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June 01, 2003 - June 10, 2003

6-10-03 Latest News

ROTK Footage Report!
leo @ 5:49 pm EST

Ringer Spy Imrahil's Babe emailed us with a report of some footage for The Return of the King she saw in New York City! Apparently New Line showed something that sounds like a trailer at a licensing show there. The report contains some minor spoilers!

The New Line Cinema booth at the Licensing show in NYC was showing some footage from the Return of the King! The room was very loud so I couldn't hear exactly what they were saying, but it opened with the New Line logo and then Eowyn, standing still and looking brave. Galadriel was doing a voiceover but I couldn't hear what she was saying due to room ambiance. Then it cut to shots of the main players, including one of Faramir standing in front of a statue of a man on a horse -- probably Osgilliath but maybe Minas Tirith. Then a long tracking shot over a plain towards a hill -- Mindolluin?? -- then a tremendous shot of Gandalf with Pippin on Shadowfax galloping through the trees.

Other scenes: LOTS of ground combat from the Pelennor Fields, probably, very up close shots. Also fireballs landing among men. Eomer in a different helmet than we have seen him before giving a war cry; Gondor soldiers soing into battle; Frodo and Sam looking apprehensive; Gandalf looking down from the battlements of Minas Tirith at something he doesn't like the looks of...that's all I can remember! Oh yeah a few shots of Aragorn looking brave and Legolas drawing his bow that I think we've seen before. Also Gandalf wading into battle with drawn sword -- very exciting!

All in all the screen lighting was far from ideal, so the footage looked a bit washed out. However, a crowd would gather everytime they showed it. I watched it three times myself.

If anyone else was there who might have a better idea as to what was said in the footage for instance: we'd love to hear!

6-08-03 Latest News

Let's Talk TCG: Ents
Flinch @ 12:23 pm EST

In Peter Jackson's film epic The Two Towers, the towering Ents unleash a fury of stones upon Saruman's tower of Orthanc, and with the latest release to the Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game you can too! Early on in Decipher's preview of the new set, we were shown Ent Horde, which at first glimpse is a very worrying card. FIFTEEN TWILIGHT!?! Yessir, but our Ent Horde is Twilight -2 for each Ent and Unbound Hobbit you can spot in your fellowship, so a key tactic to this is use Pippin: Hastiest of All with Merry: Impatient Hobbit, as by including these 2 Unbound Hobbits in your starting fellowship, you can launch Quickbeam: Breglad for only 2 Twilight! That's a very powerful Starting Fellowship! An Ent with Strength 8 and Vitality 3, your ringbearer, and both Merry and Pippin allow you to play out your Strength 10 Ent Horde at -2 for each Ent and Unbound Hobbit, thus -6 already, down to a cost of 9.

I've heard arguments in various playing circles that Quickbeam: Breglad will replace the ever present Aragorn card in the starting fellowships of decks across the board. There are a few ideas behind this, first cards like The Last Alliance of Elves and Men and The Saga of Elendil make Aragorn a reputable tank, but with so many cards chastizing players for laying down support conditions, I feel that Quickbeam: Breglad's ability to benefit an overall Ent strategy makes him of more use than the one man wonder Aragorn, as once hes dead, so is your chance of victory. Also, both Quickbeam: Breglad and Ent Horde are not bound by the Unhasty keyword, so they can participate in Skirmishes no matter the location, unlike the Two Towers Ent representative: Treebeard: Earthborn.

Another great new card in Ents of Fangorn is Skinbark: Fladrif. This card puts an emphasis on the Ents' ability to turn the tide of battle for their Hobbit companions, If an unbound Hobbit is about to take a wound, exert Skinbark to prevent that wound. So as long as you pump your Hobbits up enough to keep from being overwhelmed, this tactic allows them to slip in and out of danger just as they do during the film. Last but not least is Ent Moot, a condition that adds 2 to the strength of an Ent, and only requires you to exert an ubound Hobbit to play.

Overall the Ents present in Decipher's The Ents of Fangorn expansion truly live up to the strength and grace that we would expect after watching their destruction of Isengard on the silver screen. Ents of Fangorn will hit stores on July 2nd with the release of 2 starter decks, first featuring a Faramir theme, and the second based around The Witch King: Deathless Lord. Don't forget to check out our Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game Mini-site here at Gaming Havens, and as always don't hesitate to send in your comments and deck ideas to Havens@TheOneRing.net!

Until next time.........

6-07-03 Latest News

Hall of Fire Chats This Weekend
Demosthenes @ 8:37 am EST

Sauron, is best-known as the Dark Lord of Mordor – the terror of the Third Age. However, as Gandalf points out, he was not always evil. Originally a Maia of Aule, he was corrupted by Melkor, becoming his most powerful servant. It was only after Morgoth’s fall that Sauron took the place as the new Great Enemy of the free peoples of Middle Earth.

Sauron was immensely proud - something that may have contributed to his fall. He was too proud to suffer himself to be judged by the Valar after the War of Wrath, and in the Second Age styled himself as the Lord of the Earth.

But what was the extent of Sauron’s actual involvement in the battles of the First Age? Why was he initially corrupted, and what parallels can we see with his own later corruption of Saruman? Finally, how did he manage to escape the fall of his mentor?

Join us this weekend as we explore the origins and rise of Morgoth's lieutenant and the major antagonist of the Lord of the Rings.

In coming weeks, we'll return to this topic with a separate discussion on Sauron and the Rings that will look at the Dark Lord during the Second and Third Ages.

Suggested reading:

Silmarillion - Valaquenta
Silmarillion - The Tale of Beren and Luthien
Silmarillion - Of the rings of power and the third age
The letters of JRRT - any references to Sauron

Upcoming topics:

June 14-15
RoTK Ch 9 - The Last Debate

June 21-22
The 'greatest' culture of Tolkien's world


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
AET = Australian East Coast

Having trouble working out a time zone near you? Try this.

Do you have a possible topic for Hall of Fire? Drop us a line at halloffire@theonering.net. And don't forget that you can check out previous chats here.

6-04-03 Latest News

Houghton Mifflin's 2003 LoTR Catalogue
Demosthenes @ 10:10 pm EST

We've known about Houghton Mifflin's upcoming releases for a while, but they've just recently released this catalogue detailing when they're coming out and the sort of promtional activities they'll be undertaking as the film release approaches.

Cover Of Houghton Mifflin's 2003 Release Catalogue

But what can you expect for 2003? According to HM, their promotional goodies will include:

And the releases themselves? Check these out!

The Lord of the Rings Book/Bookends Gift Set - $75.00 [Pre-Order]
J.R.R. Tolkien
November - 16" w x 9 1/2" h x 8 1/2" D (box)
Display box shows all set pieces through clear windowpane. Includes a hardcover edition of The Lord of the Rings one volume with unique jacket

Houghton Mifflin's USA Promotional Schedule

And don't forget you can still help pick the cover for this Limited Edition hardcover book inside The Lord of the Rings Book and Bookends Gift Set. And if you enter, you could win one of ten gift sets!

The Maps of Tolkien's Middle-earth - $29.95 [Pre-Order]
Brian Sibley
September - Boxed Set - 7 1/2 x 9 3/4 - D
4 folded large format, full color maps with an illustrated 64 page book

Houghton Mifflin Release - Maps Of Middle-earth

The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond
$70.00 Boxed set [Pre-Order]
Reader's Guide - $35.00 [Pre-Order]
Chronology - $35.00 [Pre-Order]
October - Tolkien/Biography - 800 pages each - 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 - D

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Visual Companion - $18.95 [Pre-Order]
Jude Fisher
National lay down: November - Film - 80 pages 10 1/2 x 12 1/4 - D
Color photographs throughout

Houghton Mifflin Release - Tolkien Companion And Guide

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum - $9.95 [Pre-Order]
Andy Serkis
National lay down: November - Film
Age 8 and up - 112 pages - 7 7/16 x 9 11/16 - D
Full color throughout

The Lord of the Rings: Weapons and Warfare
Chris Smith
$18.95 PA [Pre-Order]
$29.95 CL [Pre-Order]
National lay down: November - Film - 160 pages - 8 7/8 x 11 3/8 - D
200 color illustrations

Houghton Mifflin Release - Weapons And RoTK Photo Guide

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Photo Guide - $8.95 PA [Pre-Order]
Edited by David Brawn
National lay down: November - Film - Age 8 and up - 48 pages
9 11/16 x 7 7/16 - D - Full color throughout

The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien
PreBoxed Set MTI 2003 - $35.00 PA [Pre-Order]
The Fellowship of the Ring MTI 2003 - $12.00 PA [Pre-Order]
The Two Towers MTI 2003 - $12.00 PA [Pre-Order]
The Return of the King MTI 2003 - $12.00 PA [Pre-Order]

The Lord of the Rings
$20.00 PA [Pre-Order]
$38.00 CL [Pre-Order]
July - The bestselling one volume edition with movie tie in art for The Return of the King

Houghton Mifflin Release - LoTR with RoTK Coverart

And if that's not enough for you, check out Turgon's comprehensive run down of Tolkien releases from the latest issue of Greenbooks! [More]

Book Expo Emerica - Redux!
Demosthenes @ 10:03 am EST

Ringer Spy Garfeimao ties up her Book Expo America report with just a few more pictures that are a nice addition to the other set. And if you're a fan of Billy Boyd, you may be particularly interested about the Master and Commander covers she got a peak at ...

Garfeimao writes:

One is just the other side of the Houghton Mifflin display, with the Aragorn [from Return of the King, in fact - Dem.] picture up.

Colleen Doran At Book Expo America

The other image will be of great interest to Billy Boyd fans, as it's concerns his next film project. Norton & Company is the publisher for the Patrick O'Brian series of books that the movie Master & Commander: Far Side of the World comes from.

They will be releasing two new covers on those books, since it's actually two books that the movie is based on. They will also be releasing a Making of Master & Commander: Far Side of the World book written by Tom McGregor.

All this will be released on October 6, and the promotion will incluude a floor display with images from the film as well. This will be timed to promote the new release date for the movie, which is now November 14.

From the pictures, you can see they are using Russell Crowe on the covers all of all three books, but the Making-of book has images throughout that will be from the film and the filming process. This is the book that Billy fans will find of most interest, since he's third billed in the film, behind Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany.

Finally, I happened to pick up a Fall/Winter catalog for a publisher named New Page Books, a division of Career Press. They will be releasing the Essential Tolkien Sourcebook in October, and here is what the sell sheet has to say about it. I've included a pic of Colleen Doran with her current bestseller Orbiter, as she is doing the interior illustrations for this book.

The Essential J.R.R. Tolkien Sourcebook: A fan's guide to Middle-Earth and beyond by George Beahm.

This will be a reference book of sorts, for both book fans and movie fans. It will include a bibliography of Tolkien, the movie tie-in books, and other books on Tolkien for fans to look for. It will list the wide variety of collectibles available to fans and list all the best Tolkien websites out there. It will look at many of the artists who have played in the Tolkien universe and finally show some of the Geography of Tolkien, the real world places a fan must visit.

The sheet has a lot more info, but that's the simple version of what to expect from this book.

And if that wasn't enough, Ringer Spy Vegan writes in with these tidbits about upcoming LoTR merchandise and board games:

I don't have much in the way of details, because I was happily speeding through the aisles picking up free books every two seconds, but here's what I can tell you is coming out:

USAOPOLY will be releasing Lord of the Rings backgammon and checkers sets. The checkers set will feature replicas of the One Ring as the pieces, with a map of Middle-earth serving as the board.

USAopoly LoTR Checkers Set

Also, it appears that Reiner Knizia, the makers of that LoTR board game we find so frustratingly difficult to beat (it's great, though) will be coming out with a trivia board game. I'm not sure how the mechanics of the game work, but it was very similar in design to the previous board game. I did take the opportunity to field a few trivia questions, and you can rest assured that there are some stumpers in there.

So there you have it, much of this is probably not news to those who are on the pulse of these things, but it was fun to see this stuff up close. That Gandalf statue was magnificent, by the way, and I hope to see it a few more times before it's retired.

6-03-03 Latest News

Games Day LA Report
Luthien @ 8:34 pm EST

Gaming is a subculture. Miniatures gaming is a sub-culture within a subculture. I wasn’t fully aware of this until this past weekend, as I attended my first ever Games Day in Ontario, CA. Nearly 2,000 devotees spent nearly ten hours marveling over the latest miniatures, playing exhaustive tournament rounds of Warhammer, attending seminars on new technologies, learning about forthcoming games, talking to industry members, ogling original artwork and eating junk food. It was a chance to schmooze, make new friends, and celebrate a mutual love of gaming.

When I first walked into the Ontario Convention Center, I was astounded by all of the diorama tables. Tables, tables everywhere. As a novice gamer, and not well versed in miniature tabletop gaming, the details of the tables were astounding to me—everything from a functional replica of Mt. Doom with running lava to a full model of Helm’s Deep, complete with a realistic culvert and Deeping-stream, lovingly crafted in exquisite detail down to the very last shrub. And these were just the Lotr tables! The entire right side of the enormous pavilion was devoted to Warhammer 40,000 gaming tables, and the entire day was punctuated by the brazen (sometimes terrifying) cries of gamers initiating a new game in the Warhammer tournament. For a moment, I felt like I had stumbled upon a secret male-bonding ritual of the 21st Century, until someone told me screaming like that at the start of each game was just how you played the game.

I also quickly learned that Booth placement functions under the same principles as real-estate: Location, location, location. Our booth was very lucky to be sandwiched between the Sideshow Toy booth and the THQ’s Display for FireWarrior, both of which were high-profile booths. Sideshow generously lent us one of the Glamdring combat swords used in Peter Jackson’s production, and I spent the day proudly exclaiming to the crowds gathered around the display case that this sword wasn’t a replica, but actually had Sir Ian McKellan’s sweat embedded in the handle. Another huge draw to our booth was the presence of three short films on Lotr games, including Middle-earth Online, Black Label’s War of the Ring and Electronic Art’s Return of the King, which we kept on repeat. Each film included screenshots and game footage spliced between interviews with Ed Del Castillo, Neil Young and Tish Salvi, and attracted several fans with cries of “wow” and “oh, cool.” There was also a slide-show of Bruce Hopkins (aka “Gamling”) painting his very own Games Workshop Gamling miniature, which also drew a great deal of attention. The miniature itself, hand-painted and signed by Bruce Hopkins, was on display at the booth as well, and will be auctioned off at a later date. (Keep an eye on TheOneRing.net for details).

For me, one of the highlights included attending a workshop given by Alessio Cavatore of Games Workshop, concerning the upcoming Shadow and Flame release, as well as details on the expansion sets for the Lord of the Rings Table-top Battle Game. Flinch and I were also lucky enough to see the Shadow and Flame rule-book, which will hit stores in July, and includes such features as Balin’s return to Moria, and scenarios involving Tom Bombadil, Goldberry and the Barrow-Wights! Another highlight included Ed Del Castillo doing a brief stint of “booth duty” at TORN’s booth, which involved eating several fake oreos and fruit leather (don’t ask).

The entire day passed very quickly. I watched two rounds of speed painting, marveled over original artwork and production sketches for Warhammer 40,000, was amazed by the skill that went into the GoldenDaemon Competitions, and answered a lot of questions about TORN and TORN digital (the TORN digital crew was on hand, filming footage for the upcoming documentary film Ringers: Lord of the Fans). The day ended with an exciting round of trivia at our booth, hosted by Quickbeam, and prizes included everything from Gamling miniatures to busts of Galadriel and The Easterling, all generously donated by Sideshow Toy. Finally, as the crowds began to disperse and we took down the booth, I realized something very important: you don’t have to be a die-hard gamer to enjoy Games Day. See you next year!

6-02-03 Latest News

Tehanu @ 6:47 am EST

Translated by Eledhwen.

King Jackson

Despite being buoyed up by the lasting worldwide success of the first two parts of his cinematic adaptation of LOTR, Peter Jackson is not resting on his laurels. Still totally invested in and passionate about the project, the director doesn’t hesitate in returning to TTT to defend his creative choices and justify the differences between his film and the original book.

Q: Did the fact that your producers, New Line, offered you extra credit following the success of FOTR cause unforeseen difficulties?

A: Well, we’d already done that the first time, for FOTR. We brought the actors back together for three or four weeks for extra shooting, but it was planned from the start. It’s also planned for next year. New Line offered us more credit so that we could include more digital effects. Initially we only had 600 effects of that sort budgeted for on TTT, and we ended up with 800. I think that satisfied them. It’s clearly the success of the first film that made them happy enough to give us that financial support at the last minute.

Q: So it’s not true to say, as we’ve often heard, that the three films were shot and finished at the same time?

A: We shot for fifteen months and had the three films in the can at the same time. All we’ve filmed since are extra scenes.

Q: Have these films occupied your whole life?

A: Absolutely. I’m in the middle of editing ROTK at the moment. I can’t really allow myself a break. However postproduction is a great thing to do. In this job, films are often 12 weeks in postproduction. You finish the film and 12 weeks later it’s released. In our case, we filmed the three films two and a half years ago, as if they weren’t three films but one, very long one, nine hours of scene after scene, end to end. And now postproduction is taking a year. It’s great to have such a long period of postproduction because it allows us to really fine-tune the film. There are also lots of scenes animated by computer, which means this year can’t be totally devoted to editing the films, and in any case that wouldn’t take all this time. But integrating digital scenes eats up time.

Q: Did the studio have more input for the second film than the first?

A: They’ve always left me well alone. New Line have really been good from that point of view. I think there are various reasons. Apart from Ordesky, I don’t think many people in the studio really immersed themselves into LOTR. I don’t think many of them have even read the book. They didn’t really make many comments on the scripts, which were already fairly confusing and complicated for us, so I don’t think they were really able to make many observations. And also we were a long, long way away over there, down in New Zealand, and they never came to see us during the shoot – we were abandoned, left to ourselves. They’ve always been great and that’s helped us make the films. Being left alone is really a director’s dream.

Q: Can you highlight the differences between the first and second films for us?

A: I think that the second film in a trilogy, in any cinematic trilogy, absolutely has to obey strict rules. Of course we based our film on the book, but in Episode 2 (I shouldn’t use those words, someone else already has), let’s say the second part, in the second part, therefore, complications occur. We began the journey in FOTR; whoever the hero is, their quest begins in the first film. In the second film, things have to get harder, the forces of evil have to begin to close in. Things really have to seem much harder, so that the audiences ask themselves how the devil are they going to finish their adventure in the third film, given the events of the second. It’s a way of preparing the way for the grand climax of the third film. Effectively it’s a sort of convention, second films by their very nature are darker because you have to apply the pressure, the vice has to close around the characters.

Q: Why did you add Aragorn’s agony scene?

A: We did that for several reasons. I’ll have to try and re-assemble my thoughts to explain it, because it’s two years since we wrote those scenes and I’m now so used to them. From memory – you’ll surely know more about this than me, because it’s ages since I read that part of the book – but from memory, it doesn’t seem to me that much happens on the journey between Edoras and Helm’s Deep. Also, it happened that one thing which we really wanted to do – for me, at least – was a scene with a warg attack. I’ve always found those creatures great, but Tolkien only refers to them once or twice in the book. In any case, he never makes much use of them. I wanted to show them. I wanted to show a fight scene with the wargs. We thought that that moment was ideal, and that it would inject more danger into that part of the story. Once we’d decided that they’d be attacked, from the point of view of the narrative structure of the film, we wanted to change the atmosphere, to make things more sombre. So we thought that to fake Aragorn’s death would be a good way of scaring the audience and for him to ask himself questions about the future. At that moment we’re in the middle of the film. We loved being able to introduce a negative moment and a reversal of fortune at that crucial point. Later on we realised that this also gave us the chance to film a surreal scene with Arwen. A moment where she connects with Aragorn as he lies unconscious. You know, one of the big differences between the book and what we’ve done is the character of Arwen. We weren’t just looking to enlarge her role in the story, but in fact she doesn’t even appear in TTT, in the book in any case – the two characters are geographically separated. We wanted ways of showing their link, their connection, without them actually being side-by-side. So our method was to use flashbacks which showed moments before the quest began.

Q: And you think there aren’t enough episodes like that in the book, is that it?

A: Most of the key episodes in the book are in the film. In my eyes, I suppose, the second book of Tolkien’s novel is the weakest. There are scenes in the film that aren’t in the book, absolutely. We specifically decided to develop the character of Gollum further, and then there’s this battle with the wargs which isn’t even in the book. Above all, we wanted to expand upon and develop threads which the book suggests but doesn’t explore.

Q: [Unreadable – something about Arwen?]

A: Yes, that too. We’d already taken that liberty in the first film. The character of Arwen, played by Liv Tyler, has little importance in the book. She literally only appears on three pages out of a thousand. We constructed a story for her which lasts throughout the three films. Fundamentally, we were faithful to the book, the situation is the same – she’s in love with Aragorn. We loved that idea of bittersweet love where a mortal Man, who will age and die, is in love with an immortal Elf who will never age. That dilemma is profoundly sad. That’s how Tolkien wrote it. All we did was develop that aspect of the story more than he did.

Q: Were there cuts which you didn’t want to make?

A: There always are. But now that DVDs exist things are easier. We’ve just released the DVD of the first film and we were able to insert 35 minutes more than the theatrical version. I’m sure we’ll do the same with the second film. That way, things are less annoying. So if there’s a scene which I really like a lot which was impossible to put in the theatrical version, I know that it’s not lost and that people can see it later on, thanks to the DVD.

Q: Did you think about doing a prologue or a sort of resume of earlier episodes at the start of the films?

A: No. I’ve always been against that idea. I’ll tell you why. My point of view rests on the theory that only a tiny fraction of the audience for the second film won’t have seen the first. I don’t want the first five minutes of the film aimed at only a small proportion of the audience. I saw things differently. For me, the viewer is someone who saw FOTR, who left to have a little popcorn break of one year and then came back to see the rest of the film. I wanted unity and continuation.

A: There’s been a lot of talk about how the success of your film stems from the fact that fantasies like this are popular at the moment – do you believe it’s a question of fashion?

Q: I don’t know. That would effectively mean that science-fiction and stories based on technology have become less popular. It’s also being said that demand for those sorts of films keeps on rising, and we’ll have to wait for more heroic fantasy films to be released. I suppose in a way the success of Harry Potter and of our films only confirms that. But I doubt it. I think that LOTR is timeless. Tolkien wrote his novel between 1937 and 1949. It was a period of unbelievable torment for the whole planet. Fifty years later, we find ourselves in quite a similar situation. Nothing has fundamentally changed, and I fear that in another fifty years nothing will really have altered. We’re human, and we’ll always fight each other, we’ll continue to attack each other and cause each other great pain. Much of LOTR deals with those themes and so I think it’s a work which will never age and will remain outside fashion.

By Marion Ross and Karen Butler.

John Rhys-Davies

Used to supporting roles, John Rhys-Davies has made films with the best directors. Witty and self-deprecating, the actor playing Gimli saw in Peter Jackson all the qualities required to make him great amongst the greats.

Q: At what moment did you discover that you’d also be playing a tree in LOTR?

A: It’s sad, isn’t it! My whole career has been spent on set, and now I’ve become part of the set! (Laughs) Peter Jackson came to see me one day and asked me if I was interested in doing the voice for Treebeard, and I said yes. And you know, I was much more stressed by the idea of voicing Treebeard than all I endured playing Gimli. Gimli is quite simply marvellous, all an actor has to do to find the character is to read the book. It’s all a combination of the way he uses his weight, what he looks like, the way he moves, that’s what leads you to portray him. But on the other hand, you can’t act Treebeard as he’s described in the book, not only because he’s the oldest creature on earth but also because he’s so slow; that would kill the film.

Q: How was Treebeard shown?

A: We needed a way of showing all that, the age and the difficulty he has in going back to his oldest memories, but we couldn’t make him senile because there’s also the scene where he is enraged by the evil he finds at Isengard. I spent four or five weeks on him. We tried everything; the only restriction we imposed was that there would be only one voice. But how can a tree talk? A vegetable doesn’t have lungs, so we imagined that he’d breathe in more than out to form words. In a way, that seemed more natural. Then we thought about accents, and we decided it would be more natural if he had touches of accents from here and there, a little from everywhere. After that we had to assemble all these elements and try to make a rustling of leaves mixed with roots and branches cracking. It was mad. I won’t tell you how many hours and days we spent on that assembly.

Q: Do you appreciate what Peter Jackson has done?

A: There again, you see the mark of genius of Peter Jackson. There are so many other things in this second film that it would be easier to cut Treebeard. A walking, talking tree is an intrinsically risky idea. Wisdom would say that you cut those scenes and tell the public that there were already so many things to see that a choice had to be made, and that you could very well do without Treebeard. But that would have been cheating with Tolkien. So, doing that scene was a risk, but we had to try. In New Zealand, at every press conference, I came over like a madman because nobody understood what I was trying to say. I was the first person to talk like that because of my past experience of big films. You end up knowing when a project will succeed, but instinct. I think we’ve succeeded in making one of the great epic films of all time. When you see it all together, you’ll know that Peter Jackson has made a masterpiece. The scale of this film is such that I’ve never seen its like before in my life, and I’ll probably never see it again.

Q: You’ve worked with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas?

A: Yes, and it was a lot of work, but they’re not alone. I also worked with J. Lee Thompson who unfortunately died recently and who I adored to the point of worship. He was the stereotype of the director who has forgotten more about cinema than young directors will ever learn. I’ve worked with Blake Edwards too. I have a pretty precise and documented idea about what makes a good director. This little Hobbit from New Zealand that’s Peter Jackson has all it takes. He has imagination and he can do everything, right down to the tedious task of preparation. In two weeks, he managed to succeed in convincing me that his film, which made me nervous to the point of wanting to find any way out of it, was in fact the masterpiece of which I’ve become a passionate defender. I remember being there in New Zealand, telling anyone who would listen that we were in the middle of making a film that would be far more important than Star Wars. When you’ve seen all three films, you’ll know that you have had the privilege of seeing one of the best, most extraordinary films that you’ll ever see. Until some cretin decides that he hasn’t got enough imagination for his own project and proposes remaking it ...

By Honie Stevens

Viggo Mortensen

As ROTK puts him in the spotlight, the actor Viggo Mortensen talks to CineFilm(s) about his casting and what he has gained from LOTR. When everything hangs by a single thread ...

Q: Did you know the novel?

A: Before the films, you mean? No. I got a telephone call and the next day I was on a plane with this huge book on my knees (laughs) trying to read as much as possible before finding myself in front of the cameras.

Q: When they cast you, did you hesitate because it meant a part for three years?

A: Oh, yes. When they called me I was as flattered as I was shocked.

Q: They called you in Los Angeles, at your home?

A: Yes, I was at home with my son and I hesitated. It was of course a huge opportunity, but having to leave the next morning for such a long time, when I didn’t know the book and I knew the other actors had been there for weeks, even months, rehearsing, horse-riding and fencing ... They’d already got used to the location, the rest of the crew, their costumes and all that. They had been shooting for two weeks. Professionally I felt at a huge disadvantage and I was scared I wouldn’t match up. You know, you always want to make the best contribution possible. It was evidently a very important project. And then, there was my son. If I went, I’d be away from him a long time.

Q: How old was he?

A: He was eleven. When I put down the phone, he asked me what I was talking about and I said nothing, just this thing, LOTR. He’d already discussed it with his friends who had read it and he himself had begun to read it. He told me it was a great book and I should do it. I explained that would mean me being away a very long time. And then we argued. No ... we didn’t argue as such, it was great to have his approval even after I’d explained it would last a long time, a really long time, and actually it’s lasted even longer than that. The breaks we were supposed to have during the second half of shooting never happened. I didn’t even have a holiday. Even if it was good to have his approval, I still had to decide for myself. I thought it was ridiculous, really, to join something like that in such an impromptu manner. I thought hard for two hours and finally decided to do it. And that didn’t leave me long enough to read the book. (Laughs.) I finally decided to do it because I knew I’d always have it on my mind somehow. It’s the sort of thing, the sort of challenge I’ve always been waiting for and that was stronger than me. But if I hadn’t accepted to do this film, I know I’d have been kicking myself afterwards for my cowardice, I’d have lost self-esteem if I hadn’t even tried.

Q: Why did it happen so quickly?

A: There was another actor, but he was much too ... He was younger than me. He was the same age as the guys who play the hobbits. That was a definite disadvantage in his position. What I understood was that his departure was a mutual decision. They’d have had to make him look older all the time, he’d have had to play the role giving himself the air of having long experience. You know, Strider isn’t just someone who’s older than the others, no, he’s much older. He’s of a race whose life expectancy is double that of [other] men. In fact, he’s nearly 90 years old, he’s been around a while, and even though many people he meets in the second film, like Théoden, seem much older, in reality Aragorn fought alongside the father of this king when the latter was just a baby. It’s weird, but he doesn’t appear that way.

Q: Apart from having taken 18 months of your life, what did making this film bring you?

A: I discovered that New Zealand and her people were unbelievable. There was a fantastic crew and a superb group of actors. There was a real work atmosphere, everyone had their sleeves rolled up and there was no room for someone with an attitude or the sort of behaviour you sometimes see on big films. It was really a team effort, and that’s even more important for me than the final result. I enjoyed myself and I shared lots of experiences with these people, I realise what we did and I’m proud of it. If all of that shows on screen, I mean the good with the bad, everything that was difficult, hard, everything we contended with from day to day, step after step, all the little victories in the construction of Middle-earth to make it real, then it was worth the effort.

By Robin Lynch.

Andy Serkis

Andy Serkis is the voice of Gollum, the horrible creature of LOTR. But apart from his vocal performance, the actor was able to lend his features and his gestures to bring the former possessor of the Ring alive.

Q: Were you thinking of one or two characters?

A: Just one. Gollum is one character but he has a personality with several facets. He’s not two different characters at the same time. He’s like me. I know, I’m completely schizophrenic. (Laughs.) What I mean is that most of us are like that. Everyone has many sides and our personalities have the tendency to emerge according to the circumstances of our lives. For example, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam, you’re a real Gollum whereas at home with your two-year old you’re wonderfully tender. That’s it, and it’s something I felt deeply, that even from the public’s point of view, if you’re going to spend time with this guy you need to understand him and not just be happy thinking he’s a villain. He’s a real character who’s living through torture. Played that way, the audience can understand him and even feel a little sympathy for him.

Q: Was your voice synthesised one way or another or was it really your own? In that case, it must be hard to produce such a grating sound in your throat.

A: Yes, it was quite hard, but you get used to everything. My vocal cords became like stretched leather. They became insensitive. But once again that was part of the process of discovery, by imagining ways to express his pain. Gollum is nicknamed Gollum because of the sound he makes in his throat. It’s because of a contraction in his throat and I wanted to suffer that contraction myself, I wanted it to be a sort of muscular memory, a tightening as if a T-Rex was biting the neck. For me it was a symptom, an automatic suffering from the memory of having strangled his cousin to take the Ring. It’s also a demonstration of the grip the Ring has on him. I started off thinking of him as very animalistic, because JRR Tolkien describes him very precisely in zoological terms. I have cats. I don’t know if you have cats, but when they have a furball in their throat, you see them convulsing, their whole body convulses to get rid of the furball and they make a funny sort of sound, a little like gollum, gollum.

Q: When you saw Gollum in the film, did you recognise yourself?

A: Totally, yes! And people who know me will recognise me too because they’ll see my mannerisms. My wife will know me (laughs) because the character’s face is modelled on mine and that’s exactly what Peter Jackson wanted. He wanted to borrow my qualities as an actor. In fact, it really is my performance.

Q: I heard that a scene had been shot where we see you smoking and talking with Jar Jar Binks, can you tell us about it?

A: Yes, yes, it’s a thing that was done at the beginning of the year. I’m very impatient to see the finished product because it’ll be animated on top of the motion capture we did. The idea was of an online interview where people were asking Gollum about his daily preparation for work. The telephone rings and it’s his agent who’s just got him a place on a talk show. There, Jar Jar arrives, Gollum asks him how he is and Jar Jar answers that he’s just auditioned for the part of Dobby in Harry Potter but his ears weren’t big enough.

Q: Were you very disappointed that the scene of Gollum’s transformation was cut? I think I understood that it’ll be in the third film in any case, but were you annoyed that it wasn’t used in the second film?

A: Yes, and if I didn’t know that the scene would be in the third film, I’d be irritated. I don’t know if everyone knows that in fact you’ll see me, in the film, in what should have been the second film, transforming myself into Gollum after the murder of Déagol. You see the evolution, the fall into madness and you see Gollum aging more and more and then finally the transformation is complete. Yes, I was disappointed when Peter Jackson told me that it wouldn’t be in the second film because he thought it would stick better in the third.

Q: Will this scene in the third film be a flashback similar to what was envisaged for the second film?

A: They’ll find a way of doing it so it works. In a way, it’ll be quite good because it will allow people to better know Gollum. It’s like an unveiling, a sort of revelation.

By Debbie Bean.

Tehanu @ 6:26 am EST

Part 3 of French Magazine Studio Article
By Juliette Michaud, translated by Eledhwen

The hero of LOTR is also a poet, a photographer, and a painter. This extraordinary actor talks to us exclusively about his career and shows us his world. An artist of all trades.

A room in the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. His short wheat-blond hair makes his extremely pure gaze stand out. He has a drawling voice and bare feet. He has just come from Morocco, where he is shooting ‘Hidalgo’. He is wearing simple jeans and a faded sweatshirt, and wears always on his finger the ring from LOTR which PJ and his partner, Fran Walsh, gave him. Around his neck, he has a green Elvish stone. Usually, he drinks South American maté tea. Tonight, despite a stinking cold, he is sharing a bottle of Bordeaux with us, drawing on imported cigarettes, which a (female) Danish journalist left him …

What awaits us in TTT after FOTR?
Viggo Mortensen – This episode is tougher, more despairing, because the Fellowship of the Ring is broken. Aragorn, my character, finds himself with new responsibility, which will give him a more tragic and more beautiful aspect. What I like a lot in this part of LOTR is the use of a very free structure which returns to the past, to the future, to dreams, to hope, to fears, all at once … PJ has multiplied the degree of difficulty throughout his trilogy. And also, there are some real new things: visually, the Viking country is astounding, and the city of Minas Tirith, unbelievable. As for the rest, I prefer to leave it as a surprise!

The shooting of the three LOTR films happened simultaneously, over 18 months. However, since then, you have re-shot several scenes …
That was expected. Every year, we go back to New Zealand for a good month of shooting. Also, next year, I’ll go back there for additional scenes for the third episode, ROTK. For TTT, this year, we filmed mostly flashbacks.

We know you were chosen at the last minute, even after the shoot had begun. Was this a handicap?
As you know, I replaced Stuart Townsend. I knew there was nothing wrong with Stuart; simply, Peter wanted an old dog like me for Aragorn. [He has just turned 44.] My only fear was that I didn’t have enough time to prepare. Also, I hadn’t even read Tolkien’s book. As well, I hesitated about leaving my family behind for such a long time. But my son, who I’m bringing up, gave me his blessing. Then I read what I could: the script and the books, of course, but also medieval French and Spanish poems which could have inspired Tolkien. I loved this reading. At the same time, I devoted myself to fencing: the first scene which I had to shoot was a fight. So, the first characteristic of Aragorn which I noticed was his physical strength.

How would you define Aragorn?
A king who doesn’t want to be king. A mortal in love with an immortal … It takes time to get to know Aragorn: for many years, he has hidden his identity from Sauron, because he is the last of the Numenorean line. At the same time, he feels very distant from his ancestors, who, though brave, succumbed to the power of the Ring. Aragorn himself has fear that he will succumb, which makes him psychologically troubled. It is very interesting for an actor to have such a role, a character who evolves gradually, with subtleties and implications.

What touches you most in the story of LOTR?
It’s a story about fellowship: the union of people and races to save the world. It’s quite easy to compare it with what we see nowadays, this fight against terrorism which the whole world must fight. It’s rare to find a film which isn’t simply concerned with the characters’ actions, but also with their internal conflicts. What I liked in the book is the fact that there are so many diverse forces: Tolkien was a master at juggling myths, literature, poetry, old tales, language. Moreover, my knowledge of Celtic myths helped me feel immediately close to Aragorn. My father is Danish and I used to live in Denmark; so I know these Nordic legends which say that heroes and gods have weaknesses, that they’re all human. Straight away I saw Aragorn as a mixture of all the archetypal Nordic heroes. Except that he is more modern than those guys who sang before acting. Aragorn’s acts speak louder than his words.

You got so close to Aragorn’s character that even when you were not filming, you wore parts of your costume …
That’s how I work. I always wear an accessory of my character during filming. On ‘Hidalgo’, for instance, I never took off my character’s boots. On LOTR, it was even more important, because having arrived after they had started, I needed to be Aragorn immediately, that I wore the costume as naturally as my own face. So it’s true, I wore some of his clothes permanently and I also carried my sword around often between takes. But PJ encouraged us all to immerse ourselves in the film to make this epic as real as possible.

The latter spared his crew nothing. They say that you yourself broke a tooth during a fight …
Yes, it’s true [he shows his front tooth], so? [He waves his hand.] Everyone was injured more or less seriously, including the crew. Better to say that we were lucky to get off so lightly! (Laughs). Anyway, we were all ready for anything. Peter was such an inspiration, such a power for us all. The story we were telling, and even more so, the places where we were filming, were a fantastic inspiration. But it’s true that the days were very, very long, and we went weeks and months without a break. The battles were definitely the hardest; I had lots and I wanted to do as many stunts as possible myself. Luckily, over time, I became very friendly with the stuntmen. By knowing each other better, we could go faster and faster without hurting ourselves. But, despite everything, those scenes are very long to film. In TTT, there’s a battle which we shot every night over three months. And if what I’m hearing is right, that scene will only last ten minutes on the screen!

What was PJ like on the shoot?
Like a hobbit! He has incredible concentration and remains deceivingly calm under all circumstances. I can’t imagine anyone else supervising this gigantic enterprise whilst keeping such a sharp eye on all the details. He only slept four hours a night. But he was as excited on the last day of filming as the first.

Was there a moment when you felt you had lost touch with reality?
During the filming of TTT, when we were shooting the battle of Helm’s Deep which I spoke to you about and which lasted three months! When I went to bed, I felt like a vampire, and when I got up, like a ghost! I had strange dreams, mostly about killing … I became all the more the character because the context lent itself so much to that: it was always cold, humid, there were no trees, the place was isolated and the landscape surreal … In any case, it was during the shooting of this sequence that the script and reality came together, that a true fellowship was created between the actors.

A magic bond was really created between us. It is still alive today. I’m still in contact with most of them and I’m very friendly with Elijah Wood. It’s the best group of people I’ve ever worked with. The fact that the story exalts team spirit galvanised us. It wasn’t guaranteed, though; we could have very quickly got fed up with each other! But it must be said that the casting is inspired. Take Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf. He is very prepared, he knows what he has to do. And he has a good sense of humour and really profits from life. I don’t know if it’s a sign, but Ian came to see one of my plays, long ago, when I was unknown … The team spirit was also exacerbated by shooting in New Zealand. This country has an island mentality: you have to work together.

Through the trilogy, Aragorn will have to assume his destiny as king … From your point of view, after the success of the first part, do you have the feeling that you have to hold yourself differently, as an actor? You have suddenly become very famous. What has that changed for you?
There isn’t really a difference. Apart from fan-mail, which has suddenly grown. As for job offers, people must think I have an exclusive contract with Tolkien … (Laughs.) I can’t actually say that projects have been raining down since! The real difference concerns my other career – if I can say that without seeming pretentious – that of painter-photographer: nowadays, more people come to my exhibitions or buy more of my books. They are suddenly more aware of my work.

It is tempting to make a comparison between the power of the Ring and the power of Hollywood …
You’re on the right track! (Laughs.) Hollywood stirs up envy, and the battle is fierce … Personally, I have never been fascinated by Hollywood. What I like is cinema itself, as a means of expression. In addition, I know well that everything depends on luck. The time when I had to do mediocre films, just to move on, if they worked, to more interesting projects, seems to be over, but nothing is ever certain. The only control I have is to do the best job possible and to profit fully from each experience. My ambition is not to become number one, but to find projects which won’t be "just one more job." In any case, an artist should remain separated from the Ring. (Laughs).

You live in Venice, an artists quarter of Los Angeles by the sea, where you are a painter and a photographer, but also a poet and a musician. How did these other artistic careers begin?
Somewhere along the road. Writing interested me before cinema and theatre. And I have always been attracted by drawing. Photography happened naturally, close behind. In the end, all that is just my way of expressing myself, the extension of who I am, of my way of seeing things … In any case, it has become nowadays as important to me as acting.

On that subject, can you remember the moment when and the reason why you wanted to become an actor?
Not really. I know that I went to see films with my mother when I was a child. Towards twenty, I lived for a year close to London, and I went to a cinema which only showed classics. I discovered Bergman, Ozu, Pasolini, Dreyer … It was a revelation. It wasn’t just that I liked going to the cinema, it was that in leaving the cinema I wanted to enter this world. So, logically, I became very curious about the way in which a film was made. Later on, there was this audition for a play, which pushed me to take lessons in New York …

Denmark, London, New York … it’s easy to get lost in your career … can we try to establish a chronological order?
(Stubborn.) We can try … Between 2 and 12 years, I moved a lot. My father was Danish and my mother American. They changed jobs often. We lived in Venezuela and Argentina. Every year, we went to Denmark, where I have lots of family, for the holidays. My parents divorced when I was 11. At that time, my two brothers and I, we went back north of New York with my mother, to the Canadian border. It’s there I went to school and high school. Then, at 18, I went to Denmark, where I stayed only a few years, before going to live in England. Then the return to New York.

‘Witness’ is your cinema debut. Is there a film before that which counts?
No, ‘Witness’ is the first film in which I had a part where they didn’t cut me in editing! (Laughs.) You could have seen me in ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’ but the editor decided otherwise! (Laughs.)

What was your ambition at the time of ‘Witness’?
I wanted firstly to satisfy my curiosity about cinema. The offer of ‘Witness’ came at the same time as an offer for a Shakespeare play in Central Park. I chose ‘Witness’, although I was only supposed to be there for two days! I had the feeling this was finally my chance. It was Peter Weir who, seeing me, said, "It will be interesting for [the character played by] Alexander Godunov to have this brother who follows him everywhere." And he asked me to stay six weeks instead of one! It was in June and July, it was very hot. As I had little to do, I passed the time in lounging about Pennsylvania with a bicycle I had found. I made friends. I was like Tom Sawyer, and also, they paid me and I could watch the crew on set as I wanted.

And also Harrison Ford?
Of course! He was most of all professional. Conscientious. Interesting to study. I had the greats before me: Peter Weir, above all, with his calmness and efficiency. In the evening, when I came back from my strolls, they let me watch the rushes. ‘Witness’ was an idyllic experience.

What happened during the years which followed, between ‘Witness’ and, finally, your first starring role in ‘Indian Runner’?
I had four or five difficult years. I had lots of auditions, without success. At that time, I left New York for Los Angeles. I did some theatre there … And then it came little by little, with really small films, with a part in the sequel to ‘Young Guns’. One day, during the filming of I can’t remember which film, I went back to my hotel and found a message: "Sean Penn called you," with a telephone number. I asked myself which of my friends was playing a trick. And there was a spelling mistake in Sean. I call: "Sean Penn?" "Yeah," replies Sean Penn, grumpily. "It’s Viggo Mortensen. What do you want?" I didn’t even realise I could have been friendlier. (Laughs.) And then, he told me about ‘Indian Runner’. He saw me in ‘Fresh Horses’, a TV film which I had made for HBO. I had a little scene at the end. He sent me the script and I was instantly hooked. At the start, I preferred the character which was finally played by David Morse. Mine was just described as ‘the baddy’. But I said to myself that, behind the slightly too obvious behaviour of Frank Roberts, there had to be a really complex reason. The filming was extremely interesting … The more so because Sean was very involved. It was there I became friends with Dennis Hopper. After that, the offers arrived.

You met Sean Penn again later, in ‘Carlito’s Way’. Have you remained in touch?
No. Even now, we meet by chance, that’s all. In ‘Carlito’s Way’, we were supposed to have a scene together, Brian De Palma decided not to shoot it. A shame.

Since then, you’ve kept on transforming yourself from one role to the next: sadistic instructor in ‘GI Jane’, romantic in ‘Portrait of a Lady’ … Was this desire for metamorphosis a conscious choice?
I’m happy you see my work in such a varied way. It’s not conscious, it’s just … [in French in the original] that one must amuse oneself a little. (Laughs.)

Was it not also a desire to break this image of handsome ‘bloke’ that threatens you?
I don’t think that this label of sex symbol concerns me. Going without a break from black to white is more a part of my temperament. I’m curious, I like to try new things.

You’ve worked with many actresses: Demi Moore (‘GI Jane’), Sandra Bullock (‘28 Days’), Nicole Kidman (‘Portrait of a Lady’), Gwyneth Paltrow (‘Perfect Murder’), Diane Lane (‘Walk on the Moon’) … With who did you have the best relationship?
They were all great. But it was one of the less well known, Diane Lane, who perhaps impressed me the most. She’s been working for several years with little recognition compared to her talent.

What memories do you have of working with Jane Campion, on ‘Portrait of a Lady’? Was that special?
Oh, yes! How I loved working with her! Her way of rehearsing, of discussing before shooting … At the same time, she demands much more than you think you can give. I’ve rarely met anyone so demanding, but it’s something an actor appreciates. I think also that Nicole Kidman did a remarkable job in that film, and that she’s not often thought of as highly as she should be. She is so intense …

You’re filming ‘Hidalgo’. Why this project?
You won’t believe me, but I didn’t have many offers after LOTR. ‘Hidalgo’ was lucky. The film, directed by Joe Johnson, is based on a true story which takes place in 1890. Hidalgo is the name of a horse. I’m a cowboy, the best rider in the West, who goes to Arabia to take part in a great horse race, after being dared by Omar Sharif. Omar Sharif! I would have accepted this film just for him!

It’s another story about a rite of passage …
It’s a theme which I like: the interior journey, the experience. ‘Hidalgo’ is a film about courage and dignity, honour and survival. It is not the story of an American who goes to Arabia and says, "I’ll show you how it’s done." This American will learn another culture. It’s much better that this film is being made today. I’m even surprised that it’s a studio film!

Is the curiosity about cinema that you had at the start still satisfied?
I’ve had more than I hoped; I’ve discovered the infinite possibilities of my job. Around cinema, for those who make it and those who see it, there is something religious. Also, on set there is a sort of ritual, with the preparation, the lighting, the direction … When I arrive at a set to rehearse, when I see us all in our costumes, made up, speaking words written by others, when the word "action" resounds and we immerse ourselves so intensely that we begin sometimes to forget reality, I find that there is no better invitation to journey, to dreams, to magic, to the inexplicable …

"In the canvases on which I have been working a while, there are phrases, maxims, extracts from personal diaries or newspapers … I even use these as the material for my paintings, like the paint. These days I’ve stopped copying them, so as not to lose them, in notebooks or on the kitchen wall. However they are still there, in my paintings, like so many indications of my past points of view and my experiences …"

"It’s a real pleasure and a true luxury to be able to unite poems, paintings and photos in one book …"
If his canvases are formal research into colour and signs, his photos are witness to the same work: gestures of life taken from real life, details isolated from their context, solitary figures, almost abstract visions of swimming pools … As well as ‘Sign Language’, he has notably published ‘Hole in the Sun’ and ‘Coincidence of Memory’, both with Perceval Press. And also ‘Recent Forgeries’, whose preface is by Dennis Hopper, and which includes a CD, on which Mortensen reads some of his texts.

"My studio is made out of my kitchen. I haven’t a real working studio. But it’s nice to paint in the kitchen: while the canvas dries, I can take a break and eat something. I like cooking, especially for my son. I’m not sure that you’d like my cooking. It’s not at all conventional …"

"Out of my poems which are related to cinema, I like ‘Matinee’, taken from ‘Coincidence of Memory’. It’s a little text which evokes those afternoon showings, always a little special, if only because, often, you find yourself alone; and which says simply how anyone can feel emotions in seeing a film, or reading a book. ‘Matinee’ talks of the way in which a film can transport you. And how, when you leave, you feel, perhaps for a short instant, but also sometimes forever, different as an individual. That’s a feature of art – whether it be cinema, theatre, painting or literature – it can make you feel different. Better: make you feel unique. Of course, the film which this poem speaks about doesn’t exist!"

"Photography, painting, poetry … these are only extensions of myself, of the way in which I see things. It’s simple my way of communicating. I think that it’s Robert Louis Stevenson who said: "It is better to travel full of hope than arrive at one’s destination." I agree with that. I think I am fundamentally full of hope and when I paint or take photos or listen to someone talking to me, it’s because I always hope that something will happen. That’s it, "to travel full of hope."

"I’m not really a musician, but I try sounds, I delete, I re-record … ‘The Other Parade’ is, out of my three CDs, the one I recommend, if you want to have a little idea of the strange things I do. (Laughs.) On that record, I don’t sing, but I do a bit of everything, I play a little of everything with people who … do a little of everything too! I don’t give concerts, but sometimes, during a poetry reading where I read my texts, it happens that I play in front of an audience, between poems."

"I cannot tell you who are the novelists, the poets, the painters, or even the filmmakers who I prefer. If I answer, I’ll regret tomorrow what I will have said. I don’t want to be the person who likes So-and-so or So-and-so – as I can really love one piece of an artist and not all his work. And also this depends on moments, eras, states of mind … What I can do, however, is to quote several texts, figures, people, actors or films which meant something when I started this job, which have nourished me …"

"If I thank Saint Francis of Assisi in my book, ‘Hole in the Sun’, it’s for a private reason. I don’t want to explain any these references – a word, a name or a quotation – which mark my work. Even if the reader does not know exactly why I wrote that, it won’t stop them searching for a connection, interrogating themselves. I like that people draw their own conclusions. In life, it’s the effort you make to try and understand which keeps you alive and open. It is more important to ask questions than to find answers."

"When I saw ‘Death in Venice’, by Visconti, I was shocked. It’s one of the films which has really inspired me. I saw it again recently, it’s a little out of date, especially the flashbacks, but still … That mixture of beauty and sadness … And also the performance of Dirk Bogarde is so extraordinary! Its impact on me has been enormous."

"I really like to bring personal elements to a film. Having acted with my own paintings in ‘A Perfect Murder’ was therefore additional stimulation. In the same way, it was I who suggested to Ridley Scott the use of a poem by D.H. Lawrence for the introduction scene in ‘GI Jane’. This reference gave my military character another dimension. It made him a lot more original, it was also my way of making him less misogynist! And the book which I give to Demi Moore, in which there is that poem, it was mine, all battered, really old … It was me too who made Ridley Scott listen to the Auntie Christ song which you hear at the end. [Auntie Christ was a group led by his ex-wife, Exene Cervenka, who he met while shooting a small film, ‘Salvation’. Since then, she has formed another group, Original Sinners.] The album ‘Life Could Be a Dream’ is a great punk-rock record. Lots of young groups nowadays are inspired by what Auntie Christ did. I really like to leave my trace in a film, and not only by my work as an actor."

"I met Dennis Hopper while shooting ‘Indian Runner’. Straight away we liked each other. He has an incredible sense of humour. I like him as a man and we also share the same interest in photography and painting. We show each other our work, we talk about it, he’s really very encouraging. It’s also him who pushed me to show my work and also he recommended me to galleries so that I could show my photos and my paintings. I admire the fact that he has made himself respected as a photographer at the same time as his mythical career as an actor. Personally, the photographer Dennis Hopper interests me even more than the actor. He has such a good eye … In a certain way, it’s just to say that it is he who introduced me officially to the art world. At the same time, if one can decide to become an actor, it’s not the same for art – there is no starting point, it’s there, in you, that’s all."

"To discover Bergman, Pasolini, Ozu, Dreyer, at twenty, that was a revelation. Could that be it, the cinema? My jaw dropped in admiration. These filmmakers really stimulated me. I like the simplicity of Ozu, I like the films of Carl Dreyer, which capture so well the pain of the human condition. I like the purity of Bergman and Pasolini. It was after I discovered their films that I became very curious in cinema as a means of expression.

"The real trigger for me was the film which everyone was talking about when I was twenty: ‘Voyage au bout de l’enfer’. [Translator’s note: Possibly ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’.] And particularly Meryl Streep. What an inspiration! All the actors in that film are amazing, no doubt, but there’s something about Meryl Streep in that film which makes me identify with her, I don’t know why, something mysterious which you can’t put your finger on, but which haunts you deeply, and for a long time … Apart from that, if I think hard, it’s mostly actresses who have inspired me. Like Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann. I still have very strong memories of ‘Autumn Sonata’. That portrait of the intense and frustrating link that you can have with your parents … That wish, even unconscious, which they often have to keep you down – even the best parents in the world do that! It’s really for you to find yourself. But that theme would not have struck me so hard without the performances of Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann, which come close to perfection. They make each word enter your skin. They are of an exemplary sobriety but still they shine and burn with a contagious fever. The performance which staggers me the most is certainly that of Maria Falconetti in ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’. It is so vibrant. The first time I saw this film, I felt every fibre of my body move. When a performance leaves you so marked, so to speak, it’s because you have watched great art. Or, quite simply, the form of art closest to you. When I started to take acting lessons in New York, I used these performances as models. It’s not surprising I still can’t break through!"

Studio Article Translated part 2 - Wormtongue
Tehanu @ 6:19 am EST

The second part of Eledwhen's wonderful translation.


Brad Dourif, the Machiavellian Grima, tells us about the shoot.

To see him so cheerful, a dashing fifty-something, it is hard to believe that this actor could transform himself into the pale, stooped and servile being that is Grima, the king of Rohan’s counsellor. This was at first the opinion of PJ, who to start with rejected Brad Dourif. "I auditioned for the role and didn’t get it," remembers the actor. "But the other actor finally refused it." When he set foot on set, Brad Dourif was seized by the size of the project. "There was a guy who assembled the rings of a mail coat one by one. I’ve rarely seen such attention to detail." Then he discovered PJ who, behind his many screens, directed up to four sets at once. "He looked like Professor Nimbus. [Translator’s note: no idea who this is!] Difficult to sit down and chat to him. I’m a little sorry, because I never had a relationship with Peter, who I admire a great deal, as enriching as those I had with Milos Forman or Ken Loach." It was with Fran Walsh, partner and co-screenwriter of Jackson, that he created the outlines of Wormtongue. "We tried to give some humanity to this Machiavellian man. He acts from a lack of love. It is difficult to create such a strong character without falling into the grotesque." Modest, the actor proves he has an unbelievable talent for understanding characters who are a little twisted. It must be said that since he was discovered in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, he has made playing serial killers, mad scientists, and other public dangers a speciality. "Everyone has a little bit of the monster inside them. At my age – 52 – you don’t change your image any more. I’m just happy people are offering me work. My heart doesn’t beat in the same way when I’m not working."

French "Studio" Magazine Article Translated
Tehanu @ 6:15 am EST

By Sophie Benamon, translated by Eledhwen.


One year! We had to wait one year to see the second part of LOTR, the adventures of which Peter Jackson began to tell us last winter, leaving us – something almost unique in cinema history – in the thick of the action. It only made the wait more feverish. But this time, the excitement is different. Last year, it was mixed with fear – fear of seeing a cult book massacred by its journey to the big screen. This year, it’s all impatience. Because Peter Jackson won his bet. And how! To start with, the film did not disappoint Tolkien’s fans, who easily understood and forgave what they feared the most: the cuts in the story. The filmmaker knew how to make this expository novel, whose slowness could have been a problem, into an epic saga, an inspired vision, visually astounding and served by perfect casting. At the same time, the director achieved the marvel of helping another audience group, who knew nothing about this universe – who were even resistant to it – set out on this adventure.

The result: a colossal worldwide success, which brought in 860 million dollars and thirteen Oscar nominations, the third highest number in the history of these trophies. And masses of rewards all over the world. The craze crescendoed in August this year with the release of the DVD. In England, 1.3 million copies were sold on the first day, a record! And it’s a safe bet that many viewers will watch the extended version of FOTR (on sale since 13 November) before the release of TTT.

If, before, "only" the millions of Tolkien fans looked forward to the opening of LOTR, now a community of cinema fans a thousand times larger await Peter Jackson. Even more so, because the director has had to face new challenges relating to the story of TTT.

Firstly, the narration. "In the first film, the Fellowship of the Ring travels together," says Elijah Wood, who plays Frodo, the Ringbearer. "But in the rest of the story, the characters are separated and each starts his own journey." The filmmaker must therefore follow the protagonists in different places. Frodo and Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin) follow their road towards Mount Doom where the Ring must be destroyed; Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli (Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom and John Rhys-Davies) have taken the road to Rohan; and Merry and Pippin (Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd) are prisoners of the Orcs. Many different plots are never an easy thing in cinema – in comparison with literature, where a new chapter helps the transition. Though shooting has been officially finished for two years – because PJ filmed the three parts of LOTR simultaneously – the post-productions has needed almost as much time. The film has been in the editing stage for over a year. A perfectionist, Jackson never stops changing the order of sequences, in order to make the story more fluid. In June, he even brought his actors back to New Zealand to shoot additional sequences – which of course were anticipated, but people have said that the shoot was much longer than first announced. Amongst these scenes was a scene between Arwen (Liv Tyler) and her father, charged with dramatic intensity, because it highlights the dark future of the immortal Elf if she continues to love Aragorn. "It’s a privilege to be able to return to a story to refine the details," explains Liv Tyler.

One of the bets of the film rests therefore on the alternation of intimate scenes and battle scenes. For the intrigue of the second film is much more dynamic than the first: the dark Sauron having allied with the fallen wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee) – the title TTT refers most of all to the alliance of these two baddies – the forces of Evil are winning land and are menacing the people of Middle-earth. The War for the Ring is about to really start. Despite this, PJ must not sacrifice the dramatic intensity of the piece – which is one of the assets of the first film – on the altar of the spectacular.

84 nights for a mythical battle

One of the key scenes of the film will surely be the battle of Helm’s Deep, where the people of Rohan, helped by several members of the Fellowship, are confronted by thousands of Uruk-Hai, the monsters created by Saruman to kill. For this scene alone, the shoot took fourteen weeks. Or rather, 84 nights! "I was exhausted," remembers Bernard Hill, who plays the king Théoden, one of the characters who appears in this episode. "In addition, I had armour which must have weighed at least 25kg, because it was soaked! We were shooting in the rain …" At the same time, a team of crew equipped with small cameras occupied themselves with taking shots of the miniature sets, whilst the special effects team refined the workings of revolutionary software – named Massive – conceived to multiply the number of soldiers, and to give each one of them independence in battle, thanks to artificial intelligence. "You press a button," explains PJ, who had the idea for this software five years ago, "and the fighters decide by themselves how they want to fight."

Not yet satisfied with the result, the filmmaker had an original idea to make the scene more realistic. In February, he went to the stadium in Wellington, where there was a cricket match between New Zealand and England, to record some sound effects. At half-time, he made the 250,000 spectators tap their feet in time to simulate a marching army, then made them sing an Orcish war-chant whose words were shown on a giant screen! This is characteristic of the person who, as a loyal fan of the "D system" mixes "tricks" of the poor filmmaker with the most sophisticated technological tools.

The greatest bet of the film: the creation of Gollum

"The most important thing for PJ is that everything looks as real as possible," emphasises Richard Taylor, the head of the special effects department, which won two Oscars for its work on FOTR. "That’s the brief he gave us. It’s what saves us, because so many directors, starting with Lucas on ‘Star Wars’ has been influenced by Tolkien’s world, that we had to start from scratch. The special effects just allow us to catch the imagination of Tolkien and so do justice to the book."

The creation of Gollum figures amongst what it is possible to do thanks to digital technology. The revelation of the appearance of one of the most emblematic characters of the saga has to be one of the defining moments of the film. From the start, well before he found a producer to finance his vision of LOTR, PJ knew that this ambiguous and fascinating creature would be the true gamble of the adaptation. How do you show a hobbit possessed by the Ring, and who, aged by this unique obsession which drove him into the bowels of the Earth, is transformed into a hybrid being with a slimy body and protruding eyes? "When he came to us, after the failure of his negotiations with Miramax," remembers Mark Ordesky, the producer, "he already had a video cassette with an outline of Gollum under his arm."

But it needed more than four years of work to arrive at a conclusive result. "We did hundreds of drawings and sculptures before finding the Gollum which everyone expected," Richard Taylor says. "Then we moved on to 3D work. We had to catch the schizophrenic character of this creature. At the same time, you have to love and hate him."

Jackson, as is his habit, kept it real: "Gollum is entirely digital, but I knew from the start that I wanted an actor to create the character." He called upon Andy Serkis, who can be seen as an eccentric choreographer in ‘Topsy-Turvy’. The actor played Gollum’s scenes dressed in a costume covered in small discs which served as reference points for the animators. "I really treated Gollum as a classical role," explains Andy Serkis, whose voice will be all we recognise on screen. "I tried to make him as human as possible. I played him as if he was a junky whose drug was the Ring." The result promises to be surprising. And it might even be worth another Oscar for the head of special effects, Richard Taylor. "It’s true that the creation of this character is one of the hardest things anyone has given me to do during my career. But we have achieved total fusion between the actor’s performance and the know-how of the special effects artists, like never before."

Another mythical creature makes his appearance in TTT: Treebeard, the tree who walks and talks. Something rather kitsch springs to mind … But there again, there is no question of Jackson going mad. A tree – even if it is alive – must look like a tree. So the special effects team transformed themselves into botanists before constructing an animatronic model nearly 5m high for the scenes with the actors, and to model a digital version for the close-ups. "One of the difficulties was putting the two together," explains Joe Letteri, the visual effects supervisor, "so that you can’t tell them apart on screen." The feature uniting the two would be the voice of the tree, given to John Rhys-Davies, who already plays the Dwarf Gimli. With the creation of these two characters in digital images, the number of special effects shots went from 560 to 800. In contrast to this, TTT promises to be even more inspired than FOTR, and to make a bigger star of Viggo Mortensen, the magnificent actor who will enter into legend. We’re eagerly awaiting ‘The Return of the King’ (Viggo is the king in question!), on 17 December 2003. Exactly one year.

6-01-03 Latest News

New Cast Projects
Xoanon @ 11:28 pm EST

Bruce Allpress (Aldor) joins Mimi Rogers (Ginger Snaps, TV's 'X-Files') in the familt action drama 'Cave In'. The film is set in New Zealand.

Ian Holm (Bilbo) joins Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal and Sela Ward in the Sci-Fi drama 'The Day After Tomorrow'. The story involves a climatologist (Quaid) who needs to figure out a way to save the world from abrupt global warming. He must get to his young son in New York, which is being taken over by a new ice age. The film is set for a May 2004 North American release.

Ian Holm (Bilbo) is also working with Natalie Portman and Zach Braff (who is also writing, directing and producing) in the comedy 'Large's Ark'.

Sean Bean (Boromir) lends his vocal talents and portrays 'Dark' in John Downer's first directorial effort 'Pride'. Bean stars alongside Helen Mirren, Robbie Williams, and Kate Winslet. The main story focuses on a pride of lions animals, who live in human-type set-ups. They defend each other and form allegiances. It will show how the lions cope when they come into conflict with other prides.

Marton Csokas (Celeborn) joins the cast of 'The Great Raid', a war drama directed by John Dahl (Rounders, Unforgettable).

David Wenham (Faramir) stars in a new caper comedy film 'Gettin' Square'. The film which recently wrapped shooting in Brisbane and the Gold Coast is directed by 'Better Than Sex' director Jonathan Teplitzky.

John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) is lending his voice to the animated film 'Catching Kringle', he stars alongside Danny DeVito and talk show great Larry King.

Bernard Hill (Theoden) can currently be seen walking the streets of Montreal while on hiatus from the film 'Gothika', his co-star Hallie Berry recently broke her arm during the production. The film is currently slated for an October 2003 release.

Garfeimao's Book Expo America Report
Demosthenes @ 9:24 pm EST

Ringer Spy Garfeimao has been attending the giant Book Expo America the last couple of days. If you want to find out the LoTR book, bookmark and calendar goodies that the publishing houses are planning to release, read on!

Day One

Book Expo America (BEA), which is the annual convention for Publishers and Booksellers started, Friday, May 30. It's a giant trade show, with books as the trade, which makes it pretty special in my opinion. Nearly every publisher in the country shows up, and so booksellers from all across the US go to see the new books coming out, and walk away with a mint in pre-released versions of hundreds or even thousands of books. With hundreds of authors in attendance as well, it truly becomes a literary feeding frenzy at times for new books, autographs, tote bags, shirts, and other little promotional freebies.

Now, because I'm the Lord of the Rings fangirl that I am, I spent a good portion of my day visiting the various Lord of the Rings licensees. The Los Angeles Convention Center has two main halls, and BEA takes up both halls, most of the meeting rooms, and some of the smaller theaters as well. We started on the Low number side, and were able to find CEDCO (calendars and journals) and Antioch (those way cool bookmarks) very early on. Both booths featured Lord of the Rings items prominently with their multitudes of other products.

I had a very nice discussion with the Antioch people about some very cool bookmarks that should be coming. These are the people who had the Rings on the bookmarks last year, and this year put the variety of beads on, such as leaves, Balrog head, Eye of Sauron, etc. In fact, they may not do that with the Return of the King series of bookmarks, because so many people just love the Ring, and the others don't do quite as well. I don't know about you guys, but I love the Salamander on Grima's bookmark, and the Horse heads on the Rohan bookmarks are just cool.

Anyhow, I forgot to get the actual release date, but I intend to rectify that tomorrow. Same holds true with the CEDCO people, I forgot to get details on new designs and release dates, but will do so tomorrow. They have some very lovely designs now for the journals and addressbooks, with gold leafed designs in elvish, or the Moria gate image, or some pictures of Frodo and Arwen on them.

So, after the initial rush into the South hall, gathering up four or five canvas bags full of books, and visiting Antioch and CEDCO, I left for the West hall. Stopped at the car to unload the books I'd gathered before my arms fell off, then made the very long trek across Pico blvd to the other hall. As I came down the ramp into the lobby of West hall, my eyes fell on Gandalf the White astride Shadowfax and a giant Orthanc tower. The Tower was put up by Wrebbit, the Puzzle Innovators, who do the 3D puzzles and the standard interlock puzzles. The Gandalf on Shadowfax was put up by Houghton Mifflin, and served to let me know they were going to be a big presence this year. Woohoo.

After taking a few photos with the statues (I had to, the Gandalf had been at the New York World Premiere of The Two Towers - I'm such a geek) I hurried into the West Hall. I didn't really need to know which number aisle Houghton Mifflin was, because they had a giant Black and Gold sign above their space announcing their name and Lord of the Rings. As I approached the booth, I ran smack dab into the giant Ringwraith statue that has been known to frequent certain Oscar Parties. Lurtz was nowhere in site, he is probably on his way to the Gaming event in Ontario tomorrow. I also ran into several of the staff I met last year, hello Christina and Bridgette. Clay was nowhere in sight, and was sorely missed by the staff who were there. By the way, Clay, everyone says hello, and there was a nice little sign, but got erased with everything else.

I got a little sneak at some of the new products coming out, mostly (to be released) on November 5, such as a book full of the Maps of Tolkien's Middle Earth, illustrated by John Howe. There will be a collectors edition of the one-volume hardcover Lord of the Rings with the Bilbo and Gandalf Bag Eng bookends from Sideshow/WETA. A boxed set of the J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide from Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond. This set is designed to be the essential reference works all readers and students. The Return of the Kings companion books will include a Visual Companion from Jude Fisher, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum edited by Brian Sibley with Andy Serkis, LOTR: Weapons and Warfare from Chris Smith with John Howe and finally, The Return of the King Photo Guide edited by David Brawn. There will be a 12-copy paperback edition floor display with the new release of the one-volume paperback with an Eowyn standee. The one-volume paperback will have all-new cover art with color endpaper maps and flaps to open up for larger size.

All in all, it looks like it will be a nice year for Lord of the Rings-related books from Houghton Mifflin. In the afternoon, they handed out their now-famous book bags. I love their book bags, they have some of the best of the whole show, and have had so for the past two years. And then it was back into the fray and gathering more books, bags, shirts, posters, and autographs in the giant signing area. Two more days of this, and then I sleep for a full day.

Day Two

Okay, here is some of the missing information from yesterday. CEDCO will be releasing their 2004 Calendars sometime in July/August, and it will be Two Towers images. There are no plans for additional images on journals and planners at the moment beyond existing images. They don't know at the moment if they will be doing a Return of the King calendar for 2005, but it won't happen until next year either way.

As to Antioch, they have two releases this year. One is scheduled to be tied in with the DVD release. This will include some very special, more expensive bookmarks, which fold out images and the like. This will be in August, leading up to the release of the theatrical release of the DVD. In November, they will release a whole new line of Return of the King images, all with Rings.

I guess they overestimated how cool it would be to have personalized beads on the tassles of the bookmarks. Personally, I like the variety, but it appears the gold rings were the most popular of the bunch.

The most popular items to get at the Book Expo appear to be the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix baseball caps from Scholastic, and the black canvas tote bags for the Lord of the Rings from Houghton Mifflin. Actually, Tote bags in general tend to be very popular because after picking up 20 books within 200 feet, the totes begin to look very good, no matter their color or style. That's why I ended up with anywhere from three to seven totes on my shoulders, all with 20 to 40 pounds of books in each, at any given time during the weekend. I hurt from head to toe already, and there's still one more day to go.

As to which authors and special guests can be found at this convention, think everyone who has bothered to write in the past year or so. There are actors here, such as Jeff Bridges, Jane Seymour and Jamie Lee Curtis, as well as cartoonists such as Bill Amend (Foxtrot, and he says hello to Michael Regina - Xoannon), and Jim Davs (Garfield turned 25 this year). There are comic book artists such as Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), Howard Chaykin, Paul Dini, and our own little Colleen Doran, who chatted away with fans today.

The list of authors includes Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Lemony Snicket, Neal Stephenson, Coach John Wooden, newcomer Jonathon Stroud, Brian Lumley as a surprise drop-in, Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, Alice Sebold, and Julie Andrews. And there were so many more, but you cannot be in the South hall, the West Hall, and the downstairs autograph area at the same time. So you learn the fine are of prioritizing authors and special guests to seek. Tomorrow, I hope to have time to visit more of the actual publishers exhibits without the autograph or book grabbing frenzy.

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