Acting in such circumstances is what all of us, filmmakers and audiences, love so much about film: the sense of actually being there. Bernard Hill as Theoden might not yet quite know what the Golden Hall will be like, where he will be brought to his senses by a stern Gandalf. But when Theoden chased Wormtongue off the premises, down the stairs with that waterfall which Tolkien describes so precisely; when his subjects parted to see the traitor stagger into exile with the mountains snowy beyond; when he later prayed at his son’s tomb and the wind blew hard in his face — all this authenticity will provide so much information about Theoden (and the rest of us: Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry and Pippin) that acting was not much required, at least for the long shots. When the camera came close (and Bernard had some complicated emotions to live through) I’m sure he found it easier, breathing that hardy air, feeling the rock of ages under his feet. Certainly he acted with his usual intense naturalism. But neither he nor I could resist twirling our robes a little as they brushed the grass or the carved steps! After all in those long shots, miles from anywhere, a mad utopia of a location, that really is Theoden you will see in 2002. I know because I saw him there.
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