NewsWire: Bilbo smitten with New Zealand - The Evening Post

The following article appeared in the Evening Post.

21 AUGUST 2000

British actor Sir Ian Holm, who plays Hobbit Bilbo Baggins in The Lord Of The Rings, was so entranced by New Zealand during his stay he's keen to return and explore the country.

Holm's brief visit in March for filming at Peter Jackson's Miramar studios is detailed in the latest journal entry on Sir Ian McKellen's website.

McKellen, who plays the wizard Gandalf in the $360 million trilogy, said Holm arrived in New Zealand jetlagged from London but went straight to wearing hairy Hobbit feet and a curly wig to become Bilbo.

"I was filming in the Wellington studio next door and took him to the lunch tent," McKellen said. " 'What's it like here?' he (Holm) asked me dolefully. I told him he was in for a treat and within 24 hours he agreed. A month later, he couldn't bear to leave, swearing he would be back in New Zealand before the movie was complete."

McKellen said it was likely Holm would do a four-day tramp in the South Island in the spring.

McKellen said his first scene with Bilbo was filmed in January with a masked double standing in for Holm. After Holm arrived, in scenes featuring Gandalf and Bilbo, McKellen was placed closer to the camera and special effects were used to shrink Holm to Hobbit size.

Special effects would also be used to insert Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett, into a scene featuring Gandalf and Bilbo filmed while Holm was in New Zealand. McKellen said in the scene Holm wore a latex mask of wrinkles.

Meanwhile, scenes shot on Mt Ruapehu in May were for the evil land of Mordor, though the mountain itself wouldn't be shown in the films, McKellen said. New Zealand Army soldiers, wearing masks, played orcs during some battle scenes.

McKellen, who has been based in Wellington since January, also admitted he was smitten with the South Island countryside.

"I spy the (fast) interisland ferry chugging past my Wellington window for the two-hour sail south across Cook Strait which separates the islands. I envy the passengers," he said.

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