The franchise was nominated for thirty Academy Awards (breaking the previous world record set by “The Godfather”) What can you expect? Easter eggs, fun facts, and behind-the-scenes details you knew nothing about.
Walking on Water
In scenes where the Fellowship of the ring has to wade through snow, you might notice that Legolas, the ethereal Elf, actually walks on top of it.
The reason for it is that in the books, Tolkein specifies that Elves are incredibly light on their feet so they don't sink into snow as the other beings found in the Middle Earth.
In the Nick of Time
Filming the trilogy was a long, arduous process. It took well over a year! Still, it's not like the production was finished with time to spare — far from it. In fact, the final cut of "Return of the King" was completed less than a week before the world premiere!
They were cutting it so close that the film was still wet from the developing process, and the world premiere (which took place in New Zealand, where the films were shot) was where Peter Jackson, the director, saw the full movie for the first time.
The trilogy, with its many unique characters and fantastic, imaginary beings, required special effects makeup of the highest order. Pointy ears, wigs, and prosthetic facepieces were as common as hairclips in a hair salon.
For the most part, the cast didn't have a problem with it, but for John Rhys-Davies (who played Gimli) it was unbearable. The prosthetics he had to wear took three hours or more to apply each time. His skin and eyes reacted so badly to it that he had to have a day's break between every two days of shooting.
Why Are You Here Then?
In "The Two Towers," there is a part where Frodo and Sam are seen in a place called Osgiliath. Avid readers of the books would know that the two hobbits never set foot in that place.
Knowing that fans would pick that right up, the writers gave Sam the line "By rights, we shouldn't even be here." Now, let's hope that no one got too mad.
The Don't Sell That at Jamba Juice
Andy Serkis, who plays Gollum in the franchise, created the character's signature voice using his own windpipes and nothing more.
To make sure his throat stayed in mint condition for those long hours of vocal stunts, the actor drank numerous bottles of what he called "Gollum Juice." The special cocktail was made of ginger, lemon, and honey.
The production company had to acquire lots and lots of horses to make the successful franchise happen. You might ask yourself what happened to all of those horses once they wrapped filming.
Well, at least some of them were auctioned off to the cast and crew. Two of them were bought by actor Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), who kept one to himself (the one his character typically rode) and gifted the other to Jane Abbott, the riding double for his co-star, Liv Tyler.
The Shire, the peaceful, magical place where the hobbits of the Middle Earth live, looks like a paradise with its beautiful greenery and round, grass-covered homes. This pastoral habitat was built no less than a year before filming started.
The people who created the place wanted to make it look natural and home-like, and give the feeling that someone actually lives there. They even cultivated actual vegetable patches there, and let sheep trim the grass when it grew too tall.
Creating the Uruk-Hai
There are so many made-up species of creatures in the films, the makeup department must have gone crazy trying to figure out how to bring each one to life and make it distinct.
Viewers of the films will now have an easier time recognizing the warring monsters called the Uruk-hai — in order to showcase that the creatures were eroding, inbred creatures, they were given blotchy skin and gray hair.
All Ears (and Other Body Parts)
The amount of latex used to create facial features and other otherworldly body parts was unbelievable. All in all, there were over 1,600 pairs of ears and hobbit feet created during the production. The makeup department made them using a special material that was on 24 hours a day!
The fake hobbit feet had to be damaged to be removed. And since the production didn't want any hobbit feet ending up circulating the internet illegally, each pair was shredded at the end of each day. Still, there are rumors that Dominic Monaghan (who played Merry) managed to keep a pair.
Break a Leg
Remember when Aragorn kicks the helmet after realizing what happened to Merry and Pippin? Remember the pain in his voice when he shouted in frustration? Chills. Well, apparently, the pain wasn't just a display of brilliant acting.
When kicking the helmet, Viggo Mortensen broke two of his toes and channeled his pain through it, which made the final cut. Only after cutting, director Peter Jackson realized the pain was real. Mortensen, however, was much more impressed by the stunt crew, who kept performing with injuries worse than his.
Little Dwarf, Big Tree
John Rhys-Davies played, Gimli the dwarf, aka the shortest character in Tolkein's trilogy. But he also lent his voice to a literal tree. Treebeard, in case you need a little memory jog, was the oldest of the ents — a Middle Earth species that is, in essence, a walking, talking tree.
Curiously enough, the actor didn't need any digital intervention to achieve Treebird's low vocals — he simply spoke through a wooden megaphone using his lowest possible register.
A Natural-Born Hobbit
The entire cast of the trilogy had to wear wigs to put on the likeness of the character they were portraying. The only exception to that rule was Peter Jackson's son, Billy.
The boy was just a toddler at the time and was filmed listening to Bilbo Baggins' story at his birthday party. Wide-eyed and full of awe, the little kid's natural hair was as hobbity as can be.
A film with so many stunts and battle scenes is bound to have its fair share of injured performers. One scene actually had all-injured performers powering through it.
The performers in question were Orlando Bloom (Legolas), Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), and Brett Beattie (who did the stunts for Gimli). The scene shows them chasing the Orcs, and doing so with broken ribs (Bloom fell off a horse), toes (Mortensen broke a couple kicking a helmet), and a knee injury (Beattie). According to Peter Jackson, the guys yelled in pain only after the scene was cut. Now that's what we call dedication.
Taking a Bow
For some reason, the scene at the end of "The Return of the King," when Aragorn bows down in respect for the hobbits, didn't require the physical presence of Viggo Mortensen on set. (Cinema magic. Don't ask us how.) The actor, however, came in nonetheless.
And even though he didn't have his character's crown, he made a paper crown. Cast members kept decorating and adding to that crown in between takes, which resulted in extremely giggly actors fighting to keep their composure with each successive shot.
No Helicopters for Me, Thanks
The Fellowship's journey took them through various terrains. Mountains too. That means that shoot locations often had to be set in high altitudes that the cast had to be transported in via helicopter. For most of the cast members, that wasn't a problem, but Sean Bean (who played Boromir) was a whole other story.
The actor, as it happens, was afraid of flying and literally preferred to get dressed as his character and climb — for two hours in full costume — up the snowy mountains on foot!
Even Her Own Father Couldn't Recognize Her
If you listen to the films where Arwen speaks, and then to Liv Tyler speak in an interview out of character, you'll notice the two sound a lot different.
As part of creating her character, Tyler used a register much lower than her natural one. Apparently, it was so low that even her own father, Steven Tyler, thought that the character was dubbed.
Crying on Cue
One of the most impressive armies of the franchise is Saruman's. Those 10,000 soldiers marching will make anyone freeze where they stand and run for the hills screaming. You might remember that Grima Wormtongue's reaction was a little different — he cried.
Brad Dourif, the actor, wasn't scripted to have tears rolling from his eyes, but given that he could cry on command and that he thought this would fit the scene, he figured he'd just go for it. And good thing he did.
That's One Tall Dwarf
John Rhys-Davies, the actor playing Gimli, is a tall guy. At 6' 1", he towered over most of the people on set, and was, in fact, the tallest person in the Fellowship.
Since his character is the shortest one in the story, production had to use cinema tricks such as forced perspective, camera angles, and small platforms to make this big man appear tiny.
Leaf It Alone
Remember the Council of Elrond? Remember the beautiful background of arches and greenery? Well, those trees, as trees often do, shed some leaves during the meeting. Except it wasn't really the trees.
Each of those leaves was intentionally dropped by a hidden crew member! All those leaves were sourced locally by the production during the fall, put into sacks, and specially painted in order to be used in the film.
Baggins Here, Baggins There
Sir Ian Holm, the guy who plays the part of Bilbo Baggins in the trilogy, has been involved in other LOTR productions in the past.
While Peter Jackson's films might be the best-known in the past few decades, there were other adaptations made years and years ago. In 1981, BBC Radio created their own adaptation of the books and needed actors to voice the different characters. Back then, they chose Holm to serve as Frodo's voice.
A Master Archer
If watching the films has taught us anything is that Legolas can fire arrows like nobody's business. But these amazing archery skills are actually computer-generated, at least in the last battle. In fact, for a long time, this Elvish speed at which the arrows were fired was thought to be physically impossible.
Years later, however, highly professional archers have been able to recreate Legolas' impressive feats in real life! It was made possible, though, with the help of a quiver on the archer's hip. Legolas wears his quiver on his back.
Remember the Riders of Rohan? There were many of them. So many, that the production had to get creative. Since this specific Middle Earth race is known for its equestrian skills, casting them meant casting highly-experienced riders.
In the books, the riders are all men, but there were only so many men who fit the bill for the movie, so the production used both men and women (who often surpassed their male counterparts according to Jackson) for the shoot. The gender thing was sorted with the help of some glued-on beards.
An Apple a Day
Hobbits are known for their busy meal schedule. But the hobbits of the Fellowship had to make some adjustments during the journey. It was a learning process, though, as we see in the scene when Pippin asks about a second breakfast only to have an apple chucked at his head.
The person who threw the apple was Viggo, and apparently, he wasn't a very good shot because he needed 16 takes. Reports from the set say he enjoyed every minute of it.
You're in the Army Now
The Battle at Blackgate required some more extras than the production had. Which was a problem. The solution? Bringing in a few hundred local people in the form of soldiers from the New Zealand Army.
While practicing combat for a living, the soldiers weren't exactly accustomed to prop spears and wooden swords and kept breaking them in their cinematic enthusiasm.
At the end of "The Return of the King," there is the emotional scene of Sam's wedding. Shooting the scene was emotional for Sean Astin as well, so castmates Billy Boyd and Viggo Mortensen joined the shoot for moral support, disguised as wedding guests.
If you are lucky enough to have access to the DVD extras, you'll be able to see them in the scene after Sam's new wife, Rosie, throws her bouquet. The flowers are then caught by Boyd, who gets a passionate smooch from Mortensen.
An Economic Asset
Filming the epic trilogy has significantly contributed to New Zealand's local economy. The estimated numbers are at a few hundred million dollars.
In fact, the government recognized the commercial potential and economic opportunities and has even appointed a special minister for all Lord of the Rings matters.
The Baggins Family Tree
Casual viewers might remember Bilbo Baggins as Frodo's uncle. And we can't blame them, really. After all, Frodo does call him Uncle Bilbo. A closer inspection of Tolkein's words reveals a slightly different family connection.
When meeting in the Prancing Pony, Pippin says that Frodo is Bilbo's second cousin once removed. We're happy to clear that up for you.
Tall Enough to Play a Monster
The fearsome monsters known as the Uruk-hai are essentially huge demon-like beings that look as if they were forged in the bowels of the lowest grade of the underworld. They are also pretty tall.
To play them, the production needed to cast lots and lots of six-foot-tall men. Those, however, were a little hard to come by so the search was expanded to the five-feet region. The shorter Uruk-hai got the funny nickname Uruk-low.
Got the DVD? Good
We know that DVDs are essentially obsolete these days, but if you do get to lay a hand on an old copy of "The Fellowship of the Ring" extended edition disc, you're in for some exclusive fun.
Once you've found a way to play it, go to scene selection and select chapters 29-30. If you press down under chapter 30, you'll see a gold ring that was put there after Andy Serkis was awarded an MTV Best Virtual Performance Award.
Where Is the Lobe?
Have you noticed something odd about Gollum's face? And we don't mean the usual oddity of it. Were talking about his left earlobe — or lack thereof. You see, when creating the cast image of the poor soul's face, a cast air trap resulted in a missing lobe.
It was decided that this little accident was fate and that it actually works with the character. The design team thought it could even hint at a certain battle or bloody fight in Gollum's past.
Watch Your Head
That fateful moment when Gandalf comes over to Bilbo's hobbit-hole at the beginning of the first movie has the poor wizard hitting his head on a ceiling beam.
The place is suited to the sizes of a hobbit so the joke of a fully-grown human being too big for it almost writes itself. Except this one wasn't written in the script! Sir Ian McKellen banged his head by accident, but he didn't let that snag keep him from being in character and Peter Jackson loved it so much he kept that take.
The Scream Was Authentic
In "The Fellowship of the Ring," there is a part when Gandalf entertains little hobbit kids at a party while Merry and Pippin sneak around and light a giant dragon firework that sends one of the tents flying to the sky.
There is a very audible shriek you can hear when the thing explodes. This shriek was Billy Boyd screaming in surprise as he had no idea the thing was really about to blow on set. This burst of authenticity made the final cut.
Sounds Like a Busy Schedule
The entirety of the trilogy was filmed over the course of 274 days total. That adds up to sixteen months of shooting all three films simultaneously! Honestly, with this kind of attention to detail and convoluted plotlines, this number stands to reason.
The only film that took this much time to film was "Apocalypse Now," which was released in 1979 and obviously didn't have the same kind of access to special effects.
One of the many fights in the films is the battle of Helm's Deep. And one of the more memorable shots of this battle shows a warrior with a missing eye, turning the hole where his eye should be to the camera. This missing eye was not created using special effects.
The guy filmed really did have a missing eye, which he covered with an eyepatch when he came on as an extra. Once the director learned about the missing eye, he asked the man if he'd be interested in being filmed with no patch, an offer he eventually excepted.
It's an Elf Thing
Legolas has blue eyes. At least he does when we first meet him in "The Fellowiship of the Ring." Later in the trilogy, however, they change to brown. While we could write a lovely interpretation of how he turns a little more human than elf during the journey, the real reason is a little simpler.
Actor Orlando Bloom has naturally brown eyes which means he had to wear contacts to portray his character. For a while, that's what he did... until his corneas got scratched. The color of his eyes had to be changed digitally in later shots.
Where's My Finger?
Actor John Rhys-Davies, who plays Gimli, is missing the tip of one of his left-hand fingers. He had lost it in an accident years ago. Since Gimli has all fingers intact, the makeup department fixed him up with a prosthetic finger for the shoot.
The actor even had a little fun with the new piece and pulled a prank on Jackson: he filled the prosthetic with fake blood so it looked severed and told the director that he "had an accident."
Those of you who have also read the books instead of settling for the films, know all about Bill the pony. You might also have been disappointed a little to see he wasn't included in the movies.
The reason for omitting the little pony from the cinematic adaptation was purely logistical. Apparently, transporting a little horse around the terrain where the trilogy was filmed is even more complicated than it sounds. The creative solution was the occasional filming of a pantomime horse. (Yes, that means two people in a single horse costume.)
So Much for One Ring
Both Andy Serkis and Elijah Wood got one of the rings seen in the films from Director Peter Jackson after they finished filming. Apparently, they were both under the impression they had the only one.
We wonder how they found out about each other's gifts and if it took away any of the sentiment. Somehow, we feel they were both in good spirit about it.
Either Way, He Had to Be a Sir
When you think of Gandalf, you see the face of Sir Ian McKellen. But the face had a decent chance at being that of Sir Sean Connery. The veteran actor and former James Bond was initially considered for the role and was even offered $30 million for the entire trilogy!
Mr. Connery, however, decided to pass the opportunity. Reportedly, it was because he didn't understand the story.
Set Fire to the Cake
Hobbits live a different lifestyle than most of us. It must be a healthier lifestyle as Bilbo Baggins celebrated his birthday with a cake that had exactly 111 candles on it.
Fitting one cake with all those candles was no easy task, though. The prop cake, which was made of polystyrene, caught fire! Thankfully, no one was hurt.
Thank Heavens for Henry
One of the last people to join the cast was Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), who came along after shooting, had already started.
The actor had no idea who director Peter Jackson was and he hadn't even read the books. The main thing that made him take on the job was Henry, his son, who was only eleven at the time. We would like to take this opportunity to thank him personally.
Among all the different species on Middle Earth, the Elves might be the most famous ones. They are all beautiful and smart, and basically just better at anything than mere humans, and apparently, they are even more detailed than we thought.
If you look carefully, you'll see that different elves have eyes in various shades of blue. The different variations indicate what race an elf is. The Lothlorien elves, for example, had icy blue eyes while Rivendell elves had dark blue.
Mr. Tolkein was an avid language researcher and has even invented different languages for his Middle Earth creatures. While the writers of the films could have just used quotes from the books, they went overboard, using Tolkein's personal Elvish dictionary.
The cast worked with Andrew Jack, a dialect coach who used Tolkien's recordings to make sure the actors are using proper pronunciation.
At the beginning of "The Fellowship of the Ring," there is a scene showing Frodo and Gandalf riding the wizard's cart. While both actors are in a normal human size, their characters are supposed to have significant height differences, with Frodo being a tiny hobbit.
To create the illusion that Wood was much smaller than his cart partner, filming used forced perspective and sat Wood three feet behind McKellen.
Billy and Dominic Sitting in a Tree
To create Treebeard, the old ent, production used an actual tree. And since Merry and Pippin (Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd) had multiple scenes with his character, they essentially sat together up in that tree for long periods of time. They were there for so long, in fact, that they even wrote a screenplay!
Since getting them down and back up again was so hard that they just spent many of their breaks there. When the rest of the cast and crew were off to lunch, someone would send their food up while the rest went off the set.
Viggo the Fencer
Joining movie stars such as Tom Cruis and Sylvester Stallone, Viggo Mortensen does his own stunts. And since Aragorn is a swordsman, the actor had to learn to use one. Apparently, he was a natural. The professional swordmaster on location said he was the best he's ever trained.
Mortensen asked to use a real sword, which is significantly heavier and more cumbersome than the stunt prop and carried it with him even when he was off-set to stay in character. After being seen training in public, he was even questioned about it by the local police.
The Biggest Fan
Sir Christopher Lee (who plays Saruman) read the trilogy when it was first published and every year since then until his 2015 passing. Not only that, but he's also physically met with Tolkien, and was the only member of the production to have done that.
With such credentials and extensive knowledge, it only makes sense that Mr. Lee was the first actor to be cast in the trilogy. The makeup department has even consulted him on the design of some monsters.
All nine actors of the Fellowship decided to get a tattoo that would commemorate their joint experience. Well, all but John Rhys-Davies, who sent his stunt double instead.
The ink they got spells the word "nine" in Tengwar (Tolkein's Elvish script) and some of the actors have it somewhere visible; you can see Orlando Bloom's on his forearm in a fight scene in 2003's "Pirates of the Caribbean". Viggo Mortensen's tattoo can be seen on his left shoulder as pictured above in the 2007 movie "Eastern Promises."
Make Sure They See My Good Side
In their spare time, many members of the Fellowship tried their hand at surfing. Those irresistible New Zealand beaches are hard to say no to.
During one surfing session, Viggo Mortensen crashed and bruised his face on one side. After the makeup department couldn't hide the swelling for the following day's shoot, Peter Jackson decided to film the actor's scene so they would only show the non-bruised side of his face.