While at Cannes, a lot of questions were answered concerning a wide variety of subjects. One of the more interesting pieces of information that came to light was the Stuart Townsend drama.

Let me give a quick background. Stuart was cast in the role of Aragorn but departed the production a mere 3 days after filming started. Initial reports through our spies had suggested that Stuart was hard to work with and there was a lot of friction on the set.

So why was Stuart replaced?

Well, at the Press Conference last friday, Peter Jackson spoke a bit about the situation. As it turns out, Stuart is an extraordinary actor. Jackson and others were impressed with his abilities, however as time moved on, it became apparent that he was too young for the role. As Peter put it, even Stuart, a big fan of the books, insisted he was too young for the role.

When Viggo Mortensen was cast, both Peter Jackson and Barrie Osborne gave the news to Stuart. They parted on good terms and in agreement.

So basically, Stuart was too young. There was no tension or friction between Townsend and Jackson as was previously reported.

PJ did go on to say that the day Viggo joined the team must have been fate, because there could not have been a better person cast in the role. He is Aragorn.

NZ’s TV show “Holmes” showed a few minutes of interviews in Cannes, including one with Peter Jackson and some of the cast. There’s almost-clear shots of the Cannes party set-up with actors and musicians. Go here and look in the archive for May 14.

The sound kind of goes splah in the last minutes, but thanks to Ringer spy Nigel we have a transcript of the last part:

“Reporter: Its said you’ve made the biggest film project ever. How big is big?

Peter Jackson: Well it is the biggest ever. I mean really its 3 movies which is obviously one of the factors. But its 15 months of shooting continuously, nobody has ever shot a movie for 15 months before.

Reporter: This is a huge step, would you have ever dreamt when you were making all those splatter movies like Braindead that one day you would be producing something like this?

Peter Jackson: No. I’m just very lucky because I’m doing what I want to do. Everyday that I’m working on this project I just feel incredibly lucky.

Reporter: You’re a happy man?

Peter Jackson: Yeah. I love directing movies and I’m directing Lord of the Rings. Its the ultimate.

[Cut to Liv Tyler and Orlando Bloom]

Reporter: Liv when they told you were gonna make a blockbuster right at the bottom of the world what was your reaction?

Liv Tyler: I think that more than even anything was my first kind of *high sigh* cause I was incredibly excited about the project and I didn’t have any concerns about being away from my career for a year. But personally being away from my family and stuff I just thought ‘oh my god can I handle that?’ you know. But it was great and I did and I just thought ‘you know what? It’s a year out of my life and I can handle it,’ and it was such a beautiful wonderful place and I tended to get home sick something the boys didn’t as much as me..

Orlando Bloom: We made the most of the surf and bungie, and skydiving.

Reporter: What was Peter like to work with Liv?

Liv Tyler: Peter’s amazing. He cares so much about this book and about this story. I think he’s a Hobbit but there is some part of each character inside of him and I could really see it come alive, his imagination is enormous and just full of so much passion for the project.

[Cut to Sean Aston] Peter Jackson is a great actor . He could do the hobbits to us and I could see him turn and do Aragorn, do the human hero and he changed! I learned a lot about acting just watching him direct.

[Cut to Sir Ian Holme] In a word genius. Forthright, patient, focussed ..a kiwi.

[Cut to Sir Ian McKellan and Christopher Lee]

Sir Ian McKellan: I’ve never worked with a director who has only one pair of shoes *laughter* and doesn’t wear them very often.

Christopher Lee: I’ve never worked with a director myself, for the first time 2 days ago wearing long trousers *more laughter*

[Cut to Dominic Monaghen] We’re all hoping that Peter will now be recognized as one of the greatest film makers alive today and that he will be given the opportunity to make the movies that he wants to make.”

Empire talks about stuff we’ve mostly heard, and has a nice pic. of Frodo and a good description of the ‘salivating throng’ in the audience for the screenings. [More}

The BBC has a bit more from their arts correspondent, which is quite nice. You can tell that Sir Ian Mckellen wears great scarves (Like the real Gandalf?) and that Liv Tyler looks cute even when caught yawning. [More]

Thanks to Strider for the alert.