signed bottles of wine (one white, one red) attract some heavy bidding while I manage to acquire a copy of the Two Towers theatrical DVD signed by all the guests.

However, eyes really light up when a Sideshow/WETA Gandalf (the Grey) statue is brought out. Ben holds up the base and slowly walks among the tables, showing it to us closeup - Richard Taylor has signed it in gold pen. Glenn jokes that if you don't like the grey colour, all you need is a can of white spraypaint. The $400 final bid seems an absolute bargain to me, but I've already blown my dosh.

Replica elven helmet

After that, there's an autograph session. I wander about while people are lining up and start chatting to a guy named Darren. He has an elven helmet reminiscent of the Last Alliance scenes tucked under one arm.

I ask him about it, and he tells me he made it out of chopped-strand fibreglass, set with polyester resin. Bog (a powdery filler that you create by combining it with resin) fills out the shape, and was used to help make the headpiece. It has foam inserts to cushion it on the head.

Darren tells me he's also made a full set of leaf armour. The next project is to create a suit of elven chainmail - a bit like what Elrond wears.

I try the helmet on - the fit is perfect. The extra weight on the head feels a bit odd, but I suspect it wouldn't be too hard to get used to. You'd just need to learn to compensate for the extra height due to the headpiece. The peripheral vision is quite good - about 140 degrees - the eye sockets allow a very decent view of what's going on around you. It's certainly far better than the narrow-field eyesockets of the Uruk-hai.

I spot Ben and ask his opinion. He says he's impressed. Apparently WETA uses a type of hot resin spray instead of fibreglass - it creates a much lighter product. He adds that fibreglass is unsuited to stuntwork such as seen at Helm's Deep or Pelennor Fields. Apparently the fibreglass splits and tears when struck, becoming more dangerous than the weapons that the "enemy" is wielding against the stuntie.

Banquet dancing madness

Later at the banquet, 80s retro music fills the room. I am slightly disturbed to find myself singing along to My Sharona. John Noble coaxes a small group of Taiwanese and Japanese out of a corner and onto the dance floor. Bruce dances the nutbush and demonstrates his professional dance skills. I also spot Sarah out on the dance floor among a knot of people. David and Craig lurk up the back chatting.

I miss much of the second day since I'm occupied with interviews, however I manage to catch Craig amusing the audience again at the end of the day.

Early in the morning, I spot another be-costumed fan - this time it's Arwen travelling costume from the from Two Towers. The crushed velvet cloak is remarkably heavy - and probably quite hot I suspect. Arianne tells me the design is not a perfect replica - deciphering how the hood was constructed has proved quite difficult. She demonstrates, and the hood slips off her head after just a few minutes. Still, it looks great and I can barely believe it was made in just three weeks.

There's another charity raffle, and the Arwen costume that was unauctioned yesterday reappears. John makes good on the previously day's threat and claims it. Later that night, I am bemused - but not surprised - when both Bruce and John don the outfit (separately) at the Wrap Party and tango each other to the cheers of everyone. Craig manages to hide in a corner and avoid attention.

A Legolas standee is brought out for auction, and somehow the Arwen costume makes its way from John's grasp and ends up draped over the standee. The sight of Ben Wootten and (I think) Craig Parker "walking" the Legolas standee around the room, holding the sleeves of the costume will be forever burned into my brain.

Lolly - my very gracious host who puts up with me all weekend - snags Legolas. Another couple of bottles of wine again prove popular and attract a lot of bids, but it's a backcopy of the LoTR Fanclub magazine with Dominic Monaghan on the cover that causes a frenzy. When bidding reaches $300, I begin to suspect that people are thinking ahead to next year and the visits of Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan to BOBW 21 in March/April. The winner eventually parts with $350 - valuing it at something like $4 a page!

I conclude that the guide dogs have done extremely well out of the weekend.

I don't think I can understate just how enjoyable this event was. It really was a fantastic weekend with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The organisers - Adele and Brian Carr - were always approachable and helpful, and the guests responded with wonderful generosity to the enthusiasm of the fans.

Sure you pay a bit more, but in my opinion the experience is simply incredible. If you get the opportunity, do it - you'll have a blast. And with Dominic Monaghan and David Weatherley, already signed up for the next LoTR BoBW event in March, it's shaping up as something special already.

I owe a huge debt of thanks to the staff of BoBW for their help, as well as all the guests for being so generous with their time, and putting up with my insistent questions across the course of the weekend. Finally, I'd like to thank TORn's founders for giving me the opportunity to represent the site.

11-19-03 Latest News

More Ring*Con 2003 Reports!
leo @ 5:52 pm EST

A lot of people have mailed in their thoughts about Ring*Con 2003. I'll try and post all of them so here's the second batch.

Hîriel was there as well and shares and shares her thoughts on working during the convention...

Hi there!

I was just reading your fantastic reports and it was great to see that there's someone who enjoyed this convention and is even able to find the right words to describe it...I'll be trying to do as well as you did, but I'm not really sure if I can manage to do so because I'm German...and not THAT sure about my English...so please be patient ;-)

This is a report from a point of view that's kind of different from the others as I was a member of the security-staff this year. Arriving quite early on Friday, we were given our schedule and almost immediately had to start working. At first, I felt a bit insecure if everything could work out as the orga wanted it to, as I had never done any securityjobs before - so I was kind of afraid that they'd just let us do the "minor things", but I have to say: They didn't. Our supervisors did a wonderful job telling us what to do and especially Vader (our security-daddy) spent about at least two hours on changing the schedules so that everyone could work with his friends and/or could attend the panels and workshops he or she wanted to see.

When the first Ringconnies arrived, it was amazing to see that they respected even the youngest members of our staff and did not complain at all, even if they had to let us take a look into their bagpacks for about the 134th time. The atmosphere was amazing and more than once I thought that this was the way the members of the Fellowship must have felt for each other. Having to live my life knowing that just one of my friends is able to understand my love for Tolkien's work (actually, she was working on RingCon too), I was as happy as can be because there were thousands of people thinking and feeling just the same way I do. Though I had to work a lot on Friday already, there were always some people who just stopped beside me and talked to me, cheering me up when there had been one of the very few...howcouldIcallthem?...wannabe-Ringconnies who just attended to see "All those geeks in their stupid costumes" and had no respect whatsoever for other visitors or staffmembers. I made a lot of new friends standing at the entrance and checking the conbadges...I never thought that this was really possible!

Because of my quite huuuge amount of work on Friday, I arrived a little late at the Bruce Hopkins/John Leigh-panel which I desperately wanted to see but I have to say that - although I was a little tired - I've had more fun than I ever expected to have. Yes - being one of the Rohirrim (and the first one Bruce picked) and having to run around in that crowded Valinor was kind of embarrassing at first, but nevertheless tears of laughter ran down my face when I was allowed to sit down again. Because I was told that I had worked enough for the opening day I was even able to attend Craig Parker's panel and the following comedyshow with Mark Ferguson. And there they were again: The tears. I couldn't stop laughing for hours...that passportstory was way to much for me :-)

Not feeling the least bit tired anymore I was very much looking forward to the opening ceremony which was wonderful...Marc B. Lee was doing a great job (as he was on all three days) and I'm quite sure that when we read "This weekend we rule the planet" on the screen, no one in Valinor was NOT feeling at least a litte proud to be there.

Well, the only "negative" thing I have to say about the first day is, that I felt a little pity with the English-speaking guests because they could not understand the lyrics of the song that was played with that video of Boromir...this was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. (For those who really didn't understand but would like to know: the song was called "Hier ist ein Mensch" which would be "Here's a human" in English). Oh, and one more thing: It was a shame that I had not been able to get a room in Bonn, so I had to go home that first night when the party just started - and nevertheless I just had about two hours of sleep...

Saturday started easy for me (hell, this is going to be SUCH a long report...sorry about that, leo! - that's okay) as I didn't have to start working before the afternoon, so I could get my autographs and take a closer look around. Suddenly - whilst standing in Gondolin - it got loud outside, so I ran out and there they were: Schelmish. I had never heard of them before but I loved them from the first second on (and I'm sure, so did everybody there). Seeing everyone jump around and having the time of their lives was great...

I was a little sad thet I had to sit at one of the emergency exits when they played the second time but I could hear them...that made this boring job a little easier ;-) All of us had to work even more on saturday but there were all those nice people again who were really friendly and giving their best to make it as easy as possible for us. Even some of the stars came to talk to us whren we were sitting around anywhere, looking "rather bored" as Nathaniel Lees put it when he came to stop me from falling asleep at the emergency exit, Marc B. Lee stole our popcorn - the only thing we could eat that day - at the entrance (but I got it back...I defeated the Master of Ceremony! YAY! ;-)) ), some orga-people were there too, giving us a good time while we had to work for the good time of others...I want you to understand that correctly: We loved working for that, but it was a little exhausting...

When it came to the costume-contest, I wasn't able to see too much of it which was not that bad, as I had seen most parts of it on Friday already. For those who might ask themselves why I could not be there: I had to work...backstage. That much about just being allowed to do the "minor things". Some of the tables we had to carry on stage and down again were heavy as hell, but knowing that there are about at least 2000 people out there (and some actors back there ;-) ) waiting for the show to go on gives you a strength you did not know you had. I loved that contest, though it was a little long...but the huge Treebeard-costume, the Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits and Humans were fantastic. That short shock when Baumberta fell off the stage was taken away from everyone, when she just got up and did her show...I could never ever have done it that way...compliments to her costume and compliments to her professionality!

I can't say anything about the fashion-show at all, which is a little sad because I would have loved to learn a little more about some of these amazing costumes I had seen all weekend, but we had some chaotic minutes searching for the stuff the winners of the costume contest should get, so, don't be upset, dear fashion-show-people, I'm sure you did a wonderful job ;-)

The people left Valinor and finally the area was prepared for the second autographsession on sunday morning...I was tired as hell and just wanted to go to bed and sleep for about three years, but... Forget about being tired, the Middleearthparty was calling...and it was calling with the voice of Schelmish. I must've been dancing for hours, judging from the amount of sweat that was pouring off me, but I did not care...and all the others must have been thinking just the same. Okay, I can't say too much about that party anymore (thanks to the dwarves at Elbenwald and their free met*grin*) but I'm sure that everybody's had a wonderful time - again. It was about 8 in the morning when I realized that I had completely forgotten about going home and it must have been almost 8.30 when I finally fell asleep anywhere...on the floor...for unbelievable 30 minutes. ;-)

Though none of the staff had slept too much (and everyone had to confess a "small" amount of alcohol-intake) we started working again at 9 in the morning and that was when the chaos began, because most of our staffmembers just didn't show up anymore. The orga had a stressfull time I think, but they always listened to our problems (e.g. when we had spent about four hours at the dealer's room without eating or at least the possibility to go to the restroom just ONCE because no one came to do our job for these two minutes). I think those of us who were there worked all day - almost without a break, but though it was more than exhausting we still had our fun.

Finally I had the possibility to see one of JRD's panels whilst sitting next to the microphone telling the people who wanted to ask him anything not to beg for autographs...I could've understood if they did, many of them could not get one at the official sessions because it just took too long (but I can say that FedCon's planning to change that for the next RingCon). He was fun to listen to, telling interesting stories about life on set and his castmembers, so I do not rate that hour as a working one... ;-)

It took me a few minutes to realize that the moment I had been afraid of all weekend was finally there when Marc B. Lee entered the stage again for the closing ceremony. It's unbelievable how very fast three days can pass if you're having a good time with people who understand your passion for LotR and Tolkien... The cardgame was fun, those Reggaeorcs even more but then it was time for the last few minutes. I got goosebumps all over when the name of Professor Tolkien appeared of the screen and all those people were cheering and standing up, I do not understand why some people can't see the magic in his works...just imagine...who else could make people react to his name like that, 30 years after his death?

When they finally showed the exerpt from Daily Telegraph (to those of you who weren't there, this is, what I'm talking about: "Bilbo found a scrap of black twist and tied it round his arm. The little hobbit wept bitterly. Somewhere in the world of fantasy that Prof. J.R.R. Tolkien created, this is happening at the news of his death.") it got completely silent in Valinor and I'm sure that I do not only speak for myself if I say: I've been crying. After everyone else had left, we had to clean up Valinor, working about another two hours. I could've cried again as I saw how quickly every single sign of that wonderful weekend was removed...

Finally, after about two tons of pizza for the staff, we had to leave, looking back one last time at the main entrance of the Maritim and whispering a "See you next year" into the night.

Oh my God, this was probably the longest report I've ever written in English (I hope it was more or less understandable), but I just had to let anyone know what a staffmember felt about this weekend. It could not get much better, it was stressfull, it was exhausting and I think I slept about 17 hours afterwards, but I'd do it all again tomorrow - or for the rest of my life :-) I'd like to thank the FedCon, C'rdan, Marcel, Raphi, Thorsten, Vader, all staffmembers and helpers, the stars and of course all those wonderful fans for the passion they put into these three days, I think most of us will never forget them and I hope that I'll meet many people next year...some of them again, some of them for the first time. To those of you who have the possibility to attend RingCon 2004: Pack your bags and come there...I'm quite sure you'll have the time of your life!

Hîriel (who still is dreaming of last weekend ;-)) )

More Ring*Con 2003 Reports!
leo @ 5:28 pm EST

A lot of people have mailed in their thoughts about Ring*Con 2003. I'll try and post all of them so here's the second batch.

Next up is Thomas who chimes in with some more information about the closing ceremony I mentioned in my day three report!

Hi !

I just read your article about the closing ceremony. I can give some details for the card game.

I was a volunteer for Decipher (USA)/Universal Cards (Germany) at the Con. Giving demos for the LotR TCG from Decipher and this kind of stuff.

The "game" was organized by the German distributor of the game, Universal Cards.

The Players on the stage were Volker Saltmann and Vasco Spieckermann, both voluteers in Germany for the Game. The short "show" was created by Volker and Michael Krause from Universal Cards, as far as I know.
The real players were all regular guest at RingCon who became part of the show just for fun. :-)
Except for "Boromir" who was played by Michael.

The Marc B. Lee - card was self-created. We took the photo at RingCon and designed and printed the card during the night.

It was a nice idea to introduce the game to the audience and have a lot of fun. And we really had a lot of fun.

Also, there was a trailer from Universal Cards for the LotR TCG during the Con. The two players in the trailer are Volker and Michael.
So Volker is maybe the only LotR- card gamer with "movie" and "stage"- appearence. :-)

Btw, sorry for some minor mistakes with my english. I'm not very good in any of my 3 foreign languanges I can speak.

It all made sense to me so no worries!

More Ring*Con 2003 Reports!
leo @ 5:20 pm EST

A lot of people have mailed in their thoughts about Ring*Con 2003. I'll try and post all of them so here's the second batch.

To start of with TheKnight (who managed to get the Ringers crew drunk on mead which is quite an achievement!)

How do you talk about as special an event as this was in a short space of time. Leo is doing a report marvelous in all its detail. I just wanted to give another impression for you all.

RingCon 2003. Bonn. Germany. Middle-earth. It was all there. Three days as full as a new barrel of beer in a hobbit's cellar. Seemed as though it lasted about that long.here today and gone tomorrow. Time flies but the memories linger and the pageant of fans decked out in costumes and colours, jewels resplendent in the light, armor shining bright, blazons of Gondor, Rohan, the White Hand, curly haired hobbits with bare feet, black orcs and Uruks, walking Ents and even an Ent-wife. Elves. Yes, Sam, there were elves as fair as could be, their long hair plaited and entwined with gold and silver.

And the actors were there. They came as themselves, sharing verbal out-takes from the films, stories, answering questions during the panel discussions and giving us all a wonderful taste of Kiwi hospitality and wit. I don't think they ever really slept but they gave us all 200% for the whole three days.

They let us into their realm for a while and we loved (and appreciated) every single minute of it all. Most of the fans questions revolved around the movies but there were less (much less) serious moments when Craig Parker (Haldir) and Mark Ferguson (Gil-Galad) slipped into a brilliant comedic duet of words even involving the RinCon emcee, Marc Lee, in their infectous humor. Bruce Hopkins (Gamling) and John Leigh (Hama) gave us all a new look at life in Rohan that had us rolling in the aisle. Nathaniel Lee of the exquisitely modulated voice turning and thundering out "looks like meat's back on the menu boys", Sala Baker with a smile as wonderful and warm as sunlight (hard to imagine him as Sauron but that was him behind all that beautifully and intricately etched armor.yes, please go see the LOTR Exhibit at the Science Museum in London!), Lawrence Makoare who fills up a stage with his presence just by walking across it, Jorn Benson (Rumil) who has a beautiful smile (when he chooses to show it) and a haunting air of James Dean about him. My heart is out to all of them. Then there was John Rhys-Davies. Gimli truly held court and we were hypnotized not only by his voice but also by his verbal acumen as we learned more about life and Middle-earth by way of Galileo and Copernicus.

They all graciously smiled and talked their way through hours of photos, autograph signing, and talking to fans without ever skipping a beat and made us all feel a part of that larger Peter Jackson family. Thank you. Thank you all.

The depth of curiosity, amazement, and wonder ran like a current beneath the presentations, the photos sessions, the autograph signing, workshops (the Perry boys were absolutely fantastic and you would not believe the detail on the tiny figures they produce), rolled together with the honor of being present when Rogier Samuels and Carola Brockoff worked their WETA magic over two volunteers who were turned into orcs, made us all feel like we had some wonderful project in common. A grouping of people from 21 countries. Language made no difference. Background made no difference. Politics, race, creed, colour, actor or fan it made no difference. Many of us found new friends and new perspectives on life in the three days we spent there. We formed a Fellowship of our own. The magic continued.

I think one of the moments I will personally remember for a long time was perhaps one of the smaller ones. A young lady was the first WETA 'victim'. She was slowly but surely transformed into a rather ugly and mis-shapen orc. Took hours. Nathaniel Lee (Ugluk) said he had spoken to her the evening before her transformation took place. She was excited and happy as could be. He said that would all change quickly on the morrow. The next day she was visibly wilting under all the layers of plastic, foam, paint and various glues holding it all together. I saw her again at the photo session at the end of the day, posturing like an orc for the camera. Underneath all the make up and prosthetics you could tell she was smiling. You could really tell she was smiling.

21st Century Radio Goes Geek
Xoanon @ 5:18 pm EST

Nate from 21stcenturyradio.com writes: The radio program: 21st Century Radio will be streaming and archiving (free real player archives) interviews with Tolkien scholar and author of "The Philosophical Etymology of Hobbit" Professor Stan McDaniel on November 23rd, 2003 from 7-9pm EST. Also interviews with Brad Bridges- the production manager for the Sideshow WETA line of LOR collectibles and Mike Simon, VP of Sales and Marketing for Artbox Ent. about their exciting line of Tolkien Action Flipz Collectible Cards and Stickers featuring all 3 LOR movies.

[Archives direct link (will be available after 11/23/2003)]

Other LOR free archived interviews can be heard at above link also (including Sean Astin, John Rhys Davies, etc).

[Live streaming of show on 11/23/03 7p-9p EST direct link]

Boyd's 'Master' Screening in London Report
Xoanon @ 5:06 pm EST

Can You Spot Billy?

Sam writes: I was lucky enough to attend the Royal Film Performance of Master and Commander on Monday in London with 2 Lord of the Rings fans. We went through the security check and walked passed the crowds to the entrance of the Odeon Leicester Square. Billy Boyd was a little distance behind us and even though it was a very wet evening he stopped for some time to talk to fans in the crowd..We soaked up the atmosphere outside the cinema before going inside to take our seats in the stalls. The arrival of the stars from the film was shown on the screen in the auditorium and we sat down in time to see Billy Boyd arrive, looking very smart in his black kilt and tie.

He was interviewed standing with Paul Bettany and looked towards the camera a couple of times with that much loved Pippin smile on his face. Finally, HRH Prince of Wales arrived and Russell Crowe introduced the cast including Billy Boyd and the director, Peter Weir to Prince Charles.

Following the National Anthem the director, Peter Weir and the cast were introduced to the audience. Billy Boyd was introduced with other members of the cast and made his way up onto the stage. The audience gave him a big round of applause. The actors left the stage and many of them including Billy Boyd sat in the stalls. The house lights went down and we watched the film.

Afterwards we stayed in our seats as it took some time for the cinema to even begin to empty. Finally we stood up to leave and as we walked to the exit we met Billy Boyd and congratulated him on his role in the film before heading out into the now dry night of London town.

Viggo Mortensen Media Conference
Xoanon @ 4:50 pm EST


TIME: 10.00AM

Viggo Mortensen will answer questions about his photography, painting and poetry before the opening of his two photographic exhibitions Mò Te Upoko-O-Te-Ika / For Wellington at Massey University and the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery, City Gallery Wellington, and a poetry reading fundraiser for Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters.

Media are required to register before the media conference by emailing either: Anna Davidson, Publicist City Gallery Wellington: anna.davidson@wcc.govt.nz or John Saunders, Public Affairs at Massey University: E.J.Saunders@massey.ac.nz. Identification will be required on the day. Media intending to film for television or make sound recordings are asked to indicate this when registering so that technical requirements can be met.

Interested media are also invited to attend an exclusive preview and walk-through of both exhibitions before the public opening.

Previews will be held at the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery at City Gallery Wellington, Thursday 27 November, 6-7pm. Curator Rebecca Wilson will be available to discuss the work. Wine and cheese provided. Then at Massey University in the Museum Building - Tokomaru on the 3rd floor, Friday 28 November, 9-10 am.


Coinciding with the world premiere of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Viggo Mortensen's photography will be the subject of two exhibitions in Wellington this summer entitled Mò Te Upoko-O-Te-Ika / For Wellington Photographs By Viggo Mortensen.

Massey University will host a large survey of Mortensen's recent photographic work, while at City Gallery Wellington's Michael Hirschfeld Gallery photographs of the Wellington region will also be on display.

Both exhibitions run from 29 November 2003 - 25 January 2004.

Viggo Mortensen is a recognised photographer, painter and poet. His work has been exhibited in galleries in the U.S., Cuba and Denmark, and featured in several publications.

Taken while Mortensen lived in Wellington to film Lord of the Rings, the photographs in the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery at City Gallery Wellington will offer a unique chance to see familiar Wellington scenes-Courtenay Place, Mount Victoria, Lyall Bay, Kapiti-through the eyes of an artist who has made strong connections with the region. Massey University will exhibit Mortensen's abstract photographs in the two third-floor galleries of the Museum Building -Tokomaru, formerly the National Art Gallery.

Massey University will be open from 9am-1.30pm on November 29, then from 10am-4pm daily until January 25. It will be closed over December 24 - January 3. Entry by donation. The Michael Hirschfeld Gallery at City Gallery Wellington is open daily from 10am - 5pm (except Christmas Day).

Entry to the exhibition is free.

Saturday 29 November 2003, 6pm, at the Paramount Theatre, 25
Courtenay Place.
Tickets $50.
BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL. Phone 04 801 3017 or email

Introduced by Bill Manhire, Viggo Mortensen will read his work alongside New Zealand writers Tusiata Avia, Hinemoana Baker, and Cliff Fell. All proceeds from this benefit reading will be donated to a scholarship fund for students enrolled in the creative writing workshops at Victoria University of Wellington.

For information please contact:

Anna Davidson, Publicist
City Gallery Wellington
Tel: 04 801 3959
Email: anna.davidson@wcc.govt.nz

John Saunders, Public Affairs
Massey University Wellington
Tel: 801 2794 extn 6653
Email: E.J.Saunders@massey.ac.nz

Anna Davidson
City Gallery Wellington
Civic Square
PO Box 2199
Tel: 04 801 3959
Mob: 021 998 331
Fax: 04 801 3096
email: anna.davidson@wcc.govt.nz

Check out our websites:

Into The West - In Song And Behind The Scenes!
Demosthenes @ 7:31 am EST

Courtesy of Electric Artists, we're able to bring you this special Behind-the-Scenes sample of the making of Into the West, as well as the opportunity to have a listen to the song!

Annie Lennox - Into the West

[128 Bit Stream] [56 Bit Stream]

NB: Both these files require Windows Media Player.

[Quicktime Stream]

NB: This file use Apple Quicktime.

Annie Lennox - Into the West: Behind the scenes

This video gives a behind the scenes look at the process of creating Into the West.

[56 Bit Stream] [100 Bit Stream]
[300 Bit Stream] [450 Bit Stream]
[Quicktime Stream]

11-18-03 Latest News

More Ring*Con 2003 Rumblings!
leo @ 5:02 pm EST

Ringer Spy nel writes: As you're probably gonna receive lots of reports about the fantastic RingCon of this weekend, I just want to share with you some elements I very much appreciated. Mind you, there's some minor spoilers!

Panel with Sala Baker (Sauron):
He spoke from some scenes that were filmed, but cut out and may make it in an hypothetical EE of the Whole trilogy in some years… For example, the Forging of the One Ring was much longer, with Sauron mixing his blood to the gold for the One Ring. Or other scenes in which PJ just gave more details about the characters (Aragorn being from a Line of Kings).

To the topic Wounds, he mentioned that as a stuntman he got many times wounded (broken leg, knie, ankle, fingers). Once he got his head "splitted" from a sword, he had to go to the hospital and get "recut".

The Armour of Sauron was "amazing" but very heavy (about 50 Pounds, 25/30 Kg) so it was hard for him to move his arm and drink anything: it was very warm under the armour!

About PJ being a very precise director, telling exactly what he wants.

Some spoilers about the EE of TTT and his general impression: the EE feels shorter than the Theatrical Version; because of the details for the characters, it flows much better and its deeper.

On days off, he would hang around and learn much stuff about lighting, blue screens, paintings, Assistant Director etc. One day for example, he found the Treebeard-set so he helped manipulating the walking "animatronix" (or whatever the name is lol): we can see him on the DVD in the blue suits.

Last words about RotK: he plays three characters (orc, orc-lieutenant and didn’t catch the last). But he warned us: "folks, for the RotK-Screening, take lots, lots, lots of tissues"!!

Panel with Nathaniel Lees (Ugluk)
After 4 and a half hour Make-up, it was weird for him to see his face so "ugly-looking". With the prosthetics (teeth etc) it was impossible for him to speak audible, so all his lines has been made in ADR (Additional Dialogue Recording). His fave line : "Meat back on menu boys!"

His make-up was very hard to wear, very hot: so physically exhausting. He would collapse on chair during the pauses.

Panel with John Leigh (Hama) and Bruce Hopkins (Gamling)
Bruce Hopkins arrived 9 months after shooting began. He knew already John Leigh and they enjoyed working together.

Both re-played the Warg-attack, it was very funny!

The scene where Gamling and Theoden get ready for the battle (speech from Gamling), the sons of Bruce Hopkings are sitting at the entrance of the room, their backs to the camera, as Refugees.

As Bruce Hopkins came on the last week of shooting in Helms Deep, he did no sword-fighting. But he had to learn Horse-riding with John Leigh during two months…this year for the pick-ups (Gamling is in RotK!) he had to ride a horse again, after about two years without any horse-riding: it was very epic for him!
He mentioned the danger in the word-fighting; for exmaple, Theoden (Bernhard Hill) got his earlob wounded by an Uruk-Hai.

Weta-Workshop: Rogier and Carola, the Make-Up Artists
They made a three-hours demonstration of transforming someone into an orc with all the prosthetics and dressing. It was very impressive. One detail: as the orc have black blood, they would give each orcs before almost each take some black melasse (mixture of black jelly) so that mouth, teeth and tongue would look black.

Panel with Lawrence Makoare (Lurtz)
In RotK he plays the Witchking of Angmar, Gothmog and an orc: was weird for him to play his boss and the boss of his boss….Especially in one scene where Witchking and Gothmog have a little chat (…) he would speak one role to a pingpong ball. He's very excited to see himself on screen: two characters in one scene.

When watching FotR in a theater, at the death of the Balrog and the Cavetroll, all the audience was quite calm. But when Lurtz got killed by Aragorn, all the audience would cheer and Lawrence Makoare would sink into his seat.

He spoke from the enthusiasm of PJ during the filming of the battle-scene of Aragorn-Lurtz: after rehearsing each move many weeks so that they were sure of they movements (Lawrence Makoare had contact-linses so he was pretty much blind), PJ was looking for new ideas. When Aragorn planted his knife in the leg of Lurtz, the idea of LM was to take the knife out, leck it and throw it back to Aragorn. At this, PJ would cheer and enjoy this idea: "yeah!yeah!!!!"

Well, that’s a very short report, just to encourage people to try and get to Bonn for the next edition of the RingCon 2004!

Namarie, nel

Ring*Con 2003 Rumblings!
leo @ 4:50 pm EST

Some of the people that attended Ring*Con 2003 last weekend wrote in with their thoughts and highlights about the event. Check out the first batch of reactions here and be sure to keep sending me your thoughts, pictures and other Ring*Con related stuff!

Ringer Spy Frank writes:

I attended RingCon 2003 and I enjoyed it very much. For me a convention is not about panels or huntig autographs but about showing off my costumes and having fun with the other fans. This year I was dressed as Boromir and the reactions were a bit scary. The following are absolutely true: I was asked to "die" four times. Someone wanted me to sign his copy of LotR - as Boromir! So I did. A little girl asked me in a timid voice: "May I touch you?" And finally about a dozen elves or so kissed me. Oh yes, I was interviewd by some people making a documentary for an obscure (editors note: !?! ) website. I'm not sure which one...

This is just a brief glimpse of the fun you can have on a convention. A lot of people complained about the money they had to pay for merchandise or official fotos but I did not spent one single cent and had the time of my life!

Gondowyn had fun as well, although she did not dress up...

I really had an excellent weekend at the Ringcon! I had heard stories before about how well organized their parent-convention Fedcon was and how big an event it would be, but when I arrived on Friday I wasn't quite prepared for what I got into. At first I felt a bit overwhelmed by the size and diversity. Fortunately the visitors were given lots of information from the start and I soon got adjusted into full Ringcon mode. The fun could begin!

What made it enjoyable for me was that there were lots of other events besides the 'usual' panels and signings with actors (which were great too). The Orc make-up session was one of the highlights, as well as being able to chat with Michael & Alan Perry at the games workshop booth and take a look at some of the new ROTK models that will be released in the future. I also had a lot of fun trying out the game itself; alas my noble Minas Tirith warriors were defeated by the Orcs - this time.

The dealers room held some pleasant surprises, although unfortunatley most stuff was in German (well, not so strange when you're in Germany). There were quite a lot of new items for sale and I managed to buy a copy of the "weapons and warfare of middle-earth" book, which I hadn't yet seen anywhere before. With all the people in beautifull costumes, I almost felt a little underdressed for the occasion in my jeans. Maybe I'll try to find something more suitable to wear next year.

It was all just fun fun fun: the activities, the actors, the other visitors, the parties... And my compliments to the staff, who managed to run a tight schedule with only a few minor flaws and still maintain a leisurely atmosphere throughout the event. With the risk of overcrowding: all who have a chance should visit Ringcon 2004!

Ringer Spy Walter also noticed the new Games Workshop miniatures, here's his thoughts!

First of all ringcon was a fantastic event! I am also a big gamesworkshop fan and to my surprise I saw the newest models standing behind glass, including the new war-trolls and the army of the dead! Here are some of the models! The news was also that the Mumakil will be 9 inches high and there will be an army of haradrim coming! But it will be (next?) november... There will be also a set with the witchking, eowyn and merry!

[Check out Walter's pictures of the Games Workshop-miniatures on display!]

Ring*Con 2003 Day Three Report!
leo @ 3:26 pm EST

And once again I missed my wakeup-call and woke up only four hours after some Elf threw us out a hotel room. With the fantastic music from Schelmish still buzzing around in my head we evacuated the room and made our way down to the convention area for the last day of Ring*Con. After wandering around at the autograph-session and the WETA-demonstration for a while it was time to get started on what would take up most of our day: doing fan-interviews for “Ringers”! This was interrupted only because of a short visit to Bruce Hopkins’s panel (I love that guy, really), and an interview with the guy that played pretty much every extra in the movies: Jorn Benzon. By that time however the hangover from the nights before had finally kicked in and I am afraid it got rather silly at one point, but you’ll have to wait and see how silly exactly because I will not tell how it came that we walked around the convention like two Egyptians...

We also caught a glimpse of the joined Sala Baker and Lawrence Makoare-panel which looked like it was a lot of fun and missed out on interesting lectures such as Marcel Bülles’s (one of the co-organisers) Interesting Interpretations of Middle-earth, a workshop about writing Elvish and a lecture about collecting Tolkien. I would have liked to see that as I am somewhat of a collector myself (send me all your stuff so I can collect faster, heheh). Filming was more important however so hopefully she’ll be back next year. Once again we wrapped up before John Rhys-Davies’s panel because there was no point in finding fans anymore as everyone was gathering in the main hall again.

Much like Saturday’s panel John Rhys-Davies enchanted the crowd with his musings about various subjects. And whether he was talking was talking about Galileo (one of his passions), western culture or Star Trek everybody listened intensely. There were some good moments when he talked about how he would give out Orlando Bloom’s phone number to everyone if he would have it and how he sent his stunt double to get tattooed in his place because that is what actors do when they are faced with a dangerous stunt (although that might have been from the Saturday-panel as well, my memory is a bit hazy on that). Over the weekend his panels were without any doubt the most interesting ones to attend which is not to say that the other ones weren’t any good because they were. John Rhys-Davies however speaks in such a way that you are unable to do anything else than listen and reap, if that makes any sense at all. His attendance was a highlight of the convention and the organisers should be congratulated on managing to get him.

After the panel it was time for the closing-ceremony and the end of the convention and much like the opening-ceremony it was great fun. It started of with two people playing one of the card games based on The Lord of the Rings (I am sorry I’m not very good at those things so I can’t tell you which one). While the two guys on stage were playing the game at a table the cards and characters they ‘played’ appeared on stage and followed the actions taken in the game. As if that wasn’t cool enough when the card of Ugluk was played Nathaniel Lees appeared on stage which led to a huge applause! The “evil cards” had no problem taking out the “good ones” and things were starting to look very ill-fated for the forces of good until the winning card was played: the Marc B. Lee one! After doing so Marc appeared on stage and knocked everyone over that stood in his way which led to more cheering and applauding from the audience. I have to say last compared to last years closing ceremony (which was pretty much the same as the opening ceremony at the time) this was a huge improvement and congrats to whomever came up with these ideas!

The act was followed by performances from the Orcs and Eve and the Breeze again and Marcel Bülles handed out some prizes to the winners from the video contest (a very funny clip in which someone edited himself in as Gollum) and the art contest (a miniature Hobbiton-set) but for the highlight of the closing ceremony Bruce Hopkins and someone from Air NZ appeared on stage. In all their kindness Air NZ had given the organisers from Ring*Con a return flight to NZ, five nights in a hotel and two tickets for the world première of The Return of the King on December first which were to be raffled amongst all the visitors of the event. One could hear a pin fall on the floor while Bruce drew the winning number from a huge bowl. And here I am afraid I have to be somewhat critical again. You see my card (the one you need to get into the convention) did not have a number on it, so I was not included in the draw. That’s not fair, I want to go to NZ too, heheh... No in all seriousness, the winner was a young woman that must be very, very happy now because she gets to go to the coolest event in all the history of cool events. I envy you but congratulations anyway!

And then it was time to say goodbye. Goodbye to all the Tolkien-lecturers, collectors and workshop-teachers, goodbye to the Games Workshop-designers, to Colleen Doran, to Rogier and Carola from WETA and of course to all the actors as well. As they appeared on stage on by one they thanked the audience for the good times, for having them here, for asking them all kinds of questions and it all was very sincere. On a special side note: John Leigh had left earlier that morning so he was not there to collect his share of the applause which was there nonetheless. I looked like everyone on stage had been having a great weekend, most of them had said during the weekend that Ring*Con was the best convention they had attended so far (and John Rhys-Davies even said that Ring*Con had the prettiest girls he had seen anywhere, so Orlando Bloom and Elijah Wood should remember that when they get asked for next years Ring*Con) and with guys like Craig Parker, Bruce Hopkins and Sala Baker there (who must’ve seen dozens of conventions by now) that’s probably saying something. And because all things have to end sometime so did Ring*Con 2003 after that.

Now it has been said that the third day is always the saddest one because, well, it is the last one (and everyone is hung-over and therefore not as bright and happy as they are the first few days, but that’s just a personal observation). Fact however is that the report about the third day is always the nicest one to write, because it is the one in which I get to tell you all what my thoughts were on the entire convention, which is exactly what I am going to do now!

I’ve been doing some thinking about it and I guess it boils down to the fact that I just love this convention. I’ve attended a few in my days but none seem to come close to the experiences I’ve had on Ring*Con. This is probably because there is no other convention around (or none that I have attended) that is only about Tolkien and the movies. When you walk around a Comic Con (which I have to admit I have never done, but I can imagine what it is like) or Collectormania you just don’t have the same atmosphere as a LOTR-only convention like Ring*Con. There is a sense of, well, fellowship that everybody has and it reflects on the entire weekend.

There were times when I was sitting up on the balcony and tears would almost come to my eyes. John Rhys-Davies’s standing ovation on Saturday night was one of them but also seeing the trailer of last years Ring*Con on the big screen in the main hall. Whenever the awesome Cameron Rhodes or lovely Sarah MacLeod (these people here!) would appear on screen there’d be a huge applause, even though they weren’t here this year. I’ve said it before but I think it is true; Ring*Con’s audience remembers. I’m not sure how many people attended this year but if they have doubled last years numbers I think that’s because a lot of people that were there last year came back this time around. I guess Gollum says it best in the Extended Edition for The Two Towers: “Once it takes a hold of us, it never lets go.” I know for a fact I’ll be there next year and I haven’t heard anyone all weekend who said they wouldn’t.

Of course I know of some minor flaws that the major part of the audience probably didn’t even noticed and I have tried to find some negative reactions on the Ring*Con message boards but they are all in German so I failed miserably. I don’t think anyone has a lot to complain about. The event was better then last years with the organisation not only learning from their mistakes (All the panels and most of the workshops and lectures were in English this year around, unlike last years Ring*Con and the schedule was clear and only on one or two occasions there were some delays) but also putting up a better show. The guest list was one that fitted the event with a lot of actors that felt right at home at Ring*Con. And as much as I would like to see an Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd or Viggo Mortensen at Ring*Con I do not think they would be hanging out in the hotel bar until 5 in the morning and the fact that these perhaps lesser-known actors like Craig Parker and Sala Baker did is what makes this event as special as it is. There’s no VIP-area where the stars hide all weekend, they are as down to earth as you and I are and that makes them perfect guests for such an event.

I also like the location. The Maritim is a fantastic hotel that might be considered a bit expensive but has an convention area which is perfect for this event. If there were indeed over 3000 people that attended I sure as hell didn’t notice. At times the main area’s were crowded yes, and when they main hall filled out it really filled out but over the whole it wasn’t harder to get around then it was last year. I guess the fact that there is just so much to do plays a huge factor in that observation. Ring*Con is for lack of better words the perfect marriage between the books and the movies. There is always something someone will enjoy whether it is hunting Lawrence Makoare down for an autograph or attending a Hobbit-dance workshop. And because there is, there’s no panel, lecture or workshop that’s not filled with people and no area that appears to be empty.

Of course there are some things that can be done better next year. I would consider tweaking the costume contest slightly and (but this is just a personal grief) I regret there not being enough time to get Craig Parker and Mark Ferguson in front of the camera. In fact there seemed to be too little time for anything, so how about making it a five day event next year, heheh... No in all honesty, I think Ring*Con 2004 has the potential to become even more popular next year if they hold on to the things that really stood out this year (the WETA-demonstrations, the excellent guests and a wide and varied range of lectures workshops) and manage to expand on that. I’d love to see bigger names but I think the ‘smaller’ actors have just an important part in making the event work. And I’d love to see things like WETA Digital-panels or workshops from renowned Tolkien-artists such as John Howe, Ted Nasmith or maybe even Alan Lee.

And after that? Will these guys be able to pull of an event like Ring*Con 2005 or 2006? I’d love to see it happen but they can only do so if we all keep attending and if the guests are still willing to show up. Nowadays it seems like money is becoming a bigger and bigger issue for the stars to show up at events like these and that is (although it is understandable) a pity. Money should not be the only thing. There should be some sort of a willingness to go out there and be amongst the fans, that should be rewarding as well. I’m sure John Rhys-Davies was amazed at the reception he got and it is good pr as well. Ring*Con has it in itself to become great and we can all help it become that. Wow that sounded a lot like something from the Harry Potter-books. Stop talking now leo...

Last but not least I will have to thank a few people, so bear with me. First and foremost of course the organisers: Stefan Servos from Herr-der-Ringe-film.de, Marcel Bülles from the German Tolkien Society and all the folks from FedCon that did an amazing job this year around. Keep up the good work! Marc B. Lee for being an excellent Master of Ceremonies, good buddy and all around nice guy, all the volunteers that worked during the weekend for doing what they were doing (even if that was not letting me up the stairs the first day, heheh), Tore Schmidt (my DP) for not snoring. Michiel/Gimli from TheFellowship for the same reason, the ever excellent Ian Smith for being there to rant and get drunk with, his good friend Reiner for listening to me complain from time to time and basically everyone that bothered talking to me for bothering to talk to me. I had a great time and it just wouldn’t have been the same without all you wonderful people! Hope to see you all back there in 2004!


[ Day One Report! ] [ Day Two Report! ] [ Day Three Report! ]

11-17-03 Latest News

'Into The West' Lyrics
Xoanon @ 10:49 pm EST

Rachel writes: Here are the lyrics from Into The West. The only thing I'm unsure of is "Dawn will fade" or "All will fade"

Lay down
your sweet and weary head
Night is falling,
you have come to journey's end.
Sleep now,
and dream of the ones who came before.
They are calling
from across the distant shore.

Why do weep?
What are these tears upon your face?
Soon you will see
all of your fears will pass away,
safe in my arms
you're only sleeping.

What can you see
on the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea
a pale moon rises --
The ships have come to carry you home.

Dawn will turn
to silver glass
A light on the water
All souls pass.

Hope fades
into the world of night
through shadows falling
out of memory and time.
Don't say,
"We have come now to the end."
White shores are calling
you and I will meet again.

And you'll be here in my arms
Just sleeping.

What can can you see
on the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea
a pale moon rises --
The ships have come to carry you home.

And all will turn
to silver glass
A light on the water
Grey ships pass
Into the west.

Ring*Con 2003 Day Two Report!
leo @ 5:32 pm EST

Gosh the headache... I wake up an hour after my alarm was supposed to go off (which it probably did without me noticing it) only three hours and a bit after I found my bed in the first place. Conventions can be so much fun once you are up, but doing that is probably the worst part of a Ring*Con day. Without so much as a breakfast I wandered around the convention-area for a while before finally settling down at the first WETA-workshop. This was quite a remarkable thing. The Ring*Con organisation had managed to get two entire Orc-costumes, courtesy of Richard Taylor and his WETA-team, and Rogier Samuels and Carola Brockhoff had selected two people who were to be turned into an Orc, one each day. From what I gathered both demonstrations started quite early and lasted a good three hours but were absolutely packed each day! Rogier and Carola did some amazing work of not only applying the makeup and prosthetics to the selected member of the audience in what must be a record-time, they also answered questions and shared some great stories from being on set.

After that it was time to hook up with the amazing John Leigh for a short interview, look for it on TORn Digital in the near future! Another interview with Mark Ferguson did not happen because he had been having too much fun at the hotel bar the night before. It appears Mark Ferguson simply doesn’t want to get interviewed by us because it didn’t happen last year either. In all honesty I have to admit that we missed the rescheduled interview ourselves because the auction Mark was hosting at the time lasted a bit longer than planned. Not getting him on camera is turning out to become some kind of tradition I guess... Anyway, John Leigh turned out to be a more then excellent guy to talk to and made up nicely for the absence of Mark who will just have to miss his few minutes of fame on the site now, heheh...

Saturday was also the day John Rhys-Davies arrived in Bonn and we spent some time talking to him and Nathaniel Lees as well. Once again, look for it on the website in the (hopefully) not so distant future! Still without breakfast we went back to the WETA-demonstration to shoot some footage and general b-roll, something we were at for pretty much the rest of the day. Getting footage of the autograph-session was a very time-consuming but fun thing to do although it made us miss supposedly great things like the Team Pictionary Game hosted by Marc Lee, Colleen Doran’s hour of fame and some other great things. But to be honest there was just too much to do at Ring*Con this year and that is a Good Thing because there was something to everyone’s liking.

Then, as the clock almost reached 5 pm I finally had my very late lunch before being able to sit down for a while during Lawrence Makoare’s panel which for me turned out to be yet another highlight. Lawrence managed to keep the audience interested for almost an hour sharing his stories about working with Christopher Lee, the insane amount of makeup that his roles required, how much fun it was to kill Boromir and much, much more. One of the best bits was where he talked about how the fight scene between Lurtz and Aragorn came to be; it featured some excellent imitations of Viggo Mortensen and Peter Jackson and was pretty interesting as well. It basically came down to PJ listening to a lot of the input from the actors and getting very excited about ideas Lawrence came with such as the scenes where he removes the knife from his leg. Also Viggo Mortensen supposedly wanted to do all kinds of fancy sword moves which swords master Bob Anderson kept shooting down because it was ‘too Elvish’.

Unfortunately there was no rest for the weary (which I guess was my own fault) and we ended up doing another hour-and-a-half of shooting interviews for Ringers. Kudos to the guys from LaGarafa Productions who were gracious enough to let us use their stand (used to promote an upcoming fantasy movie called Kriegerherzen, German Ringers should keep their eyes open for that). While doing so we missed another great comedy-hour with Craig Parker and Mark Ferguson, although in the background we could hear all the noise coming from the main hall, which made missing it even worse, heheh..

We did wrap up before the highlight of the day started though; John Rhys-Davies’s first panel discussion. John’s panel on Saturday was probably the first and only time the entire main hall filled up and when he came on stage and got a standing ovation before he even said a word the roof came down. It was without any doubt a very intense moment to see the man on stage that was close to attending that last year but bowed out because of other commitments. He came back this year though and it looked like the audience remembered and thanked him for it. A great moment.

John Rhys-Davies kept the audience spellbound for a good hour talking about a wide range of subjects. Once he starts talking about something he tends to keep going on and on, but there was noone that really seemed to mind or even dared to interrupt him. And no matter what it was he talked about it was always interesting. Whether it was about his respect for Peter Jackson, his vision on the part of Gimli as a comic relief or his thoughts on the books themselves he had a very clear and sometimes enlightening vision on it and the audience seemed to be hanging on his very words. Sometimes funny, sometimes dead serious he acted like Gimli and Treebeard and informed the audience about the letter he will write to the Academy if they pass on Return of the King next year, even though members are not supposed to do that about movies they are in themselves. There were many more highlights but I simply cannot write it all down, though maybe someone else has by now...

After the panel it was time for the costume contest and here I fear I have to be slightly critical. I have like many others thoroughly enjoyed watching what must be like 70% of the visitors to Ring*Con being dressed up as their favourite characters. I think it is quite cool to do such a thing, although I wouldn’t consider doing it myself (I’m too tall really, I wouldn’t make a believable Hobbit). The costume contest however lasted too long in my opinion and not to mention the fact that some of the best costumes I have seen this weekend weren’t even in it. There was some good stuff, I liked the Elrond/Gil-galad costumes and scene they acted out and the winners (three Orcs and an amazingly looking Ent that adapted the Lumberjack-song for their act) were great as well. But I think it turned out to be more like a talent show which is okay but there would have to be something like a time limit on it I guess. Something to ponder about for the organisers because after all; they also learn from their mistakes.

Learning from our mistakes we did not though, because like the previous night we consumed way too much alcohol on the Saturday night. There was after all a Middle-earth party to attend with fabulous performances by Schelmish, Eve and the Breeze and the belly-dancing talents of Medeena. It is rather safe to say that the hotel lobby was a place that remained crowded until the early hours....

[ Day One Report! ] [ Day Two Report! ] [ Day Three Report! ]

TV Watches Galore
Xoanon @ 4:54 pm EST

Get those TiVo's or VCR's ready....stay up late with a gallon of coffee and a bag of Skittles...here's a quick roundup of all the LOTR TV appearances this week:

Tonight (November 17th)

Cate Blanchett will be on The Late Show with David Letterman. [LateShow.com]

Tuesday (November 18th)

Cate Blanchett will be on Live! with Regis and Kelly. [RegisandKelly.com]

Wednesday (November 19th)

Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd and Sean Astin will be on MTV's Total Request Live. [MTV.com]

Thursday (November 20th)

Elijah Wood and Billy Boyd will be on MuchMusic's Much on Demand. [MuchMusic.com]

Friday (November 21st)

Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd & Andy Serkis on TNS's Off the Record. [TSN.ca]

Saturday (DECEMBER 13th)

Elijah Wood is set to host SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

PJ: 'Nope, I'm not in that Scene'
Xoanon @ 4:14 pm EST

PJ's TTT Cameo?
Click here to not find Peter Jackson

Idlemindgames writes:

I was lucky enough to find a copy of the EE:TTT early and wanted to report some information I found. Hopefully tomorrow I'll send in a review of the EE ... generally ... as a Merry and Pippin fan, I'm a very happy camper.

As for the information. When I had finished watching the movie I started on the director's commentary. When it came to the scene where Peter has his "first" cameo (when Saruman is giving a "pep talk" to the Easterlings), the man him self said something very interesting. He explained that many people thought he cameoed in the scene, (including my self), but he then explained that he would have loved to "exit with Christopher Lee" but becuase of the busy schedule that day it wouldn't have been allowed. He had two scenes to do in a very short amount of time that day.

So infact, the scene where the Easterlings storm out ... Peter is not amoung them. I mean, I saw the guy that looked like him, and he definatly fooled me. But I thought I would report this.

Ring*Con 2003 Day One Report!
leo @ 9:38 am EST

The Maritim Hotel in Bonn, Germany has the past weekend been home of Europe’s biggest Tolkien and Lord of the Rings-related convention: Ring*Con 2003. For the second year in a row all that had anything to do with the books or the movies gathered for a weekend of fun, interesting panels, lectures, workshops and even more fun! Here’s my thoughts on the weekend, starting with the first day of the convention: the Friday!

After last year’s Ring*Con (read all about it here, here or here) this was the Convention I have been looking forward to all year. Last year’s Ring*Con was amazing fun and I wanted it again. But on the other side there were some doubts; could this years edition be as great as last years? After all now the word was out about Ring*Con. Twice as many tickets were sold. Wouldn’t it be too busy? Would the actors still be as close to the public as last year? Had the organisation learned from the ‘mistakes’ they made last year?

Much like last year the Con for me started with a press-conference. However they had decided to hold that a bit earlier this time around, which had the downside of me having to get up earlier to be in Bonn on time. We (we being myself and good friend Michiel from TheFellowship.nl) managed to do so wonderfully well thanks to the German autobahnen. Apparently it was almost impossible to reach Bonn by train that weekend so I thank God (and Michiel) for having a car that weekend. Until I saw how much it cost us to park the car for the entire weekend of course...

Of the press-conference itself I didn’t get to see much unfortunately. I was called out halfway through to go and collect my Director of Photography for the weekend: the excellent but slightly small Tore. Together we shot quite a lot of footage over the weekend (some of which I hope will never see the light of day, *cough* ) for both TORn’s full-length documentary Ringers and TORn Digital and boy do I wish we hadn’t... that camera-equipment was heavy!

After the press-conference and the small talk that followed with the guys present there we settled in our hotel room, the very penthouse of the Maritim, on the sixth floor before heading down to start filming. Because we did spent quite a lot of time wandering around with the camera I haven’t been able to attend all the panels, lectures and workshops I would have liked to see but I will try and give as good an impression as I possibly can on what I did see. After some filming we met up with two of the most impressive guys that attended Ring*Con: Sala Baker and Lawrence Makoare! We were fortunate enough to be allowed to ask them a few questions while on the background everyone’s favourite Haldir Craig Parker was getting his picture taken with a LOT of people whilst being swamped with presents on the same time. After all it was his birthday earlier this week.

The interviews ended right on time for us to make our way down to the big hall where Bruce Hopkins (Gamling) and John Leigh (Hama) were just about to start their joined panel. I have to say: they had me laughing my ass off all hour. Sometimes with interesting stories but most of the times by just having a good time telling everyone why the Rohan people are as cool as they are. The panel kicked off with Bruce Hopkins using the audience to make a sound like galloping horses while he and some members from the audience ran around like a bunch of charging Rohirrim. Describing it by words actually does it no justice at all; you just have to see it.

The two of them made a great duo. Bruce as the impulsive one and John Leigh as the one with a dry kind of humor that makes you wonder why he hasn’t gone into the stand-up comedy business. They didn’t get a lot of questions but that didn’t mind much because there just wasn’t any time to answer them anyway. They grabbed people from the audience that were dressed as people from Rohan, had some fun with them and talked extensively about their experiences of being on set, working with Peter Jackson and watching Orlando Bloom fly of a horse with a Dwarf attached to his back. In fact horses were a recurring theme during the panel (like one would expect from two Rohirrim) much like dying, with John Leigh commenting on how sorry he was that he didn’t even got to draw his sword before the Warg ate him. All in all this panel was one of the highlights of the day and had people cheering for Bruce and John all weekend.

After an hour break which was used to grab something to eat the great hall filled again because it was time for the opening ceremony. I’m pretty sure that Friday was the quietest day of the entire weekend. A lot of people must have decided the Saturday and Sunday were the most interesting days but they missed out on a lot. The day had so far featured panels from Nathaniel Lees (Ugluk), Sala Baker and Jorn Benzon (most widely known as Rumil); extremely popular lectures about Sex in Middle-earth, Racism in Middle-earth and the culture and language of Rohan, to name but a few. Other highlights of the day (or so I heard) were the chainmail workshops and Bruce Hopkins’s appearance in the Games Workshop-area that had featured an earlier visit of well-known miniaturedesigners Alan and Michael Perry.

The opening ceremony proved to be even more excellent then last year. The lights dimmed and a great array of evil forces filled the stage. Much like last year and lifesized Sauron-figure commanded them to go out and find the One Ring. While Nazgul sneaked around the audience an Arwen-figure appeared on stage followed by yet another Nazgul who asked where the Ring was. Arwen replied that if he wanted it he should come and claim it to which to Nazgul saw the uselessness of the situation, said “Ahh screw this”, removed his hood and turned out to be none other then Marc B. Lee, TORn Friend and Master of Ceremonies for the weekend! There also was a musical performance by Eve and the Breeze and a cameo from the Orcs that won last years costume contest. After that all the special guests for the weekend were introduced. Apart from all of the above mentioned these included the return of Mark Ferguson (Gil-Galad) to Ring*Con, back by popular demand, well-known artist Colleen Doran (who looks better with red hair, honestly), and (former) WETA-workshop employees Rogier Samuels and Carole Brockhoff (UnrealFX.nl). An amazing line-up and John Rhys-Davies hadn’t even arrived yet!

Because he hadn’t his panel for the Friday night was took over by Craig Parker, the man that is probably more popular then anyone else in Bonn and surroundings. He had the hard task of filling John Rhys-Davies’ shoes but did an amazing job entertaining the crowds. He got people on stage (almost burned someone’s staff down), handed out pie he got as a present and generally looked like he was having a good time.

After an hour he got company from Mark Ferguson for what was probably one of the best bits of this years Ring*Con: their comedy-show. The two of them were a huge success last year and it only made sense that the organisers got them back for this years event. Mark Ferguson did not have a panel of his own however (his part in the movies is after all rather small and he probably told all about it last year anyway) but got to do two comedy shows with Craig and host an auction. The public had not forgotten him at all and he appeared to be almost as popular as Craig Parker when they introduced him.

The comedy-show consisted of Craig and Mark basically having more fun on stage. They did various things such as telling the story of a visitor that had to go back to Mexico City on a pogo-stick by each saying one word at a time, replaying a marriage-proposal from two other visitors by having them move their bodies and using a child as a prop in the retelling of the classic fairy of Hänsel and Gretel (I hope I spelled that right). They pretty much butchered the story throwing Reibekuchen (potato pancakes) and their parents’ quality time in the story that did not have a witch either but it had the audience laughing so hard they must have heard it on the other side of the city. A huge success and definite highlight of the weekend.

After the comedy-hour it was time to get a few refreshing drinks at the hotelbar. Okay more then a few. The parties at night are probably reason enough for anyone to attend Ring*Con and I have to say I feel rather sorry for the people that were not staying at the Maritim and could not join in on the fun. It must have been around five in the morning when the last three people were kicked out of the bar (that according to the hotel closed at 2 am, yeah right) to get a few hours of rest before the Saturday started; the busiest and longest day of Ring*Con 2003...

[ Day One Report! ] [ Day Two Report! ] [ Day Three Report! ]

11-16-03 Latest News

Uni Of Southern Maine Screens Towers EE
Demosthenes @ 7:53 pm EST

Ringer Shaun dropped us a line about this free screening of the Two Towers EE at University of Southern Maine on November 22.

The University of Southern Maine screens The Two Towers: Extended Version

View the complete, extended version of the masterpiece film directed by Peter Jackson. With more than 40 minutes of additional footage re-integrated and re-scored into the film, this version will not be shown in wide release in theaters in the near future. Here is your chance to see this epic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic it was meant to be.

Watch this epic film at USM on 22 November 2003 at Luther Bonney Auditorium. Screening begins at 2:00pm. Admission is FREE and open to all USM students and public at large.

Running time: approximately 223 minutes (Intermission will occur for 10 minutes)
Sponsored by the Interactive Simulations Group, Board of Student Organizations
License and permission granted by New Line Cinema.
For more information, contact ming2000@maine.rr.com.

Technical details: Luther Bonney Auditorium seats approximately 150 people, features a DVD projection system and Dolby 2.0 surround.

From the South:

Take I-95 North into Maine or South within the state toward Portland. From North it will merge with 295 and South take Exit 6A off the Turnpike to get onto 295. Take the first exit on Forest Ave. to your left and proceed until you see the Woodbury Campus Center parking lot to your right (second right). You may park there. Luther Bonney Hall is across the parking lot and behind Masterdon Hall. The auditorium is on the first floor near the elevators.

Lord of the Rings Charity Screening: First public showing in New Zealand
Tehanu @ 3:53 pm EST

Fans of The Lord of the Rings will have the chance to be the first to see the final film in Peter Jackson’s motion picture trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, at the Auckland Charity Screening, Village Sky City Cinemas, Broadway, Newmarket, at 6.30pm, December 17.

This is the first public screening in New Zealand, following the invite-only World Premiere in Wellington two weeks earlier on 1 December. Tickets to the Charity Screening are $100 each, with part proceeds to the Starship Foundation. Tickets go on sale Wednesday 19 November, but LOTR Fan Club members can contact Todd Manor at todd@starship.nzl.com, to be put on the waiting list for tickets.

Filmmaker Peter Jackson personally chose to support the Starship Foundation, as he did last year for his second film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: "I wanted to show my support of the Starship Foundation because of the enormous support the charity provides to children and families facing very real medical and social needs. Children are too often over-looked and undervalued in our society, so we need organisations like the Starship Foundation to be a champion for them.

"Everyday the Starship provides the children of New Zealand with high quality health care, but it remains dependent on fundraising to be fully effective. I have become familiar with some of the day to day difficulties faced by patients at Starship and salute those dedicated to their care. I am very happy that our film can make a contribution, however small, to support the wonderful work these people do," he says.

Ticket buyers supporting the Charity Screening will go into a draw to win a beautiful replica of Strider’s sword. The sword has been crafted by Weta Workshop’s swordsmith, Peter Lyon, who created the original as used in "The Lord of the Rings" film trilogy. The signatures of Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor & Peter Lyon will be engraved into the blade of the sword.

Starship Foundation Chief Executive, Andrew Young, says the charity is extremely proud to be associated Jackson and his team: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is another celebration of New Zealand talent. We believe this is a great fit with our cause as we are constantly striving to ensure New Zealand children enjoy happy, healthy lives in environments which are stimulating and enriching. We thank Peter Jackson, Roadshow Film Distributors and New Line Cinema for this wonderful opportunity."

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Auckland Charity Screening, Village Sky City Cinemas, Broadway, Newmarket.
December 17, 6.30pm.
Limited Charity Tickets $100 each, includes light refreshments
Waiting list for ticket pruchase: email Todd Manor at todd@starship.nzl.com

Canadian Trilogy Tuesday Information
Xoanon @ 3:02 pm EST

Rob writes: I went to the Famous Players site to see if my theater had sold out already (it was) when I saw this message right before the ticket purchase screen,

Important - Please read before completing your Advance Ticketing purchase.

To Our Valued Guests:

Thank you for visiting Famousplayers.com. Before proceeding with your advance ticket purchase, please carefully read the ticket pickup instructions below:

Once you've entered your theatre, film, performance time and credit card information, an on-line movietickets.com confirmation page will validate that your order has been processed.


  • Tickets can be picked up at the Theatre Box Office or Theatre ATM.
  • Tickets will be available on the date of the performance.
  • You must bring the same credit card used to purchase the tickets.
  • Tickets are for general admission; there is no reserved seating. Please come early to ensure best seating.
  • There are no refunds on tickets or service charges.
  • You must print and bring the confirmation page to the theatre.

This has changed from the time when the tickets went on sale. Before all you needed was the credit card you used now you need both the credit card and the conformation page. I hope this helps becasue this coulda screwed a lot of people over. Just thought you'd like to know.

NZ's 'Knights on the Town'
Xoanon @ 2:52 pm EST

NZ's 'Knights on the Town'
Click for more images

Lyric Apted writes: I found out about a promotional that the Folklore folk are doing. Last Thursday and for the next two Thursdays, a bunch of knights, wanders and peasants are doing a medieval pub crawl around Wellington.

Billed as 'Knights on the Town" the group starts out at Wellington Brewery at 7pm and heads around to Mollly Malone's (Sean Bean's favorite pub in Wellington), Sports Cafe and ends at Cambridge Hotel. Not only are they an entertainig group who look fabulous, they are also giving away a night on the town - overnight accomidations for the faire weekend. I snapped these pics last Thurs.

If this crowd is anything to go by, the folklore festival on 29 - 30 Nov should not be missed (and for those of you not going to see Howard Shore, they are having a big medieval feast and show 29 Nov that looks absolutely fabulous). Further details about the events that weekend are on www.folklore.co.nz

Mortensen at 'Beyond Baroque' Report with Pics!
Xoanon @ 2:27 pm EST

Viggo Mortensen at 'Beyond Baroque'
Click for more images

Diane writes: My husband and I were also at the Beyond Baroque Poetry reading last night and wanted to share a few of the moments we remember most. It was the first poetry reading I had ever been too, and it was incredible! The best of the best were there, including Viggo, of course. The room was very intimate and dark, with one light above the microphone at the front of the stage. I believe there were 100 seats in the room and each one was filled including a few people sitting on the floor by the front of the stage. Each performance was unique and inspiring and when Viggo walked in he was calm and cool in his green T-shirt and jacket with a button that read "Repeal the Patriot Act." As he was reading a poem he wrote in New Zealand, he was explaining that he wrote them while he was there filming "these three films," sort of nonchalant like, and the audience laughed.

After the show there was a signing where I purchased the "Spoken Word Revolution" book, which includes poetry and a CD by all the performers. My husband was able to snap a few shots of Viggo while he was signing my book so I'm sending them along too.

All in all it was a great experience and I feel privileged to have been there.

Liv Weighs In
maegwen @ 9:49 am EST

From Washington Post: "The Lord of the Rings" star Liv Tyler is paying no mind to the Hollywood suits who want her to shed poundage, according to the Internet Movie Database. The 26-year-old daughter of rocker Steven Tyler says she has been told by movie bosses that she risks losing top film roles unless she reduces the size of her God-given bod. But Liv, who trimmed to a svelte 125 pounds for her part as heroine Arwen in the "Lord of The Rings" trilogy, then piled 28 pounds right back on after shooting wrapped. She insists she's happy with her weight and doesn't want to diet. She says, "I've been told that if I lose weight I'd have more work, but . . . to the rest of the world I am slim and I like the way I am." Bless you.

Potter, Rings Spoof in the Works
maegwen @ 9:11 am EST

November 13, 2003

MGM has made a preemptive buy of "Henry Bates and the Sorcerer's Balls" -- a spoof of the "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" franchises. Studio is looking to conjure up a fantasy parody in the vein of "Scary Movie" horror-spoof franchise.

"Henry," scripted by David Morgasen, James R. Stein and Timothy Stack, will be produced by Ricky Strauss under his Ricochet Films banner. The writers are best known for partnering with Howard Stern on the series "Son of the Beach" for FX.

"Our good wizard is Gandolfini, who goes against the evil wizard Enron," Morgasen said. "The quest involves Henry Bates, the rightful king of the land of Middlefinger.This is the first feature for the trio; idea was suggested by Strauss. Stein said he and Stack were thinking about doing a parody but realized Strauss' idea was better than theirs, which they said bore the working title "Gigli Reloaded."

MGM bought the script days ago and has already engaged the writers for a two-week polish, indicating the studio plans to move quickly. MGM's Toby Jaffe, Eric Baires and Devon Williams are steering the pic.

Morgasen and Stein are Endeavor-repped, Stack by Don Buchwald & Associates.

LotR Risk Upgrade
Luthien @ 8:54 am EST

Tom writes in with the following: "The original Lord of the Rings RISK game from Hasbro did not include Gondor or Mordor. The version being sold now features the full map of Middle Earth. I wrote to Hasbro asking about an upgrade/expansion for those who bought the first version and this is the reply I got- I though that others who bought the first version might like to know about this--

Hi Tom,

Thank you for contacting Hasbro, Inc. We are pleased to reply.

The RISK Lord of the Rings expansion pack is available for $18.00, which includes shipping and handling. CA & RI residents must add applicable sales tax.

To order, please send a check or money order, made payable to Hasbro Promotions and Direct to:
Hasbro Promotions & Direct
PO Box 693
Pawtucket, RI 02862-0693

You may also call 1-800-327-8264 to place an order using your Visa, Mastercard or American Express or you may fax credit card orders to (401) 431-8082.

All sales are final. Offer available in the US only, while supplies last. If ordering by mail, please be sure to include a note stating your name and mailing address.

Again, thank you for your interest."

Return of the Ringers Charity Auction
Tehanu @ 3:58 am EST

Besides the noble goal of having fun, our Premiere Party also aims to raise money for the Organ Donor Awareness Campaign, a charity supported by Peter Jackson. With that aim in mind, we've gathered a selection of great things to auction for that charity. Many thanks to our generous donors, who are all listed here.

Some of the exciting items for the auction/raffles are:

A wide variety of wonderful LOTR books, boxed book sets and audio sets and some posters plus a couple of poster book collections that have been signed by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, and some of the crew members.

A luxurious Stansborough Gotland Fabric Throw. Stansborough Fibres are the weavers of the special fabric used to create the Magic Elven Cloaks for the Lord of the Rings Movie Trilogy. They use only the wool from rare Gotland sheep.

We have a small but wonderful stamp/envelope collection of the LOTR cast members.

We have two Weta Workshop collectable items - One is Gandalf the Grey and the other is Orthanc, the tower of Saruman.

There are 2 black t-shirts and 1 cap with the weta design from Weta (these have not been signed)

Since a lot of the partygoers will be visitors to NZ, we have things that will be a wonderful memento of their trip:

A fabulous lightweight black merino cardi-jacket for those cold nights. This is premium wool grown in the same challenging alpine environment you've seen in the movies, and it produces an incredibly soft yet tough fibre.

We have a luminious pounamu pendant - like paua, pounamu (New Zealand jade) is a taonga (treasure) to Maori people (the native people of New Zealand) and is highly regarded. You will have noticed LOTR cast members - notably Sir Ian McKellen - wearing pounamu pendants from New Zealand.

We have several items made from New Zealand paua shell. Paua is a native New Zealand abalone and the brilliantly-coloured polished shell from the paua is used is various items such as necklaces, rings and earrings.

We have some photo albums made of unique NZ native woods, and a photo frame inlayed with an assortment of paua designs.

We also have some traditional bone necklaces in koru and whaletail designs bone - the koru (spiral design) represents in Maori culture life, growth, and movement.

New Zealanders especially will want to bid for the two superb accommodation packages staying in two fabulous 4 star hotels in central Wellington.

So there you are, lots of fun in that selection of goodies. The bar at the Skyline will provide facilities for people to withdraw money on their eftpos or credit card, if you're wondering how you can pay for your winning bids.

Lastly, we are planning a special Return of the Ringers T-shirt....IF we can get it printed in time!

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