10 Random Facts About Shooting LOTR
Last time I got one of these I did 10 Interesting Facts About Tolkien. For this one, I thought it’d be fun to do random stories from the filming of the Peter Jackson LOTR movies. After watching all the DVD commentaries/documentaries a few more times than I care to admit, I’ve picked up a few fun stories. I linked as many youtube clips of the commentaries as I could find.
Alternative Title: 9 Times Someone Almost Died While Filming LOTR, and 1 Time Someone Was Smart Enough to Actually Prevent It
- The big fight scene at the end of Fellowship was pretty exciting for Viggo Mortensen. At the beginning of the battle, when he jumps off the wall and tackles several Uruk-Hai, he actually chipped a tooth. However, he refused to stop shooting and insisted that instead they simply glue the tooth back together until the scene was finished.
- The location used to shoot the battle at the gates of Mordor during Return of the King was actually a land mine. Actors were warned to avoid digging into the ground or kicking anything to avoid hitting a bomb, and throughout the day they’d accidentally unearth rockets and landmines, which the army would then come and pick up.
- In Two Towers, when Aragorn is floating down the river face-down, Viggo had to do the same thing (obviously.) However, he and the crew underestimated the strength of the current and eddies in the river, and combined with the heavy costume Viggo was wearing, he nearly drowned.
- During Bilbo’s Birthday Party, when Merry and Pippin set off Gandalf’s giant firework, Peter Jackson didn’t warn Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd that the firework was actually going to explode. He told them only that it would spark and fizzle a bit. So when the firework did, in fact, explode, Billy’s shriek is quite genuine.
- At the end of Fellowship, when Sam runs into the river after Frodo, Sean Astin accidentally stepped on a large shard of glass. His foot was bleeding pretty bad, so he had to be choppered to a hospital.
- During the scene in Two Towers when Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli find the pile of orc carcases, and they believe that Merry and Pippin have been killed, Aragorn kicks one of the helmets down the hill. Peter Jackson wanted Viggo to aim the helmet as close to the camera as possible, and so Viggo did four takes with increasing accuracy. On the fifth take, the aim was great, and then Viggo let out this great scream and fell to his knees. Jackson was pretty impressed, and only found out later that, when kicking the helmet, Viggo had broken two of his toes. Despite that, it was the best take, and is actually the version that appears in the film.
- During one of the scenes in Two Towers, Orlando Bloom and Gimli’s scale double Brett accidentally fell off their horse. Brett fell on top of Orlando, and Orlando cracked a rib. Luckily the injury wasn’t too serious, though the cast teased Orlando about all his complaining.
- While filming the sequence in Two Towers of Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli chasing after the Uruk Hai (basically 10 minutes of all three of them running nonstop), Viggo had two broken toes, Orlando had a cracked rib, and Brett Beattie (Gimli’s scale double) had a dislocated knee, but they did the shots anyway. Such troopers.
- While shooting the scene where the hobbits run down to the Buckleberry Ferry in Fellowship, Dominic Monaghan got a splinter in his foot. Yep, it really is that underwhelming. But they make it sound really funny.
- During Two Towers, when Faramir has caught Frodo and Sam and Gollum, there’s a scene when Faramir uses his sword to lift the One Ring from under Frodo’s shirt. David Wenham, who plays Faramir, was worried that he might accidentally stab Elijah Wood, so he insisted that a trained swordsman come and do that scene. Thus making him probably the smartest guy on set.