The Oct/Nov issue of ‘Pavement’ has quite simply one of the best interviews I’ve seen with a Lord of the Rings cast member, in this case Sean Astin. This magazine is available in Australia and New Zealand; it’ll be a few days before I know whether we have permission to scan the whole thing.
Meanwhile, here are some of Sean Astin’s thoughts on his role, on acting, and on his experience with the Rings project.
“As I was reading the books, I was reading them with an eye towards Sam, but he’s just got such a warm, honest, pure good-hearted essence. And that’s his position in the film and in the book. It’s to be a kind of barometer against which all of the adventure and evil is measured. Sam has an unfaltering moral compass. He always knows who he is. As all the different characters, with all their different complexities, change and evolve and grow or fail, Sam just is….good. He has a level of experience at the end of the trilogy that he didn’t have at the beginning that informs his goodness. It makes his goodness that much more admirable. It’s easy to be naive and innocent and good but it’s another thing to have been embattled and, despite all of the trials and tribulations of an epic adventure, to remain good of heart.”
Astin also notes that ‘a movie and its characters don’t have to be pure or improving but should contain some grain of truth….something contained within the film and the roles should be worth saying.’
He talks a little about how his career developed. The son of acting parents, he’s acted since he was a child; he also writes scripts and has directed very successfully too. The interview gives a sense of how Astin weaves every part of his life together, family, work, education:
“Trying to suspend family life while I worked would mean I ended up never living at all.” So his family’s been living with him in NZ.
Astin says he was first drawn to the Rings project by his respect for Peter Jackson; he’d not read the books. However, with a degree in History and English, it’s not surprising that his response to the books has been very insightful. His belief in Peter Jackson has been justified, and he comments ‘that Jackson did more than choose a cast that would do justice to the books, he chose a group of people that would mesh well.’
Despite spending at least 72 hours a week in each other’s company, amongst the cast he finds ‘there’s a level of fun, a level of joculariity, among people whose work is so respectable you want to put your dinner jacket on and be on your best behaviour.’ Onset this familiarity might erupt into sudden snowball-fights; offset the four hobbits have followed up a commitment to all learn to surf while in NZ!