By Mike Houlahan, of NZPA

Wellington: The hobbits Frodo and Sam share a special bond in J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings , and the actors who play the roles in Peter Jackson’s movie version of the story say they now feel a similar connection.

Elijah Wood (Frodo) and Sean Astin (Sam) spent every day together for two years as they played their parts in telling the story in the trilogy, the final part of which has its world premiere in Wellington today.

Their close bond comes from the fact that, as in the books, they split early from the Fellowship of the Ring. Just as Frodo, Sam and their untrustworthy guide Gollum made their own way to Mordor, Wood, Astin and Andy Serkis (Gollum) spent months together shooting their own scenes.

“Sean was amazing. It was like having another brother,” Wood said.

“A lot of what you see on screen is the reality of our relationship. We relied on each other just as Frodo and Sam relied on each other, so bringing that to the screen was effortless.”

Despite the closeness of the characters, the friends are placed under more pressure than ever before as their nightmare walk to Mordor unfolds in Return Of The King .

“There’s a real threat to their relationship in this film and ultimately they come through the experience better friends than they have ever been,” Wood said.

“I think in this film you realise Frodo couldn’t have done it without Sam, and he knows that.”

One of the most emotional moments in the film comes when Sam – realising he cannot bear the burden of the ring – says if he is unable do that he can at least carry the ring-bearer.

“You can’t look around and see the calibre of work being created by everybody and then you be the weak link,” Astin said.

“You’ve got Frodo cradled in your arms and you’re not going to go there [emotionally]? Sure, you’re going to go there. Peter sets this emotional crossbar . . . You keep at it until you find a level of emotional honesty and truth that resonates.”

The scene immediately after is one Woods recalled as one of the most powerful in the films.

“Sam holds Frodo in his arms recalling the Shire, trying to make light of the situation . . . there’s the sense Frodo is dying and these two hobbits . . . can barely carry on. It was a very sad sequence to film and very challenging.

“For Sean and I, I think that was the most important scene in terms of our characters’ journey. I remember we were all crying. Peter was crying.”