In the News: Rings Star Fired After Just Two Days of Filming – Sunday Star Times

by Oct 17, 1999Events

Just received a tip to this article which appeared in the Sunday Star Times. It’s another report on the firing of Stuart Townsend and the unconfirmed signing of Viggo Mortensen… It’s a good overview overall–except for that quote about Aragorn and elves.

By Oskar Alley
Sunday Star Times

The cast and crew of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the
Rings film project are reeling after one of the stars
was sensationally sacked after two days of filming.
Irish actor Stuart Townsend, who had been cast to
play the key role of Aragorn, was dumped on
Wednesday and left New Zealand the same day,
insiders on the set told the Sunday Star-Times. The
shock dismissal was reportedly ordered by Jackson
over what a senior studio executive described as
“director-actor creative chemistry”. It is understood
no formal announcement was made and the
dumping filtered through to bemused cast and crew
on Thursday.

Sources said the trilogy’s producers were already
negotiating with Viggo Mortensen (A Perfect Murder,
GI Jane, Crimson Tide) to fill the vacated role.
Townsend’s dismissal had thrown the first week of filming in Wellington into
disarray, forcing at least 1 1/2 days of scheduled scenes to be postponed.

Just one week into a marathon 18 month shoot, the project is already believed to
be behind schedule. However, crew morale has been boosted by screen siren Liv
Tyler’s arrival in Wellington. She is playing the elf princess Arwen. It is
understood she ate lunch on the set on Friday, though her first scenes are still
weeks away.

Jackson’s production company confirmed Townsend had been dismissed but
refused to comment further. Rumours on the set suggested Townsend (26), the
star of the British comedy Shooting Fish either looked too young for the part or
that Jackson was under pressure from studio bosses to replace the actor with a
more recognisable star. New Line Productions president Michael De Luca has
reportedly said: “It’s not over any other names, just director-actor creative

A spokeswoman for Townsend’s London agent confirmed the dismissal
yesterday but referred all other comment to the film’s publicist.

Townsend was to have played Aragorn, a human raised by elves, who is later
revealed as the rightful king of Gondor.

The central character enters the first book at an early stageand guides hero
Frodo Baggins (played by Elijah Wood) on his quest to destroy the all powerful

Sources said Townsend’s dismissal forced scenes scheduled for Thursday and
Friday to be postponed. Several local actors hired as extras, some of whom
have grown beards for the part, were told by their casting agents their scenes
had been postponed. No reason was given for the delay.

Hollywood entertainment newspaper Variety reported yesterday Mortensen was
negotiating with the film’s backers to replace Townsend.

Mortensen (41) is a stranger to New Zealand but not to some of the country’s
leading film talents. He had a role in Jane Campion’s Portrait of a Lady and in his
latest film, A Walk on the Moon, he stars with Anna Paquin.


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