Another BIG thank you to Cyloran for this!
Good Morning America: Let me talk to you. If you don’t know by now that the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is taking theaters by storm, well, my friends, you need to get out a little more. The third and final installment of the Rings trilogy just opened yesterday but is already being talked about as a front runner for a Best Picture Oscar. With us today, the film’s right-hand hobbit, Sean Astin.
Sean Astin: (laughing) I hadn’t heard that one before.
GMA: (laughing) I’m sure you haven’t. Well, not today, anyway.
SA: No, no! I have never heard right-hand hobbit. That’s a good thing.
GMA: Thank you very much. I’ve got to tell you, your character, you are SO loyal, you are so self-less, you will do anything for Frodo. Excuse me, Mister Frodo.
SA: Mister Frodo, or Master Frodo as is written in the books a lot.
GMA: I heard it wasn’t a deviation for you from your character because the way people talk about you is very similar to how they talk about Sam.
SA: Well, that’s flattering. I mean, one of the things that I love about the character is that he’s an emblem for decency and goodness and determination and faithfulness, and I think if I was judged by the best parts of my life, then yeah, I’m exactly like Sam. If I was judged by the kind of all of my life, maybe not so –
GMA: Fair enough, fair enough! But I mean, you grew up, I mean, we all know that your parents, Patty Duke, John Astin, that are fabulous actors.
SA: Thank you.
GMA: They did a wonderful job, despite being in that atmosphere of keeping you grounded.
SA: Well, you know, I’m very grateful to my parents. I’m extraordinarily grateful because, when I grew up, even though people think that I sort of had a Hollywood upbringing, it didn’t feel like that as a kid. My Mom was always more interested in our little league and our normal life.
GMA: (as a picture of a young Patty Duke is shown) I’m sure your Mom appreciates that this is the shot that we show of her.
SA: She still looks like that, interesting enough. Mom, if you’re watching Good Morning America, I love you.
(from off camera audience, the sound of AWWWWwwwwww)
SA: (joining in,. bashfully) Awwwwwwww.
GMA: Awwww. See? You are just like Sam! You are.
SA: My dad’s probably teaching at Johns Hopkins right now. He’s a drama professor, so, and he always stressed the importance of education.
(GMA shows a publicity still of John Astin as Gomez)
SA: He looks very serious there.
GMA: It’s what they did. They did not let you be affected by that. It’s very difficult to take any clip from the movie. I mean, you just try and choose one but its so difficult to do, but I want to let everybody know what we’re talking about. Let’s see Sam in action.
(show Frodo, Sam, Gollum clip)
GMA: How do you prepare for a role like that, and the length of time. Was it like four or five years?
SA: Yeah, well, 18 months for principal photography and then going back and doing additional photography each year. You know, we just immersed ourselves in the world and the world of sort of Tolkien culture, and we had six weeks to prepare with the director to talk about it, and we worked with dialect coaches and there was a sword master and we learned how to sword fight, and there was a dialect coach so we could get the dialect. There was a lot of intense preparation that went into making the movies.
GMA: There is something about these movies, and the Golden Globe nominations came out.
GMA: Yup. The movie just received four . . . this just in!
SA: (laughing) Uht-Oh.
GMA: It was nominated for Best Picture.
SA: Was it? That’s great.
GMA: So what is it about it that the public just can’t get enough of?
SA: Well, I think two things, really. One, Tolkien was an incredible student of human nature and I think he infused into his life work, these books, lots of incredible observations about what it is that we think and feel, especially people in positions of leadership and in positions of power, and there’s poetry and a lot of other things that really connect with people on an emotional level. And then for the movies, they were made with passion. With an extraordinary love and passion and I think when people sit and experience the movies, they can feel that kind of intensity that the film makes put into it.
GMA: But the passion’s not only felt here in the States. New Zealand, of course where you filmed these . . . did you know you’re money? Did you know?
SA: (laughing as she hands him a NZ minted coin with the One Ring on the back) That a little hush money there?
GMA: (laughing) No.
SA: The Royal Mint came out and actually told us that they sort of forged these coins. This one actually has the Ring on it and Queen Elizabeth, but there are other ones with Frodo and Sam and –
GMA: So what coin are you?
SA: It’s a 50 cent piece, because we’re halflings.
GMA: (laughing) No, stop!
SA: 50 cents. Like that?
GMA: I set you up for that one.
SA: Yeah, you did. I feel like Gulliver. I said, no, really, if you, if I leave New Zealand and I go to Hong Kong or something and I go to the Exchange, can I actually turn this in and they’ll give me other money for it. And they said, yeah, you’re actually legal . . . so I feel like Gulliver.
GMA: And finally, since we’ve had some of your other costars here like Liv Tyler and Elijah Wood, okay, the tattoo.
SA: The tattoo.
GMA: The you guys all got.
SA: Yeah, people are so intrigued by the idea that we did this. It’s just a little elf number nine, it looks like Hebrew or Arabic.
GMA: Where’s yours?
SA: Mine is on my ankle. Hurt like a bear. My daughter was holding my hand the whole time and was like, “Daddy, if it hurts too much you can just crawl under the table with me.”
GMA: And your daughter’s in this movie!
SA: (beaming) Yes, she is. Yeah.
GMA: She is? A little cameo?
SA: She has a little moment at the end. She plays the hobbit Elanor, yeah.
GMA: The tradition continues.
SA: It does. (grinning) Hopefully.
GMA: Sean Astin, terrific!
SA: Thank you.
GMA: Continued success.
SA: Here, I’m going to pay you back. (hands her the NZ coin).
GMA: (laughing) What a guy! Thanks. Come back any time!
SA: Thank you.