20 Things You Didn’t Know About The Lord of the Rings

1. Gandalf Slamming His Head In Bilbo’s House Was Not Scripted

Gandalf’s painful encounter with a ceiling beam in Bilbo’s hobbit-hole was not in the script. Ian McKellen banged his forehead against the beam accidentally, not on purpose. But Peter Jackson thought McKellen did a great job “acting through” the mistake, so he kept it in.

2. Sean Bean Would Hike to Set in Wardrobe as Boromir

The cast often had to fly to shoot locations by helicopter. Sean Bean (Boromir) was afraid of flying and would only do it when given no other choice. When they were shooting the scenes of the Fellowship crossing the snowy mountains, he’d spend two hours every morning climbing from the base of the mountain to the set near the top, already dressed as Boromir.

3. Bona Fide Bad Ass

Veteran sword master Bob Anderson called Viggo Mortensen “the best swordsman I’ve ever trained.” Mortensen did his own stunts and insisted on only using a real steel sword instead of significantly lighter aluminum swords or safer rubber swords, which were manufactured for battle scenes and stunts.

4. Bill the Pony Was a Panto Pony

Sam’s pony Bill was actually a “panto pony,” due to the difficulty of working with a live animal in a swamp. That’s a fancy way of saying Bill was a pony suit with one person in the front half and one person in the back.

5. Aragorn Fights Sauron in The Return of the King… Well, Sort Of

Jackson filmed a scene for the end of The Return of the King where Aragorn goes toe-to-toe with the physical version of Sauron, in an updated version of the Sauron-Isildur battle from the prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring. Jackson said that by the end of production the scene no longer felt right. So, at the end, Aragorn can be seen battling a giant cave troll that was digitally superimposed over what was originally meant to be Sauron.

6. Orc Reproduction is Still a Mystery

We know that Orcs are spawned from corrupted Elves, but no one really knows how they reproduce, as Tolkien never said. In the Silmarillion, he states that they “multiply” but then later states that they were once elves. He also said that “evil cannot create, it can only corrupt.” So, basically, we don’t know and we never will.

7. Gandalf Could Have Owned Sauron

According to Tolkien in response to a fan letter, Gandalf would have easily defeated Sauron in battle if he had the One Ring. However, he also said it would do no good because Gandalf with the One Ring would have been far worse than Sauron with it.

8. Best Bros For Ever

In the books, Legolas and Gimli stay best buds for all their years until Aragorn’s death when Legolas built a boat and sailed to the Undying Lands, not forgetting to take his dwarven BFF with him, making Gimli the only dwarf to ever go to Paradise.

9. Cameo, Cameo, Cameo

Peter Jackson makes a cameo in all three LoTR films. In Fellowship of the Ring, we see a man chomping on a carrot in the town of Bree. The carrot replaced a pipe because the pipe made Jackson sick. In The Two Towers, during the battle of Helm’s Deep, one of the soldiers opens a wooden panel and throws a spear. That soldier is our brave director. Finally, in The Return of the King, in the extended edition, the sailor that dies when a warning shot is fired outside of the Cave of the Dead is Jackson.

10. Forced Perspective vs. CGI

The hobbits needed to appear about three to four feet tall— tiny compared with the seven-foot Gandalf. This was accomplished using forced perspective; placing Ian McKellen (Gandalf) consistently closer to the camera than Elijah Wood. In order to make forced perspective more consistent, the filmmakers devised a new system, consisting of a pulley and a platform. When the camera moved (which is normally impossible as the forced perspective would become obvious) the actors also moved, and the perspective would always be consistent. They also used three differently sized props (large, medium, and small) to interact with the differently-sized characters.

11. Bilbo’s Magnetic Floor

The floor in Blibo’s hobbit hole was built to be magnetic so that when Bilbo dropped the One Ring, it wouldn’t bounce, showing the “weight” that the One Ring possessed.

12. Baby Face Bloom

Orlando Bloom landed the role of Legolas about two days before even finishing drama school. He originally auditioned for the role of Faramir but he was called back and cast as the tall blonde elf.

13. Melted Prosthetics

Among the many prosthetics used in the LoTR films were pointed elf ears worn by Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) and Liv Tyler (Arwen). Blanchett and her husband both loved the ears, which were eventually gifted to the couple, Blanchett having them bronzed. Liv Tyler was also gifted her ears, but she wasn’t as careful with hers. She accidentally left them on the dashboard of her car and after a few days of intense heat, they had melted. This is why we can’t have nice things.

14. Keeping it in the Family

Arwen and Aragorn were cousins. Sixty-three times removed; calm down. Aragorn is a descendant of Elros, who was Elrond’s brother. Elrond and Elros were part of a race called half-elves, which gave them the power to choose between elf or human life. Elros picked life as a mortal man and Elrond chose to be a glowy, immortal elf. This is why Aragorn lived far longer than normal men and why Arwen was able to choose to spend a mortal life with her love.

15. Shape Shifting Fool of a Took

The five wizards, Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, Alatar, and Pallando (the two Blue Wizards) are part of a race called the Maiar, which are shape shifters. This means ol’ Ganders doesn’t always look like Ian McKellen. Sad.

16. Sauron is Not the Very Most Evil of the Evils of Middle Earth

Our big baddie was once a vassal of Morgoth, who was a vassal of Ainur, which in Quenya (one of the elven languages created by Tolkien), means Holy Ones. Morgoth is basically Lucifer. The Valar (a subset of Ainur) actually sent Gandalf and the other wizards to Middle Earth to protect it from Sauron, who was carrying out the agenda of Morgoth.

17. Bye-Bye, Precious

In the original 1937 edition of The Hobbit, Gollum willingly bet his ring in his game of riddles with Bilbo. The two parted on good terms and all was fine. Tolkien changed the story in his second edition to reflect how corruptive the powers of the One Ring were.

18. Weapons, Ears, and Feet, Oh My!

Around 10,000 prosthetic facial pieces, 3,500 pairs of Hobbit feet, 2,500 foam body suits, 1,200 suits of armor, 2,000 weapons, and 10,000 arrows were made for the LoTR trilogy.

19. They’re Taking the Hobbits to Isengard!

Elijah Wood went all out for his Frodo Baggins audition tape. He went to a costume shop, got some books with pictures of hobbits, and made a costume. He and a friend went into the woods and filmed his audition from multiple angles so there were fully formed scenes. Dedication.

20. The Eagles Aren’t a Mordor Taxi Service

For once and for all: the eagles are not wildlife. They are not tamed beasts. They are a race, just like humans, elves, or dwarves. They helped out Gandalf because there was a flimsy alliance with him and they owed him one. They do not come on call and they don’t really want anything to do with the War of the Ring. So, while yes, Ganders could have called for them, that doesn’t mean they would have come. And you know, the flying reptiles mounted by immortal spirits might have had something to say about Frodo flying over Mount Doom and dropping the Ring in.


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