ROTK Production Notes!
A NOTE FROM PETER JACKSON
The past seven years my life has been consumed with writing, directing and producing The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It has been an exhausting journey, not unlike that of our fictional protagonists, Frodo and Sam; there has not been much sleep, no time for a normal life and there were days when we all wondered if we would make it to the end.
Two years of pre-production were followed by two hundred and seventy four days of principal production, which in turn have been followed by three years of post-production. Each stage of the process of making these films has presented unique challenges; I remember asking myself, whenever things got particularly hard, would I rather be doing something other than making The Lord of the Rings?
And the answer was always no.
This is because I have been lucky enough to work with some of the most talented cast and crew any filmmaker could wish for, anywhere in the world. Through the long years of production it was apparent that we all had one thing in common: a great and enduring love of the books, which in turn, resulted in an unfailing commitment to do our best work on these films. I will always be grateful to New Line Cinema for giving me the opportunity to bring my version of The Lord of the Rings to the screen.
Professor Tolkien once observed that “the Pot of Soup, the Cauldron of Story, has always been boiling, and to it have continually been added new bits, dainty and undainty.”
I am happy to let these films go off into the world and for them to become whatever this generation, or future generations, make of them. Whether my contribution is ultimately judged ‘dainty or undainty,’ it has now been made.
The trilogy is truly out of my hands now and in the hands of those for whom these films were made; the people who love these books and who have always loved film.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING INTRODUCTION
In addition to the huge battles, you have these intimate stories, the emotional story, and thats where most of the power of The Return of the King really lies. – Producer/Director/Co-writer Peter Jackson.
The Fellowships journey is coming to an end.
Saurons forces have attacked Gondors capital of Minas Tirith in his final siege against mankind. Watched over by a fading steward, the once great kingdom has never been in more desperate need of its king. But will Aragorn find the strength to become what he was born to be and rise to meet his destiny?
As Gandalf desperately tries to move the broken forces of Gondor to act, Théoden unites the warriors of Rohan to join in the fight. Even in their courage and passionate loyalty, the forces of men – with éowyn and Merry hidden among them – are no match against the swarming legions of enemies raining down on the kingdom.
With each victory comes great sacrifice. Despite their great losses, The Fellowship charges forward in the greatest battle of their lifetime, united in their singular goal to keep Sauron distracted and give Frodo a chance to complete his quest.
Traveling across treacherous enemy lands, Frodo must rely increasingly on Sam and Gollum as The Ring continues to test his allegiance and, ultimately, his humanity.
New Line Cinema presents The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the conclusion of the compelling journeys at the heart of J.R.R. Tolkiens revered trilogy. Produced, co-written and directed by Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King tells the story of an epic heroic quest of men, their relationships and rivalries, and reveals how through courage, commitment, and determination even the smallest of us can change the world.
It is the juxtaposing of the intimate against the immense and the emotional resonance of the journeys end that connect Tolkiens classic novel to our hearts and give it such enduring power. It is also what makes this final installment of Peter Jacksons epic motion picture trilogy a landmark cinematic achievement.
With the release of The Return of the King, Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne, co-chairmen and co-chief-executive-officers of New Line Cinema and executive producers of the film, reflect back on the immensity of Peter Jacksons achievement. Michael and I had made a leap of faith on some levels, Shaye comments. Films were not made this way – with three installments shot back-to-back. But we had a lot of faith in Peters commitment, and our faith was ultimately rewarded. We rolled the dice and it came up sevens. Peter has made three extraordinary motion pictures.
A company that made its name on innovation and risk-taking, New Line took a gamble on Jacksons vision for Tolkiens mammoth book. We were confident enough in Peter and the timelessness of Tolkiens story to know that audiences would want to see these films, Michael Lynne adds. So, in many ways, it was a risk, but one well worth taking.
Though Shaye and Lynne knew Jackson would deliver an epic on an unprecedented scale, the real surprise of the trilogy emerged in the emotional gravity Jackson and his ensemble cast would bring to the trilogy. The cast of The Lord of the Rings have, in some cases, delivered the performances of their careers, says Shaye and Lynne. The mutual trust and respect shared by Jackson and his cast bears out the promise that he is very much an actors director. The action is spectacular, but the performances contained in these films are truly breathtaking.
New Line Cinema Presents A Wingnut Films Production, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, starring (in alphabetical order) Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Bernard Hill, Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, John Noble, Miranda Otto, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler, Karl Urban, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, and Elijah Wood.
UK casting is by John Hubbard and Amy MacLean, with U.S. casting by Victoria Burrows. New Zealand casting is by Liz Mullane and Australian casting is by Ann Robinson. The costume designers are Ngila Dickson and Richard Taylor. Special make-up, creatures, armour, miniature and miniatures are by Weta Workshops Richard Taylor, while digital visual effects are designed and created by Weta Digital. Jim Rygiel is the visual effects supervisor. Music is orchestrated and composed by Howard Shore, featuring Into the West, performed by Annie Lennox. Jamie Selkirk is the film editor. Grant Major is the production designer. Andrew Lesnie, A.C.S. is the director of photography. The film is co-produced by Rick Porras and Jamie Selkirk. Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne are the executive producers, along with Mark Ordesky. Produced by Barrie M. Osborne, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is based on the book by J. R. R. Tolkien, with a screenplay by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson. The film is directed by Peter Jackson. www.lordoftherings.net or America Online Keyword: Lord of the Rings
© MMIII New Line Productions, Inc. The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, and the names of the characters, events, items and places therein are trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Tolkien Enterprises under license to New Line Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
LOYALTY, DESTINY AND HOPE: THE HEART OF THE RETURN OF THE KING
You have a massive war on an external level, and on an internal level you have two little Hobbits, Frodo and Sam, on their hands and knees literally crawling up a mountain. The relationship between those two characters is the heart of the movie.
— Peter Jackson.
More than any other installment in The Lord of the Rings saga, The Return of the King illuminates the enduring themes at the heart of J.R.R. Tolkiens novel. All of the storylines we have followed, the journeys that these characters are taking — what they care about, what theyve been fighting for, even what some of their friends have died for — lead to this film, comments Peter Jackson. None of these characters is going to come out of this story unchanged. Theyll never be the same again. The Return of the King is the most emotional of the three films.
Though the stage is vast in scale, the true heart of The Return of the King is in the dramatic struggles of each character introduced in the epic trilogy. There is an emotional resolution to each and every character whom we’ve grown to know and love throughout the telling of these stories, comments producer Barrie M. Osborne. Will they succeed or will it end in tragedy? I think it will bring people to tears and joy both.
THE RELUCTANT KING
The title, The Return of the King, refers to Aragorn, played by Viggo Mortensen. The heir to the Kingdom of Gondor, Aragorn has hidden from his heritage, living out his life instead disguised as Strider, one of the mysterious Rangers – wanderers who perform discreet military operations against Sauron. Yet the throne of Gondor is empty. The Kingdom is in decline. As Sauron threatens to eradicate all the races of Middle-earth, the moment has come for him to step forward and face his urgent destiny to lead. How do you assume the mantle of a king? Jackson asks. How do you take that on yourself? How do you say I am the one that you must follow? I think that is what hes struggling with, because he has seen what power can do.
Ambivalent about his lineage and the ancestors who fell in disgrace through their quest for power, Aragorn struggles with personal doubts that he is truly the one. He is the heir to the throne; he is the sole person capable of assuming this position in Minas Tirith, but he is unsure of his worthiness to lead mankind, comments Jackson. Aragorn needs to believe in the nobility of his own people.
Mortensen identifies Aragorn with the image of the prodigal leader whose true nature is initially hidden, from his companions and, for a while, from the world at large, he explains. A person such as Aragorn, much like King Arthur or Moses, for example, is raised by non-blood relatives, hidden until he is ready to learn of his true identity and the great responsibility that is his birthright. Aragorn, who was brought up by the Elves in Rivendell and tutored by Elrond, must eventually fulfill a destiny that requires him to understand the complex and tragic history of Middle-earth, and to ensure a future born of hope and justice for all beings of that world.
Yet to Aragorn, the throne represents the very quest for power that tempted and ultimately destroyed his ancestors. Power would alter everything that makes him who he is. What Aragorn finds in his journey is that the call to lead is not for power at all. What’s at stake is a city which is falling to an enemy, explains co-screenwriter Philippa Boyens. Many people will die as a result. Aragorn decides that if it is in him, and it is going to save people’s lives, he will do it. He steps up to the mark. His motives are pure, which is one of the reasons he’s not corrupted by The Ring. Because it’s not power for power’s sake.
With Saurons forces also comes recognition that death is encroaching with the irrevocable passage of time. Aragorns journey requires a confrontation with the very souls that betrayed his ancestors in the treacherous Paths of the Dead. Its a road from which he may not return, yet he enters it without hesitation to stave off not only mass death but the intractable destruction of those he loves. For me, the story is about confrontation with death, about the consequences of death for us and for those we love, Mortensen reflects. Thats a significant reason why the story continues to resonate with modern audiences.
Gandalf (Ian McKellen), who sets The Fellowships quest in motion – and sends Frodo into Mordor – must confront the repercussions of his own role in the quest. No longer a benevolent outsider, Gandalf, too, actively joins the fight on the side he believes must triumph. In a way, Gandalf is a general in this war, comments Boyens. He initiated this and caused it to happen, and he must bear the responsibility for that. It was an awesome gamble. That is power wielded in another way and it bears a different, but equally profound cost.
THE UBIQUITY OF GOOD AND EVIL
Frodo is The Ringbearer, the one who has been entrusted with the pivotal quest — to carry The Ring to Mount Doom, the only place where it can be unmade. Yet The Ring around Frodos neck becomes heavier with each step, eroding him the longer he wears it until nearly robbing him of his very essence. Essentially, you see his complete deterioration to the point that Frodo ceases to be Frodo anymore, comments Elijah Wood.
Yet his proximity to Gollum reveals not only what The Ring has done, but what it will do to him. Frodo has a true understanding now of what The Ring is, says Boyens. He understands the nature of what it is that he carries, and that it will try to destroy him. The Ring’s weapons are things like despair. But he also has this understanding from Sam that they have to keep going forward, no matter what. They have no choice but to persevere.
The most enlightened beings in Middle-earth – such as Gandalf and Galadriel – are conscious of the ubiquity of good and evil – in neighbors, strangers, adversaries, and, most importantly, themselves. They are reluctant to even touch The Ring. The totem and its connection to power warped Gollum and is working its influence on Frodo. Gollum is the dark side of humanity, says Andy Serkis, who portrays him in the films. But I tried to look at him in a nonjudgmental way – not as a sniveling, evil wretch, but from the point of view of, There but for the grace of God go I. We can choose to demonize anyone with uncontrollable obsessions, but if we dont seek to understand them, then we can never hope to grow as human beings.
Frodos constant companion throughout the quest is Sam. Frodo and Sam are affected in different ways, and yet the two of them have to be together to see this through, comments Jackson. Frodo is The Ringbearer. He is the only one that can carry this Ring, yet every footstep that he takes closer to Mordor, closer to Mount Doom, becomes harder and harder for him.
Sam never abandons Frodo, even as The Ring drives a rift between them. The presence of his old friend presents an alternate reminder of his home in Hobbiton, and what he was before The Ring came into his life. Putting their friendship and Frodos well being above even his own life, Sams loyalty and determination alter the balance of power in subtle but powerful ways. Theres a wonderful line that Tolkien wrote about Sam and it is, His will was set and only death would break it, comments Jackson. I think weve moved most of our characters to that point.
Éowyn (Miranda Otto) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) are left behind at the Rohan outpost of Dunharrow – Éowyn, because she is female, and Merry, because he is a Hobbit. Éowyn is very dissatisfied with her role as a female in the land of Rohan, comments Jackson. She has a warrior spirit. She wants to defend her people. She wants to defend her uncle, who is the king, about whom she is fiercely passionate. So, we see her in a rather devious way sneak off to battle; and, of course, she must confront the true horrors of battle once shes in the thick of it.
Éowyns kindred spirit and companion into battle is Merry, who is likewise transformed by this war. To see war from his eyes is just horrific, comments Monaghan. To see Merry in that situation, covered in blood, sweat and tears, and living the terrible reality of war is really traumatic. But in Merrys heart he has every bit as much of a right to be there as anyone else. Hes fighting for the same things they are – to save his friends and to save his world.
At a crucial moment in the battle, their unexpected courage and fierce loyalty help turn the tide against their enemies.
FATHERS AND SONS
“In film three, a huge part is the conflict between fathers and sons, comments Boyens. Just as Gollum’s schizophrenia is buried in the story and you have to dig it out, you have this story of fathers and sons.”
In The Lord of the Rings, the actions of every father come back to rest at the feet of his son. Likewise, sons or daughters are often put into direct opposition with their parental figures. Éowyns surrogate father, Théoden, forbids her from going to war. Yet she ultimately plays a critical role in his army. And Théoden himself is haunted by his own sons death while Théoden was under Wormtongues poisonous influence.
In his love for Arwen and desire for her to stay with him, Aragorn is in direct opposition to the will of his surrogate father, Elrond, who raised him. This conflict comes to bear in Aragorns fated decision to ride to the Paths of the Dead, for it is Elrond who must reforge the Sword of Kings (Narsil) and essentially give Aragorn his blessing to use it. And Gandalf, who is very plainly a father figure to entire Fellowship, sends his vulnerable “son,” Frodo, on the most brutal and unforgiving mission — to destroy The Ring in Mount Doom — yet cannot come to his side when Frodo direly needs him.
But perhaps the most prominent and heart-wrenching relationship is that of Denethor (John Noble) and his sons, Boromir (Sean Bean) and Faramir (David Wenham).
Denethor, who is charged with watching over Gondor in absence of its King, is despondent over the death of his favorite son, Boromir, and believes that Faramir, his only surviving son, has failed him by not taking The Ring for Gondor when he had the chance. Boromir was Denethors favorite in the sense that he was a mirror of his father, says Noble. He was a strong warrior and a born leader; whereas Faramir was more introspective and academic perhaps in the image of Gandalf. The death of Boromir was unbearable for Denethor. It was as if hed been killed himself.
In guilt or perhaps madness, Denethor sends Faramir into a fight he cant win – to lead troops into battle against the Orcs in the fallen city of Osgiliath. And Faramir willingly goes. Faramir is very straightforward and not political at all, comments Wenham. His father distrusts him, in a way. He has put Faramir in the excruciating position of doing something that doesn’t come naturally to him. Hes being forced to lead an enormous group of men into very difficult and harsh circumstances. Yet Faramir loves and trusts his father, and essentially rides to his death in obeisance to win his fathers approval. He realizes theres no hope in going back into Osgiliath, but he would gladly give his life for the future of Gondor, and for Middle-earth.
It’s a waste, a foolish act, comments Boyens. Yet the act itself is enormously heroic. It is being driven by pain and suffering of this young soldier who is trying to gain a father’s love. Gandalf says to him, Your father does love you, and he’s going to remember it before the end. So don’t throw your life away. Within the context of war, futility often springs from very personal causes that people play out with other people’s lives.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF HUMANITY – ACCEPTANCE AND TOLERANCE
The two kingdoms of Rohan and Gondor have spent a lifetime in uneasy co-existence. Yet as both fall under siege, combining their resources and power becomes their only option for survival.
As Rohan and Gondor ultimately join together against their common, and overwhelming, enemy, so does an unlikely trust spring out of the hardships experienced by Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), a Dwarf, and Legolas (Orlando Bloom), an Elf. Though they set out on the quest in opposition, as they rely increasingly on each other for both survival and companionship, they form a bond that transcends race and prejudice. At our best, we, like the Fellowship, realize individually and collectively that peaceful co-existence can be achieved only through vigilance and conscious compassion, says Viggo Mortensen. Compassion for oneself and others, especially for those determined to do us harm. An effort to identify with others leads to an understanding that there is no absolute difference between us.
To me, the characters in this film exemplify the positive aspects of life, reflects director of photography Andrew Lesnie. Its not necessarily promoting one particular ideology, religion or philosophy, but saying that you accept that there are differences in the world and you are prepared to embrace those differences. If enough people manage to approach the world in a positive, loving way, you may actually change the nature of the human race on a regular basis. And this story is an example of a group of people who triumph by following that aim.
THE POWER OF HOPE AND UNITY
The presence of hope may level the playing field between Saurons massive forces and the coalition united against him. Yet even Gandalf recognizes that this monumental quest on the shoulders of a small Hobbit carries little more than a fools hope of success.
In times of war, a tremendous price is paid for every victory. But as long as hope lives, the chance for good to prevail will continue to exist. Though Aragorn grapples with his own confidence in the worthiness of mankind, Arwen (Liv Tyler) maintains unshakeable faith in the future of the world, sacrificing her own immortality to support Aragorn in his quest. Tolkien was passionate about the goodness that can reside in men, Boyens comments. This notion is embodied perhaps most strongly in Arwen, who never gives up hope that mankind has a future.
What drives the characters forward is not an urge to prove themselves worthy. They are interdependent, fighting, as Boyens explains, for each other. Their faith is being put to the test, she adds. Their faith in each other, in good, in the ties that bind.
In crafting the screenplay, writers Boyens, Jackson and Fran Walsh were constantly reminded of these universal touchstones to the human experience. These are themes that are very close to what we live every day, Boyens explains. How do you feel about the people you love? What comes next after this life? How do you say goodbye? All of those emotional threads are very powerfully written by Professor Tolkien in the story. The eternal nature of the struggle of good versus evil is portrayed in little silver threads that run through the story, like Sam who, as Frodo sleeps, looks up into the thick industrial skies over Mordor and sees a star.
It is the humanity of the characters that rewards the reader, says producer/co-writer Fran Walsh. And we hope weve been able to translate that for the film audience.
These are extraordinary times that Gandalf and the rest are living through, and extraordinary demands are being made on peoples spirit, Ian McKellen adds. All the characters can be seen in that way whether they have magical powers or not. They are reflecting back on our experience of being human. For everyone is being measured. Can they survive? Can they live up to their responsibilities?
A TIMELESS STORY THAT STILL RESONATES
Though written a half-century ago, The Lord of the Rings remains relevant while history churns on. Many readers, particularly during times of darkness in the world, believe that Tolkien was commenting on wars and militaristic behavior in his mammoth book. I cant be the only one of my generation that was born in 1939 to think that here was some sort of parable of the real world politically and militarily that Tolkien was living in, McKellen says. Tolkien had himself served in the First World War and wrote The Lord of the Rings during the Second World War while his son was fighting in northern France. I dont think there are any Saurons around today but in 1939, there was one. Sitting in the middle of Europe. A spider who wanted to control it, and the world joined together in a mighty coalition to defeat him.
Christopher Lee, who plays Saruman, adds that men of genius, intellect and power who take the dark path – like Saruman — will always require their opposite to take them on. Tolkien places Gandalf in opposition to Saruman – two sides of the same coin, says the actor. Here you have the universal conflict between good and evil, and the powers behind those two elements. That will have a relevance for every audience, everywhere, because we all know, or have heard of, such people and conflicts in our world.
I think The Lord of the Rings will live forever because its truthful, adds executive producer Mark Ordesky. And because the issues it deals with will be pertinent forever. It doesn’t matter what generation and what age is experiencing it. The story will always have something relevant to say to that audience.
Over the centuries, clearly human archetypes appear and recur throughout Greek, Roman and Norse mythologies, from Eastern and Judeo-Christian ideologies to the works of William Shakespeare. The human truth contained in these experiences is what makes them universal, not the time or place. Myth – just like religion – is dead unless you keep reinvigorating and reapplying it, says Viggo Mortensen. I think that what Tolkien did with some of the elements from the sagas and Celtic legends that I know and love was to forge something new, reinvent a lot of these archetypal stories and characters for his generation. Now, Peter Jackson is doing that for ours.
Against the vast, sprawling canvas of war is an intensely human story. It was about inner courage and about close friendships and about the possibility of wisdom somewhere in the world, by defeating the forces of stupidity and evil, reflects McKellen. I think the story goes on being relevant not necessarily because of its subject matter but simply because of the brilliance by which it is told, and Peter Jacksons film is also the work of a brilliant storyteller. Thats why these films are as popular as the books have been and continue to be.
Like Tolkien, Peter is taking us on a journey that is as big as our own history, adds Weta Workshops Richard Taylor. It is an historical document to some degree. But in all history, there are intimate and heartbreaking stories. Love, hate, viciousness and jealousy fuel the world and ultimately create the history that has come from the writings of Tolkien. And Peter, in turn, has filmed these characters and these moments that give the story the intimacy that it so deserves.
Each individual journey taken by the characters of The Return of the King, the losses they suffer, the sacrifices they make, continue to resonate in todays world. There is not an easy or permanent answer to the troubles of today or tomorrow, says Mortensen. A sword is a sword, nothing more. Hope, compassion and wisdom borne of experience are, for Middle-earth as for our world, the mightiest weapons at hand.
BUYING FRODO A CHANCE: THE STORY OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING
If you want to know where the third film is going, just wait and see where Elijah goes. And what happens to poor Mr. Frodo.
-Sean Astin (Frodo)
In the final moments of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the Battle of Helms Deep has ended, but the battle for Middle-earth has just begun. Helms Deep was just a skirmish, says Peter Jackson. This is the real battle. Its the battle where the future is decided. Is Sauron going to prevail? Is mankind to prevail?
The Fellowship remains divided, with Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) united with Théoden (Bernard Hill) in Rohan, while Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) witness the destruction of Sarumans Tower of Isengard at the hands of the Ents. Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) continue to edge closer to Mount Doom, with Gollum (Andy Serkis) leading them towards an uncertain fate.
Hope Comes to Gondor
As The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King begins, Pippins (Billy Boyd) curiosity places his hands on the Palantir at Isengard, a device that links him to Saurons eye, convincing the Dark Lord that Pippin is The Ringbearer. After Pippin takes the Palintir, Gandalf realizes Pippin is in grave danger and decides that the only safe place they can go to is Minis Tirith, says Billy Boyd. So, Pippin finds himself in another country and a new adventure.
It is the first time that Merry and Pippin have been separated since their journey began. They are two friends who operate almost as one, comments Philippa Boyens. But even when ripped apart, they stay true to each other, because of what they’ve learned from each other, which is one of the gifts of friendship.
Entering the White City, Gandalf and Pippin ride Shadowfax hundreds of steps upward to the seventh level, a thousand feet above the ground. In the Court of Kings, the once White Tree of Gondor, a symbol of its rule and the emblem on its flag, has withered. Since the disgrace of Aragorns ancestors, Minas Tirith has fallen into decline and is now under the care of Denethor (John Noble). The leadership of Gondor is in the hands of the Stewards who are supposed to be the caretakers of the throne, comments Jackson. Denethor, who is actually the father of Boromir and Faramir, is the current Steward. And John Noble plays him notably well. Hes a man under immense pressure because Mordor has now grown strong again and is mounting its final offensive against Gondor.
Denethor himself has lost faith that humanity will prevail. Denethor is a great tragic character in the mold of King Lear, says Noble. He knows he is simply caretaking until the return of the rightful King. His nobility and sanity are challenged by his fear of, and lust for, The One Ring; the impending return of Aragorn; the death of Boromir; and finally, the wounding of Faramir. And eventually, his depression and paranoia lead to horrific consequences.
Loss and Mortality in Rohan and Rivendell
Across the plains at Edoras, the Rohan capital, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) offers himself into the service of King Théoden (Bernard Hill) in the coming war, joined by his compatriots Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom).
For Arwen, across Middle-earth in Rivendell, the choice to live as a mortal with Aragorn instead of living in immortality with her family, was one she has already made. Arwen maintains hope and faith in her future with Aragorn, says Liv Tyler. She would rather die hoping than live forever without the man she loves. And even as the darkness around her grows, she holds on to that hope.
Her ability to survive in this world is slowly starting to diminish, describes Jackson. She is getting weaker and weaker. It really becomes a race against time as to whether Aragorn and Frodo will triumph against Sauron before she succumbs to this darkness, this weakness which is set upon her.
For her father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), her choice to stay is like a death sentence. He has to accept the consequences of what may mean her ultimate demise, comments Hugo Weaving. Aragorn is a human being and his daughter is an Elf. If she stays with him, she will ultimately be living without him because Aragorn will die.
Elrond cannot stay neutral. He forges Andúril, made from the shards of his ancestor Isildurs ancient sword, Narsil, which was used to cut The Ring from the Dark Lords hand. The shards of Narsil have been in Rivendell for thousands of years, explains Weaving. Aragorn needs to have that sword in order to fight Sauron. As Aragorns adoptive father, Elrond acts as a catalyst to spur Aragorn into taking up the sword.
Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in the Paths of the Dead
Emboldened, Aragorn believes he must ride through the Paths of the Dead in the White Mountains above Dunharrow, a route no man has ever taken and lived. There are beings trapped between this world and the next who had sworn allegiance to Isildur a long time ago but were corrupted by Sauron, explains Mortensen. At a moment of great need for Gondor, they betrayed not only Isildur but also the great alliance of Men and Elves, the forces of good, that were fighting against Sauron. After the fight was over they were condemned to live as ghosts in this place until summoned by an heir of Isildur.
As the rightful heir to the throne, Aragorn is the only one capable of releasing the spirits from their living death, to regain their honor by fighting alongside him in Minas Tirith. But he must overcome his plague of self-doubt to even enter their realm. If youre not focused or your motives arent pure then you will fail, even if you are descended from a line of Kings, Mortensen explains. Its a choice that Aragorn makes that isnt popular with anyone. There are many who feel that he is betraying them. No one has ever ridden into these mountains and lived. Its especially difficult because he is one of their best fighters, and they have never needed fighters more than now.
Éowyn (Miranda Otto), Théodens strong-willed niece, has complex reasons for wanting Aragorn to remain with the Rohirrim. She cant believe that he would go because its almost suicidal, says Otto. Why not stay and fight with them? It represents the loss of hope for the Rohan people. She really believes that Aragorn is the man to lead them to victory. I also think shes still holding on to hope that perhaps there will be something between them because she is in love with him. When Aragorn leaves, Eowyn loses so many things; its complete despair, really.
Gimli and Legolas insist on joining Aragorn on his quest. No matter what comes, they will not leave his side. Gimli always had respect and an affection for Aragorn, comments John Rhys-Davies. This has now turned into recognition and reverence that he is King, that he is a great leader who can unite the people at this moment of great need for a leader.
The three disparate warriors – Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli – have become like brothers. They have gone from paranoia and suspicion to, by the end, the deepest camaraderie that you can get, Rhys-Davies continues. I think by the end, its pretty clear that they would happily sacrifice themselves for the others. They have gone through the furnace, and they have not broken.
EOWYN AND MERRY AT DUNHARROW
Théoden and the Riders of the Riddermark head toward Minas Tirith. Though the Rohirrim need every soldier, they insist on leaving both Eowyn and Merry (Dominic Monaghan), who has been named a Squire of Rohan, behind. Though Eowyn is a skilled warrior, she is restrained from fighting alongside her brother Eomer (Karl Urban) simply because she is a woman.
Eowyn doesnt want to be left behind, Miranda Otto notes. She feels an affinity with Merry, in that Théoden bestows on him a uniform and calls him a squire but has absolutely no intention of letting him be in the front line. Like her, hes being told that he cant fight for what he loves. Hes worried about his friends and he has come this far on the journey with The Fellowship, why should he be left behind now?
Disguised as a man, Eowyn takes Merry along with her. You dont really see war through the eyes of a Hobbit too much in the movie, but Merry becomes a warrior, says Dominic Monaghan. He finds himself with an army that he then has to go into battle with.
They are headed for a fight that will eclipse the Battle of Helms Deep in both ferocity and personal losses, the Battle of Pelennor Fields, outside the once great capital city of Gondor, Minas Tirith. Peter had this very strong instinct that what we needed to do with Pelennor Fields, besides showing it from a Hobbit’s point of view, was to push it to a point of despair, comments Philippa Boyens. The Riders of Rohan are summoned to the aid of Gondor, and Merry is right in the thick of that, as is Eowyn, as is Éomer, as is Théoden.
In a sense, we are the Hobbits, comments Jackson. They represent the innocent person who has no experience of war, no experience of conflict, who suddenly finds himself in the middle of it all. himself in the middle of it all.
Courage and Honor at Pelennor Fields
Gandalf is orchestrating the defense of Minas Tirith. Sauron is on the offensive and is coming out to meet the forces of Middle-earth who oppose him – an extraordinary coalition led by Aragorn and Théoden, King of Rohan, and Gandalf, describes Ian McKellen.
Gandalf commands that the defenders fire their massive catapults out at the marauding Orcs. Gondorian archers rain arrows down upon the enemy from all seven levels of Minas Tiriths battlements. But nothing, not even the Great Gate of Gondor, can withstand their massive battering ram, Grond. Orcs spill into the first circle of the city. There is only a certain amount of time that the city is going to be able to hold out, says Jackson. The enemys massive battering rams are able to breach the city, which is built in seven tiers, and the defenders have to retreat layer by layer.
The captain of the Nazgûl, a specter called the Witch-king, makes his way into the city to confront Gandalf. Yet as his sinister Fell Beast looms over Gandalf, from a distance comes the sound of war-horns: Rohan has arrived. The Rohirrim are the cavalry, essentially, says Bernard Hill. That kind of chivalry, that kind of honor, that kind of horsemanship. They go to Minas Tirith to add what they can to the fight.
The Battle at Pelennor Fields is what The Fellowship initially set out for Rohan to ensure – that the two divided kingdoms of Rohan and Gondor would unite in this desperate moment. Gandalf is fighting a very difficult battle, Jackson describes. He is underpowered. He doesnt have enough men. He doesnt have the means to defend the city. And then the Rohirrim appear, and for a brief moment they turn the tide.
Though vastly outnumbered by Orcs, Théoden and his forces – Eowyn and Merry among them — charge. Joining the Orcs are a race known as the Haradrim, who ride massive elephant-like Mûmakil. Hope is waning despite Gandalfs strategic leadership.
Minas Tirith is a decisive battle that has to be won, comments Ian McKellen. This is a siege that has to be lifted. It is crucial to the survival of everybody involved that they dont go under. Its a very worrying moment indeed. This could be the end of Middle-earth.
As the enemy forces begin to overtake even the Rohirrim, Eowyn and Merry seize the moment to avenge their losses and do what they can for their friends.
But while Orcs clash with Men, the most important element in Gandalfs strategy is making its way toward Mount Doom. All the massing armies, Aragorn, Gandalfs brilliant strategy, everything that happens is solely about, Can we buy Frodo a chance? says executive producer Mark Ordesky.
A Fools Hope: Frodo, Sam and Gollum in Mordor
Frodo must contend with the increasing weight and influence of The Ring, and an attack by the giant spider, Shelob. So much must be overcome by Frodo and Sam, yet their journey is far from complete – the monumental task of destroying The Ring lies ahead – yet Frodo is beginning to fade. Frodo is becoming much more influenced by The Ring than weve seen him yet, says Wood. He cant think for himself. Hes confused by the influence of The Ring. He cant remember the Shire. He is essentially losing all the characteristics that make him who he is. It almost strips him of his soul to a certain degree.
Barely capable of walking, hardly able to see, Frodo must rely increasingly on Sam to help him realize his task. It gets to the point where Frodo cant physically walk on his own and Sam must carry him, says Wood. In a lot of ways, Sam is a true hero, because he is the one that is actually able to hold it all together and take his friend, who is unable to see what is right and what is wrong, and almost drive him to do what he must do. As much as Frodo is the hero, it is Sam that maintains his own strength and clarity to allow Frodo to carry out the task.
What gives him comfort from Sam is his everyday strength and ordinariness, in a way, adds Philippa Boyens. For someone who has begun to be overtaken by an extraordinary evil, and who is battling this thing every day, Sam becomes Frodo’s touchstone to reality, to normalcy, to decency, to goodness. And that’s something that he cherishes.
Like his fellow Hobbits, Sam also reveals hidden strengths in the final chapter of the story. Sam is so much the sidekick who relentlessly remains there for Frodo, comments executive producer Ordesky. He is always the one the jokes are about; he is thought to be the fat one and the not-quite-so-smart one. Yet the extraordinary character of Sam comes into his own in The Return of the King.
He starts out as really Frodo’s sidekick, a jovial guy that is also an extremely loyal friend, adds producer Osborne. And by the end, he becomes the rock. He is the person that Frodo can rely on. He drives him forward on their mission, and this humble friend actually takes on heroic proportions.
End Game: FRODOs TEST AND The Return of the King
Wearing the armor of his forebears, with the White Tree of Gondor on his chest and bearing the Sword of Kings, Aragorn leads the remainder of his men to the west toward what must surely be their deaths. They face unlikely odds, yet hope still remains. There is a realization amongst all our characters that the best way to help Frodo — since they cant physically be with him, they cant take the journey to Mount Doom with him – is to provide a diversion, says Jackson. Sauron and his forces are searching for them. He knows something is afoot. And its up to everybody else to take Saurons eye away from his own land long enough to enable Frodo and Sams journey to be fulfilled during the last difficult stretches.
Thousands of feet above them lies the volcanic peak of Mount Doom, and the lava-filled pit in which Sauron first forged The Ring. Its the only place in the world where it can be unmade. Yet as Frodo and Sam make their painful way up the mountain, a third creature follows along, increasingly desperate for his precious Gollum.
It will require immense strength of will for Frodo to carry his great quest through to the end. Yet always there with him is Sam. They stand together against all odds, comments Wood. Although they are only little people who would never normally be given such a responsibility, the fact that they reach the top of the mountain is a reminder, perhaps, that any of us can do anything if we only put our mind to it.
But at what cost will good win, asks Jackson. Who will have to suffer, what will be lost, what kind of pain will have to be endured by the characters that people have grown to love?
There are great victories, but there are losses as well, says Mortensen. Everyone will have suffered, some will not have survived. Theres a price to every choice that is made by each character.
Everybody that we know in some form or another comes out of it differently, says Jackson. It is an immensely affecting experience for them, and I hope for the audience as well.
STEPPING UP TO THE CHALLENGE: THE FINAL PRODUCTION IN THE TRILOGY
The people who have watched the first two movies have stuck with us, and everyone is waiting now to get to the last one, including us, the filmmakers. — Peter Jackson
From the earliest development through the release of the first and second films in the trilogy, and the continuing production of the final film, producer/director/co-writer/ Peter Jackson has poured his heart into every aspect of making The Lord of the Rings a reality. It was like an immense jigsaw puzzle that we had to somehow fit together and end up with something that felt like it was worthy of the title The Lord of the Rings, and yet still worked as a movie, Jackson comments.
Richard Taylor compares the journey of the filmmakers with that of the characters in the story. In some ways, this large group of people that helped Peter bring Middle-earth to life in the form of these films have been on their own journey, leaving the Shire innocent in some ways, a little cautious, not quite sure of what was out beyond the edge-but journeying on with faith in each other, and really climbing to the peaks and through the deepest valleys.
ADAPTING THE NOVEL
His favorite book in Tolkiens 1,000-page epic, Jackson calls The Return of the King the most filmable of the three. Its the culmination of everything that weve set up, says Jackson. All the different stories lead to this film. This is really, in a sense, climactic from beginning to end.
For over a half-century, J.R.R. Tolkiens works have continued to have a profound effect on generations of readers. Revived and re-appreciated throughout the decades, the books have garnered new life since the release of the first film, vaulting back onto bestseller lists and driving a new generation of young readers to bookstores and libraries. With Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship comes a message that even the smallest person can change the course of the world, and the revelation that friendship and individual courage may hold at bay even the most devastating forces of darkness.
Five years ago, Jackson and his co-writers Frances Walsh and Philippa Boyens set pen to paper for the first time in their attempt to adapt a sprawling work of imaginative fiction into a film narrative structure. For the writers, the visual spectacle of the third film never eclipsed the need to focus most intensely on the emotional resolution to each individual characters quest. We’ve tried to be faithful to the spirit of the end of the story, comments Boyens. The final passage of this incredible story is one of the gifts, I think, to all readers in literature. Nobody comes out of this story unchanged, Jackson adds. Theyll never be the same again.
One of the most pivotal guiding forces behind The Lord of the Rings has been conceptual artist Alan Lee, who created the seminal illustrations of Middle-earth for Harper Collins award-winning illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings. Perhaps more than anyone in the production, Lee understood the challenges Jackson and his co-screenwriters would face in adapting Tolkien. If you’re not accustomed to the book, that form of storytelling and language could seem a little odd, the conceptual designer notes. But they have thrown themselves into this world. I think they have done quite courageous writing. They’re putting poetry into an epic, spectacular movie.
Breathing Life Into Middle-earth
Jackson made an early decision to bring Lee in to work with Oscar-nominated production designer Grant Major in creating a realistic, multi-faceted Middle-earth that would give the film an historic feel rather than a mythical one. Likewise, John Howe, who is regarded as one of the most successful Tolkien illustrators in the world, also joined the design team. Together, they formed the cornerstone for the visual harmony that would inform the design for all three films.
Alan Lee and John Howe are the two people who have defined what Middle-earth looks like, comments miniatures director of photography Alex Funke. Theyve both devoted their lives to images of Middle-earth. There is no question that you can ask Alan Lee that he cant answer. He knows; hes been there. Hes a fantastic resource. Not only is he a brilliant artist, but he can draw something and then sketch how it has to be built and hand that to the construction department.
Lee remained on set throughout production, giving input and often picking up a paintbrush to add an authentic finishing touch to a set. There are some sets that I’d been drawing one day that would be in the process of being constructed the very next day, Lee comments. A few days later, they’re finished. A couple of days later they were being filmed, and then dismantled. It was a very quick and exciting process.
With so many practical and digitally created locations and characters to be realized, all three films were storyboarded before production began by artist Christian Rivers. These illustrations were ultimately assembled into an animatic pre-visualization of The Return of the King, which rigorously informed the work of every department – from the production design to cinematography to the groundbreaking physical and visual effects work performed by Weta Digital.
To realize the enormousness of Jacksons vision for The Lord of the Rings, Jackson entrusted his frequent collaborators, Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger of New Zealand-based Weta Workshop. Taylor in turn immediately employed a crew of over 120 technicians divided into six crucial departments: Creatures, Special Effects, Make-up and Prosthetics, Armor and Weapons, Miniatures and Model Effects.
In their 65,000 square foot Weta Workshop, Taylor and his team created over 48,000 separate items – from prosthetic limbs to hand-forged swords; 2,000 stunt weapons; 1,600 pair of Hobbit feet; and 200 handcrafted Orc masks. Weta was also responsible for the design, manufacture and operation of the creature animatronics.
The crew numbered 148 at the height of production, with another 45 technicians on set dressing five hundred actors in Weta product, with over 200 background players in full body prosthetics.
Weta set up a foundry with two full-time armor smiths, Stu Johnson and Warren Green, to hand-beat and hand-make the armor from steel. From these original suits, molds were made and 48,000 separate pieces of armor were created for all of Tolkiens Middle-earth civilizations, including Elves, Orcs, Uruk-hai, Rohirrim and Gondorians. A department of four full-time chain maille technicians assembled more than 12 million circular links to make up the hero chain maille suits (those photographed most closely) featured in the trilogy.
One thousand, six hundred pair of Hobbit feet were made to be used throughout production. The prosthetic feet took hours to apply to actors Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd. The swords that Weta Workshop created are all inscribed with messages in Tolkien-conceived languages.
Every prop item was created from scratch. The One Ring was made by Jens Hansen, a renowned jewelry designer whose studio is in the art community of Nelson, New Zealand. Though Hansen passed away prior to the start of principal photography, his son Thorkild Hansen took over during production.
A pivotal item in The Return of the King is The Flame of the West, the Andúril, the reforged sword of Aragorns forefathers. Designed by John Howe, the Andúril was hand-ground out of plate-spring steel, then inlaid with brass and acid etched by master sword smith Peter Lyon.
Weta Digital, a separate arm of Weta, also took on the challenge of creating the groundbreaking computer-generated creatures and effects for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Taylor and visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel received two Academy Awards® for their work on the first film and an additional Oscar for the groundbreaking effects in the second – most predominantly for creating the first completely performance-based digital character with Andy Serkiss Gollum.
For The Return of the King, Weta Digitals major challenges would come in the form of not only the giant spider, Shelob, but also Saurons armies and their creatures, such as the massive winged Fell Beasts, the Wargs and elephant-like Mûmakil, in addition to the continuing pivotal role of Gollum. The film also stages the colossal battle at Pelennor Fields, created through a complex fusion of live action, miniatures and Weta Digitals proprietary Massive software, which gives each digital character a mind and will of its own.
Before a single 35mm frame was shot, Weta created the major structures and landscapes of Middle-earth entirely in miniature, through which Jackson maneuvered using a miniature “lipstick” camera, in order to conceptualize what would eventually be shot in live action on full-size sets. Once the sets were completed and shooting was to begin, it was as if he had already been there.
Cameras Roll on Live Sets, Miniatures and Motion Capture Stages
Jackson broke ground with his decision to shoot all three films at once, something that had never been undertaken in the history of filmmaking. The production requirements for such a project demanded the deployment of a logistical operation on par with an intricate and wide-reaching military campaign. An army of artists – including digital experts, medieval weapons designers, stone sculptors, linguists, costumers, make-up artists, blacksmiths and model builders – as well as a cast that ran the gamut from newcomers to internationally renowned veterans, and over 26,000 extras – converged in Wellington, New Zealand.
Each element of the live action sets had to be reflected in excruciating detail with the variety of miniatures and bigatures the miniature unit created to compliment it. Realism and a depth of detail from the largest constructions to the smallest designs were rigorously pursued. From the very beginning, Peter said, We have to feel this place exists, says co-producer Rick Porras. Thats a pretty significant thing to say for a movie in which everything is created. Twenty thousand objects were created for this film, from glassware to wardrobe. Everything. The bar was set incredibly high. And I think one thing that got us through was the fact that we had such a wonderful art direction team. But at the center of all those spokes on the wheel was Peter.
For a year and a half, Jackson and his devoted production team of over 2,400 filmed all over the spectacular landscapes of New Zealand.
Following the initial 276-day production, cast and crew reunited in Wellington, NZ, for supplementary shooting for The Return of the King, only this time, when they wrapped production, their journey was finally complete.
STYLISTIC HARMONY: LOCATIONS, SETS AND MINIATURES
In our visual journey, weve gone from the beautiful, rich greens of the Shire through the autumnal colors of the leaving of the Elves and the flaxen colors of the Riddermark. If we draw on what we believe are the analogies of Tolkiens writings — the coming of the industrial revolution, the sweeping aside of the beautiful countryside, and the pursuit of material wealth — then our journey must ultimately conclude at Mordor, in the heavy, charcoal blacks of this industrial wasteland.
Richard Taylor, Creature, Miniature, Armour, Special Make-Up Effects Supervisor
Production designer Grant Major oversaw the creation of life-sized sets for such varying locations as the haunting and grim Paths of the Dead, the fading but majestic Minas Tirith, the sprawling Pelennor Fields and the depths of Mordor. The mandate from the beginning was to breathe life into a totally real world with a depth of realism and functionality that would hold up under the closest scrutiny. Tolkien describes the locations very vividly in the book, comments Peter Jackson. You can just imagine them in your minds eye, so finding them was almost like casting an actor.
Peter has continued through these three films to let Middle-earth be a character in its own right, comments Taylor. So, through the art of the film, through the visual effects, the physical effects, the art department, so much effort has been put into trying to create Middle-earth as a character. Audiences will hopefully understand why this small group of people would so vehemently and passionately fight to preserve what is good in the world of Middle-earth.
To find the right locations, location scouts Dave Kolmer and Robert Murphy scoured New Zealand, taking photos and videos of possible sites. Once the choices were narrowed down, Jackson, along with director of photography Andrew Lesnie, first assistant director Carol Cunningham and a number of key crew set out on wreckeys (helicopter scouting trips) to find their locations. Wed look at it from an artistic point of view, first of all, Jackson describes. Does this feel like it came from the pages of Tolkiens book? Then, we looked at it from a logistical point of view. Where do we park the trucks? Where can we feed the crew? Sometimes there werent roads and we had to build them. But first and foremost, it had to look as it was described in the book.
I think the cast was inspired by these amazing locations, comments director of photography Lesnie. New Zealand, for its size, boasts a staggering range of very melodramatic locations. Many of them could have been recreated in the studio, but it would not have inspired the performances given by the actors.
One of the most complex locations in The Return of the King is Minas Tirith, a seven-tiered city of kings where a huge portion of the film unfolds. We were looking a little bit towards an equivalent for Ancient Rome or Ancient Byzantium, comments Alan Lee. It would be an extraordinary structure.
Both Minas Tirith and the set for Helms Deep from The Two Towers were constructed at the Dry Creek Quarry, with its massive natural rock formations, just outside of Wellington. The city of Minas Tirith is one of the things that Ive been looking forward to in The Return of the King, says Peter Jackson. We created the city in two different ways. We built this huge set in a quarry. It was like a backlot. In all these nooks and crannies there were corners of it built. Then, we ripped it down and within a few weeks we built and shot the Helms Deep castle, and ripped it down and within a couple of weeks we built Minas Tirith.
The city would reflect the Northern European-style sophistication of the Gondorians, who are a race of warriors but whose city would also reveal their sense of beauty and majesty. The architecture of Minas Tirith emerged from the drawings of Alan Lee. Alan created a number of pencil sketches that began to develop the culture of Minas Tirith as well, not just the architecture, but to figure out how the different aristocracies and different segments of society would live, says Richard Taylor.
It took production designer Grant Majors construction crew of hundreds of people roughly six months to build. Peter had so much he wanted to do in Minas Tirith, comments art director Dan Hennah. He wanted to see Faramirs men marching down the streets on their way to certain death. He wanted the grandeur of that shot in the streets so you can have a hundred men with horses and a crowd for them to march through. And Gandalf gallops through the streets with Pippin in the saddle. To do that, you need some scale; you need some length to it. And then, when the extras turn up and line the streets, youve got a city. Its real. And its a wonderful thing to be part of the creation of something real.
For the lair itself, round and diamond-shaped chiseled rock were constructed from polystyrene to create interactive tunnels through which the actors and technicians could freely move. The tunnels are real, says Hennah. We made lots of tunnels to run around in, cliffs to jump over and holes to dive through.
John Howe initiated the concepts for the Lair, revealing the eroded rock that would house an ancient, venomous creature that would leave acid trails wherever she went. Dripping from the walls are intricate webs which the art department built out of F2 type glues set in water, which were then removed and applied to the walls to appear like the sticky spiders silk of Shelobs web.
Mordor and Mount Doom
The major location of The Return of the King is the looming wasteland of Mordor, which Jackson and his team found in Mount Ruapehu, a staggeringly amazing, graphic, violent landscape that is an incredibly difficult location to film, hard to access and subject to violent conditions, describes director of photography Lesnie.
The epic journey of the Fellowship ends in Mordor, and the landscape had to pulse with the evil of Sauron. Weve got to feel this sense of dread and awe when we look across towards Mount Doom, comments Alan Lee. If we don’t manage to capture that in the movie, we will have failed to a certain extent.
A huge amount of symphonized elements went into the creation of Mordor – from CG elements to detailed miniatures of the Crack of Doom, at the mouth of an ancient volcano where The Ring of Power was forged. We had shot lava tests for a couple of years on the miniature stage, trying to generate the element that will ultimately realize the conclusion of this film, states Richard Taylor. We wanted to generate the feeling that the world of Middle-earth is coming for The Ring; that the journey of Sam and Frodo, and ultimately Gollum, are drawing to an end on this precipice overhanging this huge cauldron of lava in the depths of Mount Doom.
For the Black Gate, which Hennah describes as the Berlin Wall times 500, a full-size set was constructed on the soundstage to represent the highest point of the gate, to allow live shots of patrolling Orcs; and for Gandalfs confrontation with the Mouth of Sauron, the base of the gate was also built into a full-size set. The totality of the Black Gate was filmed in miniature.
Though miniatures were created for the steps of Cirith Ungol and the entrance to Shelobs lair, crucial scenes between Sam and Frodo required full-size sets. The sequence ultimately was created by weaving the two techniques.
The Paths of the Dead
At a pivotal moment in Aragorns quest, he makes the choice to go through the Paths of the Dead to awaken the disgraced soldiers entombed there. Realism was the guiding factor in creating these sets. When you walk into a place and you can feel that its spiritual element is foreboding; thats what we were trying to create in the Paths of the Dead, comments Dan Hennah. This is an area where you tread cautiously.
Alan Lees concept for the Paths of the Dead envisioned huge rock structures that would spectrally shift and change into massive cities where the long undead soldiers live out their days. A large exterior set was built in Deerpark Heights, near Queenstown, with a huge black orb marking the entrance. The production team carved destroyed buildings, consisting of several stairs, doors, towers and domes, in the black polystyrene walls. For an avalanche sequence that takes place in the Paths set, Weta churned out thousands of synthetic human skulls.
The Miniature Liberation Army
As large and intricate as the live action sets were, the physical element represented only a fraction of what would appear in the final film after being married with miniature and digital elements.
Miniatures director of photography Alex Funke lovingly calls the films miniatures unit The Miniature Liberation Army. We have a nice, compact little unit that rotates around 30 key people, Funke describes. Then, we bring in extra people or actual model makers, because the workload in the art department is always the one that fluctuates the most.
Alan Lee also oversaw the work as his sketches became miniature sets that seemed to take on a life of their own. Guided by Funke, who won Oscars for his effects on Total Recall and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the unit filmed an unprecedented 64 miniature sets, some of the most complex ever rendered. Miniatures for The Return of the King include Saurons tower of Barad-dûr, the Dunharrow Plateau, the Black Gate, Cirith Ungol, Minas Morgul and the Crack of Doom, among others. Funke and his team – including miniature cinematographers Chuck Schuman and David Hardberger — constantly consulted the book for reference.
The majority of miniatures were built on the stages at Stone Street Studios, sized to somewhere between twelfth and fourteenth scale, only a fraction of the size they are meant to represent. With every set being so massive, even at this scale, the miniatures barely fit inside the building (a phenomenon that inspired these constructs to be instead called Bigatures). All the detail work on the miniatures was completed under the lights and cameras that would record them – painting, decorating, dressing and detailing. Its very labor intensive during the first part of setting up a shot, Funke describes.
The most challenging miniature was the complex city of Minas Tirith. Our only way of creating the full-size city was to build a giant miniature, comments Jackson. Its wonderfully detailed. And we have our cameras getting really close to the models for microscopic detail.
Weta Workshop built a 72nd scale miniature of Minas Tirith to represent the 700-foot seven-tiered city, with over 1,000 architectural houses dotting the streets. Sections of the city were built at a larger 14th scale, enabling Funkes team to actually walk through the streets. Miniatures supervisor Paul Van Ommen oversaw the final detailing of each miniature. The colors, the little plantings and washing lines ultimately add the fine edge of reality that will allow the city of Minas Tirith to come to life and feel as though its been populated for thousands of years, describes Richard Taylor. One of the greatest benefits of building a miniature is that it will capture the textural surfaces that reflect the reality of our own world. You can create these architectural structures, these organic places, these mountainsides, at a level of reality that is still sometimes difficult to create digitally. But ultimately, it is a combined effort because the digital department then takes those elements and seamlessly places them in the picture plane.
HUNDREDS OF COSTUMES
With each film, Oscar-nominated Ngila Dickson and her team started from scratch in designing, developing and hand-making the myriad costumes for each of the three films in the trilogy. Dickson sees her work as not deriving from fantasy, but creating clothes that could have existed thousands of years ago. At the earliest stages of preparation, Dickson wrote her own histories for each character to develop how their costumes would evolve throughout the journey. Were developing a completely new world with each film that we do, Dickson describes. Enormous arcs happen with each character and part of that is aided through costume changes.
The most dramatic transformation in The Return of the King is undergone by Aragorn — from anonymous Ranger to the destined King of Gondor. The biggest element of the final film is Strider assuming the mantle of king, says Dickson. It represents the side of him he always knew was there but kept hidden. In bringing him to that moment in the character, we drew on a lot of different things. We brought in the White Tree of Gondor. We made the colors stronger and more resolute for him. Royal red becomes very important. And they actually relate back to parts of his costume — in his Strider costume he wore, for quite a period of time, this very faded red shirt. We’ve carried that through thematically.
For the Hobbits, the third film also represented dramatic changes in wardrobe. From their previously earthy, simple designs, Dickson created miniature versions of the Rohan Guards costume (for Merry) and the Gondorian uniform (for Pippin), extrapolating on where these smaller uniforms would come from. It comes back to the idea of always making sure that you can believe how this happened, Dickson explains. The Rohan Captain costume was based on the idea that Théoden’s first outfit as a child of the court was gifted to Merry. Pippins would have belonged to Boromir or Faramir when they were children. As in the nature of any great court, specially made wardrobe for children would be kept in the family and passed down through the generations.
Dickson used all organic fabrics that appeared lived in and realistic when aged, and made two sets of everything to accommodate the scale doubles for the different characters in the film, particularly the Hobbits. The wardrobe department managed between 30 and 40 costumes per actor.
Wellington, New Zealand-based Jasmine Watson provided the jewelry to complement the wardrobe.
INTIMATE FOCUS: CAPTURING THE HUMAN DRAMA ON FILM
When I read the book as a child, the lasting image I had in my head was the Battle of Pelennor Fields taking place with millions of people on this massive plain. And in the foreground, there were two little figures climbing this mountain. – Drector of Potography Andrew Lesnie
As the third film in the trilogy tells a more internal story than the first two films, director Peter Jackson and director of photography Andrew Lesnie tightened the focus to intimately capture the human emotion in the casts performances. Though the film is comprised of numerous elements at the same time – from miniatures to visual effects to motion capture – the unifying factor was always the emotions of the scene. The strength of this project has always been the script and the performance, not the effects, not the locations, no matter how amazing they are, but the cast, Lesnie comments. Peter managed to bring together an amazing cast that audiences relate to on a human level. The priorities for me are to just watch the performances more carefully and be more critical about the coverage in terms of trying to draw the subtext out of every scene.
In moments when Jackson might conceivably use a wide two-shot, he often re-envisioned the scene using only close-ups. The moment you film a close-up of Ian McKellen, you dont want to cut to a wide shot anymore because Ian is so compelling, Jackson notes, and when you cut to Elijah his eyes are conveying so much information and emotion that you now want to film the scene as two close-ups. Though it was a nice idea at the time, the wide shot doesnt matter anymore.
This need to maintain focus on the characters was never more important than in the large-scale battle sequences. Battles have to tell a story, comments Jackson. And fortunately, we have a lot of our principal characters involved in Pelennor Fields – Gandalf, Pippin, Merry, Éowyn, Théoden, Éomer, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli. We really wanted to focus on those characters and their stories within the spectacle of the battle. You never want it to be just a faceless battle. Its got to be personal.
The challenge for such a sprawling production hit on issues of organization and stamina. The logistics of keeping track of so many units during principal photography is awesome; its of a scale that I’ve never encountered before, Lesnie says. You’re not only doing the cinematography, you’re doing quite a lot of management.
As early as November 2002, Lesnie, along with the core filmmaking team, watched a preliminary cut of the film. From that, Lesnie and supervising digital colorist Peter Doyle put together a Look Bible – a half-hour miniature representation of the film, which helped them establish the looks, flows and visual rhythms of major sequences.
Photographing The Return of the King was once again collaboration between director Jackson, director of photography Lesnie and miniatures director of photography Alex Funke. During principal photography, I would view all of Alex’s stuff and Alex would see a good percentage of our stuff, Lesnie describes. We talked about lighting styles early on, the ratios and characteristics that I wanted to try and achieve in particular locations, and the look of various things. And then he would watch my footage, and I would watch his. We got into sync with each other incredibly quickly.
With multiple units shooting at once, Lesnie was also aided considerably by several New Zealand-based cinematographers, including main unit A cameraman Richard Bluck, who became second unit DP as production progressed; John Cavill, who helped supervise, among other things, the Helms Deep assault in The Two Towers; Allen Guilford, one of New Zealands top cinematographers, who served as DP of clean up Unit 1B; Simon Raby, who shot second unit footage of the Battle of Pelennor Fields, among other key moments in the film; and Nigel Bluck, who shot numerous blue screen visual effects sequences that are scattered throughout the film.
HUMAN EMOTION AMID EPIC BATTLES: STUNTS AND VISUAL EFFECTS
The story is tied to human emotions. It touches deeply on a lot of things that we feel about rightness and honor and doing things the right way.
Miniatures Director of Photography Alex Funke
As the action in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King intensifies, a massive battle breaks out on the outskirts of Minas Tirith in a place called Pelennor Fields. It is the greatest battle of the entire trilogy, the ultimate clash between Men and the armies of Sauron – comprised of Haradrim, Easterlings, Orcs and Mûmakil, as well as the Ringwraiths under their captain, the Witch-king. Sauron brings all the weight of his army to bear on Minas Tirith and Pelennor Fields on a scale that truly dwarfs Helms Deep, comments executive producer Ordesky.
To create the siege of Minas Tirith, Weta Digital once again went to work creating a virtual army that would accompany the live action actors and stuntmen into battle. You cant just invent the sequence shot-by-shot because there has to be a continuity as the battle unfolds, comments Jackson. We needed to plot out the formation of enemy soldiers; where they are; how quickly they close in around the walls of the city; when the siege towers go forward; when the catapults fire. It is like plotting a real battle the night before, figuring out the campaign strategy.
A practical component in the attack of Minas Tirith is a giant siege tower -Grond — hauled by armored mountain Trolls and manned by hordes of Orcs. Over 100 feet in length, with a huge wolf-like head and swinging on huge iron chains, the crew constructed the large battering ram out of wood.
The demands for active participants in this battle eclipse the Battle of Helms Deep in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Where at Helms Deep there were 10,000 Uruk-hai, the enemy forces at the battles of Minas Tirith are probably 200,000 strong, describes conceptual designer Alan Lee.
Envisioning the battle required intensive previsualization to understand the precision geometry involved in what was going to be staged, and how it was going to be accomplished. We built this landscape in the computer just simply to get the geography, the size and the scale, obviously based on the descriptions in Tolkiens book, Jackson explains.
During principal photography, the massive battle was staged on the South Island location of Twizel, New Zealand, on the site of a sheep farm. A tent village was created out in the middle of the area to house the cast and crew and to use as a staging area for the action that was to be shot. We served 1440 eggs for breakfast, and 400 loaves of bread, remembers producer Osborne. We also built a tracking road so that we could get very smooth shots of the charging horses as the Rohirrim come galloping across Pelennor Fields.
They put out a call from all able bodied riders in New Zealand, recalls Karl Urban, who plays the Éomer, a Rohan warrior and nephew to King Théoden. Hundreds of riders and horses were enlisted from New Zealand and elsewhere. With distinct fighting styles developed for each of the principle characters and the various combatants in battle, much of the live action fighting was coordinated by legendary fight choreographer Bob Anderson.
The visual effects team behind The Lord of the Rings motion pictures was honored with Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects for both The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers.
The challenge for The Return of the King was to capture the same intimate focus as did the physical/live action photography on a far larger canvas. The Weta Digital team would create numerous new creatures — an increased profusion of Mûmakil, Fell Beasts and Wargs, glimpsed in the first film, as well as Shelob, the lethal giant spider that traps Frodo in her web — and continue to chart the arc of Gollum, the pivotal character performed by Andy Serkis and captured digitally by Wetas visual effects artists. Wetas proprietary software, Massive, has also continued to evolve to take on the exponentially greater forces taking part in the Battle of Pelennor Fields.
Like every other aspect of The Lord of the Rings production, the visual effects process worked in concert with live action to strike a visual harmony in every shot of the film, be it raw or a composite of numerous effects, from miniature to matte to Massive. Jackson, director of photography Lesnie, visual effects cinematographer Brian Van’t Hul, and each member of his team were committed to raising the bar on every aspect of the production. That spirit has been true across the entire production, from the acting to the visual effects and editing teams, the music, everything, says Jackson. We just want to deliver what is truly the best of these three films.
I think weve definitely benefited from having the same creative think tank on the team because we developed a practical shorthand between each of us, comments co-producer Rick Porras. Porras also notes that even in the final stage of the final film, cast and crew alike continued to carry Tolkiens book with them, constantly returning to the source for inspiration or details. Nobody is losing sight of where it all came from. None of us wants to drop the ball in the 11th hour or not deliver on the promise that was made when people saw the first film. And I dont think we have.
The Soul of Gollum
Andy Serkis calls co-screenwriter/producer Fran Walsh the guardian of Gollum. Fran very much became the guiding force for Gollum, he says. Shes got an extraordinary mind and I think she has drawn from her own life. She took on the mantel of writing the character and ensuring truth in each step of his journey.
The collaboration between creative teams and Serkis has resulted in the first character of his kind — an entirely performance-based digital creation that “acts” as much as any actor in the film. Because of Gollums integral role in Frodo and Sams journey with The Ring, Jackson wanted his presence to carry as much reality and emotional weight as a live actor.
As Jackson and director of photographer Lesnie supervised actor Andy Serkiss performance on set, the animators at Weta Digital studied the resulting performance to remake it digitally, using his movements and facial expressions to animate the Gollum that would ultimately “act” in the scene.
His body and voice design was then taken further into an animated world through motion capture photography, computer generated imagery and digital sound mixing. The resulting synthesis is a totally new visual effect.
Gollums creation involved several stages. Like the other non-human characters in the film, his physical appearance was first sketched by conceptual artists John Howe and Alan Lee, then created in Weta Workshop as a maquette, which was then scanned in 3D by a device adapted by WETA from an instrument used for measuring size and space of meat carcasses for the New Zealand butcher industry. But unlike the other creatures, Serkiss face was also scanned to be adapted into the ancient skeletal creature in the computer. Creature supervisor Eric Sainden then imbued this physical presence with a full skeleton surrounded by more than 300 different muscles, but as with people, all of that operates under his skin.
Serkis then performed the role on set with his fellow castmembers, then covered in a motion capture suit (a tight lycra bodysuit covered with motion capture nodes that were recorded by special cameras, both in full-body and close-up). “Gollum is probably the most actor-driven digital creature that has ever been used in a film,” Jackson comments.
Serkis feels that though the character is funneled through a computer, Gollums single most important quality is truth. I think Gollum is so much more powerful for the fact that he is computer-generated, he says. Peters tenacity and his belief and vision made everyone go the extra mile in investing in the character as a true member of the cast. In many ways its been more liberating and more challenging to perform this character this way rather than through make-up because there is a purity to the performance. You are not reliant on any costume or make-up. Its pure performance in front of the cameras or on the motion capture stage.
BEASTS OF WAR
To create the massive battles in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Jackson once again utilized Weta Digitals proprietary Massive software to transform motion capture movements and expressions into battling armies numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
“Pelennor Fields is such a huge battle scene,” comments co-producer/editor Jamie Selkirk. “600,000 Orcs and 6,000 Rohan horsemen. You would never imagine from the little piece of action that was shot on location that it could develop into the scene that it is now. You’re getting back to the way Pete’s vision is. He sees everything so clearly of how he wants the path of the film to travel and how it should look. His vision has gotten bigger, and he is more and more able to create the effects that he wants to do as the technology has become available. He can now pretty well do anything “
While the dimensions and proportions of actors or animals (horses, elephants, etc.) would be scanned for the digital artists to use for reference, “motion trees” were created on the motion capture stage to provide a library of movements, techniques, attacks, etc. for the characters to portray in battle.
The design process – moving from maquette, to digital creature, to final action — was repeated with three species that come to the fore in The Return of the King – the massive, elephant-like Mûmakil (Oliphaunts), flying, reptilian Fell Beasts, and Frodos spider-like nemesis, Shelob. Its a broader range of things, because youve got very naturalistic things to create, comments animation supervisor Randall Cook. The basis of the movement of all these characters is natural as opposed to supernatural, yet you have characters who push our ability to keep the movements totally natural. Youve got these 70-foot-long flying Fell Beasts and Mûmakil, which resemble elephants, only theyre eight stories tall. Nothings small in this film. The challenge becomes how you get an elephant creature to walk believably with about 50 people riding on its back. You cant fake the way an elephant moves. Youve got to make it look like one, except that its three times as big.
The revolutionary Massive software written by Weta Digitals Stephen Regelous was glimpsed in the prologue to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring as well as the Battle of Helms Deep sequence in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. In the spirit of the continuing push into artificial intelligence technology, Massive works by creating “agents,” with their own randomized characteristics and the ability to make their own decisions in a crowd situation – encompassing not only human soldiers, but all the various species joining the fight. Each agent reacts naturally to its environment, using the same senses as human beings, such as vision, sound, touch, etc. Each agent has its own personality traits, i.e., boldness, aggressiveness, cowardliness, as well as distinct physical characteristics. This ensures a unique image each time its rendered, with the accompanying unpredictability of a live action battle.
The final step following Massives simulation is the rendering of the image, which is done by another device invented in New Zealand, affectionately called a Grunt. Massive supervisor John Alitt created the Grunt to render CG images faster than any commercially available device.
The Shadows of Shelob
Among the cast and crew of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jacksons irrational fear of spiders is well known, which made the final films most deadly and threatening creature a particular challenge for the director. Peter is an arachnophobe, and that ultimately has come to play in the realization of the design of Shelob, comments Richard Taylor. He has constantly pushed the design team to see Shelob as a real insect. What are the elements of a real spider that give fear to him? The polished legs, the fine hairs growing out of those hard shells on the legs, the huge mandibles, the saggy, fleshy body? All of these things he described in great detail. Shelob was then designed as sculptures and scannable maquettes.
With a mandate to make Shelob more evil, and imbue the creature with a greater feeling of age and history, Taylor and his team based their designs on the kind of spider that terrified Jackson as a child – New Zealands native Funnel Web Spider. I used to play in the basement of my parents house where these Funnel Web spiders used to have all these little nests, Jackson recalls. And every time I went under there, I wanted to play but I was always terrified of running into one of these things, which I occasionally did. So, my revenge on the Funnel Web is to base Shelob on this spider.
Though Shelob takes life in maquettes and in digital rendering, as opposed to physical makeup effects, the filmmakers sought to make her completely naturalistic and of the real world. I wanted Shelob to move in that skittery, creepy spider kind of way, Jackson says. What I find scary about spiders is when they move fast, and they find things to pounce on, move again and stop. Thats what I wanted to capture. So I gave instructions to the animators at Weta to make Shelob so she moves quite quickly, surprisingly quick for such a big creature. And the Shelob shots do scare me, he adds. They make me want to flinch back, so I guess Im succeeding in scaring myself.
For Jackson, the spider presents a formidable adversary to Frodo. This evil spider character ultimately plays a major part in turning the Hobbits, making them realize just how fragile their lives are, he says.
©MMIII New Line Productions, Inc. The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, and the names of the characters, events, items and places therein are trademarks of the Saul Zaentz Company, d/b/a Tolkien Enterprises under license to New Line Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
NEW CHARACTERS AND CIVILIZATIONS
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King introduces scores of compelling new characters, civilizations and creatures.
GONDORIANS – Gondorians are the remnants of a once-great civilization that still reside in Minas Tirith, an ancient city of Kings now under the rule of a steward. The Gondorian capital is a relic from a time when mankind held a more prominent position of influence and power in Middle-earth.
FELL BEASTS – In The Return of the King, each of the Nazgûl (undead spirits of corrupted Kings) rides a creature called a Fell Beast — a huge flying creature, its vast, leathery wings like those of a monstrous bat. It is a creature of the older world. Mounted on these beasts, the Nazgûl travel at great speed and oversee every part of Sauron’s realm.
THE WITCH-KING – As the commander of Sauron’s dark forces, the Witch-king (also known as the Witch-king of Angmar) leads the charge out of the gates of Minas Morgul to invade Gondor and lay siege to the city of Minas Tirith.
HARADRIM & Mûmakil – From the South comes a race of Men, inhabitants of the realm of Harad. Battle-scarred warriors with spears, bows and curved swords, their greatest advantage in war is the use of Mûmakil – known to the Hobbits as Oliphaunts. These colossal beasts bear great war-towers packed with Haradrim archers into the midst of battle. Their massive feet trample and crush their enemies, men and horses alike, and their spiked tusks impale anyone or anything that gets in their way.
THE MOUTH OF SAURON – At the Black Gate appears a creature known only as the Mouth of Sauron. He rides a huge black horse with an armored face like a skull mask. He delivers the false news that The Ringbearer has been apprehended and taken to the torture chambers of the Dark Tower.
SHELOB – An ancient, giant spider-like creature that lurks in a labyrinthine cave near the steps of Cirith Ungol. Shelob has lived here for millennia, before even Sauron came to Middle-earth, weaving webs in shadow and gorging herself on unwitting travelers.
FROM MINAS TIRITH TO THE CRACK OF DOOM: KEY LOCATIONS
Its very much a story about homeland, and about the love and care that people feel for the place that they come from. Whether it’s England, or Japan, or Namibia, or wherever, I think that we can all identify with that need, when we travel, to feel that we can return to that essential part of us — that Shire, that Gondor, that home.
Conceptual Designer Alan Lee
In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the quest takes the
characters across Middle-earth as they move west toward Mordor. The locations include:
EDORAS & DUNHARROW – The capital of the Kingdom of Rohan, Edoras was seen in The Two Towers. On their way to Minas Tirith, the Rohirrim stop at the Rohan outpost of Dunharrow.
THE PATHS OF THE DEAD – The Paths of the Dead is a treacherous, haunting pathway through Dwimorberg Mountain. In the Second Age of Middle-earth, the Men of the Mountains swore an oath to Isildur, the last King of Gondor that they would aid in his fight against Sauron. But when his need was desperate, they fled into the mountains where their souls remain trapped. Isildur cursed them that they should never rest in peace until they had fulfilled their oath. Now, Aragorn, Isildur’s heir, must venture into the Paths of the Dead to enlist their help and give them the opportunity to free their souls.
SAURONS FORTRESS AT BARAD-DÛR – From torture chambers in its dungeons, factories of war, windowless prisons and mighty courts, to the vast iron crown of its apex, Barad-dûr climbs thousands of feet, as massive and forbidding as a mountain peak. Between the spiked pinnacles at the top of the tower, the Great Eye shimmers, constantly awake and aware, seeking The Ring and the one who bears it.
GONDOR: MINAS TIRITH, MINAS ITHIL/MORGUL, OSGILIATH – Gondor, the great kingdom of Men was founded by Elendil in the Second Age of Middle-earth. In its early history, it counted among its chief cities Osgiliath, Minas Tirith and Minas Ithil. But Minas Ithil was lost to the Nazgûl and is now known as
Minas Morgul, and Osgiliath has become little more than an outpost of war. Where the White Mountains come to an end is the great peak of Mount Mindolluin. There lies Minas Tirith, the City of Kings, a vast and elegant city built in seven levels of white stone carved into the hill, each level ringed by a wall with battlements and a gate. The topmost circle rises more than seven hundred feet above the Great Gate. At the summit lies the Citadel. It is the greatest stronghold in all of Middle-earth.
STAIRS OF CIRITH UNGOL – Frodo and Sam follow Gollum up a twisting, treacherous series of steps on what he tells them is a secret route into Mordor. Off the stairs of Cirith Ungol is the entrance to Shelob’s Lair.
SHELOB’S LAIR – A webbed and acid-scarred cave through Orodruin Mountain in which Frodo is lured, believing it to be a secret tunnel into Mordor.
ORODRUIN/MOUNT DOOM – The Mountain of Fire, where Sauron created The One Ring and the only place where it can be unmade.
THE GREY HAVENS – The destination for the Elves leaving Rivendell and Lothlórien, from whence they will take the ships across the sea to the west.
PELENNOR FIELDS – The flats at the base of Minas Tirith where a major battle of men against Sauron’s forces is staged.
THE BLACK GATE – The treacherous entrance to Mordor, manned by legions of Orcs.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Character: Frodo Baggins
Description: An adventurous Hobbit who undertakes the quest to destroy the One Ring
Widely regarded as one of the most gifted actors of his generation, Elijah Wood continues to challenge himself with roles in films spanning the spectrum of style and genre.
Wood can next be seen in the lead role of Frodo Baggins in the final installment of Peter Jacksons The Lord of the Rings: Return of The King. He recently completed filming Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind opposite Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, and Kirsten Dunst.
Wood has also lent his voice to one of Miramax’s first animated films, The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina. Produced with Hyperion Studios, the film features Wood voicing the ‘Tom Thumb’ role opposite Jennifer Love Hewitt’s ‘Thumbelina.’ Based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale, the story follows the two tiny people who are separated from their kin after a giant overruns their village. Returning home 15 years later, they learn they were royally betrothed to each other during childhood. The vocal cast also includes Peter Gallagher, Rachel Griffiths, Jane Leeves, Bebe Neuwirth, and Jon Stewart.
He was recently seen in the mobster drama Ash Wednesday, starring opposite Ed Burns. Written and directed by Burns, the film chronicles the story of two brothers (Wood and Burns) trying to escape their past in 1983 New York City.
Wood received critical acclaim for his performance opposite Christina Ricci in Ang Lee’s film, The Ice Storm. Also starring Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen, and Tobey Maguire, the Fox Searchlight film follows a suburban family dealing with their mutual sexual awakenings.
His most recent films include Jeffrey Porter’s Try Seventeen, a romantic comedy starring Franka Potente and Mandy Moore; Martin Duffy’s independent film The Bumblebee Flies Away; James Toback’s Black and White; The Faculty, written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Robert Rodriguez; and Mimi Leder’s Deep Impact.
Wood’s impressive list of film credits include Alan Shapiro’s Flipper with Paul Hogan; Pontus Lowenhielm and Patrik Von Krusenstjerna’s Chain of Fools, opposite Salma Hayek, Steve Zahn and Jeff Goldblum; Jon Avnet’s The War, opposite Kevin Costner; Rob Reiner’s North, with Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss; Joe Ruben’s The Good Son, opposite Macauley Culkin; Stephen Sommers’ Huck Finn; Steve Miner’s Forever Young, with Mel Gibson; Mary Agnes Donohue’s Paradise; Richard Donner’s Radio Flyer, with Lorraine Bracco; Barry Levinson’s Avalon, opposite Armin Mueller-Stahl and Aidan Quinn, and Mike Figgis’ Internal Affairs, with Richard Gere.
On television, Wood recently appeared on ABC in Tony Bill’s “Oliver Twist.” The Disney production starred Wood in the ‘Artful Dodger’ role opposite Richard Dreyfuss’ ‘Fagin.’ Other television credits include the NBC telefilm, “Dayo,” and the CBS movie, “Child in the Night.”
Wood was named 1994’s Young Star of the Year by NATO/ShowEast following his performance in The War.
Description: A very powerful wizard who faces his greatest test in destroying the One Ring
Sir Ian McKellen has been thrilling audiences for 40 years on both stage and screen, and has won more than 40 major international acting awards. For his performance as Gandalf the Grey in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring McKellen won a Screen Actors Guild Award as best supporting actor and was nominated for an Oscar. Since then he has starred on Broadway in Strindbergs Dance of Death and filmed X-Men 2 as, once again, Magneto, the Master of Magnetism. For the telefilm Rasputin, McKellen was nominated for an Emmy and won the Golden Globe Award.
Other recent films include Gods and Monsters (Academy Award nomination for Best Actor), Apt Pupil and Richard III (co-screenplay writer and executive producer). His many stage performances are legendary. He has acted in and produced classical and new plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre in London and on tour. His solo shows, Acting Shakespeare and A Knight Out, have been acclaimed throughout the world.
Complete biography available on www.mckellen.com.
Description: The Elf princess who falls in love with a man, Aragorn
Liv Tyler made an auspicious film debut with the leading role in Silent Fall, directed by Bruce Beresford. After another lead in Empire Records, Tyler portrayed a waitress in a local diner in Heavy, a favorite at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival. Tyler went on to shine in Bernardo Bertoluccis Stealing Beauty, Inventing The Abbotts, Armageddon and Robert Altmans Cookies Fortune. She reunited with Altman to star in the critically acclaimed Dr. T and the Women with Richard Gere. For her role in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Tyler and the rest of the principal cast were nominated for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture by the Screen Actors Guild.
Tylers other recent work includes Onegin co-starring Ralph Fiennes, Plunkett & Macleane and One Night at McCools opposite Matt Dillon.
Tyler will next be seen opposite Ben Affleck in Kevin Smiths Jersey Girl, set for release March 2004. Tyler is also the Face of Givenchy fragrance and cosmetics.
Character: Aragorn, aka Strider
Description: A brave warrior who joins and defends the Fellowship
Since his debut as a young Amish Farmer in Peter Weirs Witness, Viggo Mortensens career has been marked by a steady string of stellar performances. Critics have continually recognized his work in over thirty movies, including such diverse projects as Jane Campions Portrait of a Lady, Sean Penns Indian Runner, Brian DePalmas Carlitos Way, Ridley Scotts G.I. Jane and Tony Goldwyns A Walk on the Moon. Mortensens latest work is playing Strider/Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Born in New York to a Danish father and an American mother, Mortensen spent the early part of his childhood in Manhattan. His family traveled a great deal and he spent several years living in Venezuela, Argentina, and Denmark. He began acting in New York, studying with Warren Robertson. He appeared in several plays and movies, and eventually moved to Los Angeles, where his performance in Bent at the Coast Playhouse earned him a Drama-logue Critics Award. Mortensen is also an accomplished poet, photographer, and painter. Mortensen founded Perceval Press in 2002, a small independent publisher specializing in art, critical writing, and poetry. The intention of the press is to publish texts, images, and recordings that otherwise might not be presented.
He is currently working on his third book of poetry, and recently exhibited a new photographic series, Miyelo at the Stephen Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles. Mortensen will also be exhibiting at the Wellington City gallery and Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand from November 28, 2003, to Januray 25, 2004. He previously exhibited his work at Track 16 Gallery in Los Angeles, and Robert Mann Gallery in New York City.
Mortensen can next be seen starring in Hidalgo for Disney.
Character: Sam or Samwise Gamgee
Description: An ordinary Hobbit who becomes the most extraordinary and loyal of Frodos friends
Sean Astin made his feature film debut in The Goonies and soon had a starring role in the critically acclaimed Rudy. Other film credits include Bulworth, Courage Under Fire, Memphis Belle, Encino Man, Like Father Like Son, Where the Day Takes You, Staying Together, War of the Roses and Safe Passage. Astin received Best Actor honors for his performance in Low Life at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival. Astin has also been seen in the indie releases Deterrence, Kimberly, The Last Producer and Boy Meets Girl. He made his professional debut with his mother, Patty Duke, in the television After School Special Please Dont Hit Me Mom. For his role in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Astin and the rest of the principal cast were nominated for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture by the Screen Actors Guild.
A promising director, Astin garnered an Academy Award nomination for his short film Kangaroo Court, which he also co-produced with his wife, Christine. Astins short film, The Long and the Short of It was shot on the set of The Lord of the Rings. The film is featured on the DVD of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and recently screened at Sundance. A Directors Guild of America member, Astin also directed an episode of the HBO anthology series Perversions of Science.
He is next starring opposite Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in the Sony comedy Fifty First Kisses, which will be released on February 14, 2004. Astin will appear in the Showtime drama series “Jeremiah” this fall. Behind the scenes, Astin has directed an episode of “Jeremiah” and an episode of “Angel.”
Astin has earned a degree in History/American Literature and Culture from UCLA.
Description: An Elf Queen of power and wisdom who assists the Fellowship
Since graduating from Australias National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Cate Blanchett has worked extensively in the theater: with Company B, a loose ensemble of actors including Geoffrey Rush, Gillian Jones and Richard Roxburgh based at Belvoir St. under the direction of Neil Armfield. Her roles included Miranda (“The Tempest”), Ophelia (“Hamlet” -for which she was nominated for a Green Room Award), Nina (“The Seagull”) and Rose (“The Blind Giant is Dancing”).
For the Sydney Theater Company (STC) she appeared in Caryl Churchills “Top Girls”, David Mamets “Oleanna” (awarded The Sydney Theater Critics award for Best Actress), Michael Gows “Sweet Phoebe” (also for the Croyden Wearhouse, London) and Timothy Dalys “Kafka Dances” (also for The Griffin Theatre Company) for which she received the Critics Circle award for best newcomer.
For the Almeida Theatre in 1999, Blanchett played Susan Traheren in David Hares “Plenty” on Londons West End. Her television credits include lead roles in Bordertown and Heartland, both for the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
Her film roles include Susan Macarthy in Bruce Beresfords Paradise Road; Lizzie in Thank God He Met Lizzie, an anti-romantic comedy directed by Cherie Nowlan for which Blanchett was awarded both the Australian Film Institute (AFI) and the Sydney Film Critics awards for Best Supporting Actress; and Lucinda in Oscar and Lucinda, opposite Ralph Fiennes and directed by Gillian Armstrong, a role that earned her an AFI nomination for Best Actress.
In 1998, she portrayed Queen Elizabeth I in the critically acclaimed Elizabeth, directed by Shekhar Kapur, for which she received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama and a BAFTA for Best Actress in a Leading Role as well as Best Actress awards from The Chicago Film Critics Association, The London Film Critics Association, On-line Film Critics, Variety Critics and UK Empire Award. She also received a Best Actress nomination from the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts, & Sciences.
In 1999, Blanchett appeared in Pushing Tin with John Cusack, directed by Mike Newell; An Ideal Husband, directed by Oliver Parker; The Talented Mr. Ripley, directed by Anthony Mingella for which she received a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actress; The Gift, directed by Sam Raimi; and Sally Potters The Man Who Cried, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and for which she was awarded Best Supporting Actress by the Florida Critics Circle.
For her 2001 film, Bandits, with Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton, directed by Barry Levinson, Blanchett was nominated for a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress. The film, along with The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings, and The Shipping News, also earned her the 2001 Best Supporting Actress Award from the National Board of Review. Her 2002 performances include the title role in Gillian Armstrong’s Charlotte Gray, based on Sebastian Faulks best-selling novel; The Shipping News, alongside Kevin Spacey and directed by Lasse Hallstrom, based on the 1994 Pulitzer-Prize winning novel by Annie Proulx; and Heaven, opposite Giovanni Ribisi and directed by Tom Tykwer, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival.
She is currently starring in the title role of Veronica Guerin, directed by Joel Schumacher, the fact-based story of the Irish journalist who was slain in her homeland in 1996 by drug dealers; and the Warner Bros. Pictures thriller, The Missing, opposite Tommy Lee Jones for director Ron Howard.
Blanchett most recently wrapped production on the Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator for director Martin Scorsese. She is currently in production on The Life Aquatic for director Wes Anderson. In 2004, Blanchett will return to Australia to film Rowan Woods Little Fish.
Description: A courageous Dwarf with great strength and sense of justice
John Rhys-Davies began acting in Shakespeare plays at the age of thirteen at Truro School in Cornwall, England. By the time he had graduated from the then new University of East Anglia, where he founded the University Dramatic Society and starred at the acclaimed Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich, he had created an impressive amateur resume. He taught for a year before spending two years at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), graduating in 1969. He then worked in repertory theatres throughout Britain and at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Rhys-Davies made his feature film debut in Don Siegels The Black Windmill, starring Michael Caine, where he was blown up before the title sequence. His one-hundred plus film credits include Victor/Victoria, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Living Daylights and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. For his role in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Rhys-Davies and the rest of the principal cast were nominated for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture by the Screen Actors Guild. He will next be seen in Highbinders, opposite Jackie Chan and Claire Forlani.
For television, he was nominated for an Emmy for his performance as Rodrigues in Shogun, starred as Professor Arturo in Sliders, and is remembered for performances in I, Claudius and The Naked Civil Servant. He would like to spend more time piloting planes, playing with old cars and writing.
Character: King Theoden of Rohan
Description: King of Rohan, now awakened from Sarumans Spell, joins with Rohan to oppose Saurons forces at the Battle of Pelennor Fields
Bernard Hill has enjoyed a multifaceted acting career on both sides of the Atlantic, starring in top British (Mountains of the Moon, Shirley Valentine) and American (Gothika,Titanic, True Crime, The Ghost and the Darkness) feature films as well as scores of television and stage productions.
Born in Manchester, England, he made his English television debut in 1973 in Mike Leighs first film, Hard Labour. Balancing stage, film and television work, Hill starred in films such as Gandhi, The Bounty, No Surrender, Blessed Art Thou, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Going Off Big Time and The Criminal. He was most recently seen in The Scorpion King and The Boys From County Clare. He was also seen in the award-winning television productions of I, Claudius, Henry VI trilogy and Richard III; Antigone; Boys From the Black Stuff; The Mill on the Floss; and Great Expectations. Hill will next be seen in Wimbledon in 2004.
He made his debut in The Lord of the Rings trilogy in The Two Towers.
Character: Pippin or Peregrin Took
Description: A fun-loving Hobbit and member of the Fellowship
Billy Boyd, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, began his acting career in the Scottish television series Taggart. He went on to amass UK television credits including Coming Soon and Chapter and Verse. Boyd made his feature film debut in An Urban Ghost Story, followed by Julie and the Cadillacs and a film short entitled Soldiers Leap. He and the rest of the cast of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring were nominated for the Screen Actors Guild ensemble award.
He will next be seen in Peter Weirs Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Prior to Master and Commander, Boyd filmed a groundbreaking science fiction one-man short film, Sniper 470, financed by Scottish Screen and STV, which world premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2002. It was one of only two films to have been chosen from the Newfoundland series to be blown to 35 mm. Since when it has been invited by 18 Film Festivals and screened on Scottish National Television.
On the stage, Boyd has performed in various UK productions including The Speculator, An Experienced Woman Gives Advice, Therese Racquin, Britannia Rules, Kill The Old, Torture Their Young, The Chic Nerds, Much Ado About Nothing, Merchant of Venice, Trainspotting (Tour), Merlin the Magnificent and The Slab Boys. Last year, Boyd starred in the Traverse production of The Ballad of Crazy Paola, a new play by Anne Sierens. This year Boyd opened the Edinburgh International Festival with the World Premiere of San Diego, a play by David Greig.
Boyd is also a singer, musician and composer. In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Boyd sings his own composition to Tolkiens words.
Character: Merry or Meriadoc Brandybuck
Description: An adventurous young Hobbit who joins Frodos quest
Dominic Monaghan has starred as Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry) in all three installments of Peter Jackson’s acclaimed The Lord of the Rings trilogy, of which The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the final film. He will next be seen in Chris Atkins The Purifiers, a film about martial arts clubs which have created their own city infrastructure after tiring of government initiatives, set for release in 2004; and Spivs, a heist film opposite Nick Moran of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame.
Monaghan was born in Berlin and grew up in Manchester, England. He is an active environmentalist. enjoys the outdoors, monkeys and football (US Soccer), particularly Manchester United.
He currently resides in Los Angeles.
Description: Lethal with knife and bow, Legolas represents the Elves in the Fellowship
Orlando Bloom, who made his major feature film debut in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. During his time at Guildhall, Bloom performed in numerous productions including, “A Month in the Country,” “Peer Gynt,” “Mephisto,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Seagull,” “Antigone” and “Uncle Vanya.”
Bloom was born in Canterbury, Kent. At 16, he moved to London where he joined the National Youth Theatre for two seasons and then gained a scholarship to train with the British American Drama Academy. Bloom’s screen debut was in the feature film Wilde. He was then accepted to Guildhall and chose to put his screen career on hold for the opportunity to further his education.
For his role in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Bloom and the rest of the principal cast were nominated for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture by the Screen Actors Guild. He has since appeared in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down and in Ned Kelly, opposite Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush and Naomi Watts. He also starred in Gore Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean, opposite Johnny Depp. His next release is Wolfgang Peterson’s epic Troy, in which he stars opposite Brad Pitt and Eric Bana.
Description: Born of a human father and Elf mother, Elrond is the father of Arwen
Hugo Weavings many film credits include the new Australian feature Peaches; The Matrix; The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; The Interview; Bedrooms and Hallways and Proof. His performance in The Interview earned him an Australian Film Institute Award (AFI) and a World Film Festival Award (Montreal) for Best Actor. Weaving also received the AFI Award for The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and for Proof. In addition to his role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, he returns as the malevolent Agent Smith in Matrix: Reloaded and Matrix: Revolutions.
Weaving has appeared in such high-end Australian television dramas as After the Deluge, The Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Naked: Coral Island and Bangkok Hilton. A graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Weaving is a theatre veteran who has a particularly strong history with the Sydney Theatre Company and has recently appeared with the company in Tom Stoppards The Real Thing.
Character: Éowyn of Rohan
Description: The niece of the King, who lost her Rohan parents to marauding Orcs, Éowyn yearns to fight the terrible forces threatening her homeland
After earning top accolades for her Australian film and stage work, Miranda Otto recently completed work on both sides of the Atlantic. She starred as the title character in Julie Walking Home (filmed in Canada and Poland) for acclaimed Polish director Agnieszka Holland. The film premiered at the 2002 Venice and Toronto Film Festivals. Otto will also star in The Three Legged Fox (filmed in Italy), directed by Sandro Dionisio, as well as Doctor Sleep (filmed in the UK), a thriller that also stars ER’s Goran Visnjic.
Otto recently completed the Australian romantic comedy Danny and the Deckchair, in which she is re-teamed with Rhys Ifans. She appeared with Ifans alongside Tim Robbins and Patricia Arquette in Human Nature, Charlie Kaufmans first feature since Being John Malkovich. The dark comedy, directed by Michel Gondry, premiered at both the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and was released in April 2002. She most recently appeared as Penny in the film In My Father’s Den, directed by Brad McGann.
Otto garnered rave reviews this Spring for her portrayal of Nora Helmer in the Sydney Theatre Companys production of the Henrik Ibsen classic A Dolls House.
A graduate of the prestigious Australian theatrical school NIDA, which also boasts such alumnae as Mel Gibson, Judy Davis and Cate Blanchett, Otto has been honored with Australian Film Institute award nominations for her work in In The Winter Dark, The Well, Daydream Believer, and The Last Days of Chez Nous. She also earned an Australian Film Critics Circle Award nomination for her performance in Last Days of Chez Nous, as well as for Love Serenade, which won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Ottos other credits include Robert Zemekiss What Lies Beneath, with Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer; Terence Malick’s The Thin Red Line; Kin; Dead Letter Office; Doing Time for Patsy Cline; True Love and Chaos, and Jack Bull, opposite John Cusack, for HBO.
Culture: Human of Gondor
Description: Son of Demethor and brother of Boromir, Faramir is a ranger who finds and captures the Hobbits in Emyn Muil
David Wenham has received critical acclaim for his diverse performances in film, theatre and television. Recent accolades include a 2003 Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA) Award nomination for Gettin Square, an AFI Award nomination for Molokai: The Story of Father Damien, AFI and FCCA Award nominations for The Bank, AFI and Inside Film (IF) Award nominations for Better Than Sex, and an FCCA Award nomination for his haunting portrayal of the psychopathic Brett Sprague in The Boys, which he also associate produced. Internationally, Wenham has appeared in Van Helsing, Pure and Dust. His next feature project is Three Dollars with fellow Australians Sarah Wynter and Frances O’Connor.
Wenham is well known to Australian television audiences as the lovable Diver Dan in the award winning ABC TV series SeaChange, a role which earned him an AFI Award nomination in 1998. He won the same award the previous year for the critically acclaimed ABC TV miniseries Simone de Beauvoirs Babies. He will soon commence filming the Sam Neill-directed telemovie The Brush Off.
Wenham made his debut in The Lord of the Rings trilogy in The Two Towers.
Culture: Human of Rohan
Description: Nephew to King Theoden and brother of Éowyn, Éomer is a fierce warrior of the Rohan people
Karl Urban launches into the third installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King, starring in the dynamic role of Rohan warrior Éomer. Producer/director/co-writer Peter Jackson cast New Zealand actor Urban in The Lord of the Rings after viewing a rough cut of the critically acclaimed indie film The Price of Milk, which garnered Urban a Best Actor nomination at The New Zealand Film Awards.
Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Urban first appeared on television as a child. Throughout his school years he wrote, directed, and starred in many film and stage productions. As a young adult Urban postponed his university studies to further pursue his acting career, training and working throughout “Australasia” in theatre and film.
Urban landed his feature film debut in Miramax’s Heaven, starring Martin Donovan and Richard Schiff, and garnered his first Best Actor nomination at the New Zealand Film Awards for his work in Via Satellite. He also appeared in the Warner Bros./Dark Castle production Ghost Ship, starring opposite Gabriel Byrne and Julianna Margulies.
Most recently, Urban completed David Twohy’s The Chronicles of Riddick, opposite Vin Diesel, and will next be seen opposite Matt Damon in The Bourne Supremacy, directed by Paul Greengrass.
Description: The Steward of Gondor and father of Boromir and Faramir
As Artistic Director of the Stage Company of S.A. for ten years, John Noble was involved in South Australias cultural explosion in the 1970s and 80s. He performed with all of the states major arts companies. He also directed on Londons West End (David Williamsons Sons of Cain), and acted in an award-winning production at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland (Rob Georges Errol Flynns Great Big Adventure Book For Boys).
Noble has produced over 70 new Australian plays; commissioned and directed the enormously successful Percy and Rose for the 1982 Adelaide Festival of Arts and subsequent National tour; and produced four major pieces for the 1984 Festival of Arts, including the memorable Masterclass. During an eight-year term as a Trustee of the Adelaide Festival Centre, Noble was associated in the Australian productions of Cats and La Miserable. He was chairman of the inaugural Australian Drama Festival in Adelaide in 1982, and was a foundation member and chairman of the Association of Community Theatres. In 1984 the Premier of S.A. Mr. John Bannon nominated him as Young Australian of the Year for his work in the Arts.
Noble teaches acting at Brent Street School of Arts. He has conducted master classes at N.I.D.A., Flinders University, the R.A.A.F., The Centre for Performing Arts, Carclew Youth Drama Camps, the S.A. Education Department, the National Book Council and the NSW & ACT Writers Centres.
As an actor, Noble was featured in guest roles in TV series Big Sky, Police Rescue and Water Rats, among numerous others, in addition to a semi-regular role in All Saints. His feature credits include The Dreaming, Nostradamus Kid, A Sting in the Tail, Call me Mr. Brown, Airtight, The Monkeys Mask and A Virtual Nightmare.
Recently he has appeared in The Outsider, Superfire, The Natalie Wood Story and Fracture. In 2003 he appeared in the stage plays The Arabs Mouth and Room 201 Nicola Tesla.
He appears as Denethor in the second and third installments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers and The Return of the King
Description: Once a Hobbit-like creature, his proximity to the Ring has transformed him into a grotesque creature
Prior to the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Andy Serkis most recently appeared on film as Quinn in the World War I horror feature Deathwatch, and as Factory Records producer Martin Hannett in 24 Hour Party People. He will soon be seen opposite Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo in 13 Going on 30, directed by Gary Winick. Other film credits include the eccentric choreographer in Topsy Turvy, and as the drug-taking yuppie in Career Girls, leading roles in Shiner with Michael Caine, Mojo, Among Giants, Loop, Sweety Barrett, The Jolly Boys Last Stand, as well as major roles in Stella Does Tricks, Five Seconds to Spare, The Near Room, and Pandemonium. Also, recently he wrote and directed a short film called Snake, starring his wife, Lorraine Ashbourne, and Rupert Grave. His extensive television works include a highly acclaimed performance as Bill Sykes in a recent adaptation of Oliver Twist, and lead roles in The Jump, and the series Finney, along with many guest appearances including Shooting The Past and Touching Evil. Recently, his voice was heard on the Fox television show The Simpsons.
Serkis has played a huge range of parts in theatre in London and across the United Kingdom. Recently critically acclaimed roles include Iago in Othello (Royal Exchange Theatre); Potts in the original cast of Mojo by Jez Butterworth; King Lear and Hush, all for the Royal Court Theatre; Hurlyburly at the Old Vic and Queen Theatres; Decadence at the Bolton Octagon; and Cabaret at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. This year he made his directorial debut with the play The Double Bass at the Southwark Playhouse in London.
Character: Bilbo Baggins
Description: Known for his own adventures, Bilbo bequeaths the Ring to his cousin Frodo
Ian Holm has earned respect and praise from theater, television and film critics alike. He won a BAFTA Award, Cannes Film Festival award and an Oscar nomination for his performance in Chariots of Fire. Some of his memorable film performances include Another Woman, Hamlet, Frankenstein, Henry V, Naked Lunch, eXistenZ, and The Madness of King George.
Holm has also appeared in Greystoke, Kafka, Time Bandits, Brazil, Alien, Dance with a Stranger and Dreamchild. More recent films include From Hell, Big Night, Joe Goulds Secret, Night Falls on Manhattan, The Fifth Element, A Life Less Ordinary, Bless The Child, Beautiful Joe and the acclaimed lead in Atom Egoyans The Sweet Hereafter. Holm also starred in the television movie The Last of the Blonde Bombshells For the BBC and HBO alongside Dame Judi Dench, Leslie Caron and Olympia Dukakis.
Appearing in numerous productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Holm won the Evening Standard Actor of the Year award for both Henry V and The Homecoming, the latter for which he also won a Tony Award (Best Supporting Actor) for the Broadway production. He won rave reviews and a Critics Circle Award for Harold Pinters Moonlight. His 1997 performance in the title role of King Lear at the National Theatre won him another Critics Circle Theatre Award, the Olivier Award for Best Actor and the Evening Standard Best Actor (Drama) Award. In 1998 the Queen knighted him for his services to Drama.
Description: Boromir joins the Fellowship, despite deep misgivings about destroying the One Ring
Sean Bean recently gained international recognition as Boromir in New Line Cinema’s Oscar-nominated motion picture trilogy of The Lord of the Rings and has been working non-stop ever since. Bean recently completed production on Wolfgang Peterson’s Troy for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures. Bean plays Odysseus alongside Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, and Orlando Bloom in this epic account of the Trojan War based on Homer’s The Iliad, scheduled for release in May 2004. Bean is currently appearing in the indie The Big Empty, with Jon Favreau, Kelsey Grammer, Daryl Hannah, Rachel Leigh Cook, and Joey Lauren Adams, which premiered October 9 at AFI, and recently shot a cameo role in “Henry VIII” for Granada opposite Ray Winston and Helena Bonham Carter.
Bean is currently in production alongside Justin Bartha and Nicolas Cage on Walt Disney Co.’s National Treasure for director Jon Turteltaub and producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
His recent projects include Dimension’s sci-fi thriller, Equilibrium, with Christian Bale, and 20th Century Fox’s Don’t Say A Word, with Michael Douglas, directed by Gary Fleder. Bean has dazzled audiences in such films as Tom and Thomas, Essex Boys, Ronin, Anna Karenina, GoldenEye, When Saturday Comes, Black Beauty, Patriot Games, Caravaggio, Lorna Doone, The Field, Stormy Monday and Windprints, among others.
On stage, Bean starred opposite Samantha Bond in a 2003 production of Macbeth in London’s West End. He has received critical acclaim for his work in the title role, making the show the fastest non-musical to sell out in the West End.
Bean has appeared in numerous stage productions for The Royal Court Theatre, Glasgow Citizen Theatre, and The Royal Shakespeare Company, including Romeo and Juliet, Fair Maid of the West, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
His television credits include Carlton Production’s “The Sharp Series”. His other television movies include “Bravo Two Zero”, “Lady Chatterley”, “Clarissa”, “Prince”, “Tell Me You Love Me”, and many more.
PETER JACKSON (DIRECTOR/ WRITER/ PRODUCER)
Long-time J.R.R. Tolkien fan Peter Jackson makes history with The Lord of the Rings, becoming the first person to direct three major feature films simultaneously. Released in 2001, the first film in the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, including Best Director, and won four. The film also received the American Film Institute’s prestigious Film Award and was nominated for 12 awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), winning awards for Best Film and garnering Jackson the David Lean Award for direction. In addition to four Golden Globe nominations, the film also received numerous distinctions and awards around the world. The second installment, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, was released December 18, 2002, to the highest December opening day in history. It was the number one film for three weeks running and went on to earn $921 million worldwide, making it the fourth highest grossing film of all time. The second installment garnered six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and won two awards, for Visual Effects and Sound Effects Editing.
Jackson previously received widespread acclaim for his 1994 feature Heavenly Creatures, which was awarded a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival and an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay. Written by Jackson and his collaborator, Fran Walsh, the film is based on an infamous New Zealand murder of the 1950s, and the story of two intelligent and imaginative young girls whose obsessive friendship leads them to murder one of their mothers.
Other film credits include The Frighteners starring Michael J. Fox, the adult puppet feature Meet the Feebles and Braindead, which Jackson co-wrote. Braindead played at festivals around the world winning 16 international science fiction awards including the prestigious Saturn. Jackson also co-directed the television documentary “Forgotten Silver” which also hit the film festival circuit.
Born in New Zealand on Halloween in 1961, Jackson began at an early age making movies with his parents’ Super 8 camera. At seventeen he left school, and failing to get a job in the New Zealand film industry as he had hoped, started work as a photo-engraving apprentice. After purchasing a 16mm camera, Jackson began shooting a science fiction comedy short, which, three years later, had grown to a seventy-five minute feature called Bad Taste, funded entirely from his own wages. The New Zealand Film Commission eventually gave Jackson money to complete the film, which has become a cult classic.
BARRIE M. OSBORNE (PRODUCER)
As producer of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Barrie M. Osborne was nominated for two British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for Best Film, winning one; won an AFI Film Award; and was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Film.
In addition to his work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Osborne executive produced the worldwide box office blockbuster and groundbreaking special effects award-winner The Matrix. His other producing credits include John Woo’s Face/Off and China Moon. He has served as executive producer on The Fan, Dick Tracy, Child’s Play, Wilder Napalm, Rapa Nui and Peggy Sue Got Married.
A native New Yorker who earned a degree in sociology from Minnesota’s Carleton College, Osborne rose to the rank of 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before entering the film industry in 1970, as an apprentice editor and assistant production manager. Accepted into the Directors Guild of America trainee program, Osborne worked under the tutelage of directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Alan Pakula and Sydney Pollack on films including The Godfather Part II, Three Days of the Condor and All The Presidents Men. He subsequently worked on a number of films in various capacities including Apocalypse Now, The Big Chill, King of Comedy, The Cotton Club, Cutter’s Way, Fandango and The China Syndrome.
During a two-year tenure as Vice President for Feature Production at Walt Disney Pictures, Osborne oversaw features including Ruthless People, The Color of Money, Tin Men, Three Men And A Baby, Tough Guys, Outrageous Fortune, Roger Rabbit and Good Morning Vietnam.
FRAN WALSH (WRITER/PRODUCER)
For her work co-writing The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Fran Walsh was nominated for an Oscar, a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award and Writers Guild of America Screen Award, and (along with Peter Jackson, Barrie Osborne and Tim Sanders) won the AFI Film Award. The second film in the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, among other accolades.
Walsh first garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay for the feature Heavenly Creatures, which she co-wrote with her collaborator Peter Jackson. Other writing credits co-written with Jackson include Forgotten Silver, The Frighteners, Meet the Feebles and Braindead. Walsh, who has a background in music, began her writing career soon after leaving Victoria University where she majored in English Literature.
PHILIPPA BOYENS (WRITER)
Since being named by Variety in their list of Ten Writers to Watch in 2000, Philippa Boyens, who made her debut as a screenwriter with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has been nominated for an Oscar, a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award and a Writers Guild of America Award, among others. Besides working as a screenwriter on the Trilogy, Boyens also worked with composer, Howard Shore, providing lyrics for most of the choral pieces in the scores of all three films.
Prior to working on The Lord of the Rings, Boyens worked in theatre as a playwright, teacher, producer and editor. Boyens moved to film via a stint as Director of the New Zealand Writers Guild. Her love of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work brought her to this project, having been a fan since she was eleven years old. Boyens will continue her collaboration with Walsh and Jackson as they begin work on their next project – King Kong.
ROBERT SHAYE AND MICHAEL LYNNE (EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS)
Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne are the Co-Chairmen and Co-Chief Executive Officers of New Line Cinema Corporation. Since Lynne joined the company, they have together guided New Lines growth from a privately held distributor of art films into one of the entertainment industrys leading independent studios.
In 2002, the success of the first two films in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as such releases as Blade II, John Q, Austin Powers in Goldmember and About Schmidt vaulted the studio into the number five position in both domestic and international market share for the year. The company reached a new watermark of success, earning $1.8 billion globally, which represents a 59% leap domestically from the previous year and more than double its international take.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King represents the final film in a trilogy that was shot concurrently over an unprecedented year and a half of production. Collectively, the trilogy has thus far earned $1.8 billion worldwide and garnered numerous Academy Award nominations and awards.
In previous years, New Line has released such blockbusters as the Rush Hour and Austin Powers franchises, as well as the hits Wag the Dog, Boogie Nights, The Wedding Singer, Dumb and Dumber, The Mask, Seven, as well as recent hits Freddy Vs. Jason, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Elf. The companys specialty division, Fine Line Features, has released such acclaimed films as the Academy Award-nominated Best Picture Shine, Dancer in the Dark, The Anniversary Party, The Sweet Hereafter and, most recently, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, American Splendor.
MARK ORDESKY (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER)
A lifelong fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, Mark Ordesky brought director Peter Jackson’s film to New Line’s attention, ultimately becoming an executive producer and active participant in the production of all three films.
Ordesky is currently executive vice president and chief operating officer of New Line Productions. In 1997, following his acquisition of the Oscar-winning Shine, Ordesky began his tenure as the head of Fine Line Features where he created a unique film culture supporting the efforts of the creative community. In this He has established on-going relationships with such directors as Bernardo Bertolucci, Lars Von Trier, and David Mamet and provided a haven for emerging talent such as Sundance winners Gavin O’Connor and Bob Pulcini and Shari Spring Berman. Ordesky has also nabbed such acquisitions as Saving Grace, as well as the Oscar-nominated Before Night Falls, Tumbleweeds, The Sweet Hereafter and American Splendor.
Ordesky’s career at New Line Cinema began 15 years ago as he developed a taste for material as a script reader. Working his way up the ladder at the company, Ordesky did everything from managing the company’s relationship with John Waters to successfully introducing Jackie Chan to U.S. audiences with the smash success Rumble in the Bronx.
ANDREW LESNIE, A.C.S. (DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY)
Andrew Lesnie won an Academy Award for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and was nominated for the American Society of Cinematographers Award and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts cinematography award, among other awards and accolades.
Lesnie held the Australian Cinematographers Societys coveted Milli Award for 1995 and 1996, making him Australias Cinematographer of the Year two years running. He also won the 1997 Australian Film Institute Award for best cinematography for Doing Time for Patsy Cline, and a 1997 A.C.S. gold award for the same film. He won the 1996 A.C.S. Golden Tripod Award for Babe, in 1995 for Temptation of a Monk, and in 1994 for Spider and Rose. His other feature credits include Two if by Sea, The Sugar Factory, Fatal Past, The Delinquents, Dark Age, Boys in the Island, Daydream Believer and Unfinished Business, among others. Lesnie also handled second unit photography on Farewell to the King, Incident at Ravens Gate and Around the World in Eighty Ways, and shot the documentaries The Making of The Road Warrior, Stages (about Peter Brook and the Paris Theatre Company in Australia), and The Comeback, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. His television credits include The Rainbow Warrior Conspiracy, Melba (A.C.S. Merit Award), and Cyclone Tracy (A.C.S. Golden Tripod Award for best photographed miniseries). In addition, Lesnie has garnered A.C.S. Awards for the short films The Outing and The Same Stream.
RICHARD TAYLOR (CREATURE, MINIATURE, ARMOUR, SPECIAL MAKE- UP EFFECTS SUPERVISOR)
Richard Taylor, director of special effects company Weta, has been special effects designer on all of Peter Jacksons feature films including The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Frighteners, Heavenly Creatures, Braindead, Meet the Feebles and the television documentary Forgotten Silver. For the groundbreaking work accomplished by Taylor, his partner Tania Rodger, and the team at Weta, Taylor won two Oscars and three British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards – for Best Visual Effects,Best Makeup and Best Costume, and received a BAFTA and Oscar nominations for Costume Design as well as numerous other awards and accolades.
Taylors feature credits include Heaven, The Ugly, Once Were Warriors, Jack Brown Genius, Tidal Wave, The Tommyknockers and A Bright Shining Lie. For television, Taylor has designed creature and special makeup effects for Hercules, Xena: Warrior Princess and Young Hercules.
GRANT MAJOR (PRODUCTION DESIGNER)
Grant Major won the AFI Production Designer of the Year from the American Film Institute, in addition to being nominated for an Academy Award and a British Academy of Film and Television arts award, among other accolades, for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. For The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Major was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA Award, and won the Art Directors Guilds Excellence in Production Design Award.
Previously, Major received a New Zealand Film and Television award for Best Design on Peter Jacksons Heavenly Creatures in 1995. Two years later Major picked up the same award for The Ugly. Majors other film credits include Jacksons The Frighteners, Memory and Desire, The Aberrations, Jack be Nimble, An Angel at my Table and, as art director, for Other Halves. Majors work as an art director for television includes telefilms Hercules and The Grasscutter, the series Hanlon, as well as commercials and news programs. Major also worked as a production designer on the telefilm The Chosen.
In addition to The Lord of the Rings, Major most recently designed the production for the acclaimed independent film, The Whale Rider.
Born in Palmerston North, New Zealand, Majors career in design began at Television New Zealand. His background ranges from production design for the Commonwealth Games ceremonies to designer for the New Zealand Pavilions at the World Expos in Australia and Spain.
RICK PORRAS (CO-PRODUCER)
Prior to his work on The Lord of the Rings, Rick Porras associate produced Contact and previously worked with Peter Jackson as post production supervisor on The Frighteners. After graduating from Stanford University, Porras ventured into the film business as a buyer for Filmline International attending the international festivals and markets. Porras then joined Robert Zemeckis Productions as a production assistant and later assistant to director/producer Zemeckis on the HBO series Tales From the Crypt : Yellow and the feature film The Public Eye. Porras continued working with Zemeckis in other capacities including production associate on Death Becomes Her and post-production supervisor on Forrest Gump. He was also post-production consultant on Tales From The Crypt: You Murderer and to the South-Side Amusement Co.
JAMIE SELKIRK (CO- PRODUCER/EDITOR)
Prior to his work on The Lord of the Rings, Jamie Selkirk collaborated with Peter Jackson on the majority of his films, first as editor, sound editor and post production supervisor for Bad Taste, Meet The Feebles and Heavenly Creatures. With Jacksons Braindead, Selkirk made the move to associate producer/editor and then to producer and editor on The Frighteners. Selkirks other credits include Jack Brown Genius, The Lie of the Land, Battletruck, The Scarecrow, Wild Horses and The Silent One.
Selkirks career in editing started at the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporations. He moved to editorial as a trainee editor and began cutting newsreels, current affairs, documentaries, and dramas. Before his foray into production, Selkirk formed his own post-production company, Mr. Chopper, and worked on a variety of productions and television commercials.
NGILA DICKSON (COSTUME DESIGNER)
Ngila Dickson, born in Dunedin, New Zealand, was nominated for an Academy Award and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award, among other accolades, for her work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. In both 1997 and 1998, Dickson received the Best Contribution to Design Award at the New Zealand Television Awards; and for her work on Xena: Warrior Princess, Dickson garnered the Best Costume Award at the 4th International Cult TV Awards. Dicksons film credits as a costume designer include Peter Jacksons Heavenly Creatures, Jack be Nimble, Crush, Grampire, Ruby and Rata, User Friendly, and the telefilm Rainbow Warrior. For television, Dickson has designed for the series Hercules, Xena, Warrior Princess, High Tide, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and the Ray Bradbury Series.
She is currently designing costumes for Edward Zwicks The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise.
HOWARD SHORE (Composer)
Howard Shore has composed the scores to more than 60 films and received the Oscar and Grammy Awards for Best Original Score for The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, for which he was also honored with awards from Los Angeles Film Critics, The Chicago Film Critics and The Broadcast Film Critics.
The soundtracks for The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers have sold over 3 million albums worldwide and both albums have remained on the Billboard Top 100 Soundtracks chart since their original release in 2001 and 2002, respectively. The U.K.s Classic FM voted The Lord of the Rings soundtracks Best Film Score of All Time for two consecutive years.
Shores outstanding film work also includes The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, directed by Jonathan Demme; Ed Wood, directed by Tim Burton; Seven, The Game and Panic Room, directed by David Fincher; and Gangs of New York and After Hours, directed by Martin Scorsese. His other films include the well loved comedies Analyze This, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Big.
Shore’s long-standing collaboration with director David Cronenberg has produced the scores to 10 films, including The Brood (1979), Scanners (1980), Videodrome (1983), The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988), Naked Lunch (1990), M. Butterfly (1993), Crash (1996), eXistenZ (1999) and Spider (2002).
Shores upcoming projects include another collaboration with Peter Jackson on King Kong and with Martin Scorsese on The Aviator.
Howard Shore was formally educated at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. He recorded with the group Lighthouse from 1969 to 1972 and was one of the original creators and Music Director of Saturday Night Live from 1975 to 1980.
Shore has been honored with two Los Angeles Film Critics Awards, three BAFTA nominations in Great Britain. He has also received a Gotham Award in New York, the Saturn Award for Science Fiction and a Genie Award in Canada, and three World Soundtrack Awards in Belgium. In May 2000, Shore was honored during a week-long retrospective of his work presented by the University of Ghent in Belgium. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art held a retrospective of his film music in December 2002.
Shores music has also been performed live in concerts throughout world. Most recently, Shore performed his Oscar- and Grammy-winning score The Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship of the Ring with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, his first UK concert performance, at the Royal Festival Hall. Other concerts include the Seville Film Music Festival in Seville, Spain; Cinesonics 1st International Conference on Film Scores and Sound Design in Melbourne, Australia; and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada. In November 2000, Shore conducted the world premiere Concert to Projection of his original score to David Cronenbergs Naked Lunch. The performance was part of the Belfast Festival at Queens, in Belfast, Ireland, and featured Ornette Coleman and the Ulster Orchestra. Naked Lunch Concert to Projection was performed in March 2001 at the Barbican Centre in London as part of the Barbican performance series Only Connect: A Series of Extraordinary Live Events. As part of a David Cronenberg film retrospective in June 2003, music from The Brood, and world premiere of music from Spider was performed in Mexico City.
Shore conducted the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in the debut of his symphony, The Lord of the Rings: A Symphony in Six Movements, at the films November 2003 Wellington, New Zealand, premiere. In the months that follow, he will be conducting the Symphony in the United States, Europe and Australia.
In addition to his film score work, Shores chamber music has been featured on Arabesque Records “Reel Life – The Private Music of Film Composers Vol. 1.”
JIM RYGIEL (VISUAL EFFECTS SUPERVISOR)
In 1980, after earning his M.F.A. degree from Otis Parsons School of Design, Rygiel joined Pacific Electric Pictures, one of the earliest companies to employ computer animation for the advertising and film markets. In 1983, Rygiel’s work took him to Digital Productions where he began work on The Last Starfighter, a film notable for its pioneering use of digital imaging in place of models. While at Digital Productions, Rygiel’s commercial work was nominated for numerous awards, winning a prestigious CLIO award for the introduction of the Sony Walkman. From 1987 to 1989, Rygiel supervised numerous projects while at visual effects companies Pacific Data Images (PDI) and Metrolight. In 1989 Rygiel was asked to form and head a computer animation department at Boss Film Studios. This department of one grew to over 75 animators and 100 support staff within a few short years, winning several awards, including a CLIO Award for the Geo Prism automobile commercial. While at Boss, Rygiel supervised many feature films, both as Digital Effects Supervisor and Visual Effects Supervisor. His credits there include Starship Troopers, Species, Outbreak, Air Force One, The Scout, The Last Action Hero, Cliffhanger, Batman Returns, Alien³, and Ghost. In 1997, Rygiel went on to supervise The Parent Trap, Star Trek: Insurrection, Anna and the King, and 102 Dalmatians.
In 2002, Rygiel received an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and the American Film Institute’s first AFI Digital Effects Artist of the Year award for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. He has received numerous nominations and awards for his supervision of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, including another Academy Award and BAFTA nomination.
ALAN LEE (CONCEPTUAL DESIGNER/ SET DECORATOR)
Alan Lee, who is responsible for the fifty watercolor illustrations in the centenary editions of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkiens Ring and The Hobbit, provided conceptual sketches for the design of The Lord of the Rings.
Lee has long had a preoccupation with the Celtic and Norse myths which influenced Tolkien. His other illustrations include such fantasy works as Faeries (with Brian Froud), The Mabinogion, Castles, The Mirrorstone, The Moons Revenge, Merlin Dreams, Black Ships Before Troy and The Wanderings of Odysseus. Lee has received several prestigious awards including the Kate Greenway Medal for Black Ships Before Troy. Most recently, Lee garnered the Best Artist Award at the World Fantasy Awards of 1998.
Lee began work in the film industry as a conceptual designer on the film Legend. Other credits for Lee include the feature film Erik the Viking and the acclaimed television miniseries Merlin.
JOHN HOWE (CONCEPTUAL DESIGNER)
John Howe is best known throughout the world for his contributions to a wide range of Tolkien projects such as calendars, posters, and jacket illustrations – and he brings his passion for Tolkiens work to conceptual drawings for The Lord of the Rings.
Howe has worked quite extensively for the European film industry, illustrating Bande Dessinee comics and numerous books, primarily fantasy, historical, and childrens titles. He decorated the reception of the renowned Maison dAilleurs, the Museum of Science Fiction in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, and has personal exhibitions on show throughout Europe for the past twenty years. He has also produced backgrounds for animated television.
Born in Vancouver, John Howe eventually fled the family farm for the big city, but ended up a year later studying illustration in France. Upon graduating, he worked in a variety of media, from magazines to comics, animated film to historical and childrens books, as a writer, illustrator and photographer. While Tolkien-related work admittedly comprises a large part of his work, Howe works for a variety of fantasy and science fiction publishers, as well as continuing to write and illustrate books. His recent work includes the illustrations for the best-selling The Lord of the Rings board game.
DAN HENNAH (SUPERVISING ART DIRECTOR)
Prior to working with director Peter Jackson on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Dan Hennah was the art director for Jacksons The Frighteners. Other feature film credits as art director include Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, White Water Summer and Savage Islands; as supervising art director on The Rescue; as production designer on Mesmerised and as dressing prop on Mutiny on the Bounty. He was recently honored with Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
As a production designer for television, Hennahs credits include the Cloud 9 television series The Tribe, Twist in the Tale, William Tell and Treasure Island. Further television credits find Hennah as associate designer on 99-1, art director on Heart of the High Country and production designer on the movie-of-the-week Adrift. Born in Hastings, New Zealand, Hennah went on to study architecture at the Wellington Polytechnic School of Architecture. Hennahs first position in the film industry was as a production assistant on the film Prisoner.
PETER OWEN (MAKE-UP AND HAIR DESIGN)
Over three decades ago Peter Owen started work at Bristol Old Vic while a student of Modern Languages at Bristol University. After working in theatre, television and opera all over Europe, Owen began work as a film make-up and hair designer on The Draughtsmans Contract. His other early films include Prick Up you Ears and Dangerous Liaisons.
Owen won an Academy Award for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. His more recent feature credits include Little Women, Age of Innocence, Oscar & Lucinda, Bird Cage, Beloved, Portrait of a Lady, Onegin and Tim Burtons Sleepy Hollow for which he received the 1st Annual Hollywood Guild of Makeup Artists & Hairstylists- Best Character Makeup, 2000.
Owens company with Peter King, Owen & King, counts as regular clients Meryl Streep, Michelle Pfeiffer, John Malkovich, Bruce Willis, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, Robert DeNiro, Helen Hunt and Ralph Fiennes, among others.
PETER KING (MAKE-UP AND HAIR DESIGN)
After training and working as a hairdresser, King joined Bristol Old Vic and worked on his first film The Draughtsmans Contract. Thereafter King worked with Peter Owen on numerous opera, theater, and film production until they formed their own company. His early work as a designer includes The Blackheath Poisonings, Secret Weapon, Princess Caraboo, Fairytale-A True Story and Batman IV. More recently he has worked on Avengers and Little Voice and received BAFTA nominations for the films Velvet Goldmine, An Ideal Husband and Quills. For his work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King was nominated for both The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which he won, and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
As a company, Owen & King have as regular clients Meryl Streep, Michelle Pfeiffer, John Malkovich, Bruce Willis, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, Robert De Niro, Helen Hunt and Ralph Fiennes, among others.Posted in Old Special Reports on November 20, 2003 by xoanon