Miranda Otto Q&A Transcript:
Hello, hey, wow, what a lot of people. [about the tall chair] Most uncomfortable. [looks at the audience] I can see someone in one of my costumes [laughter and cheers]
Q: Comparing the book Eowyn & Aragorn relationship against the movie, wa there more of a love story?
Certainly my imagination went a long long way, we strung it out. I’d imagine in my head that we’d take it a long way, we’d rewrite Tolkien! [audience laughs] We wanted to string it out a little bit more and that was fuuuun. Viggo wanted to make it clear that Aragorn was in love with Arwen, whether or not she’s there. But it was fun to make you think that maybe, they’d get together.
Q. About the scene in Houses of Healing?
We were trying to keep it going, keep the sexual tension going. Based on the fact that she’s so in love with him. She keeps hoping beyond hope that it will lead to something else.
Q. Eowyn is strong and vulnerable at the same time, had to overcome so much discouragement. Did Miranda have to do the same?
Yeah definitely, you always draw on lots of parts of yourself I think. there are lots of times when you think you might give up. [bit about keeping going] I used to dance when I was younger, I gave up, and then I went back…
Q: The Houses of Healing was missing so much, we felt cheated.
I felt cheated too! One of my favorite sections of the books, very beautiful. But they were really going fast in the film, so much action. Houses of Healing very lyrical section, but in the film, they have to keep the pace up. Um, most of what we shot in is in the extended version. A part where they’re standing at the window and looking out and talking about the rain, I think? The bit with Viggo, where he comes in as Aragorn and does the healing.
Q: Did you enjoy being one of the guys?
Yeah, I did, I used to hang out with the guys and that was fun. I wanted to do more and more fighting, I was sort of badgering them a lot to do as much fighting as possible. We were shooting at all different times and all different places and talking to the them [Peter, Fran, Philippa, etc.] about ideas… The Killing of the Witch King, we re-shot some of that
Q: Were you battling the men in rehearsal?
Not really, no. I had two women, stunt doubles. But the guys took it easy on me.
Q: Compare directors, Stephen Spielberg and Peter Jackson
They’re both great. People who are good at what they do are relaxed and encouraging. They’re both really cuddly kind people.
Q: Directors and actors you’d like to work with?
I’d really like to work with Ang Lee, actually, not just from Brokeback Mountain, I’ve liked him a long time. Paul Thomas Andreson. Stanley Kubrick, — he went died on me! Billy Wilder, I would have really liked to have worked with
Gene Hackman. God there’s lots of women. Joan Allen, I’m really a fan of. Juliette Binoche. Judy Davis, I nearly got to work with her once.
Q: There’s an amazing scene, at Theoden’s bedside, alternately drawn and repulsed by Wormtongue, was it difficult?
That was a scene I really really enjoyed doing. I liked working with Brad, he puts a lot in, he gives you so much. He’s partially seducing her, everyone else is sort of fobbing her off, he’s saying I understand what goes on in your head…. She’s a bit seduced and repulsed at the same time. It’s a really interesting thing to play when you can play two opposing things at once.
That day, we were in a place with a tin roof, there were gale-force winds,, evidently. I didn’t notice. Brad said ‘I couldn’t believe you were still working’ with all the noise of the winds and the airplanes.
Q: The Flight of the Phoenix, what was the most challenging part?
Being in the desert, that’s really hard. It was the second time, I did another film in Namibia once, and it gets really really hot. Very isolated, no services. Walking into the sand dunes every day, a lot of wind, a lot of sand, physically quite demanding. And also being away from family, really a long way away.
Q: What about being the ‘other woman’?
I like to think that she really doesn’t know that much about Arwen and assumes Arwen’s long gone. For me personally, if there’s another woman, back off. She thinks he’s a free man.
Q; Watching Eowyn & Wormtongue, it explains the whole relationship, which was unclear for me in the book, so thank you.
Oh thank you.
Q; Do you think sword training for women was common in Rohan or just for Eowyn?
I thought it was partially unique, with her royal heritage, she was expected to lead. She does say in the film that the women of Rohan had to fight, that they’d be die on the sword so she had to be able to wield one. But she has to lead.
Q. have you seen King Kong yet?
No, I’m desperate to see it. I had a baby recently and I don’t get to the movies very often, but I might see it here.
Q: Challenges and easiest things in movies?
The biggest challenge I think for me was the scale issue, working with the small people, and when you had to work with people who were actually not the actors. And working with ping-pong balls on sticks. When we did a re-shoot with Legolas giving Aragorn the Evenstar back, that was to a ping-pong ball because they weren’t there. But someone told me that was their favorite shot.
The easy – just really believing that you ware a part of that world, because unlike other films, the sets had incredible detail, the costumes, all my shoes were made, all my jewelry was made, that made it easy.
Q. What was your favorite costume?
Hmmmm. The white dress, my favorite, symbolic of her character, simple and beautiful. I loved going to the costume department to get new costumes.
Q. Eowyn is an inspiration, do you see yourself as an inspiration?
The character Eowyn is definitely inspiration for girls, the character not so much of myself. My job was simply to read and interpret that and try to do her as much justice as possible. She’s in some ways a perversion of the classic fairy tale, where the girl sees the knight in armor who saves her. In this book, she has to become her own knight and save herself
Q. In the extended Two Towers, Eowyn feeds Aragorn soup — are you a better cook than Eowyn?
Not much! [audience laughter] I wish. I’m not much of a cook. It’s something that when I’m fifty, I’ll devote some time.
Q. When you took the role, did you realize what you were getting into?
When I took this role I didn’t know much about it at all. I hadn’t read Lord of the Rings, when I was a kid. I read a lot of other things and I’m quite surprised that I didn’t read those. Then, I read the first script, but the script changed so much, it wasn’t until I got there that I realized what a big part it was. It’s a big responsibility, but there were so many people that were trying to make you look right, make you move right….
Q. When Eomer found Eowyn on the field, was that hard to film?
He hugged me so tight, and he was so involved, I didn’t want to interrupt. But I remember that all the armor was sticking into my face, he was holding me so tight, and my own armor was poking into me. I didn’t want to interrupt him, he was so into the moment.
Then after that scene, I had huge bruises, huge black bruises all over my legs form falling over and being hit.
Q. What was your favorite scene?
Gosh, there were so many. Killing the witch king was a lot of fun, though we actually shot it twice. It took me a lot of days to recover from. Probably the most for me was Edoras, it was so beautiful, that exterior, it was like being in a fairy tale.
Q. Tips for aspiring actress?
First of all if you want to be an actress, you have to want it beyond anything, because it’s quite tough and you have to take a lot of rejection. If you want to do *anything else*…
I still really believe in having training, I studied in drama school for three years and it really helped in this film, portray someone who’s from a different time.
You have to be very committed, use your imagination, read lots of books so you can imagine yourself someone else.
Q. What was it like, working with Viggo?
Brilliant, it was like working with Aragorn really. He’s quite an amazing person, a Renaissance man, great painter and photographer and musician. A kind and gentle person, he sees himself the same as everyone else. He’s non-starry, won’t let anyone clean up after him or anything. He was a great example to everyone else.
Q. What was your favorite scene with Bernard Hill?
We had lot of fun together, Bernard and I, good chemistry, we got on really well. I think the scene that we shot on the very last day of shooting, original shoot, not re-shoots. It’s the scene where he’s saying he probably won’t return and she should take over for him. Also his death scene, last day of re-shoots.
Q. Do Ringers still freak you out?
it wasn’t exactly Ringers that creeped me out, what creeped me out was professional autograph hunters. They want you to sign millions and millions of things and then go on ebay. They’re not polite, which is what really got to me. They didn’t know when to leave you alone. But no, you guys are FUN!
Q. How did you kill the witch king?
When you shoot a big piece of action, it’s done in all little bits all little bits he has this mace, iron maiden, what?, [audience” morning-star!] Right. A lot of my time my sword was real, but sometimes when I did the actual stabbing it would be just the handle. Sometimes it would go on for a long time, a minute to two minutes… I had something inside the shield that made it blow up when he hit it.
Q: Were there any scenes shot that you were disappointed were not in the final version?
I’m never really disappointed because I trust the director that if the scene isn’t there, it wasn’t necessary. And people need to go to the toilet, you can’t have it too long or… In the extended dvd, [she was happy to see the part where Eowyn and Theoden talk]. There was originally a scene, a fight scene at the end of the second film, in the Glittering Caves, the orcs came in… I spent a long time on that fight and I was a little disappointed it didn’t make it.
Q: Who was your favorite cast-member?
I mainly worked with Dominic, and he was a lot of fun, always making gags. He and billy were a funny double-act, they had pictures of themselves, dressed up as other people, pictures all over.
Q: Did you like the horses and swords?
Sitting with someone in front of you and riding is a lot harder than riding by yourself. It’s better to have someone really experienced. I started training for the fighting for about three weeks before. During shooting, we would go and train for particular fights. They would have us learn different positions, different ways of using the swords.
Q. There’s been discussion in Tolkien circle, do you think Eowyn was a heroine or deserter?
i always thought of her as a a heroine, I just did. I never thought of her as a deserter. It felt like at times the whole world was going to end. In some way, she was making a mark for herself, there was almost nothing left to save. Almost a death wish, her going off to war. She was symbolic of almost anyone left during a war.
Q. Did you buy your horse?
No, I would have liked to have to have taken my horse home, but it needed someone with experience. He was very expensive, originally bought for Viggo, but he was a gelding and Viggo wanted a stallion. [audience laughs] Someone bought him, and they fed him so well, when they brought him back for the re-shoots, he was about twice the size! He has a very nice life.
Q. In the movie, it’s Eowyn and Merry, as opposed to the book where it’s Dernhelm and Merry
It was interesting cos we decided early on that there was no way on screen that you could really disguise it was me, that Merry didn’t know who it was. I didn’t really think about them so much as being female and male, more both outcast in some way, orphaned, not allowed to join in, belittled. More similar [than romantic].
It was definitely a maternal thing in wanting to look after him. She’s not very maternal in the rest of the movie, she’s not portrayed as a very female character.
Q. How did you prepare for Theodred’s funeral scene?
It was originally not supposed to be singing, more wailing. I had a group of other women and we did it together. It given to me the night before, we had to learn it quickly. When I arrived on set, Peter asked me to kindof chant it instead so we came back. later decided to sing, it was quite hard, i’ve done some singing but it was a strange melody, had to work quite hard to pitch.
Q. You saw the original script – what were the differences between that and the final version?
There was more competition between myself and Arwen. Arwen was at Helm’s Deep at one stage. They were trying to build the character up. There was more comedy, and as they went on, they went more back to the books.
Q. What is your favorite movie?
Mmm, you know, I like Gone With the Wind a lot? I still love watching that, and the Wizard of Oz, and the original Willy Wonka.
Q. Did you wear a wig in the Lord of the Rings?
Almost everyone had a wig. My hair was a little shorter than, I was doing a another film, where I had to have red hair. It was just easier. It was good they did, for the amount of reshoots that they did,. They didn’t have to worry about your hair, ‘is it still long? is it still blonde?’ They were beautiful wigs.
Q. There’s a bit at the end of the Two Towers where Eowyn hugs Aragorn, he’s in his wet falling-in-the-river clothes, after he got all armored up, is that right?
Well spotted! Yes, Aragorn was wearing the river clothes. It was originally from when he comes back on Brego, Eowyn was to run over and hug him, but they changed that, so that was taken from there.
Corrections gratefully accepted, also video or audio so I can fix my own mistakes. I love fixing things, so please comment if you see an error!