Tyler & Bloom at the ROTK Premiere Parade in Wellington
Out of all the people I talked with throughout the course of this 9-5.30pm interview day, this pair that had the most distance and attitude. It’s understandable in both cases, as Liv grown up with attention which has gone into overdrive since her modest role as Arwen, and been a since well before the film; while Orlando’s star continues to rise with his burgeoning pin-up hunk status as he goes from film to film. It also proved a little off putting after the amazing accessibility of people such as Viggo and Peter Jackson.
There’s was also an odd coupling in the minds of many reporters, as they were the two most sought after interview subjects for the women’s mags (maybe it’s because of this very reason).
To be quite honest, their closeness seemed to be very much like an actual couple – Liv’s married so we’ll put it down to genuine familiarity but there was a lot of touching each other, sitting very close, picking lint of each other’s clothes and finishing each other’s sentences. Due to the rising star frenzy, I chose to minimalise my involvement to allow the other journos who obviously desperately needed these interviews or their job would be on the line.
I must also admit to being a little star-struck at a couple of moments, especially by Liv. She really is gorgeous, without being too ridiculous (that’s intended as a compliment Liv, if you happen to read this!), very tall (appearing to be six foot) and with flawless, glowing skin.
Let me paint the picture a little. Liv spoke with her sing-song, almost Melanie Griffith like voice and Orlando was constantly very laddish. Both were dressed casually but to impress, with Orlando in particular, wearing sunglasses, draped in all manner of bandannas and looking a little disinterested or possibly ADD, looking off in all directions and generally being anywhere BUT the room when not being spoken to directly. This happened frequently, since many of the questions were aimed exclusively at one over the other, hence there would be chunks of time were the other wasn’t involved at all.
Liv seemed very uncomfortable and undisguisedly unimpressed whenever any of the many inappropriate, personal questions were levelled at her. Try to put yourself in her place for a moment: she’s asked all manner of invasions of privacy and frankly disgusting shock jock questions regarding sex and her openness to sexual proclivity. How would you react? It may seem amusing the first few times but, after a while, these slips in protocol and general ethics become tiresome and embarrassing; even to us onlooking journalists.
My group were fine in general, but I did happen to have to follow them down a corridor a little earlier in the day when they’d come out of a particularly brutal session and overheard them groaning over the thought of another interview especially like the last one.
So here we go
Liv: “Look at all of you! We’ve just come back from lunch. Is this for radio?”
Some of it. If you could just hang on while our radio colleagues finish checking their tapes
Orlando: “And time’s up!”
[Lizzie, Triple M]: Liv, do you believe in love at first sight?
Liv: “Yes. Um, I’ve fallen in love at first sight before [looking directly at me and yes fellas, as innocent as it was, I did get a little heart flutter]. But I think it can’t just be a physical attraction. Two people have to be able to feel comfortable with each other to really be together. I hear that not all the time thing about people first meeting and saying, [whispers] that’s the man I’m going to marry!”
Orlando: “That’s such a chick thing. I never go, [whispers] that’s the chick I’m going to marry!’ [everyone laughs].”
Liv: “Maybe you don’t!”
Orlando: “We’re always worrying if we’ll get to take them home!”
[Lizzie, Triple M]: Is that what happened to you Liv, when you met Royston?
Liv: “I don’t know if it happened that fast [laughs]!”
Do you see a similarity with your relationship directly between working with Beresford, Jackson and the differences between their styles?
Liv: “I was 16 when I made that [laughs]. I can’t hardly remember it, never mind reflect on it! I was more worried about what I was doing.
“I find it so hard to compare directors because they’re absolutely unique, all of them, in their own way. That’s what makes their directing style so beautiful. You’re really watching their vision. I never am able to compare directors or favour them or say that they have similar styles.”
What’s it been like working with Peter over these years?
Orlando: “Obviously he was such a geezer. He was the coolest customer and kept the ball rolling at all times at such a graceful pace. Often it would feel like we were trying to wrangle a wild horse or something. He always just kept moving along, getting it done and scenes kept getting completed. It’s quite a miracle really, looking back over the last three years, or three films anyway having just seen the last one now. It’s unbelievable that he achieved that. The dedication, concentration and group effort needed to do that is just an incredible thing.
“You can only really comprehend it in some ways, if you work in the film business and if you worked on a film set. I didn’t really understand it because it was my first film experience and it’s only subsequently, because I’ve worked on other movies, that I’m like, ‘how the hell did he manage to do that?’ It really is a miracle.”
[Me] Has working on the films ‘ruined’ you for other movies [Orlando unfortunately gets the wrong end of my stick, so to speak]?
Orlando: “Not so much ruined it as just brought it to the boil.”
[Female NZ reporter]: So how does it compare moving to Pirates Of The Caribbean and Troy?
Orlando: “That was a trip. But it was a different trip. They were all incredibly different experiences. I feel very lucky to have had the launching pad that The Lord Of The Rings gave me, to be able to work as an actor the way I have.”
[Female reporter]: Did you ever imagine your career would take off the way it did?
Orlando: “Never, never, never, never. I could never imagine that. I had those dreams were I’d wish for the opportunity to show the world what could do because that’s what it is. It’s all about having the opportunity, being given the opportunity to play a character and really do something with it.”
[Male NZ reporter]: How is the surfing going?
Orlando: “Excellent. I love to do it every chance I get. I just invested in a longboard and a new pair of shorts. It’s great. I love it.”
[Male reporter]: At what stage are you with Troy?
Orlando: “Done. All done now. It should be out in May they’re turning it around quickly.”
[Male reporter]: I asked Elijah they same question about how different you feel to the same person I interviewed here two years ago. There’s quite an obvious change in both of you.
Orlando: “Ummm. If my first film had been some goofy, fun little romantic comedy or something, it would’ve totally changed the shape of my career. The Lord Of The Rings was such a classy, highly recognised, remarkable piece of filmmaking that, just to be attached to it in any way, shape or form, gives you a cut above. It raises the bar and is different to any other film. It’s like winning the world cup. If you’ve won it once, you’re always the country that has won the world cup. It doesn’t matter what you do, from here on in, everyone will know you for that. It’s the greatest thing about having been a part of it as my first experience on a film. It’s put me into a different category and gave me a whole set of skills I don’t know any other film could have given me.”
[Male NZ reporter]: Do you think it’s opened doors that you wouldn’t have normally had access to?
Orlando: “Certainly. I’ve been given a chance to work on films where I haven’t been jaded. I’ve worked on really amazing projects, but I’ve also been given a chance to grow with them and into them. I’ve learned from such amazing people.
“I just worked with Johnny Depp and Heath Ledger and Viggo and Brad Pitt. I’ve pretty much covered the leading man demographic [everyone laughs]!”
Liv: “You’re on a roll!”
Orlando: “And they’re so gracious and humble and real. There’s no ego or whipper snapper thing. There’s no keeping the boy down. It’s all about growth and that’s what’s remarkable. And it’s the same as it was working on Rings.”
[Me] What about you Liv?
Liv: “I’d forgotten I was here for second [everyone laughs].”
[Me] You really stretched yourself for this part, even though your screen time is limited, the character’s effect is felt on all the storylines. Could you talk a little about that, how to play an elf of great age and grace, including the decision to lower your voice? And is it true you were instrumental in bringing Arwen back closer to the way she was written?
Liv: “That was kind of a process that happened with everyone. The initial character of Arwen I was watching the DVD and Peter said something about something that didn’t happen and I felt quite sad about but it was kinda interesting.
“It was that Arwen was incorporating into these screenplays as a selling point to the studios, to show them the vastness of this world and the relationships. It was an adventure, and it was action and also a love story! So initially you’ve got these two people that are in love, but in this dreamy, classic way -but yet they’re never together! They’re on the opposite side of the world from each other, Tolkien hardly writes about them [rolls her eyes]. It’s just not much of an issue.
“How do we make that happen? Well, we’re going to incorporate her more into the story, she’s going to fight with him and do this and that. And it didn’t work. And it didn’t work for me which is really interesting, because I think they were right in casting me as Arwen but not that Arwen.
“So that was a struggle for all of us, because it wasn’t working for me and it wasn’t working for them, so I didn’t know what to do. And it was really tough. And when we were finally able to admit that it wasn’t working and that we had to figure out what we needed to do to bring her back closer to who she was in the books, that was when the whole world opened up for me.
“I found it really liberating and exciting. I felt this incredible sense of being given a second chance; because I’d already been through months of getting to know everybody, training and being in the world of working on the movie but I hadn’t really worked yet. So I suddenly leapt forward into something that was really great and so, what you’ve seen character-wise, were just things that we came up with during the shooting of it.
“I think my voice probably changed anyway, because I’m a bit older now but we realised that [does the voice, to all our amazement] if I spoke in a much deeper register that she suddenly sounded ageless. As opposed to when I speak in my normal voice, you can tell I’m young because I’m like [a caricature of her own voice on helium], ‘hi, how are you!’ Suddenly, as soon as you put some depth to her voice, the picture changes so much.”
Orlando: “Yeah, the ushers have to clean more seats [laughs].”
Were you worried you’d be hanging around for a long time with nothing to do or training endlessly for nothing?
Liv: “Sure. That’s what I was doing! I was here for three months doing training.”
Orlando: “She did very good actually. She was a bit intimidating [laughs].”
Liv: “I would go on to Sword Trainer Bob Anderson and train with 20 stunt doubles y’know, huge, big men. And we were choreographing entire fight scenes for Arwen where I slaughtered 20 Uruk Hai at one time! But we never shot them.
“And it was actually really scary for me. I wasn’t naturally comfortable with all that. I found it very If I was approaching the part now, after learning everything and it was more physical, I would approach it very differently. But at the time, I was just panicked. I didn’t feel comfortable. There was a scene we shot at Helm’s Deep where I was on a horse with Theodon and Aragorn, and we’re being attacked by Uruk Hai. I was supposed to be hacking at them while we were on the horses and they’re stuntmen! So you can’t hurt them! And I was expected to look as tough as the guys coz it was wideshot and it was impossible really. Because “
Orlando does impressions of some very girly sword hits for laughs.
Liv: “Not that I’m not strong but I’m not as strong as Viggo or Bernard are! It just didn’t work. The balance of it just did not feel right.”
Orlando: “You had to get it to pull up to what you needed.”
[Male Reporter] Do you ever worry about being typecast as Arwen and are you ever besieged by Arwen freaks?
Liv: “I think they definitely exist and it can go the other way too. But Arwen and Legolas are in the world of Tolkien and that may exist forever but honestly, I really don’t have a problem with that. I find it touching and great, and I remember being a kid and thinking about Princess Leia and I won’t ever think of Carrie Fisher as anyone else. It’s not that I don’t respect her and her work,” she giggles, “I like it. But I will always remember her that way and I think that’s okay. I personally don’t feel defensive about anything like that. I love the fact the children like us now. It’s so incredible, y’know, these little kids who think of me as a princess.”
Orlando: “They’re really thinking, what bastard. Why can’t I have his life [laughs]. Now watch Liv confirm that.”
[Second male Reporter] Does the constant public recognition bug you?
Orlando: “The funny thing is, it’s all really state of mind. If I want it to be a problem, then it’s a problem. If I don’t then it’s not a problem. I just go about my business and occasionally if someone stops me, I just say hi, sign an autograph or pose for a photo, then move on with my day. It’s when you’re in an arena like this in Wellington right now [a day before the World Premiere, where 100,000 people all surprisingly polite and friendly, in my experience anyway amassed to get a glimpse at their favourite stars and wish them well] where people are expecting to see you. When we go down the red carpet, people will be expecting to see us and it’ll be an absolute frenzy. But then, you have gals and guys and families who’ve been waiting since goodness knows what time in the morning to see everybody. And so when they get to see us, that’s what they’re living through. It’s important to stop and try to see it through their eyes. I’m more aware than anything that maybe I get overwhelmed by the idea of celebrity or fame or whatever that is. But it’s all a state of mind. If I can keep my head together, it’ll be fine. It’s only a problem in my head.”
[Lizzie, Triple M]: Have you had psycho fans?
Orlando: “I think thankfully I haven’t had many psycho fans. I seem to have a pretty nice group of people as my fans, I must say.”
[Woman’s Day reporter] Did you expect an elf to turn into a sex symbol?
Orlando: “No I didn’t. You don’t You know what it is? I think Legolas is a really safe place for a young girl of 13 or 14 to pin their hopes on. He’s kind of pretty asexual as an elf, you know what I mean? He’s a warrior type and kinda handsome but he’s not sexually threatening or trying it on. He’s just this blond dude who’s doing his thing [Liv laughs throughout]. S**t gets taken care of when he’s around and he’s got nice hair. They can brush it and stuff. What can I tell you? I’m a male equivalent of a Barbie doll!”
Was it difficult to have to spend so much time with the project?
Liv: “It’s been tough and not tough at all. In a realistic way, imagine if you had to up and move to the other side of the world and commit yourself to working there, back and forth, for four years of your life. It’s hard. Definitely hard, no matter what. But what’s come along with that has just been incredible.
Orlando: “The positives outweigh any negatives.”
Liv: “We’ve made these movies, made beautiful friendships there are so many incredible people happening to live in New Zealand and to get to learn about the culture here wow. There’s definitely a balance for everything but we’ve done so much work that’s being responded to in a really nice way that they’ll live forever. We can kind of walk away feeling really proud of them.”
Orlando: “I sort of feel as though I grew up in New Zealand. I feel like I came here at an age where I could now really find myself. I was suddenly in New Zealand in this incredible landscape and “
Liv: “He was a young cocky Englishman that came to New Zealand – and they showed him the real world [laughs]!”
Orlando: “Summed up in a line. That’s my whole life in a line. I set ’em up and she knocks ’em down!”
[Female reporter] Before you go, did you go to Margaret Emma [? Evidently a body shop] while you were here?
Liv: “The second I got off the plane! And I went and had the most incredible facial.”
Thanks and credit must be extend the other journalists who shared these round-tables with me. Each of us had to share the talent time with others. I’ve endeavoured to credit the journalist when their names and publications where mentioned; unfortunately this stopped early on in the proceedings.