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July 31, 2003 - August 09, 2003

8-09-03 Latest News

'Sauron Speaks' = Awesome Breakbeat Music
Quickbeam @ 9:22 pm EST

Greetings, Quickbeam here.

Down at the recent Comic-Con we met a young man who happens to be one of the biggest Ringer fans we have met in a *very long* time. He's also a great DJ, the mix master of "Suckadelic," his own music label. He came all the way from N.Y.C. to share his Middle-earth music with us.

The man's name is Morgan Phillips -- better known as Supergenius. You've already met him as the "Ringer of the Day" over on our movie website for the "Ringers" documentary. He arrived at our TORN booth and said: "I've got something for you to hear, man! Would you like to play it now?" So we gave the CD a spin....

Very creative! We were all surprised at the utter coolness of Morgan's CD. His enthusiasm for the original Rankin/Bass films and for Bakshi's theatrical film is at the roots of his remix passion. If you don't know much about this kind of electronica, I'll explain. These breakbeats are a hybrid of classic rock and reggae songs (you will immediately recognize artists like Jethro Tull and RUSH) newly remixed with percussive beats and rhythm beds. All of these songs feature samples of the score and dialogue from The Hobbit, The Return of the King, and the Bakshi Lord of the Rings movies.

You gotta hear it for yourself -- really fun stuff. Click over to Suckadelic and you can listen to a few tracks (they are Real Media files, you will need Real Player installed on your machine to play them). Click on Lord of the Rings then click on the Music link. Listen to "The White Rider" first -- a total groove that all your Tolkien friends will enjoy!

His full-length compact disc, "Sauron Speaks," is available for purchase on the site. I imagine the Jedi fans out there should also check out his breakbeats featuring original STAR WARS samples. Have fun!

Much too hasty,

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Frode @ 12:43 am EST

Readers who venture beyond the material published while Tolkien was alive,
are quickly faced with ambiguity: what is the right version of a story? What is the 'correct' history of Galadriel? What is the 'correct' background of the orcs?

A 'canonical' text is one which is believed to provide authoritative information about Middle-earth. All agree that The Lord of the Rings is a canonical text, and most assign near equal weight to The Hobbit. However, due to heavy posthumous editing, The Silmarillion is considered by many not to be canonical, and people put various amounts of trust in the many drafts and essays in Unfinished Tales and the "History of Middle-earth" series. Additionally there's the 'letters of JRRT' to consider.

We will discuss why the 'inner consistency' was so important to Tolkien and the experience of the reader, how the mythology changed over the course of his life, and what texts should comprise the canon.

Join us this weekend in #thehallofire as we explore Tolien and the 'canon'.
Upcoming Topics:

August 16-17: Colours in Tolkien's World
August 23-24: RoTK, Book 6, Chapter 2: The Land of Shadow


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

Do you have a possible topic for Hall of Fire? Drop us a line at halloffire@theonering.net.

8-08-03 Latest News

Midwest Entmoot 2003
Xoanon @ 1:48 pm EST

AZ Telcontar from the Chicago Fellowship writes:

Thursday-Sunday, November 20-23, 2003
Ramada Hotel Northshore-Chicago
Lincolnwood, IL

Come gather together with fans from the Midwest and beyond for a fun time packed with all sorts of "Lord of the Rings" events! Some of our activities include viewing the extended DVDs of Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, a talent and costume show, games, readings from JRR Tolkien's works, special workshops and lectures, a demonstration of the Decipher LOTR card game and a charity raffle of LOTR merchandise!

Registration Information:

$35 Early registration Fee [until August 15]
$50 Registration Fee [August 16-October 15]
$65 Late Registration/At Door [October 16-November 20]
Daily passes available for $25

Pre-registration is now open for the event. All attending are responsible for their own food and hotel room accomodations, but the Lincolnwood Hotel will be providing us with a group rate, and there are several wonderful restaurants both at the hotel and nearby. PLEASE NOTE: Register early to be sure you have a room and to arrange for sharing if needed!

Please check our website {www.chicagofellowship.org} for the online
registration form and more information. For updates, please check the
Midwest Entmoot topic on the CF message board.

A portion of the profits will go to Pippin's Apples, the division of Chicago Fellowship supporting anti-hunger organizations.

Sign up early, and tell one and all! Let's make the first Midwest Entmoot a success!

Collectormania Hobbit Woes
Xoanon @ 1:37 pm EST

Irascian writes: Sean Astin and Elijah Wood have now been added as official attendees on the Collectormania 4 home page, but they won’t be there on the Friday! Collectormania are concerned about the number of people planning to attend Collectormania 4 in October to see “the hobbits” – especially since they cannot appear on the Friday since they are doing New Line junkets that day.

They are polling potential attendees in their forums about the possibility of adding an extra “Hobbit day” to the event – extending the event into an extra “Hobbit Day” on the Monday, to try and make sure all those who want to manage to get their signings from Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan and Andy Serkis. If you are going to Collectormania please vote on the option you’d like the organizers to take here. (Select the “Collectormania 4” item and the poll is the top “pinned” thread).

What Happens When FIGWIT Comes Over...Again?
Xoanon @ 1:20 pm EST

Ahriell writes: Following last year's report when Bret McKenzie (aka Figwit) visited the Scottish Fellowship at the August dvd party we had, the same is happening this time round.

I am Ahriell, the founder of the Scottish Fellowship, and on Saturday the 9th we have another one of our famed dvd parties, and once again, Bret mcKenzie will join us.

The Scottish Fellowship, as well as being a very active unofficial lotr fan club, is very successful at raising funds for a Scottish Charity, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. Bret has helped us a lot in the fundraising by signing items which were then auctioned to members. We have named/sponsored 5 dolphins so far (P.J., Figwit, Tristan, Pippin and Smeagol!) which means we have raised 500GBP so far.

Bret is once again at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, with his comedy partner Jemaine Clement, they are collectively known as Flight of the Conchords.

A full report next week!

Outdoor Screenings Galore!
Xoanon @ 12:58 pm EST

This weekend will see FOTR/TTT Screenings in Ontario, Missouri, and Alabama. Take a look at the details!

UAB TTT Screening: REZ writes: TTT will be shown at the UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham) Mini Park on Friday, August 8th. The movie begins at dusk. [More]

TTT Screening in Missouri: GliowienRayna writes: There will be a "free" showing of TTT at Founders Park Outdoor Cinema in Springfield Missouri this coming Saturday, August 9th at dusk. You can pick up free tickets at area downtown sponsors. [More]

FOTR/TTT Double Bill in Waterloo, ONT: Wolfish writes: The Princess Cinema in Waterloo, Ontario is having a FOTR/TTT double bill on Sunday, August 10th starting at 3pm. [More]

8-06-03 Latest News

WETA Digital SFX Details
Xoanon @ 10:46 pm EST


Hero Shading Techniques used on “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”
Ken McGaugh Guy Williams
Weta Digital, New Zealand

The hero CG characters in “The Two Towers” provided many challenging shading problems, both for their required quality of realism, and also for the sheer number of shots they appear in. Here we present several shading techniques we feel are either new to feature film production, or are novel adaptations of existing techniques. Ambient occlusion has been discussed often in recent years, and like most we were eager to use it in our production lighting pipeline.

However, some of our characters were just too complex to render using raytracing, as was especially the case for Treebeard. To get around this limitation, we developed a shadow map based approach to compute not only the ambient occlusion, but also the reflection occlusion and the bent normals (average unoccluded direction).

Although the results were not as precise as those computed from raytracing, they were less noisy, they were faster, and they fit better into our existing pipeline. These benefits were so great that we used this approach almost exclusively.

Though relatively small in size, eyes are one of the most important shading challenges for any character. We developed several techniques for rendering the eyes of our CG characters to increase both the realism and the ease-of-use. Specifically for Gollum, we wanted to be able to simulate non-local effects such as corneal refraction of the iris, the meniscus near the eyelids, and an extra amount of shadowing from the eyelids. Additionally, we wanted to do this without raytracing and all in a single pass. We were able to solve the corneal refraction problem using a special displacement shading technique which displaced the iris to appear as if it were refracted through the cornea. The eyelid meniscus and shadow effects were created by constraining curves to the edges of the eyelids, and then querying information about these curves from within the shaders at render time.

Not being anything like humans, Treebeard and the other Ents had special artistic constraints on how their eyes looked and behaved.

Treebeard’s eye was modeled after a glass (or sap) ball with clouds of color inside that coalesced into the shape of an iris. The main goal was to have a very soulful eye that did not look at all like a human’s eye. Treebeard’s eyes have no sclera, and the iris floats inside the volume of the eye and is not attached at any point. To get this stylized look for Treebeard’s eyes, the shader simulated the iris as multiple textured planes inside the volume of the eye. This was enhanced to give the illusion that the iris was slightly curved like a shallow bowl. Finally, to make the iris dilation more interesting, the iris texture was rotated along with the dilation, but the amount of rotation was reduced to nothing towards the edges.

We feel the shading techniques used to simulate Gollum’s skin were unique. Rather than model the skin as multiple layers, each with complex light interactions and angle dependencies, we modeled Gollum’s skin after the paint-on-silicone process the Weta Workshop uses to create silicone maquettes and prosthetics. Not only did this simplify the shading substantially, it was based upon practical techniques designed specifically for making skin look real when filmed. In this model the skin is a layer of infinitesimally thin pigment on top of a homogeneous translucent silicone base. Simulating the pigment layer on the silicone was the easy part.

Simulating the translucent silicone base layer was the difficult part as it needed the subsurface scattering to be computed. Again, we wanted to do this without raytracing, so we developed a shadow map based approach to subsurface scattering. We cut many corners to make it production friendly, including using a simple lambertian to replace the multiple-scattering component, which also happens to be precisely correct in the flat surface approximation. These cheats also gave us better artistic control over the perceived sense of translucency, which was more important to us than physical correctness.


Thanks to New Line Cinema, the staff of Weta Digital, and in particular the assistance of Kevin Smith, Joe Letteri & Dan Lemmon.

Making Treebeard’s Beard for “The Lord of the Rings”
Guy Williams Dana Peters
Weta Digital, New Zealand

In creating a talking tree for the movie, Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, one of the major hurdles was the creation of Treebeard’s beard. Following is a description of the process from early concept through final renders.

The early designs were modeled after roots that grow aboveground on a certain type of tree in New Zealand. The goal was to invoke the image of a beard without it looking too anthropomorphic. The plan was to use twigs for the ”hairs” and add leaves and moss in to fill out the volume and give it character.

The first proposed method was to model overlapping shells and use shaders and textures to get the sense of a dense volume. Early test on this test failed (rather miserably). The core of the problem was the twigs and moss in the beard. The leaves and extra details could be added as geometry but the amount of twigs and moss precluded them being anything but procedural geometry of some sort.

For the first movie we had written a plugin for the hair on our digital doubles. This plugin (wmHair) created simple guide curves which could be modeled and animated (by hand or procedurally), then turned into a much denser volume of hairs at render time. We did some early test to see if these hairs could be used as wider twigs and were very pleased with the results.

The moss was created using the same method but the hairs were made very wide (2-4 inches across) and then textured with a transparency map simulating hanging moss. The render times were not as bad as initially feared and this method was adopted for the moss layer. Later in production, however, a bug in Pixar’s RenderMan caused certain frames to hang and fail. Production couldn’t wait for a fix, so a new method for moss was needed.

The actual cause of the render bug was when RenderMan had to pick an orientation for its hairs. The problem manifested more as the hairs got wider in screen space (the reason the twigs and the rest of the hair on the show was ok but the moss was not). To get around this limitation, we extended the wmHair plugin to do a Jacob’s Ladder, with hairs growing off the sides of the main hair. The new plugin solved the problem while resulting in lower render times.

For the beard to appear natural, it needed to move as a single mass while also responding to the movement of the face beneath it.

Our first attempts were based on simply shrink-wrapping the beard to the face. Thismethod tended to stretch and bend the beard, acting more like rubber than vines, twigs, and moss. We were fortunate enough to have a life-sized physical model built byWetaWorkshop for reference. Looking to this model for clues on how the beard might move more naturally, we noticed that it was built up from many layers of twigs and moss. We used this idea of layering to drive modeling and movement of the beard.

Using a layered approach, we were able to control smaller areas of the beard to prevent the twigs from stretching. We built a series of shells that replicated the basic structure of the physical model.

A simple set of joints was created for each shell. The base of each joint chain was constrained to the underlying facial geometry. An IK handle was run through the joints and constrained to the shell of the layer beneath it.

This gave us a set of shells that moved correctly with the face but slid over the shells directly beneath it, maintaining its original length. Because all of these shells were interdependent, any movement in the lower section of the beard would move the upper section appropriately as well. The end result was a beard that acted like a unified mass while allowing enough internal movement to convey underlying facial animation.

The last task was to add shaders to make the twigs more twiglike and add the modeled leaves and branches into the beard system. The leaves were simple NURBs patches parented to locators in the bake. This allows us to animate wind over the leaves in the beard without having to rebake the beard structure.

The shader used on the twigs that helped in the look was a displacement shader that displaced the hair curve using a noise pattern along the length of the curve. Instead of offsetting the point along the normal, the displacement moved the entire hair along its width (dpDv), thus adding a scraggly effect to the beard.


Thanks to New Line Cinema, the staff of Weta Digital, and in particular the assistance of Jeff Hameluck, Jane O’Callaghan, and Matt Aitken

Prepare For Battle!
Xoanon @ 1:42 pm EST

Sven Lugar writes:

Dagorhir Overnight Battle Hosted by Amtgard!!!

Saturday, August 16th 1:00pm w Sunday August 17th

This event will take place at Mount Pinos! Important Note: please note that this is at the McGill campground which is 1/2 the elevation of our usual site, so there will be less wear & tear on the body! The Event is at the McGill campsite on the road up to Mt Pinos.

Camping spaces are reserved so we are paying $15.00 to cover the campsite rental & a feast. Remember there needs to be a Adventure Pass per vehicle. We will run woods and field scenarios throughout the park's rolling hills and thick pine forest both on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Due to the high altitude, it is advisable to bring plenty of WARM clothing and blankets as the temperature will drop after dark! There are NO AMENETIES! Pack in your own water, TP (for the covered pit toilets), tents, sleeping bags, food, etc! Pets on a leash are allowed.

Check in starts at 3:00pm on Friday the 15th. Fires are allowed (at last report) in designated areas & with a valid fire permit.


The cost of the event is $15.00 which will include a feast & campsite rental.


We will be using the Amtgard rules in honor of our hosts. Basically the only differences are a lighter blow standard & no grappling! In addition they use Magic so this should make a fun change of pace! There are also some straight Dagorhir fights being scheduled.


McGill is a public site. For all those who wish to park at the site, you will need an Aventure Pass for Angeles Crest National Forest. These cost $5 for one day or $30 for the year. They are available at Big 5 As well as at the Ranger Station on the mountain.


Take the 5 fwy North out of Los Angeles & the San Fernando Valley towards the Tejon Pass. Exit at Frazier Park (first exit past Gorman). Turn left at the off ramp & head West. Stay on Frazier Mountain Road for 6.9 miles (& 11 inches?). Continue on when Frazier mtn road becomes Cuddy Valley Rd. Cuddy Valley road continues up to the top of Mt Pinos till the McGill campsite at 5 miles up the mountain.

Embassy Theatre Refurbishment Needs Your Help!
Xoanon @ 10:52 am EST

Embassy Theatre Refurbishment Images

frodo's girl writes: Since I walk by the Embassy Theatre everyday, I thought y'all might be interested in a few pics of how the refurbishment is going, and I thought I'd put in a plea for the Embassy Trust.

They are still short of money to complete the refurbishments, so if any of you want to be part of lotr history *and* get your name on a seat that Elijah Wood or Ian McKellen might sit in at the world premier of LoTR:RoTK please contact the Embassy Trust at embassytheatretrust@actrix.co.nz. The prices to buy a seat are in NZD, so for many of you the cost is less. But heck, if that is more money than you have lying around, get a group together. whatever it takes to help PJ and Wellington reach the dream of the world premier.

As to what I can see of the refurb so far, they have cut a huge hole in the side of the theatre, I assume this is all earthquake fitting that they are installing under the seat risers. that last picture is one I took on a sunday after the workers were gone - those columns you see in the top right are part of the upstairs' lobby and the hole in front of them was the snack bar, yikes! I can't wait to see the finished product (which i will get to do before the general public because, yes, I am an Embassy Theatre Trust member.

8-05-03 Latest News

Japanese LOTR News
Xoanon @ 1:52 pm EST

Coby writes: I went to Pirates of the Carribean on Saturday in Shibuya. During the trailers there was a minute-or-so long trailer for ROTK. Don't get your hopes up though, it was just an ad for ticket preorders.

When you preorder tix for big movies in Japan, they always give you neat junk. Matrix Reloaded came with a snazzy light-up cell-phone strap. ROTK tix apparently come with cell-phone straps too, with little triangular wedges that each show one of the ROTK calendar pics on one side and fit together to make a pic of the one ring on the back.

Cell phone straps are big here. Everyone has a snazzy cell-phone that's always being used for games or email or something, so you need cool junk to personalize it with.

Check out the Official Japanese LOTR site here.

The moving Flash button on the bottom, furthest to your right is what you want. You can tell cuz it's got one of the wedge-thingies on it.

Below that, check out the pretty box for the DVD "2 Towers Collector's Edition Premium Set," which comes with a special American teaser-poster ROTK ticket. The box, you may notice is BLUE, just as you reported ROTK merchandise would be. It says the promotion is going on thru the 31st. You can find more info about the actual DVD release here, though the DVD is no different from what the US getting this month. It's just that the extended edition DVDs won't be out here before ROTK, as far as I know. So the ticket promotion has to go into the theatrical edition release.

8-03-03 Latest News

Bash Pictures, We've Got More Bash Pictures...
maegwen @ 5:33 pm EST

HannaBoffin and JD have sent in some extremely funny images from this year's Barlibash in Toronto.

You can view HannaBoffin's pictures here, and JD's pictures are here. Also, we had pictures sent in earlier by Beruthiel [here] and ... me! [here]

Each July folks from TORn's chatroom and messageboards, as well as site vistors get together for five days of fun, mayhem, and revelry. Where will we be next year? Who knows! But keep checking back for details as the year progresses.

8-01-03 Latest News

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Frode @ 9:34 pm EST

Sam wakes up by the Under-gate to the orc stronghold in Cirith Ungol. He leaves Shelobs lair and makes his way up the cleft towards the tower. Crossing over the highest ridge of the Ephel Duath he is treated to his first fearful view of the Land of Shadow.

The ring now close to the place where it was forged tempts Sam greatly, but the little gardener shows a remarkable resistance to the ring and casts temptation aside and goes in search for Frodo in the Tower of Cirith Ungol. There the true spirit of Mordor reveals itself in all its horror.

How does the One Ring temp Sam, and how does he face up to the challenge? As a reader; what was your first impression of Mordor like?

We shall also look at how Sams masters his ordeals in the tower, and debate if this chapter is an example of Deus ex Machina or not. And what exactly is the nature of the sinister Watchers?

Join us this weekend in #thehallofire as we explore chapter I of Book 6 of The Lord of the Rings.

Upcoming Topics:
August 9-10: Tolkien and Canon
August 16-17: Colours in Tolkien's World
August 23-24: RoTK, Book 6, Chapter 2: The Land of Shadow:


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.

More GenCon Reports & Pics
Xoanon @ 11:37 am EST

Ronnie writes:

Sean A at GenCon 2003

Sorry I was late in getting this in, but have just been too busy to do so!

I had the privilege of meeting Sean Astin and John Rhys Davies at Gen Con in Indy last weekend and was just amazed at how friendly and appreciative of their fans they both were. John had to come down off the stage to go to his Q/A session because he was already running late, but continued to sign autographs and take pictures with the fans on his way from the stage.

He kept refusing the security guy that told him he must be going and I think the security guy was getting genuinely heated at him! John didn't refuse anybody or any requests. In fact, a few people had asked for his autograph on some hard to sign stuff like a cd and such and John didn't have a sharpie with him. After acquiring one from a fan, he then looked towards the person with the cd who had already put it away and told him he now had something to sign his cd with, the whole while, the security guy just rolled his eyes and continued insisting that they leave.

John was awesome!! I praised him for being such a kind man because him and Sean were the only reasons I went to the convention and I was only there for one day and honestly thought I was out of luck in getting John's autograph since they had closed off his line. I also asked him about the status of Sliders coming to DVD and he said that he had just finished up commentary work on the project and that it would be hitting on DVD in November. I assume it was just season 1 in November. He wasn't able to elaborate because he was finally being whisked away for the Q/A.

Next up was Sean. He seemed very happy to meet all of his fans and was extremely kind to everyone. I just about made him fall out of his seat when I handed him one of the items that I wanted signed. It was the ROTK action figure of Samwise in Goblin armor. He was really amazed because it was the first time he had seen the toy of it which was a real honor for me knowing that I got to show it to him for the first time and knowing that mine was the first one he'd signed.

He said that his likeness in the face wasn't as good as some of the others that he had seen, but thought the detail on the armor was incredible and just kept saying "That's Awesome!" He asked me where I had found it at and I told him "Target" and he said "Really?...... That's Awesome!". I actually started feeling bad that I had left one of the Sam figures hanging at Target because had I known that he hadn't even seen the figure I would have gave him that extra one. Oh Well.... Brad was also very nice, but also very quiet. I didn't really hear him say much except for "You're very welcome" after he signed my Two Towers poster and Fellowship DVD at the decipher booth even though he was only supposed to be signing decipher related materials there. All in all, I had a fabulous Saturday and can only hope that whenever I get a chance to meet other Rings actors they can be at least half as nice and pleasant as Sean, John and Brad. Thanks again guys!! For everything!

Sean Astin Q&A at GenCon 2003
Xoanon @ 10:57 am EST

A HUGE Thank you to HannColl for typing this in for us.

Click here to read JRD's Q&A session.

[Transcriber's note: at this point Sean Astin came onto the stage and fell to his knees before JRD, then bent and kissed his foot. He then stood up and the two embraced.]

(cheers and applause)

JRD: I give you a future Oscar nominee (cheers, SA shakes his head 'no'), future president of the Screen Actors' Guild (more cheers, SA gives a 'sounds good' nod) a future Governor of California (cheers, SA pumps his fist in the air) and a candidate for the [presidency] of the United States. (loud cheers)

SA, in Sallah voice: Indy! They are digging in the wrong place! (laughter) (sings a bit from Sallah's song) .bad dates. (laughter and applause) (regular voice) I would do that on the set every time that John came on and finally one day, after the 4,000th time I did that he said (JRD voice) 'you know Sean, my dear boy, it borders on parody'. (laughter and applause)

JRD: And if you CAN slip them Orlando Bloom's phone number (cheers, one audience member yells 'we don't want it!') it would really piss him off. (laughter)

Moderator: One last round of applause for John Rhys-Davies (loud cheers and applause)

SA: John used to always say, when he'd be introduced to someone, 'Hello, my name is John. I live in the Isle of Man, otherwise known as 10,000 alcoholics clinging to a rock in the middle of the Irish Sea. (laughter) He' s so beautiful. Hey, is it too loud? Sometimes I speak and it's too loud (audience members say 'no').

Moderator: And same rules apply, folks.if you have a question please come back here and stand in line and we'll get to you in due order. So uh, welcome Sean Astin. (cheers and applause)

SA: I'm just gonna keep doing John Rhys-Davies for the next hour. (laughter) Cool, so how long do we have together?

Moderator: I think it's an hour.

Audience member: As long as you want, Sean!

[Transcriber's note: at this point a young woman in the audience, on her way to the microphone to ask a question, tripped and fell.]

SA: Are you all right? Are you all right? OK. Don't be embarrassed; we all want you not hurt. OK, now we can start.

Moderator: Is this your first GenCon?

SA, to young woman: Are you OK? Gimme a thumbs-up if you're OK. (young woman gives Sean a thumbs-up) (applause) OK, as long as I want, huh? Well, it's so funny because you sort of .you know, sometimes I sign autographs for free and sometimes they charge for them, so it's kinda funny. But hello, everybody; I'm gonna sit down for a minute, OK? Oh, that's a line of people wanting to ask a question. First question?

Question: Sean, when I got my autograph from you, you said to remind you and you would show me your tattoo.

SA: Oh, right, of course (takes off right shoe and sock) That do it? (applause. A few cameras flash). Oh, no pictures! (laughter) That was our deal; we agreed not to take pictures. (audience member asks to see his scar) Well, you can't see it anymore; it's healed up too well. (cheers) Thank you. (to person who asked question) Thanks for reminding me.

Question: Hi. I was wondering, do you have like one favorite moment during the time you filmed?

SA: One favorite moment. Well, be more specific, like what kinda moment, like just one moment where I realized that the universe is an incredible place?

Question: I don't know; maybe just something funny that happened.

SA: Something funny that happened. A big Elfin loom fell on my head. (laughter) Pfft.knocked me out cold. (laughter) It wasn't funny until LATER. (laughter) Um, let's see. Moments. Acting moments.pure acting moments.being on the volcano, on Mt. Ruapehu volcano in the ending of the third film, which will be coming out.(audience member says 'December 17') No.(in funny voice) December 17, in a theatre near you. (laughter) John used to say, when we'd do publicity (in JRD voice) 'better than Star Wars!' (laughter) We're like 'John, shh.don't say that.' (laughter) So anyway, so favorite moments. Well, I cut my foot, and uh then I got to get in a helicopter to be sort of whisked away 'cause we were at this alpine lake on this gravely road that it would take 45 minutes to drive to and my daughter Alexandra was on my lap, or right next to me, while we were in the little helicopter being flown by a pilot who had flown for Jacques Cousteau. I thought that was a pretty cool moment. I don't know how funny it was; I was bleeding at the time (laughter.) It's impossible to pick out one moment. It was a year and a half collection of brilliant and hard moments and just an amazing experience.

Moderator: What's it been like balancing your fatherhood with your successes in film and TV?

SA: Well, it's been, uh.I don't think I'm doing it as well as my parents did it. I mean, I'm trying, but thank God I have my wife, 'cause she's. so good. It's hard. It's hard. My daughter is so funny though, my oldest daughter, she's so kind of sophisticated about it and she sort of understands now the sort of currency of emotionality that is kind of being a sort of movie star, or a celebrity or something like that, so.I can't remember where we were a little while ago.I think it was like at a car show or something and there was this family and she came up and she's like "Dad, why don't you just take your picture with them; they'll be so happy." (audience awwwws) And I was like 'all right!' (laughter) It's been hard for her; she's kind of gone from different extremes from really being annoyed by the whole thing to kinda thinking 'Wow, Dad, you're cool!' and then it's kinda like "all right, already'. So, um, balancing has been hard it's been really hard.

Moderator: Were they very aware of the whole Lord of the Rings thing? Did that impact them at all? Did they start getting interested in it too?

SA: Well, you know, I always love when you hear people who sort of have new fame or superstardom.whether it's in sports or music or whatever and a sort of big compliment that gets paid to them is "oh, it hasn't changed them at all'. I'm sort of like, well how does it not change you? I mean, everything changes a little bit. But I think they just mean the goodness that is them or the ability to look someone in the eye and have an honest interaction or something like that.

So, yeah, I mean totally. It's changed how much we travel; it's changed where we live, we've had to think about where we live based on, you know, the success of the films and not wanting to be too kind of vulnerable.I always love the kind of politicians who would live in a house, like a little old house in the middle of town and no matter how famous they got as a public leader everybody could just go up and knock on their door and have a conversation with them, but I'm not sorta there. We're kind of like, we've got a gated house. Well, maybe when I get older it'll be you know, easier. But we're finding the balance there. They're learning how to assimilate the energy that's come because of the Lord of the Rings and still kind of we're creating a normalcy, such as it is, to the best of our ability.

Question: What was it like growing up with the original Gomez Addams and has he influenced your comedy roles in your movies?

SA: Good question. Yeah, I think he did. What was it like growing up with him? My dad is awesome; he's an amazing man; he's a wonderful man. (applause) I did a movie.I'm not sure that anybody here.and don't applaud if you haven't seen it just to try to make me feel better, but has anybody seen 'Boy Meets Girl'? (about a dozen audience members cheer) Cool; I figured that. That's a little more that I thought would've seen it. There's a part in that movie where I am sitting on the floor with a cigar in my hand and I had the globe up. And when I did that scene, I absolutely thought 'Oh my God, I'm doing my dad now. This is me being my dad. You know, "Adventure!" It sounded like something Gomez would say. It was cool to have Gomez as a baseball coach. (laughter) Yeah. He didn't ever blow up trains or anything at our house, but um we'd have like a 16mm projector and the old kind of pull-the-screen-up, what do they call them, movie screens or whatever? (audience member says 'projection screen') Yeah, projection screen. So, yeah, it'd be kinda blue with the (makes staticy noise). So we would watch 16mm episodes of the Addams Family, and when they were over, we'd watch 'em backwards. (laughter) 'Oh, there Gomez is crashing into the thing, and there he is coming out of the thing!' So yeah, it was great. I remember visiting the set when they did a Addams family reunion episode for Halloween one year, because most of the TV show was done before I was born. So yeah, anyway, it was great. He's my emotional, my creative, my sort of philosophical.he's my touchstone. He really is. He's the reason I went to college was because of him; I wanted to live up to his expectations. He's a great man; he teaches now at Johns-Hopkins, he's a classically-trained Shakespearean actor and he has a one-man show about Edgar Allen Poe that if you go onto astin-poe.com you can see his work there. It's just.this chapter of his life in particular is just so exciting to watch 'cause he's really figured out-I think my wife might be calling me. (laughter) (takes out cell phone) Hello? Hello? They'll call back. (laughter) I've been conventioning all day; it's so much fun. So anyway, yeah. My dad is.my dad rocks. Gomez rocks.

Question: I drove over with my kids just to see you and I wanted to thank you for signing their autographs, but they forgot to ask a question so I'd like to ask it now if I may, and that is: I'd like to hear about your mother, Patty Duke.

SA: Okay. I remember you and I remember your daughter? Two daughters?

Question: Son and a daughter.

SA: Son and a daughter. Right. I remember there were two. OK, so thank you very much, it was my privilege to sign the autographs. So thank you for saying 'thank you' and thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. (laughter.) So, my mom. I just left her in Idaho yesterday, or two days ago and she's doing really well. She's doing really well. She's strong; you know she's had a couple of physical challenges lately and she was on Broadway doing 'Oklahoma' earlier in the year. So she was rediscovered; not rediscovered she's discovered kinda late in life.she'll be 57 this year, she 's singing and dancing and performing on stage in that way. So she did a couple of years ago or I think a year and a half ago the Follies in LA. And it was amazing to see this kind of sunflower blossom with her talent and getting a sense of confidence in her voice and in her dance and in her performance so that was great, to watch her in those Follies; maybe a little uncomfortable too; it was kinda one of those sultry roles, you know? At first I was like, 'oh, geez!' (laughter) And then she did 'Oklahoma' and she was awesome and she was so good and the show was so good and I took my daughter and we watched it on Broadway it was just great. And it was bone-chillingly cold in New York so they stopped that run a little early; people weren't coming out as much to the theatre.

And so she's really proud of me, you know.she got one of these catalogs and saw the high-end collectibles that WETA the special effects company that actually we, the actors, helped them get the licensing agreement from New Line. New Line I don't think was as open to the idea of the people on the film doing high-end collectibles and we all campaigned for them and I was sort of spearheading so I'm very proud about that (applause). So anyway my mom got the catalog and bought the statue of Sam with Bill the Pony (laughter) and she had it sent to her house in Idaho. So I go there, and she 's got like this big 100-acre spread full of horses and llamas and goats and sheep and 10 dogs and you know it's just all about the farm there and to see kind of me with Bill the Pony in her home, and there's something that she's proud of; there's a kind of really good feeling that's created there. She's doing great.

Question: I was wondering, of all the roles that you've portrayed throughout the years, which do you feel is closest to your own personality, which is farthest from your own personality and which has been your favorite?

SA: Well, the quickest, the easiest one is the one farthest from my personality. I would say that the drug addict I played in 'Where the Day Takes You' was the farthest from my own personal experience; I've just never gone there. I've always had parents and people around me who were nurturing and loving and all that and that character didn't. You know, he had to run away from home to find a family kind of thing; I never had to do that. I've always been blessed with kind of an overabundance of love around me. His obsessiveness I suppose is not too far from me; I kind of when I get into something I really get into it. But I think that's the most obvious in terms of farthest from me. The closest to me is a little bit harder; probably Rudy is the closest to me (loud applause), I would think because of my own kind of.I feel like I have a working-class heart even though I was raised in a kind of privilege. But we always identify with people who kind of pull up by their bootstraps kind of thing, 'cause I think that was my mom's background, you know, her experience, you know.she wasn't born into fame or wealth or prosperity and she sort of forged it for herself, so that much comes down through her. Yeah, so Rudy, I guess. Sam, I'd like to believe is the closest to me because he's probably the purest of heart, of motive. Not that Rudy isn't pure, he's just so driven; but there's something about the qualities of loyalty and bravery. You know, Rudy was brave, he was really brave to go and put himself in that sort of .you know, be a tackling dummy, but he wanted to do that, whereas Sam gets ripped away from his.well, not ripped away, but you know, it's very far from his experience. So, I always tell people that Sam is better than me; he just is; he's better than anybody. Let 's just say that Sam is my favorite. I've been blessed, I mean I've really enjoyed playing so many different kinds of characters. Mikey was pretty fun too. (cheers and applause)

Question: That was definitely where it started; the fandom started. I just wanted to thank you for coming and spending all this time with us. (applause)

SA: It's my great privilege; thank you.

Question: Hi. There's two movies that I care about very much, but for quite different reasons. One is "Evil Roy Slade."

SA: Oh, that's my dad's best movie ever! Has anybody seen "Evil Roy Slade"? (a few people applaud) (sings) Evil Roy Slade.was the baddest in the land." It's just great! (Western accent) Mah gun! I need mah gun! (laughter)

Question: We have an annual event where we watch it all together.

SA: Do you really? I'm gonna tell my dad that; that's awesome!

Question: And then the other one that I like, and for a very different reason, is "Harrison Bergeron". I was wondering if you could just talk a little bit about that.

SA: Yeah. Sure, "Harrison Bergeron" is a Kurt Vonnegut short story that's included in his book, the "Welcome to the Monkey House" book; it's a collection of his short stories. And I had never actually read Kurt Vonnegut when the offer came through. Showtime was going to do an adaptation of that one short story. It was like a seven-page short story and they were gonna do a 90-minute movie for Showtime. The offer came through for me to play the title character and as soon as I heard Kurt Vonnegut's name, I instantly said I'd do it. I mean, I didn't even have to read it. But I'd never really read Kurt Vonnegut. I just knew that my dad and my brother Mackenzie were kind of avid Kurt Vonnegut fans. So I accepted the role and then went and got every Kurt Vonnegut book that I could get my hands on and just started powering through them. I wasn't even sort of reading it for pleasure; I was just attacking the books because I sort of had this hunch that I might get to meet him. And so we did the movie and I'm very proud of the movie and I think some of the ideas that are imbedded in the movie were really kind of timely and important in this day and age maybe more so than when we made it, eight or nine years ago or something like that. I guess we made it in 95 or 96.end of 95, beginning of 96. I just remember I took my last final with my wife at UCLA and literally jumped up.you know, I went straight from the class at UCLA to the airport and went to Toronto to make the movie. But yeah, it was great. Christopher Plummer was cool. It was fun to work with him; he's such a great man. His publicist said 'Now, don't mention "The Sound of Music - at all." He didn't want to hear about it. So I didn't, until the very end and then I was like "Huh.we're not supposed to say the Sound of Music," "aahhhhhh." I remember he paid me a compliment too; he said "You know, I was looking at the rushes, Sean and you're delightfully subtle' . I started thinking, 'does that mean I'm not big enough? Do I need to be bigger?' But anyway, yeah, I enjoyed it a lot.

Question: I was wondering if you've kept up the surfing since coming back from New Zealand and are you a long-boarder or are you a short-boarder:

SA: I was the fat hobbit who couldn't surf too well. (laughter)

Question: Well, look at me, and I can surf, so.

SA: Well, I could learn from you, probably.

Question: Well come on down! (laughter)

SA: Well, I had surfed years ago before Lord of the Rings and before I put on all that weight. I surfed in Hawaii on a long-board and I was able to stand up pretty easily and in New Zealand I knew it was harder to surf on a shorter board and I kinda wanted to get really good and be able to cut back and everything, you know and I wasn't really accepting the reality of my size (laughter). Kind of a Weeble-wobble on a toothpick sorta thing (loud laughter). So I was - it's not THAT funny (laughter.) So yeah, so I bought a short board in New Zealand and I really wasn't very good at ALL, and then since having come back I haven't really been surfing. I spent six weeks in Hawaii with my wife and kids acting in a movie with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore called "Fifty First Kisses" which will be out sometime probably after the first of the year but I didn't surf at all. I did a lot of other stuff but not surfing. I sorta have to reclaim my sense of adventure for things you can do where you might get hurt. (laughter)

Question: Well, hope to see you back out on the water.

SA: I'll see you out there. As long as you're not a shark. (laughter)

Moderator: You seem to have been getting into independent films a whole lot and I'm wondering if the success of Lord of the Rings is causing a sort of strange dynamic of demand for being an actor and desire for pursuing directing.

SA: Hmm. I have a multiplicity of interests. Like, Lord of the Rings has no doubt made it so that my name on the lists that get generated in Hollywood it jumps off the list now, where it might not have before Lord of the Rings. So I find that there's no real casting director that I can't meet with and no film-maker that I can't audition for if I want to audition. I've gotten a bunch of offers for smaller movies. The directing thing, I find it interesting, I've been offered to act in a couple of movies, smaller movies, that once I've met with them, it sort of became an offer to direct, you know, based on the way that I was asking questions and talking about the material and people would do a little bit of research about me before the meeting and then they'd kind of realize that I have this desire or skills set or whatever. So it's kind of morphed.now I'm finding that a lot of the conversations that I'm having have to do with whether or not I should direct AND act in this smaller picture. So that's an interesting thing. But you know, it's a quirky business; it just depends on which filmmakers have seen and enjoyed your work. Martin Scorcese for example, I was told by the casting director, or my people were told by the casting director, hadn't seen Lord of the Rings, which I couldn't really believe. And then I talked to Peter Jackson, and he said that, no, Marty told him that he had liked it. So I didn't know if the casting director didn't know, or if that was just something she said, or whatever, but I had to audition for him. I wanted to sort of put myself on tape for him, he's doing a movie about Howard Hughes and Leonardo DiCaprio is gonna play Howard Hughes, and there is a great part for his sort of chief mechanic, and I WANTED that part really badly; I went out as soon as I heard about it and got two Howard Hughes biographies and was powering through those, so anyway I went in and auditioned for it, and you know, it's one of those things where you do the audition for the casting director and then they look at the tape and he said, oh, I'm not the right type for it. So, you know, that still happens; it's not like oh, OK, you're in Lord of the Rings, now the world is your oyster.

(pause) I'm also not Orlando Bloom (laughter and awwws). They invited me to the premiere.I LOVE Orlando and I knew the second I laid eyes on this guy that he was gonna be a huge star; everybody did; I mean he's just so gorgeous. So I would find myself sort of giving him unsolicited advice throughout the making of the film. And I don't know; the last couple of times I've seen him he just looks so comfortable and at ease with his newfound success; he's sort of enjoying the ride, so I'm very proud of him and I'm happy for him and everything - but. They invited me to go to the premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean" at Disneyland (applause). I was raised in Los Angeles and I used to go to Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland all the time.that was where when I was seven years old, I wanted to have my birthday party and I just thought 'I will die of envy if I go to this thing. I will be in there and I won't be enjoying it, and I will just be like PURPLE with envy, I'll be so envious. But anyway, it's an exciting time where I'm hoping that over the next year and a half when the DVDs start coming out and the third movies comes out and we see how people respond to that.um, I know that a lot of opportunities are gonna come my way, and I'm gonna try my best to not get so infatuated with the convention circuit that spend all my time doing that (laughter). I can see that.

But you know, try to build a smart career from this point.to include directing like episodic television, which is something I really enjoy. I did an episode of 'Angel' (applause and cheers) which I really enjoyed directing and then I went and acted in a TV show called "Jeremiah"; I did 13 out of 15 episodes of the second season, and so I directed one of those. So you know, there's so much to do. What's that Elton John song from the Lion King? (sings) "More to do than can ever be done. More to see than can ever-- " Oh hey. Hi.

Question: First of all, you need to know that we think you're much cuter than Orlando Bloom (cheers and applause)

SA: Really?! I'll tell him you said that. (laughter)

Question: You had touched on briefly that one of your favorite moments as far as acting goes was Sam and Frodo on the top of the mountain, and I had read in an interview that you actually used the words "sacred acting experience" and that really intrigued me, and I wondered if you could expand on that.

SA: Sure. Yeah, it was, it really was a sacred moment; it was.I remember when I was doing the very first thing I ever did.the first professional acting I did; I was eight years old, and it was in a TV Afterschool Special and it was called "Please Don't Hit Me, Mom". My mom was in it and she told them she'd only do it if her son could be in it and if they saw it. And so we had an audition and we prepared an audition and we did it, you know. And I remember, I tell the story that it was like the first acting lesson I ever had. And there was this scene where she's beating me up (demonstrates) and I 'm laughing. (laughter) I'm nervous and uncomfortable because it's kind of like a little too close to home, or you know, there's people around and so I 'm giggling. And my mom takes me over to the side and she says "How dare you! I took a chance on you! This my career and you're gonna ruin it." And I 'm like (sobs) and I start crying and they're like 'Rolling camera! Rolling camera! Here we go.' And then we get the scene and she's beating me up and I 'm crying you know and it's over and I'm like (sobs) and she's just saying 'Congratulations, honey, that's acting!' (laughter) And I was like (stifling sobs) 'Oh, good, OK. Oh, it's acting. Cool, can I have some more hot chocolate?' So that was like the first crying I did.

And then I did a scene directed by Milton Katselas, who's sort of a world-famous acting teacher with Elizabeth Montgomery and Elliot Gould, there was a mini-series called "The Rules of Marriage" that I did when I was like 10. The audition scene was when the dad, when Elliot comes out and he tells his son that he's leaving, that they're getting a divorce and he's going to go stay in the city now and the little boy is crying and saying 'oh please don't leave' and all this stuff and 'I love you, daddy' and all this. So, in the audition.I remember being nervous about the audition; I didn't really know what it was and Milton was just kind of working with me and he said something and I remember having that moment of starting to cry and I went up and hugged him and it was such a real, powerful moment of crying and I got the part. And then when we were shooting it, the light was going down, Elliot was kind of in a bad mood that day, he was nervous and self-conscious about this crying scene, I think. I don't know exactly what was going on but I just remember being kind of .it was just a really hard experience for me. All of a sudden, the mechanics of making movies or a television show, or the kind of nuts and bolts of where the camera goes and how the crew is doing, it just kind of, I don't know, it had a negative impact on me in terms of being an actor and being able to really feel honestly and openly and be in that moment. And so we did it and we sort of got through it and I remember seeing the tear-blower come out for Elliot and then for me just to sort of trigger this emotional thing or whatever. I hope Elliot doesn't hate me for telling this story.

Anyway, so from that moment at 10 years old, every time I had to cry in movies it was always.I don't know, it was always hard; I was always self-conscious; I was always sort of nervous and uncomfortable and I would dread. not dread doing it but.it was a nerve-wrecking experience building up to it and then we'd do it. And I had a kind of epiphany when we were doing Rudy and we were doing the scene where Rudy finally gets the last letter where he's finally accepted to the University of Notre Dame. And I'm sitting on the bench at Holy Cross across from the St. Joseph River, looking at the Golden Dome, and they've got this elaborate boom crane, and David Anspaugh, the director had said, you know, sit off by yourself for like three hours; you're not allowed to talk to anybody. So I sat there, I read the script and then I was bored and then I would meditate and then I would think about it and whatever. So we did it, and after the first two takes I wasn't gonna fake it. I had gotten to a place of confidence; I'm the star of this big Tri-Star movie and I wasn't nervous, it just didn't feel right.

And I remember David coming up to me, you know, in between the first and second takes and kind of locating his directorial comments like, every time the pitcher goes out during a big game of the World Series or the coach goes out, the pitching coach or the manager goes out to talk to the pitcher, or starts a fight with the umpire to settle the pitcher down, and you always wonder, what is the kernel of the thing that the manager says to get the pitcher to be able to strike somebody out when the bases are loaded and the World Series is on the line. What is that nugget that the manager says, you know, and it's private; it's private between the manager and the pitcher or the catcher if the catcher is allowed out there or something.

Well, I looked at David Anspaugh's eyes and he was doing that; and maybe I was a little self-conscious, but I was aware of the fact that he was the director coming up with the right thing to say and I was the actor needing to feel this moment. And I just kind of looked at him and it just wasn't there. And finally, after about the third take, and the sun is just at the perfect magic golden hour, and the Notre Dame brass that has allowed us to make this film is over there; Roger is the guy who was working there, and the producers are there and it was just this moment and it's like 'we're gonna miss it; we're gonna miss it." We've got this incredible shot that starts with me in the foreground at Holy Cross, comes up and I start crying and opening the thing and it goes around and you see the reveal of the Notre Dame Dome so it was an elaborate thing that took several minutes to set back up and if we didn't get it in the next take or two, that was it; we weren't gonna get it. And I remember David just got this panicked kind of look in his eyes and he didn't know what to say and finally out of what I perceived as kind of sheer exasperation, he just looks at me and he says, "What are you afraid of?" And man, I was like, OH! And I started bawling. I started.I mean, there was no control, there was no art, there was no craft. There was just "Oh my God, I have been afraid to cry for 15 years, 12 years, whatever it was." And again it was like "OK, rolling again, rolling again!" (laughter) So they do it and the whole success of that moment in Rudy was me trying not to cry while the camera got close and then being allowed to just .and then I run down the hill and off to the side and they say "cut" and I was bawling for like an hour and a half (laughter) They're like "Is he gonna be all right?" "Yeah, he'll be all right."

So, now go to the top of the mountain in Lord of the Rings. And it's years later and I've done lots of movies and I've gone to college and I've been nominated for an Oscar for my short film and I've had a kid and we've experienced death in our family and we've traveled the world over and it's like I'm a different human being at this point. Not to mention, having put on all this weight and having worked harder than I could ever possibly imagine having to work in a movie in my entire life. Just in terms of the hours and getting the feet and the ears and the hair on every day at four in the morning and just at the tops of the mountains and working with such incredible people and the miniatures and the science of it and everything else.

Well, now we arrive in this moment where we've been in a kind of drudging mode of getting the movie made and right before we go back up to the top of the volcano, after lunch, I get the new pages for the language, because they were constantly rewriting all the time, and I look at the pages, and it's the most beautiful poetry I've ever read.I mean, I've read the books three times at this point and somehow every time I read the books, I don't know if I'm just reading it for the plot but every time I read it I get the feeling like 'this wasn't in here the first time I read it; I don't remember any of this.' And then different things are meaningful based on where I'm at in my life or something like that; well, here's this poetry that I didn't even remember from the books that I read three times, and it is just gorgeous.

So I'm working with Elijah and with the dialect coaches and with the WETA people.and I just remember this little chateau kind of off to the side and I 'm memorizing this stuff and I'm learning it and I'm just doing it over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, you know, this poem, this dialogue.And Elijah and I are doing it back and forth and finally, I mean, we did it probably 150 times and then we're walking in our big feet and our green robes along this muddy path and then up in the vehicles and then up another path and climbing up a thing, and you know, it' s a trek to get up there and again, here we are and the sun is starting to go down and we do the scene and everything else, and I've got Elijah cradled in my arms and we start doing it and it's just...there was a level of .technique or sophistication with me, knowing my own kind of emotional instrument. It was like I had graduated; it was like this was my graduate school moment as an actor where I had total command, like I DIDN'T have when I did Rudy, of myself.

And the language.there's something about being on that volcano which was like a.it was a sacred space; it was a God moment; it was something that you can't.it was transcendent. And we did the scene and I am so.I'm crying but I 'm owning it and it was a moment of coalescence for the character and everything else and Peter comes over to give a note, and Peter's been very stoic up to this point with me. I mean, very reserved and matter-of-fact and let's do this and let's do that and he doesn't lose his cool, but also doesn't seem to.you know, he gets kind of excited if you're talking about World War II movies or zombies or something like that (laughter) but you know. So he comes over to give us a note and there are tears streaming down his face and he's sobbing and I look at that and I got this combination of like a lightning bolt hitting my soul where it just started making me cry, and then also this sense of kind of confidence that I've done it, I've gotten through to this guy, and then we just kept doing it; and we did it like 15, 20 more times and every time we did it, we could've kept doing it all night long 'cause it was just so much fun (laughter). It was!

And I remember I had been so kind of morose or somber or bummed out in the days leading up to that when we were working, just because we were in the drudgery of it, and I just remember going down to this parking lot afterwards with the sun setting just behind the volcano and just like jumping up and down and cheering and everyone was like 'wow, you had a good time today, huh?' (laughter) It was like "Yeah! It rocked!' It was so good. So it was a once-in-a-lifetime, never forget that moment kind of experience and it was, in a word, sacred. (loud applause and cheers)

Question: That's such a great segue to my question, and there are so many questions that I wanted to ask.

SA: No, I won't give you Orlando Bloom's phone number. (laughter)

Question: I don't want it!

SA: I'm just kidding! It's a joke, it's a joke. (laughter)

Question: Um, in addition to just being a silly fangirl, I'm also a pastor and I'm really interested in people's personal spirituality and their spiritual center, whatever tradition that comes from. And you've always kind of struck me as someone who's sort of very spiritually centered. And I was wondering if you could talk about that a little bit?

SA: Sure. Sure. You wrote me a letter, didn't you?

Question: Yes!

SA: I read your letter.

Question: Thank you!

SA: I enjoyed it very much. Um, I think I always have been a kind of spiritually-centered [person], but it's kind of counter-intuitive to me, because I keep having these kind of epiphanies or spiritual awakenings beyond.I mean, I always felt fine beforehand but then there's like a new level of awareness that you reach sometimes, like when you have children, for example, and you look in their eyes and they're being born and you're just sort of like 'wow!' If you don't believe in something greater than yourself at that moment, it may not ever happen. (laughs)

Yeah, you know, so I have a very eclectic kind of upbringing in regards to religiosity or religion. You know, my mom was sort of a Catholic and then a lapsed Catholic and then an ex-communicated Catholic and then a brought-back-into-the-fold Catholic and then a kind of Shirley Maclaine New Age kind of something-or-other (laughter). And then my dad was very secular, raised by a school-teacher as a mom and a scientist as a father and then I was in Catholic school for three years as a kid; there was a confirmation process and I wanted to be confirmed, I had never been baptized. And so I asked if I could be baptized and he said no, not until I was 18. And then he discovered Buddhism a few years later and he wanted me to be a Buddhist, and so I kinda practiced Buddhism for a little while, and my older brother was sort of a swinging singles guy who discovered a guy named Swami Vivekananda and like shaved his head and went to India when I was like 10 or 11. And he was someone who I always admired, so I kind of got to see that strain. My biological father is Jewish and I never really knew him until I was 25 but then I did so he's kind of an interesting and wonderful man who I've gotten to know over the last few years, so there's kind of that strand.

I think in terms of the moral fabric of who I am, I would say that my dad, John Astin, who adopted me from the time that I was very young and raised me as his own, really worked very hard to instill in me a sense of right and wrong and he would always say, you know, put yourself in the other guy's shoes. And that's an amazing gift to give a kid, to teach them about other people's perspective. In fact, I finally got to a place when I was older where I was mostly putting myself in other people's shoes and he finally said, "OK, what do YOU want to do?" I'm like, "I dunno; whatever I'm supposed to do." "No, what do you WANT to do?" "I don't know." I never thought about it like that.

So, um, yeah. I spent 10 or 11 hours in a convent a couple of days ago in Idaho. My sister, one of my two sisters, died in a car accident three years ago when she was like 23, and I met one of the nuns - they call them the Blue Nuns, from St. Michael's in Spokane, and they were there at - well, I think they were at my sister's funeral but they said they were at my step-grandfather's funeral but anyway, either way, I started a lovely correspondence with Sister Mary Melba, so I really enjoy that interaction.

You know, you can't travel around the world as much as I do and see so many sunsets and meet so many different kinds of people and have healthy children and not have a sense of communion with the world and the universe. So, I am committed to learning and growing and evolving my sense of spirituality. So yeah, I guess that answers that. Cool. (applause)

Question: Hi.

SA: Hi there! Wait, don't tell me. (holds hand out in a 'stop' position and leans his head back, thinking hard). Wait.wait, don't tell me.Rachel! (pointing at person asking question).

Question: Yeah, I'm the girl who fell.

SA: But Rachel, right?

Question: Yeah.

SA: Yeah, I remember you. Cool!

Question: I know that all of the actors have read the Lord of the Rings before, but I'm wondering if you've ever read the other books that Tolkien did, like the Silmarillion and The History of Middle Earth, um [inaudible] which is actually brilliant, and also I really think that they should do a movie of 'Beren and Luthien' it's like my personal crusade.

SA: Wait wait wait.say that again, it went too fast?

Question: I really think they should do a movie of 'Beren and Luthien'; I think it's really good and I think it should be made.

SA: Well, maybe it will.

Question: It's just sort of brilliant.

SA: (laughs) Cool!

I've read the first two pages of Silmarillion three times. (loud laughter and applause) I think after the five-year sojourn of doing this movie and communing with fans and kind of learning more about it, I'll try again. I mean, I read the Hobbit; that's what finally opened the world up for me - go ahead.

Question: Try to read the History of Middle Earth, actually the rough draft.um, when Tolkien was writing the History of Middle Earth he made like nine zillion rough drafts, one of which actually ended up with Sam [inaudible] with the ring. So, read them!

SA: Wow. Cool. I own most of them. I did read Tolkien's letters.

Question: I have 16.

SA: Sixteen Tolkien books?

Question: Yeah.

SA: Cool! You should end up teaching one of those.you know, there are different courses that you can take.

Question: I'm not that good.

SA: Well, you could get that good.

Moderator: Next question, please.

SA: Nice to meet you.

Question: Uh, this is an advice question. What is your advice to someone who is a beginning.notice I didn't say 'young' filmmaker who is thinking about going to film school and directing?

SA: (pause) It's good to think. (laughter)

Question: sorry!

SA: Thinkin' ain't what gets it done, though. (laughter)

So, if you really believe in yourself and you have a reason for wanting to make films, then go for it. Film school is a great place to train. I actually applied to the graduate school of Theatre Arts and Film at UCLA and I wasn't accepted. If I would've been accepted I might not have done Lord of the Rings, so maybe everything happens for a reason.

Why did I want to study? Well, because at that point I didn't know kinda what I wanted to be when I grew up; I knew that I loved movies, so.I was also struggling with the idea of like, where is my place in the history of the business. I mean, I'm a second-generation actor, and my parents, you know, my mom had an incredibly brilliant start to her career on Broadway and as Helen Keller and winning an Oscar, and they both had extremely successful television shows in the 60s and were kind of pop cultural icons and then my mom moved on and made an impact in so many other ways and I really just didn 't know where to put myself in film history. I didn't know what am I gonna do; what's gonna be my contribution to the history of this media; it's only been around for 100 years, the history of film, really. Maybe a little longer, you know, but too very much. [inaudible] or something. It's still like young, I mean I guess there are so many movies now.

So film school; that's what I wanted to get out of it; I wanted to have the professors choose the syllabi, because I didn't.I mean, you could just go to the library, I suppose; you don't need to get a film school degree in order to learn. I mean, there's like 10,000 books, you could go to any Barnes & Noble or Borders or whatever and look in the film section, and you can buy interview books with filmmakers. But what I wanted .what I kind of liked the idea of was having an experience, a couple years' experience .I also like the idea of credits like if I do it and I get credit for it then I'll have.I mean, I'll have the piece of paper, the badge that says that I've done this, which I think kind of gives you a kind of validity when you're looking for some other sort of work, so there's validity to that. And also, being part of a community of other people, it seemed like something that would be meaningful to me. And also, being able to.the idea of just going and reading on my own at that point seemed kind of a lonely experience, but you know, having a professor assign the work, reading it and then sharing what it is that I've been reading with other people who were working on it too just seemed like a good thing to do.

Also, in terms of making movies, and this is less true now because technology is getting so good that for not too much money you can get a hold of incredible digital video equipment and digital video editing equipment and you can be practicing putting images and sound and telling a story on the screen without having to do that. I would just encourage you to know yourself, know what it is that you're hoping to get out of your experience and don't be daunted if you don't get in and if you do get in make the most out of it. I don't think there's anything wrong with applying to a couple of different schools to see if you can get it. I mean, just the process of writing your statement of purpose is an incredibly edifying one kind of in terms of just forcing you to sort of say out loud to yourself why it is that you're doing what it is that you think you want to be doing. And I'm a big one for school and for kind of organized learning, so I wish you luck with your career.

Question: Thank you; that's what I was kind of getting at, because I've had people tell me, 'take your money and don't go to school; go make a movie.'

SA: Which you can do too; I've done that, and you know what? It's an incredible learning experience but you've gotta look at it as an education though, because the odds of you, first time out, getting any of that money back in any way, shape or form ain't gonna - at least in terms of the amount of years before you start getting work? Like, I get work now; I get paid the Directors' Guild minimum to direct an episode of 'Angel' or to direct an episode of 'Jeremiah'. I want to do 'Smallville' this year and I want to do 'NYPD Blue' (applause) but it's taken years, I mean, to the IRS, it was a 'hobby,' this amount of money I was investing in my film school education on paying for my own short films. So you have to be really careful and you have to be willing to look at the expenditure of money as an investment in your own education, but I wouldn't discourage you from doing that either if you've got the money and you've got the passion to do it. But don't ever let anyone pooh-pooh a particular scholastic experience, because.oh, I've got this great quote from John Dewey.didn't he come up with the decimal system or something? But anyway, it's that "education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." I've got that on a little cup/holder on my desk. I believe that.

Moderator: We are unfortunately coming towards the end of this so we'll get as many questions as we can.

SA: Cool, I'll try to have snappier answers. (laughter)

Question: Hi; you probably don't know me 'cause I didn't get an autograph from you. I would have, but I, you know.

SA: I'll be back tomorrow.

Question: First of all, it's an honor to actually just be talking to you because you're the first celebrity I've ever had the time to be talking to.

SA: The honor is mine.

Question: Thank you! Um, I've been trying to do something like write, because I've always been a very visual person and my writing skills have been .um.uh.

SA: With room for improvement.

Question: Yes. And um, you know, it's kind of like a voyage or mission, because I want to write a series of books that you could really could put right up there next to Tolkien's stuff. And I know it seems like, you know, everyone would say, 'no, that's impossible; there's only one Tolkien and no one's ever gonna match up.' So what is your particular thoughts on that?

SA: Well, they'd be wrong. You can do whatever you want to do. And if you believe in yourself and you work hard, you absolutely could write a book or a series of books that could be up on that shelf next to Tolkien. There's no question in my mind. (applause)

Question: thank you.

Question: I was just wondering, when you did Rudy, how did it feel when you were suited up in the pads out on the field at Notre Dame stadium?

SA: It was awesome. It. Was. Awesome. Yeah, that was one of those moments where I was lined up as defensive end and I was looking and there are 58,000 screaming Irish fans and I glanced over to my wife, who was on the sidelines and her brother, and I just thought, this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment. And just, as you're running toward the quarterback and you hear the swell of the crowd and when you SACK the quarterback, the kind of EXPLOSION of screaming from the fans.that was, uh.better than waiting in line for an autograph, I'll bet. (laughter)

Question: Hi.

SA: Hello.

Question: Um, first I wanted to say, Goonies never say die.

SA: No, they don't. (applause and a few cheers) [inaudible]

Question: And the other thing is, watching 'White Water Summer,' why are you younger during some parts and older when you're telling the narrative.

SA: It took a long time to get the movie made, for a number of reasons, and the amount of time that it took to get the movie made was in the sweet spot of my puberty. (laughter) I started it at like 13 or 14 and then we finished the movie and there was a change of studio heads; David Putnam was the head of Columbia and he left as head of Columbia and then somebody else came in and the new regime at Columbia didn't know what they wanted to do with the movie. And the movie had some problems and then we went back like six months later to shoot some scenes and they STILL couldn't figure out what to do with it so we went back six months after that; we went down to New Zealand, did some white-water sequences, then we went back like three months after that AGAIN and then like a year later they called me and said 'listen, we just want to shoot some on-camera narration. So, I was like 13 when we started and 16 or 17 when we did the narration and.yeah. So, that's why.

Moderator: Well, it has been a distinct pleasure to have you here at GenCon and I'm glad that you're gonna be at a queue not today but signing autographs tomorrow, so keep that in mind, folks and thanks again. Big round of applause for Sean Astin.

SA: Thanks everybody; I loved being here. (loud applause and cheers) (SA takes off his hat and bows to the audience) Thanks everybody. I'll see you tomorrow.

7-31-03 Latest News

The "Official" Color of ROTK is -- Blue?!
Quickbeam @ 11:00 pm EST

Greetings, Quickbeam here.

After two years of speculation (and idle water-cooler debates among Ringer fans) we have answered the mystery at last! The "official" color of The Return of the King is going to be BLUE.

Well, to be more accurate: the "official" color of New Line Cinema licensed merchandise, found on packaging and other marketing materials, is going to follow a similar scheme as the first two films in Jackson's trilogy -- but with a primary BLUE background color.

You will remember that all the Toy Biz action figures, the Applause novelty items, the Games Workshop miniatures, the Extended Edition DVD's, etc. etc. were all colored GREEN for The Fellowship of the Ring. It was a nice, Shire-type of green which suited the packaging for almost everything. Then all the goodies for The Two Towers started showing up a year later in RED. Same exact layout, same package design, even the same movie logo -- just with RED.

If you don't believe me go check out the Amazon.com page where you pre-order the Extended Edition of TTT. It's a muted, brick red color.

Now it comes to it! My pal Flinch (divine editor and master guru of our Gaming Havens section) and I have been going around in circles trying to figure out what would change this year for ROTK. I took up the argument that all the merchandise would be SABLE with SILVER letters, just to match up with the standard of Minas Tirith. Turns out I was wrong in a big way.

Take a look-see at the recently published photo we have of the new Eowyn figure from Toy Biz and you'll see the proof is in the Eowyn pudding. This color choice has nothing to do with the emblems or standards that Tolkien created in his story, evidently.

Let me take a guess at what the future might bring: At the very end of 2004 you should all have a little blue 4-disc DVD box to set next to your existing green and red ones.

*Whew!* Now that THAT is all settled, you can all get back to the real challenges facing any stout-hearted Ringer -- like, for example... the ongoing Google search for that stunning ROTK 'trailer' that we had to take off our site! [Author's Note: Of course I'm not looking for it, personally, but I know the majority of you are!]

Much too hasty,

Indian Pirates Try New Tactic: Look Legitimate
Demosthenes @ 7:51 pm EST

IMDB is reporting that DVD pirates in India are trying a new tactic to escape detection. It says some Indian video pirates are importing bootleg DVDs from abroad, submitting them to official censors as if they were bona fide originals, then shipping them to legitimate retail outlets.

Detectives working for the Hollywood studios reportedly discovered copies of The Lord of the Rings -- The Two Towers in shops early this month, although it is not due to be released in India until August 26, the newspaper said. This story was first reported in the Singapore Straits Times.

Thanks to Ringer Holly for the news.

Italy's Tolkien Track Issues
Xoanon @ 1:54 pm EST

Robert writes: Two weeks ago, I sent the official program of Hobbiton, the largest event dedicated to Tolkien in Italy.

I have to communicate a major change. Unfortunately, the Italian Tolkien Society was forced to move Hobbiton from Udine as previously planned to the small town of San Daniele del Friuli, near Udine.

What's the matter? Well, the recently elected regional council of Friuli not only decided to cut off a previously conceded funding to the event of 20.000 euros (not a great sum, considering that another local event, Mittelfest, received last year ONE MILLION euros and was only able to gather a similar audience than Hobbiton), but asked 25.000 euros to rent the Villa Manin Park. Thus, the Italian Tolkien Society (which, as the all TS worldwide, is a non-profit organization), had to move abrutply Hobbiton to the more friendly San Daniele del Friuli. Anyway, the Regional Council decision, as you can imagine, is provoking a lot of problems for the planning of Hobbiton, the most important the serious risk to go overbudget. [More]

John Rhys-Davies Q&A at GenCon 2003
Xoanon @ 1:25 pm EST

A HUGE Thanks to HannColl for getting this JRD Transcript down on paper for us! Take a look at part II

Click here for part I

Question: My father is into the really old vintage cars, like from the '50s, like Thunderbirds. I was wondering what your favorite kind of car was.

JRD: Well, you know, for some of us the old vintage cars were a little bit earlier than the '50s (laughter) I'm a 40's vintage myself. But as Indiana says, it's not the year; it's the mileage, isn't it? (laughter) There was a period when America made the best cars in the world, unquestionably. I think really that from about 1924 to about the mid-30s they were the best cars in the world. The best design.

Even the Rolls-Royces, the Springfield Rolls-Royces, were just I think the most elegant of all the Rolls-Royces. I'm still a British sports car fan, I mean the Triumphs, the TR-2s and 3s, and I have a Jensen Interceptor convertible as well, which is American power train and Italian design and English construction. It's a real abortion, in fact, now that you think about it. (laughter) Um, but my favorite American car would probably.oh, I don't know; I mean there's so many of them, I mean the Duesenbergs and the [inaudible].I mean, just breathtakingly beautiful things. But practically.yeah, a T-Bird would be nice. I like the new T-Bird; have you seen the new T-Bird? Oh, I'd love to have one. If Father Christmas is nice to me this year (looks up) Are you listening up there? (laughter) You could give me a wee T-Bird. (laughter)

Question: This charming young woman had a question for you that she wanted to give you, so uh, having been immortalized in film several times over, was it a new experience for you to become an interactive character in a video game?

JRD: Well, video games are extraordinary things, aren't they? I'm not very good with those interactive games basically because I'm not very good with computers.

I've had every damned Macintosh and then before that I had a Sinclair, and we had the Acorn, the BBC Acorn before, but the Sinclair was 1980, wasn't it? 1981? But I realized that.I don't even know why I bother to upgrade these things, because all I use it for is basically a word processor. And I'm a hunt-and-peck man anyway, so (demonstrates typing with two fingers) (laughter) I'm in agony. It's agonizing; it takes me a day to write a letter. I need a secretary. I need someone who writes fast (several audience members raise their hands to volunteer for the position) Oh! (laughter)

Moderator: I think you'll find no shortage of volunteers (laughter)

JRD: But I tell you what, I did once see a keyboard that I'm told was developed by an actor. Unfortunately what they wanted to do was to sort of own everything, all the rights and the marketing rights. It was an amazing thing. It consisted of six keys and you could do everything with six keys, and the keyboard was actually shaped like that (holds up hand in palm-out position with fingers spread) with a command key and..as I said, six keys. So the vowels were (counts off on fingers) a, e, I, o, u. L, if you looked at it was actually like that (holds up thumb and first finger in L position). You could learn the keyboard - I learned the keyboard in 45 minutes. I'd never been able to type so fast as with that little keyboard. And it's so interesting because it's one of those little inventions that should've swept the world, and because of wrong decisions and bad marketing, no one's ever heard of it and no one's seen it. It is better to own 2 percent of $100,000,000 than 100 percent of nothing. Bear that in mind when you're brilliant and innovative, because this thing should've swept the world. I can't even remember what the name of it was now, and I've got two, but they don't work anymore because you can't get batteries. But God, they were good. And..what was the question, anyway? (laughter)

Question: The question was about becoming an interactive character in a video game and the difference from being immortalized on film.

JRD: Well, I suppose the difference is that you could end dying in a film in which you hadn't actually thought about dying in. But, you lose control of it, I suppose.

You just say the lines and the computer wizards do what they do and you have lost the character. I mean, your character is somebody else's imagining. But it's all right.why not? There are 2,000 different ways that we can explore the world of entertainment and delight ourselves; let's do it.

Question: Actually I have two questions. The first might be lengthy, but.when you were playing Gimli, how did you end up playing Treebeard as well and what did you do to make them two separate characters? And the other question is, a group of us have a birthday card for Billy Boyd and we would like to know if you would sign it for us.

JRD: It would be my pleasure to sign a card for Billy Boyd. (mumbles) Bloody little hobbit gets more bloody parties than I've ever had. (laughter) Bloody hobbits, they get everywhere, don't they? (Gimli voice) But you've got to be nice to them because they're hobbits. No one ever stomped on a hobbit and got away with it. (laughter) It's the pity factor. (laughter) (regular voice) But anyway, um.yeah, do you want me to sign that damned card? (laughter) (signs card) Now the other question.well

Peter just said to me one day, 'Do you want to do the voice of Treebeard as well?' and I said 'Oh, yes, go on.' I have never had more trouble with a character than that, 'cause when you read it, I see this works in my imagining but gosh did it feel risky and dangerous because there's a cartoon quality about [Treebeard], you know, the walking talking tree and how do you make him real? How do you make him believable? I mean, how does a tree talk? So we tried everything; we spent hours and hours of trying to sort of (demonstrates) breathe on the intake. Oh, and he's slow, I mean he's in.finite.ly slow.and how the hell do you make that work on film? In film, we get it instantly - 'OK, it's a slow character, what's he say? Next!'

So, one has to get the suggestion of the slowness.it's a very slow mental process that he is.delving into - he's the oldest living thing on Earth. He remembers more than any of us ever will. And to get that over and at the same time have the age of the character and have the energy, the elemental rage of the character sometimes.Well, we tried everything. We tried.I wanted to make a layered effect of the (demonstrates) deep rumbling sounds and then (demonstrates) leaves just whishing away in the wind and layer them all together we tried it and it was just muddied. In the end we went back to our very early experiment of just almost doing it straight. And then the thing was to make it not sound too much like Gimli. The other thing is of course because he is a moving tree, he might have bits of accents from different parts of the country, and we tried it that way, with a bit of Lancashire and a bit of West Country and a bit of Wales and a bit of Scots. And with all these experiments they were interesting but in the end you have to make a decision. And if it works, I take full credit, and if it doesn't work, blame Peter Jackson! (laughter and applause)

Question: My question actually goes back to Wales since you obviously have a strong identity with Wales and somewhat with Celts in general. How do you feel about the current drive, however limited, in Scotland for political autonomy from England? Do you see that as being at all realistic or would you in Wales see anything of that sort being attempted?

JRD: No, in Wales we really are quite adamant that.really don't see ourselves as.we are an independent people anyway, we are an independent culture, we have our own language. We certainly don't see the breakup of the United Kingdom as being a benefit to anybody, and we see it as a real disadvantage, actually. Scots independence? I think.it might make sense for them, but I think it's a disaster for the rest of us, really. Do you realize how much blood was shed uniting the kingdom? I don't know; I see that there's a process going on in Europe of breaking Britain down into sort of small, easily-divided communities and I think this is very deliberately designed to eliminate Britain from having any real say in Europe. But I'm talking politics now and I shouldn't be talking politics, but I think it's a disaster.

Question: You said before that at RADA you wasted your time there, and I was wondering if that was just a personal thing because I was actually thinking of applying at RADA.

JRD: Well, you should do it because you are intelligent, bright and will be very successful. I was an idiot who didn't know how to learn to rehearse. (laughter) Rehearsal was that awkward period between reading the script and getting out there and doing it. There's a difference between performers and real actors and I've got a lot of that performer in me. Real actors love the rehearsal period, and I sort of just get antsy just practicing [inaudible] and things like that.

There's a compulsive chemistry that happens when the camera is rolling or when you're onstage with a real audience and then you really have to burn energy and I find it easy in performance and I don't much care for it in rehearsal. But then, I'm not a real actor by that definition. Ian loves rehearsal. He probably loves rehearsal.well, maybe I should leave it for him to say, but I suspect that he's one of the sort of actors who actually prefers the rehearsal period to the actual performing, which is perverse, but. (laughter) [inaudible] is a bit peculiar.

But do go to RADA; it's a very good school. But use the time there. I mean, do all the things that you don't like doing. I remember Richard Harris saying, "For God's sake, when you get there, do some singing, do some dancing, even if you never intend to do a musical," he said, "because sometimes they ask you to do one." And he was quite good, actually. I hated singing and dancing. I got thrown out of my makeup class basically because I was very shortsighted at the time and had these big glasses. I'd take the glasses off and put the makeup on couldn't see a damned thing so you just thicken the lines up until you actually sort of looked like a bit of a gargoyle, really. They thought I was taking the mickey. But good luck; go there. I give you a future star. (applause)

[Transcriber's note: at this point Sean Astin came onto the stage and fell to his knees before JRD, then bent and kissed his foot. He then stood up and the two embraced.]

(cheers and applause)

JRD: I give you a future Oscar nominee (cheers, SA shakes his head 'no'), future president of the Screen Actors' Guild (more cheers, SA gives a 'sounds good' nod) a future Governor of California (cheers, SA pumps his fist in the air) and a candidate for the [presidency] of the United States. (loud cheers)

SA, in Sallah voice: Indy! They are digging in the wrong place! (laughter) (sings a bit from Sallah's song) .bad dates. (laughter and applause) (regular voice) I would do that on the set every time that John came on and finally one day, after the 4,000th time I did that he said (JRD voice) 'you know Sean, my dear boy, it borders on parody'. (laughter and applause)

JRD: And if you CAN slip them Orlando Bloom's phone number (cheers, one audience member yells 'we don't want it!') it would really piss him off. (laughter)

Moderator: One last round of applause for John Rhys-Davies (loud cheers and applause)

John Rhys-Davies Q&A at GenCon 2003
Xoanon @ 1:16 pm EST

A HUGE Thanks to HannColl for getting this JRD Transcript down on paper for us! Take a look at part I

(JRD comes onstage unannounced to cheers and applause)

GenCon Moderator: Well, he's pre-empted me, but I suppose that goes without saying. John Rhys-Davies, everyone! (cheers and applause)

(JRD starts to speak into the microphone, but the moderator, whose back is to JRD, cuts him off)

Moderator: Well, what we're going to do here today is uh .if you folks have some questions you want to ask him, there's a microphone back there, and if you could go back there and form an orderly line we could slowly incorporate your questions as well as some of the questions I'll be asking him. Welcome.

JRD, setting microphone down on table: Do I have to use this damned mike? Can you hear? Why don't you all come a bit closer, hey? Come on!

Moderator, indicating catwalk part of the stage: Would you prefer just to come out here, sir?

JRD: Yeah!

Moderator: Why don't we move the table out of your way and you can come out here? (GenCon people move the table to the side.)

JRD, using microphone anyway: All right, so who's got the first damned fool question? Oops! (covers his mouth in mock-embarrassment) (laughter)

And let me go ahead and give you an answer ahead: Girls - I do not have Orlando Bloom's phone number. (laughter) If I had it, however, I would indeed give it to you and to the world. And yes, I do know who Sean Astin is. (cheers) And incidentally, I should talk about Sean Astin, I kind of placed a small bet on Sean getting a nomination for his hard work. (loud cheers) An absolutely marvelous performance, and when you see it, take along a handkerchief to the cinema with you because it's very moving, very moving.

All right (mock-frustration) well, come on, ask some questions, for God's sake!

Question: Are you going to do Sallah for the next Indiana Jones movie, when it's being done?

JRD: I've been asked that same question probably every year since 1988, and I suspect I shall be asked that question next year and then the year after that and the year after that. (laughter) IF they make a new one and IF it relates in any way to Egypt and the best digger in Cairo (laughter), um, IF I'm still alive, if Harrison Ford and I have not been moved into the geriatric ward (laughter), yes, I would love to do it. [inaudible] I would imagine that Paramount probably sends a very nice food hamper to each of those guys every Christmas, begging them to do another one, but I don't really have any certain news about it.

Moderator: [Asks people to ask their questions into the microphone.]

JRD mock-mumbles and complains to nearby audience members.

Moderator: Is it safe to say you have a rebellious nature?

JRD: What? Who's a stinker? (laughter)

Moderator: I was just speaking of your rebellious nature.

JRD: What? I don't have a rebellious nature! (laughter) I'm the most conforming bloody dwarf you've ever met! (laughter)

Moderator: What kind of preparation did you do for the role? I mean, knowing that you have local fan collectees that have sort of protective instincts toward the character that they love:

JRD: Never mind about protective instincts; what about my knees? (laughter)

Question: Hey, John?

JRD: Yeah?

Question (from a young boy): I had heard that like you and everyone else in the fellowship got like a tattoo, and I wanted to know what it was and where it is? (laughter)

JRD: Dear, evil child. (laughter) if I had a tattoo for every movie that I've done, I would be a walking billboard. (laughter) And if you think I'm going to allow myself to have my skin pierced by a drunken Maori with a filthy needle, you are insane! (laughter) I did what any real actor does when faced with a stunt with real danger - I sent my stunt double. (laughter). And, frankly, I don't CARE where he has his tattoo. (laughter) But nice question.

Question: Well, speaking of Orlando Bloom.(laughter, JRD rolls his eyes in mock exasperation) I think that it would be really great if they made the Hobbit with him playing Thranduil and you playing Gloin. Would you be interested in playing Gloin, your father, if they made the Hobbit?

JRD: I would not take a prosthetic part again for all the money in Hollywood. I would like to have a face. It gives me a complete skin peel every time I put it on, and it's too much suffering. I'm not interested in that anymore. On the other hand, I am prepared for not an inconsiderable amount of money to give Legolas's father. (laughter) I think I could do that; long wig. (JRD nances around the stage to laughter and applause) Or maybe Legolas's mother if I have to. (laughter)

Moderator: The makeup was really that much trouble for you?

JRD: Oh, I hate that makeup.

Moderator: How long did you have to sit in the chair and do whatever it was to have them put.

JRD: Well, we got it down to about five hours, but that's not the end of it, you see, because it takes.I mean right at the end of the day it takes virtually another hour to get it off, and you've got somebody fussing around in your face for at least eight hours a day.

Mod: What did you do during those five hours?

JRD: Well, you can't do anything. You sit there and you have to remain awake because you've got to lift your eyes up and turn left and right and all that sort of thing. It's very tedious. And you know, after about 50, 55 minutes it would start itching and you just have to sit there and try not to want to scratch, and that makes you insane. But actually on the very last day of pick-up shots.which I did actually just about three weeks ago I did actually hit on the real solution. I borrowed a couple of Valium from a friend (laughter) so the two Valium, the antihistamine, the aspirin and the Tylenol combined well and actually I had the first uninterrupted day of delight because I was sort of out of my mind. (laughter). If only I'd discovered that combination beforehand I would've been great. But you know, the skin cracks and you literally lose all the skin around your eyes and it gets worse each time and it's getting further and further into the cheeks. So really, I wouldn't do it again.

Mod: You mentioned that your knees were giving you trouble for the role?

JRD: My knees? Well, because I spent all my time on my knees all the time. Either that or there'd be somebody up here and I'd be down there, you know. (to audience member going to his seat nearby) Come, come here, my dear fellow (man doesn't notice JRD speaking to him) Oh never mind.but anyway, uh, yes I spent a lot of time on my knees and that was AFTER getting the job (mock-groans and laughter from the audience) but it was.not good. I would demonstrate but it's a brand-new suit. But I mean, you try fighting on your knees with an axe. You just swing that axe and bang, straight headfirst into the mud. (laughter) That was the first shot, first day. (laughter) First discovery that all that training with axe-work made no use whatsoever. Complete waste of time. Oh well.

Mod: You had a lot of time training with the axe then?

JRD: With the accent?

Mod: Uh, yeah.

JRD: Well, I just copied Sean Connery (laughter). Oh, did you say the axe or the accent?

Mod: Well, I said the axe, but you took the accent, so.

JRD: Oh all right then.

Mod: Next question here:

Question: Um, I heard that each of the cast members got to take home a prop from the set. Which prop did you get to take home:

JRD: They actually gave me my axe, (applause) which was rather lovely. The only snag is they had to send it home because you can't really take an axe on an airplane, you see. I don't know why (laughter). I mean, well just think about it. You wanted to hijack a plane, you know, an axe isn't actually your first weapon of choice. (laughter) (Demonstrates in Gimli accent) 'Oh, one moment while I get my axe.no actually this is my cousin Balin's axe, and I'm gonna hold your plane for ransom!' (laughter) Wouldn't quite work. So it's um.I hope it gets there because the two other things that they sent along as well, they've arrived but the axe hasn't arrived. ('ohh's from the audience) But I'm hoping, I'm hoping that it will turn up. Her Majesty's customs in England are probably saying "oh, this is a pretty suspicious-looking axe." You know, trying it out, chopping wood somewhere. But ah well, there you are.

Question: I know you really get tired of hearing all this about Orlando, and you really need to know that there's a lot of us who think that dwarves are quite hot. (cheers from other audience members)

JRD (in Gimli voice): I'll see you later. (laughter)

Question: But my question. those of us who spend way too much time on the internet noticed that you get asked, or all the actors, get asked a lot of the same questions over and over again and so I just wondered what you wished fans or journalists would ask you about.

JRD: Well, I mean there's a difference between fans and journalists; there's a difference between talking about the film, which I think is one of the great pictures of all-time (applause and cheers). But the question I'd like to get asked is 'Does it mean anything?' and uh, I suspect it does. I think that Tolkien is a man living in a particular age of crisis and his life is quite uneventful, really, except for the fact that he's a captain in the First World War. He was at the first battle of the Somme. The British army in the first DAY of the first battle of the Somme I think probably had 20,000 dead and maybe 60 or 80,000 wounded. And that was the first day. You don't go through that sort of furnace without having to ask yourself questions: Why are we fighting? Is the cause we're fighting for a just one? How can I justify the deaths of those men that I'm leading? And I think that

Tolkien found a justification for it. His justification is that there are certain times when your civilization is challenged and if you do not meet that challenge and overcome it, you will lose your civilization.

And I think that there's a terrible resonance between that period of time and our period now. I do think that our civilization is being challenged. We've been challenged internally because I think we've lost so much character, moral fiber, decency, integrity, and I think it's being challenged partly, because we have lost those, externally by fundamental Islam. And I think that if we do not pull ourselves together and recognize that that challenge is there, we're going to end up with people taking a hammer to the Pieta and to the.you know, defacing pictures and portraits in the National Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

But you Americans I think are further along the way of realizing that. I actually think that you're morally a stronger country than Britain is. I'm appalled by what I see in England these days. There was a time when an Englishman's word was his bond and an Englishman didn't steal. Even Welshmen. (laughter) The little town where I live in Wales, well not far from where I used to live in Wales, has one of the highest rates of carjacking in the world. More cars are stolen from Exely and Swansea and places like that than almost any other part of the world, including Bogotá and places like that. I'm ashamed and embarrassed by that but you, know unless we start to affirm that we are not going to steal, that we will not put up with theft, that we will not put up with drug-taking, we will lose our society, and then perhaps it will be for the best that fundamental Islam, which forbids these things, sweeps across the world. I personally dread that thought. I hope one day that I will have great-granddaughters and I am very adamant and determined that one should not lose one's daughter's fingernails to the local Taliban if she dares to paint them.

The resonance between Lord of the Rings and present time is that we need people of courage to take the real challenge to our civilization and meet it head-on and win.

And that is a very unpopular cause, often, and it is very easy to say 'Oh, let somebody else do it'. And that is one of the questions that I wish somebody would ask. At least, one of the answers that I would give to one of the questions that I wish someone would ask (applause).

Mod: Well, I think you're right and I hate to have to go back to what seems kinda frivolous (inaudible) but I know we have some more questions, so is there one there?

Question: Yeah. Uh, not to take away from the strong words you just said, but uh, I came here this weekend with the intention of saying just one thing to you."Cairo!"

JRD: Was that 'Cairo' (laughter) City of the living. (applause) I like Cairo. Has anyone here been to the Cairo Museum? Oh, God, the stuff in there is just amazing. Including a copy of that head of Nefertiti.does anyone know that beautiful head of Nefertiti? (audience members say yes) You just know that the sculptor was so in love with his subject . just that probably artificial elongation of her neck to counterbalance that headpiece. Did anyone see that program which suggests that they may have found Nefertiti's body? (a few audience members say yes) Yeah, it's very sad, what happened to her. And Akhenaten, what a strange man. Yes, sorry?

Mod Question: You seem to have a fondness for your background, where you came from in Wales, and I had a chance to go out there myself. What's your favorite place in Wales to be?

JRD: Well I love Wales.it's where my spiritual and human roots come from, so I have an affinity there. They're surprisingly loyal to me there as a Welshman, some of them. The Celts are a BAD people really (laughter). There's a saying in the Isle of Man, for instance which is the same, again, a Celtic people. They talk of the manx crab. When you go crabbing you get a bucket full of crabs and there's one at the top and it's trying to haul itself out and it'll just about get over the rim of the bucket and then another crab pulls it back in. And there's a curiously self-destructive quality about Celts, quite exemplified by Dylan Thomas and to a certain extent by Burton. The Celts often start off by shouting "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me, I'm a genius" and then when everyone is looking at them they go "Oh my God, everyone's looking at me". (laughter) "Now, watch me destroy my genius!" It's a sad thing.

Mod Question: Well, with such a love of Wales, I'm curious what actually ended up bringing you over to the US and when you came over for the first time and what that was like for you. Was it culture shock, or.?

JRD: Well, you know, in my holidays when I was in Wales, I spent my short holidays in Wales with my grandmother and my Auntie Meggie. And I used to try to go to the movies as often as possible and they used to change the movies every three days in Wales. So there were three cinemas in the town and they'd show a different film on Sunday so I'd sometimes manage to persuade my grandmother that the best thing I could do was to just slip out of the house of an evening and I'd go sometimes to see six different films in a week. I knew Hollywood and America better than you guys did (laughter) as did Tony Hopkins, and most of us did actually. But coming here has been a hugely rewarding experience just in terms of work alone, but I grew to love America and Americans, and I have the greatest respect for you people.

Mod: So it was film and TV that brought you over originally?

JRD: Yes, I should've come over after I did Shelton actually, but I came over to do a little television series called "The Quest" which lasted one season and then got bucketed and they didn't like it or something like that. But it was very nice.

Great times. And I've driven America which I love to do.I love long safaris by car. And I've had some great safaris. Actually in two separate trips I've driven really from the cape to Cairo and I have certainly driven you know (inaudible) to Cape Town a few times and driven up into ( ) coast. When I did that film with Virginia Hey, the Bond film, I had 21 days between Vienna and Morocco and just drove; got in a car and just drove; just a wonderful time. So, I've done Virginia to Vancouver; I've done London to.ah, what am I talking about, I've done New York to L.A., I've done Chicago to LA. I've done a few cross-countries.

Mod: You've adopted the love of the car that the Americans have.

JRD: Ah, I love it, yeah! And I love your cars, too!

Question: Yeah, getting back.not that your telling all about your life and where you came from and your roots is not very interesting, I love hearing about it. But back to the movies.(laughter) Gimli seems to be the butt of a lot of jokes...

JRD, in Gimli voice: WHAT? (laughter)

Question. especially in the Two Towers and it's a little bit bothersome to me. I hate to see the jokes at the expense of Gimli. Some of the funny lines are great, like the dwarf-tossing lines are just wonderful, but some of them I don't like and I wondered how you feel about that, and in Return of the King, are we gonna see Gimli as less a comic relief an more of a serious warrior character?

JRD, in Gimli voice: Ah, you're astounding me, that people could be laughing at a dwarf?! (laughter) Oh, dear me, this is shocking news; I don't know how to reevaluate this but. (regular voice) well, there's probably something structural in filmmaking that .if you look at the way that Tolkien wrote the book, and you realize, he sold the rights I think for 100 pounds, 'cause he didn't think anyone could make a movie out of it. And what's the plot of Lord of the Rings? Well, nice things happen and then something unpleasant happens and things look a bit gloomy, and then worse things happen and things look worse and then there's a fight and things look bad. And there's another fight and it swells into a battle and things look even worse after that. Now, after the next battle, things look really, really bad and THEN, there's another battle. (laughter) And um, it's hard to make a film like that without being able to sort of modulate the amount of tension in it. And one of the vectors, we decided, had to be Gimli.

I think you'll find that part three isn't really Gimli's story . well, neither were part two and part one, now that I think about it! (laughter). "John, it's not about a dwarf." But um, I think you'll see a bit more of the Legolas/Gimli friendship (applause) and the great camaraderie between them I mean, it looks as if they are going to die together, and it looks pretty darn grim, but you know one of the reasons we love Gimli is, he doesn't realize he's small. (laughter) So it's when he's running across country with Strider and with this immortal elf that it occurs to him that short legs are an evolutionary disadvantage. (laughter.) (Switches to Gimli voice, panting) We dwarfs are wasted on cross-country. We're natural sprinters. (laughter and applause) (Regular voice) Anyway, thank you for your concern about Gimli.

Question: I wondered if you have any stories about working on Raiders of the Lost Ark? And also, why were you killed off on "Sliders?" (several audience members say 'yeah!')

JRD: I'm told that legally I mustn't talk about "Sliders" too much because otherwise I shall end up getting sued, but I think that there was something somewhat strangely repetitive about some of the plots that felt strangely reminiscent of other films that I've seen and I just thought that we could do better with "Sliders". It seemed to me that we could go anywhere in the universe, and because of a concept called 'relativistic time dilation' you could actually go anywhere in time as well. Do you understand that? Any physicists here? I bet there are real physicists here. (a couple of audience members raise their hands) Well, if the.correct me WHEN I'm wrong, not IF.(laughter) If the Earth went round the sun just a couple of minutes slower, we would be living in a completely.you know, two worlds would be living in completely different sort of evolutionary era, if there were such things as parallel worlds. Because.well, um.well, it's called 'relativistic time dilation;' do look it up! (laughter) We could have gone anywhere in the universe, anywhere in time and we should've done better than we did. We should have really explored the possibilities of different ways of living instead of cribbing other people's plots from other people's films, basically.

I loved working with the cast; we were all so close together, and yet in the end it seemed to me that. The average American child watches 14 hours of television a week. This gives you an enormous responsibility and if you cannot impart a bit of knowledge and a bit of good judgment along with that in the business of entertaining then it seems to me you're wasting a) time and b) the very precious life of children (applause). I did not want to play the bad Professor in Lost in Space, which was one of the instructions some idiot gave me - ooh, did I say that out loud? (laughter) Uh, it seemed to me that one of the qualities that Arturo could bring was to show intellectual curiosity and intellectual excitement and of all things intellectual passion seems to me to be most the admirable thing that any teacher can offer any child. There's an old paradox somewhere in me and one of the reasons why I think I sort of really wanted to make it a more interesting rather than (in deep voice) an evil character. Anyway, so that's that. So I managed to get fired but believe me, you've no idea how hard it is to get fired if you're really trying.

(laughter) I had to be SO rude to SO many people.and did I enjoy that? (laughter) Yes! Now, uh, Indy.what was the question about Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Moderator: Well, he just asked I think about stories about Raiders of the Lost Ark, if you have any. Any funny stories, behind the scenes.

JRD: Oh. Well, there's all sorts of extraordinary stories about Raiders of the Lost Ark. My favorite, which I'm not going to tell you, but you must ask Karen Allen about that wonderful night we spent in the car when we broke down in the desert in Africa. And I love Karen Allen; wonderful lady. Uh, what else? She's gotta tell you the story. And it is not true that I kicked the driver (laughter). Well.maybe not very hard. (laughter) This bloody idiot drives into the desert and suddenly the lights go out; the car stops and the lights go out. So, he gets out and he lifts the bonnet and starts hitting the battery. [I said] 'What's the matter?' (in African accent) 'Bad connection with the battery.' I said, 'Well, why don't you take a spanner and tighten it up?' He hadn't got a spanner. So I said 'Well, the next village why don't we just stop and get a spanner and tighten it up.' So, we go THROUGH the next village. The lights go out again. This happens two or three more times. I am a polite fellow.sometimes (laughter) but I'm trying to explain to him that one of the rules of being in Africa is you do not drive into a desert with a car that's going to break down! (laughter) Finally we go through another village, it breaks down again, and I said 'OK, I want to make this clear to you. If this happens again and we cannot get the battery started, you are going to have to walk back. I don't care how far we are, I'm going to kick you out of this car and you're going to have to go back, because this is what's going to happen: you are hitting the terminal of the battery with your shoe. The terminal of the battery will detach itself and go into the plate of the actual battery and you will have ruined the battery and we will be stuck.' Well, five miles along, lights go out again, car cuts out. He gets out, he lifts the bonnet, he takes his shoe off and hits the battery again, and guess what? (laughter) Terminal breaks off and goes into the battery, I get out of the car and I do kick him. (laughter and applause) So we had 24 (Tabs?) in the back of the car, and Karen and I spent a wonderful night in the desert singing all the bad songs we could find and having a marvelous time until, alas, we got rescued.

Question: I had another question, but he made me go back to the end of the line. The question is, there are people here from bitofearth.net, which is Sam Gamgee's official fan club. And we of course are excited to ask you questions but also to ask Sean questions, and we were wondering if you could give us any idea of something that we could ask Sean about that maybe nobody's heard of that might bring us a bit of a laugh?

(JRD mock-glares. Laughter)

JRD (in Gollum voice) Dirty, stinking little hobbits! (laughter) (regular voice) Uh, you understand that I .the hobbits tended to work together. I had to spend my time in makeup, that's all. (laughter) So, uh, all I can say is that they all displayed remarkable qualities and remarkable courage. I remember one time Sean had to go sort of rushing into this boggy water and there was this stalk underneath the water that went right through this artificial foot that he'd had put on and right into him. And, I mean, it was really quite a serious injury and he gamely plodded on and finished the shot and then was airlifted to a hospital or something like that. He was.I don't really have any difficult, embarrassing questions. (audience awwws) He was there with his wife and his newborn and then there was another newborn coming along. Uh, he worked hard, he was a good family man; he loves and adores his family and rightly so; they're fabulous. I think his eldest daughter is what, she must be getting on to nine now or something like that - nine going on about ninety-eight, dispensing advice to all of us men I think at the age of six or something like that. Um, I've got no difficult or embarrassing questions for Sean.

Darn! I wish I'd had notice of that; I could've made something up. (laughter) There must be some scandal that I can ferment here (laughter) Uh.no, all I can tell you is you're looking at, I think an Oscar nominee (applause), I think uh.a future head of the Screen Actors' Guild (applause and cheers), maybe a future Governor of California (cheers), and who knows?

Question: OK, getting back to "Sliders" (laughter) Earlier today my wife and her friend got your autograph, and I had the privilege of asking you about the final episode that you were in of "Sliders", that you had a story credit for. And you mentioned that they didn't actually use your story idea.

JRD: Uh, well, they took bits of it. Um, the story I had was basically that the sliders had landed on a world where there had been a nuclear winter brought on by.Schumacher-Levy.you remember Schumacher-Levy hit Jupiter, didn't it? In this particular universe, I was predicating that it had perhaps hit Earth and that created a nuclear winter and that essentially there was apparently no life on earth and then they got.but they managed to find themselves quite close to a Motorola factory or.and there was a huge pile of chips there and the professor and Quinn had decided that one of the characteristics of the device that they use to jump from world to world was due to a particular quirk of a chip and they worked through this huge pile of chips and actually found another chip that would get them directed back to the world where they wanted to be. At this point they were contacted by a sort of military recon group that was trying to put together all the survivors, and they realized that what they could do was to take all the survivors from.and there weren't that many.to another world by using this chip but by scaling it up.but by scaling it up so that in fact you held the wormhole open for a sufficient period of time so that you would literally drive a convoy of cars through it. The problem would be, of course, that the life of the chip would be infinitely reduced if it was opened on that sort of scale. And it was basically finding the right world, finding the opportunity to get through and there were one or two disastrous things because people wanted to bring through things that they shouldn't take through to the next world and ended up kidnapping a couple of the sliders and we had to wait to find them and sort things out, at which point of course the wormhole burned out. We had got through but we were back in the same place again. That was basically the story that I wanted to write.

What we ended up doing was.see there is this characteristic of Hollywood which is so dumb and irritating.industrialists are always bad. The military is always bad. Generals, things like that, are all power-loving, evil people who are basically out to destroy democracy, etc., etc., etc. But there are all these awful clichés of left-wing Hollywood that I cannot, cannot abide, and so we ended up with this piece of crap. (laughter) But anyway.no, it's too painful.

Question: You seem to have a very strong moral and ethical voice inside of you, and I'm wondering how that has affected the roles you've chosen, or if you've maybe had to put that on the side for some roles?

JRD: Those roles are generally chosen by my bank manager. (laughter) Uh, not to offend anybody here, but when I was at Stratford in the Royal Shakespeare Company, we used to have a saying: 'Art for art's sake and money, for Christ's sake.' (laughter)

Question: Uh, I think that answered my question.

Question: Uh, I know you've done a lot of work in movies and TV and I also know that you're a real big stage actor with Shakespearean-style stuff; have you done anything else entertainment-wise?

JRD: You mean, this week? (laughter) I've been a working actor for most of my life.

I taught for a year when I graduated and I went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and wasted my time; it was a big mistake, but then I didn't quite know how else to get into the theatre, I suppose. I should have just applied to a theatre.

But I can do other things: I can weld, I can turn, I can build. I rebuilt the engine for my Rolls-Royce and there weren't TOO many bits left over. (laughter) I have been known to fly an airplane, but I'm not current at the moment. You would want me if you were on a safari in Africa or someplace like that because I can get us there and not get us killed and get very close to big game. I grew up in Africa so I'm sort of a bit of an African really. I'm a semi-useful, fat old man, there you are. (laughter)

End of part I

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