Management of the Miramar-based $360 million project finally allowed two of its hobbits to be interviewed yesterday--although Frodo, played by star Elijah Wood, is still a no-no.
The post was allowed to talk to Billy Boyd, who plays Frodo's pal Pippin, and Dominic Monaghan, who plays Merry, during a break in filming. The two are the first actors to speak to the media since filming began under security in Wellington lastmonth
But no photographs were allowed, as they were still dressed as the hairy-footed hobbits described in JRR Tolkien's classic trilogy.
Boyd, 31, from Glasgow, and Monaghan, 22, from Manchester, are virtually unknown in New Zealand, although they have appeared in overseas feature films and TV series. As companions to the hobbits Frodo and Sam, in the movies they'll be chased by Black Riders, kidnapped by Orcs and meet giant tree creatures called Ents.
Monaghan said they had to wear prosthetics as well as makeup and costumes to look like hobbits. Both were 1.6m tall, but special effects would make them look smaller.
"We all have big eyes, are cheeky looking, and we have kind of sparkly faces," he said.
Being a hobbit was physically demanding. They all had to train, including sessions at the gym. "We are all eating well. Everyone is very concerned about our diet and vitamins because we are working 11 or 12 hour days, getting six hours of sleep and then up again at five in the morning," Monaghan said.
Boyd said he hadn't acted on a film with so many special effects. "Some of the stuff they can do is quite incredible. That's been great fun; wild stuff."
Pippin wouldn't speak with a Scottish accent, but Boyd was coy on what accent the hobbits would use--something Tolkien fans were keen to find out. They were being trained to pronounce the archaic words correctly. "A lot of work has gone into that. You'll have to wait and see," he said.
Monaghan said they spent a lot of time with Wood. "We're best friends now. We all have to work so closely and it's a long time in hair and makeup every day. We all hang around each other and keep each other sane."
Despite being unknown, after three months in Wellington people were asking for autographs and taking photographs. "That generally bounces off if you're hanging around with Elijah and they they look at and go, 'Who are you?' and I go 'I'm no on.' I lap all that up, it's good fun," Monaghan said. People notice the accent and say 'What are you doing over here?' I say 'I'm working in a job for a year or so'. If they keep asking, I say 'I'm on this Lord of the Rings film'. Then you get shrieks and hollers. I tend to just keep it quiet. The less people know, the more it will be when it comes out."
Monaghan read The Lord of the Rins when he was 13. Boyd said he still hadn't done so.
Meanwhile, Conservation Minister Nick Smith said today that consent had been given for filming on several areas of public conservation land in the South Island. Filming could occur over the next couple of months in the Fiordland, the Te Anau area, the Wakatipu basin near town adn the Mt Own area near Murchison.
(Big thanks to Jonathan for the news! Visit his site at http://www.theonering.com !!)