NewsWire: 'Privilege' for Director, Cast - The Otago Daily Times

Members of the cast and crew of Lord of the Rings pose with director Peter Jackson (front, fourth from right).
The Otago Daily Times
Another New Zealand newspaper articlea about the media event held ten days ago at the Minas Tirith set.

`Privilege' for director, cast
by David Williams
The Otago Daily Times

Wellington: If the obvious bond between the actors of Lord of the Rings is anything to go by, we're in for something special when The Fellowship of the Ring is released Christmas 2001.

The way the dozen actors so easily played off each other and gave director Peter Jackson a hard time was more typical of a family get-together at Christmas than a bunch of diverse egos that are thrown into a melting pot to see who can survive.

Jackson, the chef here, has got his $650 million recipe right: to a base of stunning New Zealand landscapes and the world's best-known fantasy novels, add an energetic young cast with a pinch of experience, measure out a handy quantity of Kiwi ingenuity from his special effects workshop and simmer slowly for 14 months.

Think about it. On what other job would an actor or actress spend more than a year doing the same project, with the same people, halfway around the world?

The impression I got at a press conference earlier this month, at the Dry Creek Quarry (the set of Minas Tirith) about 25km north of Wellington, was that the actors thought they were a part of "something".

How about this from the movie's Frodo Baggins, Elijah Wood: "What drove me to be here was to work with Pete - I was a fan of his work - and to be a part of something so beautiful and so epic, you know. To recreate Tolkien's vision on film and to spend a year doing it with everyone involved and sharing their love of the project and that was what enticed me to do it."

On a lighter note, Wood said one of the hazards of working with such a large cast is that eventually it will get back to you that they have seen one of your movies on TV.

Dominic Monaghan, who plays Merry, said how incredible it was that he and his fellow actors were so like the film's characters.

"Elijah is Frodo and no-one else could play Frodo. And Sean [Astin] has so many Sam qualities. When you think about all the fellowship, everybody has these things which are innately their character."

Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf, said it felt like they were physically in the places from the books.

When looking at the benefits of the movie, English actor John Rhys-Davies said it would be the biggest movie of all time - "These three films are going to be bigger than Star Wars."

However, the most telling of all comments was probably the director's admission that it was a privilege for him, and every other person involved in his project, to have been involved.

Jackson said he was the lucky guy, because his vision of the fantasy would appear on screen.

"It dawns on me from time to time that here I am in Bag End, or here I am in Helms Deep, and there's Aragon there and there's Gandalf and here's Frodo. There's moments when you do feel that you're physically transported into the book.

"Everybody will be able to share the movie when it comes out on the screen but it's a real privilege for the few of us that were sort of physically there standing in the same room as these characters - being able to walk through doorways and look around corners that people in the movie won't see."

For the less sentimental, here are the best quips from the press conference: English actor Sir Ian McKellen said his trip to New Zealand was a wonderful opportunity to see Australia; Sean Astin said he knew as soon as he saw Elijah Wood in potato chip commercials he wanted to work with him; and bad guy Andy Serkis, who is the human form of Gollum/Smeagol before they get "morphed" by computer graphics, said it was great to play a character so deeply flawed, psychologically obsessed and paranoid "like everyone here".

But it was English actor John Rhys-Davies, who plays the dwarf Gimli, who stole the show.

He started the press conference by claiming he was Peter Jackson and went on to embarrass the director by claiming the movie trilogy would be bigger than Star Wars.

After Jackson said he had a small project set up after he finished with Lord of the Rings - a New Zealand movie being shot in Wellington - Davies cut in and said: "Yeah, the Holy Bible".

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