"I saw the armor section, which is just one great big warehouse," actor Brad Dourif explained during his Dragon Con panel last weekend. "All they're doing in this great big warehouse is designing and building armor. There's a guy who's been there for three-and-a-half years, and they only started shooting a month ago, but his entire job is putting little chain mail links together. That's what he's been doing."
"When I'm on the set for the Lord of the Rings and I'm just about to do a take, I close my eyes, and I open them. Suddenly, there's just all this incredible detail in front of me," added actor Karl Urban. "It's really hard not to be carried away; it's really hard not to believe it. I think one of the things Peter is so meticulous about is the reality of what he's trying to do, the human side and the interaction between the characters. It's not a cartoon he's making."
On Set at 'LOTR'
Also at Dragon Con, actor Karl Urban discussed the on-set atmosphere of the Lord of the Rings production, specifically what it's been like to work with such powerhouse performers on such an ambitious trilogy of films. Needless to say, Urban has been impressed by his experiences working with his fellow thesps.
"I've been on the set for about three or four weeks, and I've really enjoyed working with everybody," Urban said. "Viggo Mortensen has earned the respect of the entire cast and crew for his acting and generosity. Sir Ian McKellan is just a wonderful gentleman to work with--very giving and thoughtful. Peter Jackson just amazes me. I've watched him sit there with three units in the surrounding area, and he's cool as a cucumber, in a T-shirt and shorts, totally relaxed. His creative process allows for anybody, no matter who they are, to go up to him and ask him questions. If you have any questions or any input you want to address, he's there. That's great security, and it's something you don't always get."
One of the most ambitious aspects of the Lord of the Rings production currently filming in New Zealand is the fact that all three films in the trilogy are being filmed simultaneously. At their Dragon Con panel last weekend in Atlanta, actors Karl Urban and Brad Dourif illuminated some of the specifics regarding the current filming plans for the three films.
"I believe we are supposed to be filming until February of next year," revealed Urban, who portrays Eomer in the films. "I found out when I was cast in January that my first day would be in March of this year, and then I've got a lot more toward the end of the year. It's been broken bits of work--a week here, a day there."
"When a location's hot and you have a film crew there, it's much cheaper to do everything there," explained Dourif, who portrays Grima Wormtongue. "So if you do three movies, you just keep bringing people there and you can shoot all the way through, then strike it. That saves a lot of money. As for battles, a lot of times you can double battles; you can cross-use footage. That saves enormous amounts of time. Continuity-wise, because you're doing everything at once, you really can get an idea of how things blend together as you're doing them, so the three movies are one movie, in a way.
"My feeling is that come February, it's over," Dourif explained. "It's just really expensive to go back and rebuild something like Helm's Deep."
'Rings' Hype: Justified?
Also at Dragon Con, Brad Dourif and Karl Urban had a chance to comment on the massive hype already building around the Lord of the Ring films. Even though the first film won't be released until Christmas 2001, the release of an online trailer busted all existing records for downloads of a film-related file, and crowds of people were constantly gathered around a Dragon Con booth where the trailer was screened in a loop on a laptop. Having seen some of the footage--and filmed some of it themselves, for that matter--both actors are in a unique position to comment on director Peter Jackson's progress.
"I think the hype is justified," said Urban. "From what I've seen, I think this has been made with meticulous love and care. I think Peter Jackson is very aware of the responsibility he has to do justice to what Tolkien has written, and I'm very confident from what I've seen. I'm just so stoked to be a part of it."
"They showed me a half-hour, and you'd think with all this stuff--they've got some of the best toys you've seen in your life--that it's just going to be about these toys," added Dourif. "In the half-hour I saw, the whole thing was very character-driven. It's fast; it moves quick, and it's very exciting to watch."
A Sith Training Hobbits?
It's one of those nuggets of film trivia that can make a fan salivate: Bob Anderson, who performed Darth Vader's lightsaber duels in The Empire Strikes Back, is also working on choreography for the swordfights in the Lord of the Rings films. His know-how is being employed to give each species of creature its own unique brand of swordplay.
"I'm a Rohan, and my fighting style is completely different from all the others," said Karl Urban at Dragon Con last weekend. "It's really quite amazing, because you have these battles that can just degenerate into full-on carnage, with characters just going at it, and then you have this sleek character who's like a dancer, weaving his way through the battle.
"My first day, a gentleman came up to me and said he was going to teach me swordfighting," Urban continued. "He shows me a few moves, and we put together this fight. After he leaves, this other young stunt guy comes up to me and says, 'Do you know who that was? That was Bob Anderson.' I said, 'Yup.' He says, 'Darth Vader.' I said, 'Oh.' This is the guy who taught Errol Flynn how to fight, so that gives you some idea of the level of expertise they're drawing on."