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Stars and Hats Come Out For a Spot of Cricket
English star of Lord of the Rings Sir Ian McKellen was quite at home watching men in white hit cricket balls about a cricket field, but it was a new experience for his American co-star, Liv Tyler, at the Basin Reserve yesterday.
The two, who are playing wizard Gandalf and elven beauty Arwen in Peter Jackson's movie trilogy, were joined by Tyler's friend Roy Langdon, to watch the New Zealand batsmen shore up their innings against Australia yesterday afternoon.
English-born Langdon, the lead singer of American band Space Hog, is in New Zealand visiting Tyler and the cast for a few weeks.
Lord Of The Rings publicist Claire Raskind said Sir Ian and Tyler had asked her to arrange the tickets.
"Ian and Roy are both English and know all about cricket."
"Ian was quite excited about going, and Liv - well, she was just quite interested in learning about it," Ms Raskind said.
Presumably on Sir Ian's sage advice as a seasoned cricket-watcher, they wrapped up warmly for a chilly Wellington afternoon - but Sir Ian could not resist wearing a white feodora hat that would not have looked out of place at a match in Barbados.
Meanwhile Kiwis had their last chance to star in Lord Of The Rings yesterday - as long as they were taller than 1.78m (5 ft 10in), and the women among them did not mind dressing up as men.
A week of casting in the central North Island ended with the last open casting call in Napier yesterday, attracting about 300 people from all around the Hawke's Bay.
Ms Raskind said it was surprisingly easy to find both women and men in New Zealand who met the requirements of being tall, athletic and fair-haired.
"And the women here seem to endure the costumes a little better, staying dressed in layers and layers over a while. They may be supposed to look like men, when they've got prosthetics and wardrobe on."
Nearly 700 people turned up to casting calls in Wanganui, Palmerston North and Napier last week, competing for about 200 places as extras, she said.
Those who were successful will have more fighting ahead of them.
Though Ms Raskind would not say which Middle Earth tribes the actors would be playing, the requirement for fair hair strongly suggested elven groups.
"We're filming battle scenes on Ruapehu, and in Lord Of The Rings there are several cultures and civilisations and tribes, so we're casting for a couple of the different tribes. And they will be carrying battle gear, for sure."
Swords and spears would be a few of the accoutrements in the battle scenes, which are to be filmed from the middle of next month.
"Since we're filming in Ruapehu, we thought it would be nice to travel people who aren't too far from their homes," Ms Raskind said.