We’re huge fans of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and the Middle-Earth stories in general, but the films are masterpieces and introduced a lot of non-Tolkien fans to some of our favorite fantasy fiction! Since we’ve got Lord of the Rings in April’s ARTIFACTS Crate, we wanted to get into the film’s behind the scenes trivia!
1. That awesome scene in The Fellowship of the Ring where Gandalf bonks his noggin when coming into Bilbo’s house is actually not scripted. Ian McKellan bumped his head and acted through the thing which Peter Jackson loved so much that he kept it in the movie.
2. The scene where Pippin played by Billy Boyd is asking about his second breakfast and gets dinged in the head with an apple comes from Viggo Mortensen off-screen. The scene had sixteen takes to get perfect and Boyd was pretty sure Mortensen was having a blast every single time.
3. Orlando Bloom had two days left before graduating acting school when he landed his jumping off role of Legolas in The Lord of the Rings. Talk about every actor’s dream, right?
4. In order to make sure the Uruk-Hai didn’t have bright pink mouths, and since their blood is black, the actors and extras had to swish a black licorice mouthwash around in their mouth before going onto set.
5. Brad Dourif, who played Grima Wormtongue, was so good at summoning tears at will that Peter Jackson let him call to that skill during the scene where Wormtongue is in awe of the ten thousand strong army that Sauruman had built. That tear you see? That’s all Dourif’s stellar acting chops.
6. A single shot involving Gollum would take six hours or more to render and so the team at WETA Digital would sometimes end their day and leave the software rendering overnight. This kind of left some bugs in the software to take over and they’d come back to either Gollum’s eyes completely out of his head or every one of the twenty-six hairs on his head to be standing board straight upwards.
7. While people often talk about the major plot hole in The Return of the King being the Eagles not just taking the Fellowship straight to Mordor, it was actually never intended for that to be the case. J.R. Tolkien himself wrote on it often that the Eagles are proud creatures that shouldn’t be entrusted with the care of the Ring either, nor would it be feasible because the Eye of Sauron would spot them far too easily. The point to the Fellowship going the long way was to stay out of sight, even if it meant tacking far too much time onto their trip.
8. Those scenes in which Elijah Wood’s Frodo would stare, unblinking for several minutes during takes as he’s cocooned by Shelob (Spider monster!) weren’t tricks of effects. That was absolutely him and his peculiar ability to stare on a fixed space without blinking for quite a long stretch. He’d be the world’s hardest staring contest opponent.
9. Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame, and beloved New Zealander, had a silent role in Fellowship of the Ring and became such a fan favorite (with fans even calling him Figwit which is ‘Frodo is great… who is that!?’ shortened) that Peter Jackson brought him back to reprise his role in a scene with Arwen in Return of the King. Figwit lives on!
10. The complete running time of the theatrical versions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy is nine hours and 17 minutes. For the Extended Editions, it’s 11 hours and 22 minutes! So, keep this in mind when you start your new annual viewing parties or else you may need to turn them into sleepovers!