Eowyn and Frodo writes: Here is our fan report from our meeting with Sean Astin. We hope you enjoy it and we definitely hope you post it so that all of the fans get to know what he said at the Q & A.
Return of the King showing followed by Q&A with Sean Astin
On Monday January 5th Emilia (aka Eowyn) and Rebekah (aka Frodo) woke up and started frenetically running around town getting together costumes, wigs, ears, elven-brooches, a couple of “The one Rings” (apparently there is more than one!) on chains. and special hand made buttons. What was the occasion? We were meeting Sean Astin!! THE Sean Astin. (You know, the one who played Sam in The Lord of the Rings. HeeHee.) And we were going to ask him up to 12 chosen questions and get autographs. We had originally planned to be at the theater at 4:00AM, (in the morning!) for the showing at 7:00PM, but soon realized that people winning tickets from a Mozart radio station probably weren’t going to be the kind of geeks that we are, so we therefore arrived in style (see pictures), at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood as prepostureously late as 4:00PM.
Our friend, Suzanne, who was also in line with us at the Vista for ROTK, had crafted picture buttons (The ones you pin on your jacket) for Sean that we were extatic about giving to him. One was a picture of Sam holding his daughter and it read; “My dad is hobbit forming”. Another was a picture of P.J. reading: “Peter Jackson for best director 2003”. All in all there were 9 of them, and we couldn’t wait to see his reaction when he received our little presents.
Being first inside we chose seats in the first row, right in front of THE chair with THE microphone and we proceeded to watch ROTK looking straight up, and feeling that Gollum was occasionally just a wee bit too close. Of course Ewoyn (Emilia) forgot that wearing eye make-up while watching one of the greatest tear jerkers ever made was a bad idea, and by the time Sean arrived she looked a bit like she had lived under the misty mountains for hundreds of years, without looking in a mirror, Sean didn’t seem to mind. We were the only ones in the theater dressed up in costumes, and when he made a reference to “The fans” he pointed to us. By this time Eowyn (Emilia) was crying even more, and when the microphoned ended up beneath her chin she was unable to speak and Frodo (Rebekah) had to ask the first question.
The following questions from the audience and Sean’s answers are paraphrased, as we were not able to record the discussion (but our pens were on fire).
Question number 1: “If you, as an actor, could play any character from any story, who would it be?”
S.A.: They’re remaking a movie about Jesus Christ right now, and that would be fun. I would love to play Alexander the Great, or any big Shakespearian part – anything with big ideas, but they never call me for those kind of parts. Also Snoopy. I played him in High School.
Question 2: “What was the most challenging thing about making the films (LOTR), for you?”
S.A.: Putting on the pounds. I had just finished a marathon and having a baby, and was in the greatest shape of my life. Having to get heavy and carry all that weight around for so long was personally and psychologically very hard. Another thing was mental stamina, staying focused and keeping it fresh. As much as I love Lord of the Rings, there were times when I simply wanted to get away. I love talking about myself, my colleges, and movies, and I found myself getting sick of talking. One thing I did to counteract that, was to read books about other things.
Question 3: “Which was your favorite movie, of the three?”
S.A.: I’ve been looking at it as one big movie. It’s an impossible choice, but if I absolutely had to chose, it would be ROTK. I love the scenes on the slopes of Mt. Doom, and the climax satisfaction. From the Fellowship of the Ring I love the Cave Troll sequence, and the boat scene with Frodo at the end. In The Two Towers my favorite part is the battle scene at Helms Deep. The part that made me cry when I read the books was when the people of Gondor kneeled for the hobbits.
Question 4: This was a woman basically criticizing the development of all the characters and saying that Aragorn didn’t seem like a king, and that many of the characters didn’t have enough screen time, and Sean answered her with such eloquence and dignity.
S.A.: I think you’ll really look forward to the Extended Edition of ROTK. Basically Peter Jackson had to get it done by the Christmas dead-line, and there was a lot of stress. Every actor each has dozens of scenes – that they were desperate to keep in the film – that were cut out. For example there’s a great scene with Merry swearing his alligance to King Theoden, and scene with me and Gollum that I really liked. As far as Aragorn goes, Viggo chose to play him with such pathos and sensitivity. Viggo was incredibly committed, speaking to the writers, and trying to keep more stuff in. He was possibly even more committed than Andy Serkis, and Andy was the most commited of all. However the movie didn’t give justice to Viggo’s full performance. He was in G.I. Jane as the Master Chief and he has that strength. You wouldn’t want to be in a fight with Viggo.
Question 5: “What do you think is the films relevance to present time?”
S.A.: It’s like Aragorn’s speech at the end of ROTK. “It’s not the time for one man, but the time for all men to come together in peace.” I personally think that this is a very dangerous time on the planet. Peter (Jackson) describes it (in the films) as the elves giving up on men. We (humans on the earth) can’t stop fighting and killing each other, and ruining the environment. The films could represent a last warning. The movies’ relevance is also about friendship. Gimli makes this racial comment, that he never thought he’d die next to an elf, and Legolas says “What about dying next to a friend?” I watch “Friends” (the T.V. Series) and people love to see people being friends and making fun of each other and making up and having fun.
Question 6: “What, about Sam, would you like the audience to leave with?”
S.A.: I came in and stood at the side of the theater about fifteen minutes before the movie ended and was almost glad hearing all the sniffles. I haven’t seen the movie in quite a while and remembered again what an emotional experience it is. The relief of pain and loss, the emotional release. I want people to remember how that felt, I want people to remember that feeling within themselves. Also, Sam is such a spectacular character. He is an emblem of goodness, decency, bravery, honesty, and faithfulness. I use him as a litmus test for my own life, with my friends and family.
Question 7: “What was the hardest scene to film?”
S.A.: There were many different kinds of hard. Physically hardest was the tops of mountains. It took a helicopter to get up there, it was the most extreme. I would bring a lighter and a knife, just in case, because you don’t know. It was like “Surviver” meets Middle-Earth. The Council of Elrond was really grueling story wise. It took over a week to film because there were fifteen to twenty characters coming together, and each actor had to do his lines hundreds of times. There were so many difficulties with scale issues because there were hobbits and dwarves and men and elves all in the same place.
Question 8: “To what would you contribute the success of the movies?”
S.A.: The books, and how Tolkien captures human truths. The passion and dedication the films were made with and the fact that they were made for the fans. The kind of love that were put into this project, The audience ends up feeling it.
Question 9: “Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?”
S.A.: Of course. My father always said that he never wanted to regret anything, but for me there are thousands of things. About 90% of the experience I end up not enjoying because I’m always worried about the outcome or doing it wrong. What I would do differently If I could do it all over again is that I would let go of the mental anguish, be more zen and live in the moment.
Question 10: We don’t remember how the question what phrased, but it was about Sean’s voice over work with the ROTK – the video game and “Kingdom Hearts” video games.
S.A.: I’m a gamer. I love games. I play real time strategy games on my computer. I loved giving the performance of Sam for the game. To not have given the same commitment for the game as I did for the movies would have felt like a sell out, a compromise of integrity, because I know kids are going to be playing this, so I gave it 100%. I also hope it’s (the game) a gateway into literature for kids. As for kingdom hearts, I did that to fill in for the actor who couldn’t make it, so I don’t know if I’ll do that one again.
Question 11: Another woman complained, saying: “wouldn’t it be better to make movies about peace instead of war?” Again, Sean was graceful and eloquent in responding and didn’t take it a least bit personal.
S.A.: I understand, my wife loves to go to movies with no conflict. The only way to get my daughter to go to a movie is by telling her there won’t be any fighting. I personally love to explore conflict, It’s the most interesting part about drama. (He started going off on a tangent at this point – about directing) As a director I would love to explore luscious cinematography. For example, “Sea Biscuit” and “Cold Mountain”. I love the cinematography in those movies. I have a friend who is a rowing champion, and I would love to catch that on film.(From the perspective of a cinematographer.)
He also talked about wanting to continue directing and getting into it in a big way. The head of a studio had come to him and said that they wanted him to direct a major movie for them, and he told us that his thought was: “What, are you trying to make me cry?”. (In case someone felt like misunderstanding that, he was very excited about the idea, not sad)
After the Q & A, Sean stayed about a half hour signing autographs, taking pictures, and talking to the fans. First we got into the crowd and got two things signed for two of our friends, then we waited. When there were only a couple people left we went back up to him to give him some gifts. (Remember the buttons?) He thought they were really cool, and when we pulled out the button with the picture of him and his daughter, he paused. The “Sean on display”- personality left for a moment and you could tell he was really touched. His body guard started pushing the fact that he needed to leave, but Sean turned to us, said thank you, and gave us each a big hug.(Let me make that clear. HE gave US a hug.) And Eowyn (Emilia) started crying. Again. And Sean got whisked away – out the door by the big guy, and all we were left with was an empty theater.