ORC: Friday Photos
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Celebriel provides a late-night overview of some of the many highlights of the Friday main session and events at ORC:

The first panel featured supporting stars Jarl and Jorn Benzon, Sandro Kopp, and Peter Tait. In response to fan questions, they discussed fellow cast members they most enjoyed working with, including Christopher Lee (“just to be on the same stage with him is amazing”), Viggo Mortensen (“he’s a fantastic artist, diverse in creativity, inspiring…and he is beautiful as well!”), Elijah Wood (Peter Tait said Elijah was so nice he restored his faith in Americans), and Ian McKellan.

They confirmed that the night shooting at Helm’s Deep was indeed grueling, but felt that it was the Helm’s Deep experience that really generated the sense of camaraderie that carried the cast and crew through the rest of the production. They were also amazed by the dedicated Helm’s Deep extras, who “worked in their offices during the day and came to work in Helm’s Deep at night.”

Fan favorite Bruce Hopkins discussed how his role as King Theoden’s sidekick evolved, saying he wished he had been part of the film from the beginning. He explained that because the Pelennor Field scenes had already been filmed when he became involved, the film never makes clear Gamling’s fate. Bruce had not had a great deal of experience riding horses, so he really appreciated being filmed on the “phony pony,” a WETA-created model horse that could exactly mimic the movements and gaits of real horses. When this model broke, they went back to a lower tech one on springs.

On a more serious note, Bruce talked about his involvement with Winnie Jackson, a Los Angeles County Probation Officer, and Operation Read Lord of the Rings, saying Ms. Jackson was a real inspiration to him because of her efforts to improve literacy, and improve the lives of children and the community by having them read Lord of the Rings. Ms. Jackson and some of her students joined Bruce on stage. Her passion for Lord of the Rings and for her community was evident as she shared stories of how LOTR had made a difference in people’s lives – because they related to the characters, they were able to make positive changes in their own lives.

Peter Jackson sent a video message from New Zealand, saying he was unfortunately too involved wrestling with a big gorilla to come to the convention. He said he spent the holidays hoping that New Line would call about making The Hobbit, but it didn’t happen. “Let’s get this made,” he commented. Peter also invited all of his ex-cast members to help him out with his current film by coming to New Zealand to be squashed by King Kong.

Dominic Monaghan came to ORC directly from an American Film Institute luncheon, and remarked that this year’s film award season seemed empty without a Lord of the Rings entry. Questions for Dom addressed his work in both “The Lord of the Rings” and “Lost,” and he fielded them thoughtfully and graciously. Dom had many good stories about location shooting in New Zealand, from how impressive Edoras was as the cast watched the sun rise over it to helicopter escapades with the pilots who took them up to Mt. Cook. Dom also talked about his friendship with Billy Boyd, his own love of comedy and practical jokes, his first reading of Lord of the Rings at age 15, his new car, and the best bars in Wellington.

Dominic also provided a natural segue to the panel on “Ringers: Lord of the Fans,” as he is the film’s narrator. Producer/writer Cliff Broadway, Director/writer Carlene Cordova, and Executive Producer Tom Desanto joined Dom is sharing their excitement for the film, which they finished editing earlier this week, and which premieres January 21 at the Slamdance Festival in Park City, Utah. Their 150 hours of film have been edited down to 96 minutes covering each decade in the 50 years since The Fellowship of the Ring was published with a look at topics ranging from spirituality to rock ‘n’ roll. The team is currently negotiating for a distributor for national theatrical release.

The last official event of the day was the 50th Anniversary Celebration, where Cliff Broadway led Ringers in a toast to Professor Tolkien, and mass quantities of ice cream, cake, and chocolate were consumed in honor of the occasion. Fans provided the first part of the entertainment as well, including The Blues Hobbits and their “One Ring Blues,” Hip Hob and their breakdancing hobbit routine, The Littlest Orc with “My Eye,” a parody of the classic tune “My Guy,” and the beautiful and talented Julia McGree.

The big surprise of the evening was the arrival of Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd to introduce World Without Sundays, who really got everyone moving. ORC Karaoke was the last act, kicked off by the TORn staff and friends, including Bruce Hopkins, singing the Bohemian Rhapsody.

Friday set the stage for an even busier day on Saturday, featuring Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, the costume contest and masquerade, and The One Ring Awards Celebration with entertainment by Emerald Rose. Watch this space for additional ORC updates.