12 December 2016

It's 15 years since the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the first film in a trilogy that got me through my teenage years. Thanks to hours of watching DVD commentary, bloopers and behind the scenes footage, I know lots of facts that will never be of any use (unless anyone knows of a local Lord of the Rings pub quiz?).
Here are 10 of my favourites!

Here's 10 facts you may have not already known about LOTR!
Viggo Mortenson gives arguably the best performance of the whole trilogy as Aragorn, broody ranger and heir to the throne of Gondor. Since he speaks four languages, Elvish wasn’t going to be too tricky for him either. But Aragorn was originally to be played by Irish actor Stuart Townsend until director Peter Jackson realised, a few days into filming, that he was too young. Mortensen had never read the books but his son Henry convinced him to take the role and he got on a plane to New Zealand the next day.

Sean Bean is known for his on-screen deaths, of which there are over 20 but his demise as Boromir is his favourite, as it’s “slow and harrowing”.

Sir Ian Mckellen’s based his performance of Gandalf on Tolkien himself using old recordings. Tapes of Tolkien speaking were also used to ensure the correct pronunciation of the elvish language.

Fencer Bob Anderson choreographed the fight scenes and described Viggo Mortensen as “the best swordsman I’ve ever trained”. Anderson was the stunt double for Darth Vader in the Star Wars trilogy, a fact that was kept quiet until Mark Hamill revealed it in 1983: “Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader’s fighting. It was always supposed to be a secret but I finally told George I didn’t think it was fair any more. Bob worked so bloody hard that he deserves some recognition. It’s ridiculous to preserve the myth that it’s all done by one man.”

The late, great Christopher Lee was a huge Lord of the Rings fan, reading the trilogy every year for decades and even meeting J.R.R Tolkien. He’d always hoped to play Gandalf if a film was ever made but was too old for the fight scenes, and played Saruman instead. He was so familiar with the text that Viggo Mortensen said, “It was like having the ghost of Tolkien on the set.” 

The Wilhelm Scream is a stock sound effect or a man screaming that has been used in more than 225 movies and television episodes and has become a bit of an in-joke in the film industry. It gained popularity after it was used in the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and even some Disney films. It can be heard at The Battle of Helm’s Deep and when Legolas commandeers an oliphant in Return of the King.

Viggo Mortensen saw his sword as the key to his character and took it everywhere with him, even having it in his car and sitting next to him at restaurants.

The final march on the Black Gate was filmed on a military training ground, and was filled with bombs and land mines. Karl Urban, who played Eomer recalled, “We get out on set and you’re in the middle of fighting. You look down and sure enough, there’s the fins of a bomb sticking out of the ground.”

Sean Bean has an acute fear of flying and would use ski lifts and hike where possible, even to locations usually accessed by helicopter. He would do so dressed in full Boromir attire.

Eight of the nine members of the Fellowship got a tattoo of the word “nine” in elvish to commemorate their experience. John Rhys-Davies declined and his stunt double was tattooed in his place.

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