This is the second in my much-delayed series of features on the Lord of the Rings stars who attended the Best of Both Worlds convention in Canberra (Australia) in late September. Enjoy, and don’t forget that Dominic Monaghan has been announced as the first guest for the next BoBW (event 21) in March 2004.

An Interview with Sarah McLeod

Butterflies are an odd thing to symbolise one’s time working on a film. Yet, for Sarah McLeod, (who played Rose Cotton) that’s the overwhelming image she’s taken away from the set.

“The butterflies symbolised the filming of the Lord of the Rings for me,” she says.

The joy of it?

“Just the … realness of it. And the ease of being a hobbit when you are dressed in your costume and you’ve got your wig on. And your feet and your ears.

“Suddenly there’s this transformation when you walk out onto a location where there’s the grass and the vegetables and the flowers and the trees and the butterflies and the bumblebees. And it’s like: suddenly I am no longer wearing a costume, no longer do I have plastic feet and ears – I am Rosie.”

But it wasn’t a transformation that was the result of the make-up process.

“No [I didn’t feel it] as I was being made up. But as soon as I walked on set then I’d just feel that warmth.”

Sarah knew Peter Jackson even before the Lord of the Rings project came into being, working with him on the mockumentary classic Forgotten Silver that details the life of “lost” New Zealand filmaker Colin McKenzie.

She says that Jackson’s style then was very similar to her experience working with him on Lord of the Rings.

“He didn’t have a lot to say but he knew what it was that he wanted – and he completely surrounded himself with people who were passionate about what they were doing,” she says.

“Because Forgotten Silver wasn’t made with a lot of money. So there were a lot of people on there who just a great time and felt really strongly about the project and just put everything into it.”

“[And] I think that what you come to realise is that [for] everyone involved in Lord of the Rings – it’s not about ego. It’s a really sharing supportive caring environment. And it might really sound over the top about how we feel so passionate about the project and love it so much. But I just think that’s what makes it so good.”

I wonder at the amazing spirit that permeates the entire cast and crew.

“I think that it was a really, really good project and I think it was one which just stirred the hearts of a lot of people,” she says.

“And I think it was a cumulative effect. I think it was the fact that Peter was so passionate about it and he surrounded himself with a team of people who were passionate about it.

“He employed actors that weren’t about all about ego and felt good about the project and enjoyed every day they were on [set]. So that everyone who came in was fully incorporated within the project. You weren’t made to feel left out; you were made to feel really part of it.”

And if there’s one thing that draws Sarah to a project, it’s passionate, enthusiastic people.

“I am about passion. And the thing that I would like to share with people is that it’s really important to have something that you’re passionate about in your life. And follow it.”

What’s important to me is working with people that I like. And working with people who are passionate about what they’re doing,” she says, discussing what her dream film role would be.

“So I kinda figured that what my dream role would be is to be on a project that has a director who has vision, and a passion for the project. And working with a bunch of really good actors and good crew who are enjoying what they’re doing as well.”

“And, actually, when I thought about all that I thought: ‘Actually, that’s what Lord of the Rings was.'”

Accent coaching was just one example of the huge behind-the-scenes effort for the film.

“They had it well set up. We had the dialogue coach. I had the tape that I listened to over and over again. I had pieces of paper that specified certain ways of saying the particular accent. The phonics and things like that. So I didn’t find it too difficult.”

“And it was because the support was ongoing. Before you had to shoot a scene you had the opportunity to sit down with Roisin and say your lines.

“But it’s a skill – it’s a skill you can learn. Because I’ve never been a great one for copying accents, but I am getting better at it.”

She has read Lord of the Rings, but didn’t begin reading Fellowship of the Ring until after she was cast as Rose.

“I hadn’t read it before I got cast as Rosie Cotton, but I have read it since. I loved the books. I think it’s different when you read a book when you’ve already seen the film, because it puts different images in your mind.”

“I just appreciated them for being fantastic journeys – that whole situation you get put in where it’s so vivid and has so much description and it just takes you on a journey. So that’s what I appreciated from reading them. Being taken on a journey.”

She didn’t film a lot for the Return of the King, but she is willing to say that there was more than one scene filmed – and she did take part in pickups for about a week earlier this year.

“Which is not to say that there’ll be more than one in the final edit,” she points out.

Sarah McLeod can currently be seen in Skin and Bone, which is based on a famous New Zealand play called Foreskin’s Lament and has been produced to coincide with the Rugby World Cup. It went to air recently in New Zealand – you can read about it here.