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An Evening with Peter Jackson Reports

March 12, 2005 at 5:34 pm by xoanon  - 

Aussie and Maria Layne were two of the very lucky folks to spend an ‘evening with Peter Jackson’ last night in Sydney. Peter was very candid about his work on LOTR..and more importantly…he showed a BLOOPER REEL!!! Take a look!

Aussie writes: I’ve just come back from a night with Peter Jackson in the State theatre in Sydney. Since people on the message board were bugging for a repot I thought I’d write one up.

The three leveled elaborately carved ancient theatre was absolutely packed with very excited people. Just when the looping footage on the big screen, of Frodo falling over, got at its most tedious we were welcomed by the boss of the powerhouse museum. Then the host, David Stratton from “at the movies” arrived. He told us he hoped today would reveal something new about the lotr since “you all know everything about the lord of the rings films don’t you?” >>insert laugh track<<

We were then treated to the lotr supertrailer which, being my third viewing was quite tiresome but exciting enough knowing what was to come.

Then Peter himself entered to much applause, wearing a dorky but very cool late 80’s shirt, commenting that the 6 minute supertrailer was much easier to get through than the films themselves. The audience reacted uproariously which pretty much set up the tone for the night.

Peter talked of his early days with bad taste. And boy could he talk. The whole night took about two hours including about 15 minutes of footage.

He left school at 16 since he found it pointless to stay what with his filmmaking aspirations and made bad taste over 2 years on sundays.

The conversation then turned to the famous story of how the film started. Peter mentioned that it seemed fate had a huge part. Most of the story wasn’t anything new to people who have watched the dvd’s and read about it. He talked of his original call to Harvey Weinstein. He mentioned to Harvey that Saul Zaentz had the rights. Harvey was excited at this as he had saved Saul Zaentz’s production of “the english patient”. Saul Zaentz owed harvey a favour, and so he gave the rights away where previous directors had failed (george lucas…thank god). It was great as Peter didn’t have to try not to offend New line and was able to impersonate Harvey and reveal his anger at the films.

He recounted the feeling of dread when production was pulled and ten million dollars had already been spent, and miniatures made. The rest of course is movie history.

Now to the bloopers. We’ve been told about them for years and I finally got to see them. They revealed a very rude but funny aspect to the filming. Peter apologized about the excess use of f*** but said they decided not to bleep it because it was funnier. Most of it was Viggo and Bernard with quite a bit of Dominic and Billy making dirty jokes or gestures and crawling into bed together. There was also lots of disturbing footage of Liv Tyler acting all prancy and annoyed at her hair going in her face and some seemingly abandoned footage of her in front of a greenscreen acting like a wraith of some sorts and making scary facial expressions. There was an edited sequence of Aragorn shooting down Sauron with a machine gun and footage of the snow machine going haywire and spurting snow all over the surrounding city area.

Peter put together the clips in his spare time and they are all he has of any bloopers since newline has taken all the footage to the U.S.

Apparently there were many more bloopers and other reels but they never had time!! Silly supertrailer!

Anyway what else? He has lost ALOT of weight wow. He never mentioned Kongisking or theonering unfortunately.

My dream never came true as he didn’t announce there was a special key under one person’s seat and they would go to new zealand to the set of King Kong. Oh well.

Anyway sorry i have to go now. thanks for reading, I hope this gave an idea of the night.

———-

Maria Layne writes: At the State Theatre in Sydney, at “An evening with Peter Jackson” He showed some of the bloopers from the Set.

Here are some of them:

Merry is in bed at the Golden Hall, and has this HUGE erection under the blanket – about two feet long. He says “I was just having this dream about Gimli” and then Pippin said something like “can I help?” or “Can I look” – people were laughing too much around me to hear properly. Anyway, Pippin lifts up the sheets and slides in beside Merry, and Merry turns over and cuddles him, then waves to the camera and says “nighty night”, then rolls half onto Pippin and waves the cameras away.

In another one, Dom and Billy were in their trailer, half-turned away from the camera, and were comparing their sizes. “Mine’s longer than yours” “Mine’s a bit thicker” etc. Then they pretend to see the camera for the first time and pull up their pants, saying that they were just practising for a scene, and Dom throws a sheet over a blow-up doll…

In another one, at the coronation scene, Gandalf has a blonde curly wig (very tall, like a wizard’s hat) with little flowers on it and says, “Now is the time of the Queen.”

In another one, Sir Ian parts the front his Gandalf the grey robes and has only tighty whities under them – and proceeds to do a little dance.

David Wenham does this thing when standing next to Eowyn at the coronation, behind her back, where he grins at the camera and points at Eowyn in a lacivious way, as if to say “guess what I’m getting later” then, when she looks at him, he is all innocence again, just applauding Aragorn like in the film.

They showed Orlando Bloom, over and over and over again, NOT being able to shoot the arrows – they fell down, they got caught in his hair, in his cloak, in his fingers, in his quiver – they even came out back to front, and he put them into the bow feathers first… I was crying with laughter.

They showed Viggo making faces a lot, and fooling around with Bernard Hill. there were lots of mistakes made by actors where they said “F##k” and a version of the “Green Dragon” drinking song which was just the word “c##t” over and over for several lines…

Sean Bean wasn’t in the bloopers, but he was mentioned.

Gandalf was speaking to Faramir, and said “Well Boromir… (then he realised he had said the wrong name)… is dead. Your brother is dead. This is the third film, and you just have to accept it, I’m sorry.”

Aragorn was on horseback in the middle of the riders of Rohan, answering his cell phone…

There were more, including two versions of Aragorn talking to Theoden in the Golden Hall about how they will make tens of thousands of plastic toys from scans of Theoden’s skell – which has already been seen on the internet.

———-

Lynette

“Aussie:, who wrote a review on PJ’s Sydney interview, seems a bit hard to please. He may have seen the 6 minute preview before but the rest of us hadn’t and it reminded us all of how powerful the films are when shown on the big screen. He also forgot to mention Peter and Fran Walsh’s integrity when presented with an ultimation from Mirimax that they make the book into one film or else it would be handed over to another director and writer, all ready waiting in the wings. They took a long walk together and decided that despite the huge amount of time and money that had poured into the project up to that time, and despite the damage that withdrawing from it could do to their careers, they could not be involved. As PJ himself put it, people who loved the book would flock to the film because of its title and go away very disappointed, and he and Fran simply could not be a part of that. He took a terrible risk. Thank heaven (and New Line) it paid off.

Also not mentioned in other reviews were:

* Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli riding up to Fanghorn Forest and Aragorn saying, “Fangorn Forest. Now what they f**k are they doing in there?”

* Faramir politely applauding Aragorn’s coronation and clearly mouthing at the camera “This is b*llsh*t” before continuing politely applauding again, then turning to Eowyn with a lascivious wink and a nod and then assuming a polite expression as he continued clapping.

* Bernard Hill making a stirring speech and then happily skipping away.

* Pippin and Merry giving mouth-to-mouth to a dismembered orc head.

* Four uruk-hai crowding their faces into a camera and singing “You make me feel like a natural woman”.

———-

Sven

Sydneysiders were privileged to be the first to see excerpts from Peter Jackson’s private Gag & Blooper reel cut while editing The Lord of the Rings. While all the shot footage of Lord of the Ring has been turned over to New Line and stored in their vaults, Peter Jackson cut himself a private DVD of some gags and bloopers of the cast and crew.

Sydney’s ornate State Theatre was a venue of a rare one-off “An Evening with Peter Jackson” on March 12. About 2,000 people from all age-groups paid $65.00 to see David Stratton interview the director. Exactly why he took time out, with just three weeks of principal photography left on King Kong, to fly across the Tasman Sea, was never explained.

Peter Jackson looked exhausted, although a little better than the shocking Day 100 Production Diary from KongisKing.Net that had fans worried.

The event began with a plug for Powerhouse Museum by its director, followed by David Stratton (from the Movie Show) introducing the Trilogy Trailer, and then Peter Jackson himself, who walked out casually attired.

The questions weren’t particularly inspired, and despite being advertised as an interview about the making of Lord of the Rings, didn’t actually get to that topic. Most of the time was spent on Peter Jackson’s previous films and the fascinating story of securing the rights leading up to the famous “But isn’t it three books” by Bob Shay.

The highlight of the evening was the clips of gags and bloopers. Some of the best were:

  • Orlando Bloom as Legolas at Helms Deep counting “Twenty-Seven!” while fumbling with an arrow, loading it the wrong way, dropping it, etc.
  • Peter Jackson getting his finger stuck in the clapper board and Bernard Hill, as Theoden, having to do the clapping himself.
  • Viggo Mortensen, on horseback, in full Aragorn costume, with the Gondorian soldiers behind him, while talking on a mobile phone.
  • Gandalf announcing “Now come the days of the Queen” while sporting a gigantic beehive hairpiece adorned with flowers.
  • While Pippin sneaks off at Edoras to look at the Palanatir, Merry shows off his huge erection. Pippin forgets about the Palantir and hops into bed with Merry.
  • Dom and Billy caught in the trailer comparing the size of their manhoods, while an inflatable doll lies on the bed.
  • Lots of swearing by the cast as they forget their lines or mince their words.
  • Gimli tripping over a couple of times while wearing his overlong chainmail at Helms Deep.
  • Arwen tripping on her gown while ascending stairs at Rivendell.
  • Christopher Lee reciting the Australian Lords Prayer – circa 1930s.
  • Ian McKellan commenting on some of the less prose-like dialogue in the script, particular the rallying calls to the Gondorian soldiers at Minas Tirith. Some of his comments were inaudible due to loud audience laughter from the previous gag.
  • Peter Jackson complaining on a cold, snowy day at Deep Park Heights, that the crew couldn’t their new snow machine off, and that the Police were going to come soon and tell them to turn it off, but the off button was jammed.
  • An Orcs Quartet at Cirith Ungol singing “You make me feel like a natural woman”.
  • A cameraman imitating a point-of-view Jaws scene and soundtrack in the pool outside the entrance to Moria.
  • Billy Boyd running into the camera in the Minas Tirith citadel.
  • Aragorn opening a can of softdrink at Dunharrow.
  • Frodo donning a pair of dark sunglasses around Ithilien.
  • Sam tripping backwards when Frodo tells him to “go home”, and dislodging a polystyrene part of the cliff.
  • Aragorn knocking over one of the hobbits – I think Pippin.
  • As Aragorn is lifting the Hobbits over rough terrain approaching Lothlorien, he’s saying things like “Get your arse up here”.
  • Faramir mouthing “This is bullshit” during Aragorn’s coronation speech and indicating his pleasure in Eowyn with an exaggerated wink.
  • Ian McKellen showing off what’s under his robe as Gandalf the Grey.
  • Bernard Hill skipping away daintily after delivering a powerful war speech.
  • Bernard Hill and Viggo at Dunharrow – during the 6,000 spears conversation, Viggo moves away so that King Theoden is left talking to himself.
  • While Merry and Pippin dance on the table at Edoras, Pippin sings out “C***” as a substitute for his lyrics.
  • Frodo’s horse goes backwards when the four Hobbits are returning to the Shire at the end of The Return of the King.
  • A crew member non-chalantly carrying a dead horse with spears in it.
  • Andrew Lesnie hamming it up with a Peter Jackson puppet.
  • Peter Jackson as Gothmog having no control over his steed, which starts to move backwards.
  • Pippin struggling to pull out his sword and getting it stuck in his cape.
  • Pippin running down the wrong lanes in Minas Tirith.
  • Sam struggling to control his daughter in his very last scene – who starts crying.
  • Aragorn taunting King Theoden about the toys that will made from his likeness.
  • Frodo getting unstuck in Shelob’s web.
  • Christopher Lee experiencing déjà vu (remembering Peter Cushing) while impaled on the wheel at Isengard.
  • Perhaps the funniest – While fighting Sauron outside the Black Gate, Aragorn whips out an Uzi and starting firing while shouting out “And that’s for Frodo” and “That’s for Sam” as Sauron collapses. This got the biggest applause.

Due to a lack of time, some of the bloopers & gags were not seen.

What wasn’t said

There were no hints about what’s going to be included on any future DVD HD box sets of Lord of the Rings, or what’s distinct about Peter Jackson’s particular version of King Kong, or whether the succesful 35 minute pitch video that Peter Jackson prepared with Fran on the 18 months of pre-preproduction up to August 1997 will ever be put on a DVD.

Securing the rights

There were many highly improbable events detailed in the 30-minute recount of securing the rights and, as interviewer David Stratton suggested, it’s almost movie-worthy in its own right.

Weta had acquired its first computer at the time of Heavenly Creatures. By the time they finished The Frighteners, they had 30 computers. Peter Jackson wondered what a fantasy movie would be like using CG. He and Fran tossed around ideas using Lord of the Rings as a reference, but never at first, actually contemplating the Lord of Rings as it was “too big”. But gradually they asked their agent to make some tentative enquires as to who had the rights.

The agent discovered it was Saul Zaentz who was notoriously reluctant about giving them away. However, due to Saul Zaentz-produced The English Patient, which was funded by Harvey Weinstein (working for Miramax which was owned by Disney). As Harvey funding the English Patient when its original funding was cancelled, Saul Zaentz (Producer) owed Harvey a favour, and Harvey called in this favour to get Peter Jackson the rights, after the plug was pulled for King Kong (because Godzilla and Mighty Joe Young had both underperformed). Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh developed the scripts for two films, one ending at Helms Deep, effectively condensing the first two books into one film. They were budgeted at about $140 million each. However, Harvey could only greenlight films of $75 million and suggested they do it as one film. He said, in a meeting in New York in July 1997, they even had a scriptwriter and director standing by if Peter didn’t want to do it. (Peter suggested this could have been a bluff).

Peter told Harvey, rightly, that all the fans would be disappointed with a 2-hour condensed version. Peter Jackson has a document that has never been seen by the public – the 3 page outline prepared by Harvey’s people, condensing the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy down to 2 hours – Moria was to deleted altogether and only referred to in conversation, while Theoden and Denothor were going to be merged as one character, just as Rohan and Gondor were to merged as one realm.

At this stage, pre-production on the two movie version was well advanced, with Weta, John Howe and Alan Lee. The Helm’s Deep and Rivendell miniatures (bigatures) had been done as well as various maquettes.

Peter and Fran told Harvey they would think about it, then flew back to New Zealand, and immediately by chopper to a remote location for Fran’s birthday. Peter called his agent to tell him to tell Harvey they would NOT be doing it.

However, unknown to them, Peter’s agent used initiative and secured Peter 4 weeks to pitch it the two-movie version elsewhere, so that another studio could repay Harvey the $10 million they’d already spent on it.

Given the 4 week deadline, Peter and Fran set to work immediately preparing a 35 minute making of documentary, interviewing themselves, Alan Lee, and showing lit models of some of the miniatures. They then lined up just two meetings, with Polygram and New Line – all other studios turned them down without even granting a meeting or seeing the video.

Polygram, who being a British company, were interested, but as they were being sold in the next 5-6 months, could not commit to something so expensive in the few weeks remaining to close this deal.

The second and final meeting, their last chance, to pitch the idea was with New Line. Peter Jackson, disarmingly jovial, but obviously shrewd underneath, was playing poker with them, cancelling on the meeting several times, pretending he was “hot property”. The “mercurial” Bob Shay saw the video, and the rest is history.

———-

Kiwisue

Just wanted to add my bit to the reviews of ‘An Evening With Peter Jackson’, which I saw along with the exhibition the day before (my cup runneth over!)

Peter recounted how at a horribly tense meeting with Harvey Weinstein (during which time the 2 film version was already well underway), he tried to make Fran and Pete agree to doing LOTR as one film (“not a Gone with the Wind or a Lawrence of Arabia-type epic – he was talking a 2 hour film.”) When they asked how could they possibly write such a script, Harvey produced a 3 page ‘I-had-one-prepared-earlier’ type outline. It was of course a ridiculously condensed version of the books which P & F knew anyone who had EVER read the books would HATE. It included such travesties as…ignoring the Mines of Moria altogther (it had Frodo merely emerging from the gates and saying something like ‘wasn’t that exciting then?’/ Gondor and Rohan being lumped into one people/ Denethor and Theodon being amalgamated into one character (!!) Harvey also told them he had lined up an alternative writer and director willing to do the one film, should they refuse.

When first on stage and facing a hushed expectant crowd of 2000 – all focused on him under a bright spotlight – Peter said that during the 6 minute trailer he had managed to forget everything he knew about LOTR!

The bloopers (which were from Peter’s personal DVD collection – the sound wasn’t great) conveyed the renowned spirit on the set. Stand out for me was David Wenhamn – hysterical in the coronation scene, applauding and smiling politely and mouthing “this is BULLSH*T!” before ogling Eowyn in a most unstewardly manner! Sir Ian was gorgeous as the Queen. With all the gravity of the occasion he lifts the crown he’s about to set on Aragorn’s head to reveal his own bouffant blonde wig. His mincing-in-underwear scene was a fave too. Go Ian!

Peter no longer ‘looks’ like Peter – he was so much thinner, no glasses, shorter hair and beard. But the voice and lovely manner was still Pete’s (and I should confess my bias here of being a Kiwi!) Walking to the train station afterwards, I noticed a small crowd gathered and realised it was the back entrance to the theatre – Peter was there signing autographs for people.

Posted in Old Special Reports on March 12, 2005 by

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