The Lord of the Rings trilogy remains one of the most widely watched movie franchises in history, with The Return of the King winning an Academy Award for Best Picture and an AFI Movie Award for Best Movie of the Decade. However, most moviegoers don’t know these 10 fascinating facts about The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Read on to learn how Viggo Mortensen almost turned down his part in the film, what happened when Elijah Wood met President Bush, and which celebrity auditioned to play Legolas but didn’t even get called back!
1) Almost every cast member had their hair cut at some point
You might not know this, but every single cast member had their hair cut at some point in the making of the movie. Speaking to Redbook, actor Viggo Mortensen shared what he got from the experience. I was happy, he said. This film was going to make a big difference in my life. His hair change might have been a big part of that.
2) A lot of the movie was shot in Green Screen
A lot of the movie was shot in Green Screen, from scenes involving the snow, to battle scenes. Camera tricks like this weren’t possible before the invention of computers. For example, for a scene that took place in front of a burning river, John Howe and Alan Lee created drawings of things that would have been seen around them: rocks, trees and bushes that weren’t there on set. A fire was lit behind them with an oil-covered pane where flames appeared to leap across the surface.
3) The original actor cast as Aragorn turned down the role
Sean Connery originally took the role of Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But after filming one scene, he decided it wasn’t for him and backed out. Viggo Mortensen auditioned to replace him and nailed the part.
4) Peter Jackson wanted Sean Connery to play Gandalf, but he was too old for that role
Peter Jackson wanted Sean Connery to play Gandalf, but he was too old for that role. Plus, the production crew and Peter Jackson believed that the Sean Connery’s speaking voice would be too jarring from Gandalf’s singing voice, which is primarily what we hear from him in the trilogy. Ian McKellen was cast after being recommended by his cousin Hugh Jackman, who has a cameo in this film as a soldier of Rohan (along with many other major stars).
Ian McKellen had originally considered turning down the role because he didn’t think it would be possible to do justice to such an iconic and beloved character as Gandalf.
5) Viggo Mortensen’s singing almost wasn’t used in the final film
Viggo Mortensen’s singing almost wasn’t used in the final film. Instead, he planned to lip-sync over the song that was originally going to be used for Aragorn. Thankfully director Peter Jackson thought better of it and insisted that Mortensen perform an actual vocal performance.
6) There were three endings filmed by Peter Jackson
- When Sam tells Frodo to go, Frogo lingers and looks over his shoulder at Sam and finally walks away.
- In the theatrical version of the trilogy, there is a shot of Aragorn wearing his crown just before he dies (this scene was not in the book). This change also occurred for Boromir’s death. Arwen never wears her jewelry again after her father’s death, but she does in this film (this scene was not in the book).
7) Some fans have recorded extended versions of LOTR scores using only instruments made from various objects found around New Zealand
While writing the extended edition of LOTR, Christopher Tolkien introduced notes on what happened to the Ring after it was left in the Anduin by Isildur. He explains that Isildur mounted his horse and rode back to Ost-in-Edhil, but while there a band of orcs surrounded him and killed him, taking the Ring with them.
8) Ian McKellen based his performance on his own experiences with theatre directors when he was younger.
One of the facts people may not know about Ian McKellen’s performance is that it was actually based on his own experience as a theatre actor when he was younger. As an actor, he didn’t always have faith in himself and his abilities and so often would look to the director for affirmation – which inevitably led to being directed by them. Ian recalls one time when he said to the director What do you want me to do? The response? You know what I want you to do.
9) Linguist David Salo was brought in to create Elvish dialogue, which is now being taught at universities.
In addition to his work on the Elvish, David Salo has also worked on various translations of the Bible. He is currently working on translating the New International Version of the Bible into Quenya, a language he created himself that appears in J.R.R.
10) Fans created a massive replica of Minas Tirith, with over 600 man hours put into it. It’s actually open to tours.
The Lord of the Rings is a film trilogy consisting of three epic fantasy-drama films. The first two films in the series were released in 2001 and 2002 respectively, with the final film being released in 2003. They were directed by Peter Jackson, from a screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson (with additional uncredited dialogue), based on Tolkien’s novel of the same name.