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I met up with Brad at the ICON 20 convention at Stoneybrook, NY March 31st. These questions were gathered from a media press conference with Brad, and a private interview with him. Below are the answers, some have been shortened. To hear the full version and to hear Brad Dourif click on the audio links. Special thanks to Tony over at SciFi Talk for the soundfiles.
Special Note:When clicking on the audio files you will get the entire audio file from the media conference. To hear just the answer to a specific question use the slider bar/arrows to go to the exact times listed.
What attracted you the most to work on Lord of the Rings?
timestamp 4:18 - 06:21
Well, what got me excited to do LOTR was, as an actor you have lots of hobbies, because there is alot of down time. You have physical hobbies and then intellectual ones. Carl Jung, Mythology and Comparitive Religion were one of my intellectual ones. I was a huge Joseph Campbell nut for a while. Well, that fits perfectly into Middle Earth! What got me excited to do Grima Wormtongue is when I was young I went through a period in boarding school were I was picked on alot. And there is something about Grima, he has been picked on when he was a kid, he(Grima) is so distrustful, he is so easily corrupted, He is so ugly, and he wants somebody, he wants to love somebody, and he can't, because nobody will have him. But he is so smart and resourceful. There was something ugly and unresolved in him, that I had a feeling that I could do this guy!
So, is Grima an easy character for you to do?
No, not easy! He stirs me, he turns me on! He is cool. You know everyone wants to get back at the bully ( laughing at this).
What was it like filming in a remote location like New Zealand?
It was beautiful. It was inspiring to me to approach the sets, with these incredibly beautiful mountains in the background. And to know when they finished filming, the sets would be gone, leaving the country just as beautiful as before, I was really in Middle Earth!!!!
Being a "Lord of the Rings" fan, it looks like the movies are being closely made from the Books. Is that how it appeared to you? ( Tony at SciFi Talk)
timestamp 00:20 - 02:42
It is dangerous to look at it like that, but I will say this, Peter's Tolkien is going to be different from your own. Tolkien is not Dickens when it comes to characters, and that is a hard thing for making a movie. With Tolkien's characters, he suggests things about, but you never really feel the rhythym of the character totally. You know the rhythym is there because he suggests it. So, we had to dig into what Tolkien was getting at, and then how do we present that? So, we pulled things out and made things explicite, things that Tolkien would never have done. And that is a risk. As far as the look of the movies goes, I think it is the one Tolkien would of picked himself. As you know, the film artist is the one Tolkien picked for his own works, so alot of it is Tolkiens own vision. The notes that Tolkien's son has and wrote were prominently displayed and Peter and Fran read every word of it.
What was it like working with Christopher Lee, Ian Holm and Ian McKellen etc.?
timestamp 08:18 - 12:53
Well, Lee is just this delightful, talkative English gentleman to the core. He knows everyone, has been in so many movies. He knew Tolkien, and he read Lord of the Rings every year since they were written. He knew the books better then anyone working on the movies. And he is just short of speaking the Elf languages. I just listened when I was around Lee. It is fun to be around him and wonderful to act with him, he is so alive!!!
Sir Ian Holm, I didn't get to work with him, but I watched him. When Ian is about to work, don't go up to talk to him, he is in character and thinking about what he is doing, and he is going to act like you are not there. Then after he is done, he is very personable and wonderful.
Sir Ian McKellen, well he will just talk to you anytime, anywhere. He is just as loose as he can be. He is just naturally brilliant, some people have all the luck and he has it! He likes to crack jokes, he always had something interesting to say. We talked for hours, I had a great time and I loved watching him act!
All the kids(Hobbits) were great .I had a lot of fun working with them. Now, I was very impressed with Miranda Otto. She was great. She is going to be so good in these movies. She is a cannon, look out, that girl would definitely go to battle!
Was there one or more things that impressed you about the "Lord of the Rings" production.?
Oh yea! There were a couple. First thing that struck me, was the attention to detail. They had guys for the last two years making armor and chain mail, taking one little metal ring and attaching it to another little metal ring over and over again. It looked great. The sets were awesome. They built all these incredible miniature sets to exactly match the actual real size ones. Because the Hobbits are little compared to Men, and they are all played by men, they had to have two different sized sets. One small set and another larger one. They would use one or the other, and sometimes both, depending upon who was in the scene and what was the view of the camera. Everything had to match perfectly. Also, I have to say another thing that really impressed me was this is the best casting I have seen in a movie in a long time. Everyone fit their part great. Then there was the costumes and scenery, just beautiful. This was the best costume I have ever worn! I saw about a half hour of footage that they shot, it looked gorgeous!
What was your experience working with a Director like Peter Jackson? (Tony at SciFi Talk)
You don't just work for Peter, you also work for Fran (Frances Walsh). Peter might have one idea and Fran might have another, and somewhere in the middle is what you need to do. I think Peter was happy with my first (shots), but I don't think Fran was, and Fran scared me more then Peter did. In fact, I said that to Peter the second time I shot. You know, you don't scare me at all anymore. But Fran, I'm really worried about todays shots, and PJ says " yeah, me too". PJ says, "she scares me too!" It was a case of pleasing both. Alot of the time there is more then one place shooting. He (PJ) may be at one stage, and he is looking at you act in a monitor. And Fran is there, and they have another Director that is there, and you get your notes from Peter. Then from the other Director, then from Fran. And then there is me, that I have to deal with, and I am the worst. I am never happy!!
Being that you have done LOTR, Babylon 5, Star Trek: Voyager, etc. Were they any childhood Scifi/Fantasy influences on you? ?
timestamp 02:53 - 05:15
My father died when I was 3, but apparently he was very into the "Macabre". There were lots of scary pictures and stuff that was around. That may of been an influence. I was very, very into Halloween. I loved Edgar Allan Poe when I was a kid. I knew all his stories. Science Fiction not so much, but horror yes. I liked the scary, the unknown! And didn't you have the big house down the block that was abandoned, where the axe murder took place when you were a kid? There were a couple on my block( he laughs at this). So, I grew up with that. I guess the 50's were just a more innnocentand different era. And all of that was much more implied and wonderful then it is now. Now it is so explicite, it has gotten to be a joke on itself. I mean you can't scare anybody anymore. All of horror is laughing at itself, which I guess is kind of fun. I did the Childs Play movies, my favorite one is the last one because it was a fun romp, I really thought it was pretty witty!
Do you prefer doing voice over work, is it more challenging then being on screen? (Mary from MakeBelieveTV)
timestamp 05:23 - 05:55
Oh no, it is definitely easier doing voice over. Because it is not synched or ADR. I don't have to synch to some doll( Chuckie from Childs Play movies), the doll synchs to me, OK!! ( Brad laughs). I just go in to a studio and there is a microphone, and I just say the lines. I can do a movie in a day and a half. That's cool!!
In " The Flooding of Insengard", you have scenes with Ent, Treebeard. He is a "CGI" character. Is it difficult to shoot scenes alone like that?
Not really. You just imagine the other person is there with you. To me, it is like talking to yourself.