McKellen}s latest e-post
Q: I've just read that theft of props, unauthorised picture-taking and theft of footage are becoming problematic on the set of LOTR. Is this problem as bad as reported?
A: I haven't been inconvenienced by the problem, other than having to remember to hand back all LOTR related papers. This secrecy may be a response to outsiders' inquisitiveness but it certainly encourages more of it. Purloined props and clandestine photographs might have fetched a nice price from a collector or publisher and temptation was too great for one ex-employee, although his defence in court was that his obsession for the movie had unsettled his judgment. Since then I've heard of nothing untoward and not caught sight of any intruding cameras. Even so, we are not allowed near the gates in costume and if we are driven through them to another location, we are encouraged to mask our makeup lest it be revealed next day on the Internet.
Q: Why are there so many restrictions on the press finding out what goes on in the LOTR set?
A: When we finish principal photography at the end of the year, there will still be another 12 months before the release of the first film. It would be understandable if New Line wanted to keep their options for publicity open a little longer, so that the anticipation is teased out. Yet there have been snippets of the action broadcast on the internet; a longer trailer seen at ComiCon in San Diego; the "Vanity Fair" preview of the hobbits et al. The "New York Times" has visited as well as many local newspapers. You may not realise that press allowed onto any film set is subject to restrictions and embargoes. What with the Grey Book on this site and John Forde's entertaining filming reports on eonline.com, Lord of the Rings is much freer from censorship than most.
Q: It seems to me that the sheer complexity of filming the three films simultaneously would be overwhelming for all involved. How are morale and spirit holding up among cast and crew?
A: Each of us has a part to play and a job to do yet the common focus is Tolkien's writing and Jackson's presentation of it. There is much mutual admiration - WETA's props, the fantastic scenery, the cast are patently achieving high standards and, crossing fingers, expectations remain very high. Travelling (for free!) across the varying New Zealand landscapes would be a constant morale-boost, were one needed.
read on at mckellen.com