There’s one thing I really have to say before I start my report on day 2 of RingCon (which, for good order, was saturday) and that’s concerning the actors present. None of them had a lot of screentime in The Fellowship of the Ring, nor will get a lot in The Two Towers (Brad Dourif being the exception here), and someone like Cameron Rhodes had only been on set for 1 day to shoot his scene so naturally they didn’t have as much stories and insight on the project as some of the ‘bigger’ actors would have had. And before and after the cancellation of John Rhys-Davies (he had an accident as you might know) the people behind RingCon had a really hard time getting the big names to come to attend (eventually they all for some reason decided not to come, which was a shame), and so for those who were looking only at the guest list RingCon might have looked a bit ‘poor’. However what these guys didn’t have ‘story-wise’ or ‘fame-wise’ they more then made up with their never ceasing enthousiasm and ‘down to earth’-ness. Even though they were hailed as stars and for the fans were probably no less then an Orlando Bloom or a Billy Boyd they were also normal people like all of us; they would walk around the convention or stand in the lobby of the hotel talking to the fans and if they were on stage it was probably very overwhelming to see the attention they got. This, for me, made this convention such great fun. There was no ‘stardom’, no big heads there was just this fun and relaxed atmosphere of Tolkien-fans amongst each other.
Okay, on with day 2. Those of you who have attended conventions like these before will know that the saturdays are always the longest days, and that certainly was the case with RingCon (and not only because breakfast was only being served before 10am). Saturday featured the combined panel of Sarah McLeod and Cameron Rhodes, the panel with Craig Parker, autograph sessions with all the actors, an auction, a costume contest and to round it all off a panel with Brad Dourif!
After I did some more wandering around the convention center I ended up in the Games Workshop room where Craig Parker again was taking some time out to sign books, talk with the hordes of fans and get his picture taking, all the while with a huge smile on his face. Orlando Bloom would probably have been jealous because of all the attention Craig got…
After having a drink with some of the nice people from the official fanclub message boards we decided to check out the auction. Mark Ferguson yesterday told us he would auction two of the bodywarmers that were especially made for the cast and crew when they were half way through principal photography (I tried to talk Mark into trading them with me for a TheOneRing.net cap but I was too late). We arrived just in time to see them go for 2.000 euro each (a euro is worth about a dollar)! They auctioned some more things such as a topps card of Pippin signed by Billy Boyd, a copy of the One Ring worn by Sauron during the opening ceremony and various merchandise-items. All of the money they gathered went to a good cause (I believe it was SOS Childern-villages), and they got quite a lot!
After the auction we went back to the main convention room (Valinor) where it was time for a panel with Cameron Rhodes (Farmer Maggot) and Sarah McLeod (Rosie Cotton). It started of with a clip from the serie ‘Black Knight’ in which Cameron played a significant part. And because Sarah got lost somewhere in Bonn he began all alone. He told the crowd that originally there would be no farmer Maggot in the movies and that he got a phonecall about six months after filming asking if he wanted to play a Hobbit during some pickup shots. At first it would only be some exposure scenes but they told him he might get some lines and if he would he would get payed more. ‘After which’, he said, ‘I was hoping for a lot of lines, hahaha’. Then a few days before he was due to be on set he got sent a script with one line which was Farmer Maggots. He then explained that Farmer Maggots scene was important because it was the first moment of fear in the movie. After that Sarah McLeod appeared on stage and they continued to talk about what kind of movies they like, whether or not they were allowed to take any props from the set home.
A great moment was when they quipped the question if they also got tattoo’s after filming with: ‘yeah I got a huge maggot tattooed on my entire body’ and Sarah admitted she had a rose tattooed somewhere but she wasn’t going to say where. All of the questions about what is was like working with the other cast such as sir Ian McKellen and the four Hobbits were answered with only good words and Cameron Rhodes pulled of a nice John Rhys-Davies imitation to illustrate why he wouldn’t be able to play the part of Gimli.
Then the conversation went on about the internet and how they used it to prepare for their parts or just google for their own name and see what would come up. Cameron Rhodes he a nice story about how he read about FIGWIT on a message board somewhere and left a message saying FIGWIT was Brett McKenzie (sorry if I misspelled that) and Sarah McLeod was telling about how one site (and I think that was us) had her noted down as the lead singer of some band for quite a while, which of course wasn’t true.
She also told some more about the use of forced perspective in her scenes and what is was like seeing every single setpiece in three different sizes, and she told explained that the first scene she shot was the one of the extended dvd in which we see Merry and Pippin dancing and singing in the Green Dragon. And with that they concluded their panel, clearing the stage for..
Craig Parker! Craig Parker’s panel was also one of the amusing highlights of this weekend, and he was constantly interacting with the public and making jokes about Dwarves (Gimli’s words in Elvish in the extended cut probably weren’t translated because they would get rated xxxx according to Craig), how he looked like a Drag Queen, how hard it was to walk and act as an Elf and that, during, breaks he couldn’t go out and play because he was allowed to get dirty and that he had to stand on a box all the time because he wasn’t as tall as all of the other Elves in the movie (Craig is about 5’11’)
But he also said some interestingthings. He started of by introducing himself and telling he was in the first and the second film but unfortunately didn’t make it to the third because he got killed, something he wasn’t able to talk about a lot because ‘there might be New Line spies present’. He talked about how hard it was to learn Elvish and how PJ probably has backmail material for every castmember on his blooper-reel (which I would really like to see, any chance of putting it on a dvd sometime PJ?).
As it turns out Craig got called in a very early stage of production and he came to the studios with a few people to do the voices for the animatics which are on the dvd as well. This was a job Cameron Rhodes did though he came in when they were doing the voices for the three-script animatics and Craig also did the voices for the two-script version of The Lord of the Rings. After that he called casting director Liz Mullane and said he would be prepared to do anything on set, even sweeping floors and making coffee, and ended up getting the part of Haldir.
He talked for a good while about the rumors that there would be Elves at Helsm Deep, which he defended as a good change by Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens because it gives the audience a better insight in the decay and death of the Elves, and also because ‘Elves fight cool’. After that he went on about the difficulties of all the make-up, how he had a constant rash of getting shaved twice a day and he had a nice story about how Lawrence Makoare (Lurtz) came in at 8pm one night to get his phrostetics glued on and he was still in his chair at noon the next day getting parts of his make-up attached. Another funny moment was when he answered the question how he prepared for his role with: ‘I moved to a forest and ate Lembas for a few months.’ All together this was a great panel, and Craig did a great job entertaining the fans, answering all their questions, accepting all their presents and generally having a good time.
After the panel all the actors gathered in a great conference room for the first autograph session, and looking at the line I think it kept them busy for quite a while (Cameron Rhodes commented he had never seen so many pictures of his own face before). I strolled around the hotel looking for the promised internet-facilities but they were nowhere to be found so I killed some time before it was time for the costume contest. Highlight of this contest was the moment when Mark Ferguson (Gil-Galad) acted out an alternative version of the Aragorn and Arwen scene with one of the participants which made him slightly biased when it came to judging everyone else that entered. In the end though the first prize went to two Orcs that had an amusing scene in which one of them burst out in the song of Gil-Galad, great stuff.
And then the stage was cleared again for Brad Dourif’s second panel. This time the convention room was a bit emptier for some reason, but a very good panel. Brad Dourif talked extensively about his parts in ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’, ‘Alien’ and ‘Chucky’ and he explained that he wa pretty much a whore when it came to acting: ‘if there is a camera, a paycheck, a few lines to say and no good reason NOT to be there I’m there!’
He talked for a while about The Two Towers which he found overwhelming and gorgeous and he mentioned that in The Two Towers the accent was more on the character-development. He was full of praise for Bernard Hill who in his opinion gave an ‘extraordinary’ performance and who ‘nailed’ a scene with his son (Theodred) which was probably the best acted scene in the entire second movie. It was at this point when Brad’s agent appeared on stage probably correcting him because he went on with ‘I’m sorry I’m not allowed to say any more about that.’
He continued to talk about how great is was to work with Ian McKellen (who corrected his accent quite a lot), and that on set the cast was pretty much divided into the ‘old’ actors and the ‘young’ ones, telling about how when the Hobbits were in their trailers there would suddenly be loud rap-music and Ian McKellen would turn up apologising for the behaviour of the Hobbits, a very enjoyable story. When he was asked if it was hard to film the scene we saw in the trailer of Wormtongue being thrown down the stairs of Edoras he replied: ‘There is no way in hell anyone is throwing me down any stairs’ and he explained a stuntman did that and that he couldn’t imagine someone doing that for fun. He also said that he had to run down a hill in his dress (that’s the way he called Grima’s costume) which frightened him more then enough.
One of the best parts of the panel was when he was describing what it was like to work on the exterior set of Edoras. He told the crowd that he would get up at 3:30am, spend two hours in a van being brought to the set over bumpy dirtroads but that when they arrived on the location of the set it was so beautiful ‘it couldn’t have looked more like Middl-earth’ with these gorgeous snowcapped mountains, scenic view of the plains. He also thought that what we’ll get to see of the Edoras-set on the big screen won’t even come close to what it was like working there and that he very impressed and considered himself ‘extremely lucky’ to be working on that set. You could really see the influence this set must have had on him and it was great hearing him talk about it so passionately.
And after that the panel ended and with that day 2 of RingCon came to an end (once again I say program-wise because they had this piano-bar in the hotel and there was a huge Middle-earth party with live music during which Master of Ceremonies Marc Lee and Cameron Rhodes seemed to have a great time, but I won’t bother you with those stories; you had to be there!) As always look for great pictures of the second day at Irascian’s report which can be read and seen here! And look for my report on day 3 of RingCon which will feature a great Cameron Rhodes-panel, more Craig Parker and Mark Ferguson madness and the closing ceremony sometime tonight!