Sir Christopher Lee (Saruman) read "The Lord of the Rings" once a year, until his death in 2015, and had done so since the year it was published, and is the only member of the cast and crew ever to have met J.R.R. Tolkien.
Gandalf's painful encounter with a ceiling beam in Bilbo's hobbit-hole was not in the script. Sir Ian McKellen banged his forehead against the beam accidentally. Peter Jackson thought McKellen did a great job "acting through" the mistake, and kept it in.
Viggo Mortensen did his own stunts. He also insisted on using only the real steel sword, instead of a significantly lighter aluminum sword, or safer rubber sword, which were manufactured for battle scenes and stunts.
Viggo Mortensen chipped a tooth while filming a fight sequence. He wanted Peter Jackson to superglue it back on, so he could finish his scene, but Jackson took him to the dentist on his lunch break, had it patched up, and returned to the set that afternoon.
The cast often had to fly to remote shoot locations by helicopter. Sean Bean (Boromir) was afraid of flying, and would only do it when absolutely necessary. When they were shooting the scenes of the Fellowship crossing the snowy mountains, he'd spend two hours every morning, climbing from the base of the mountain, to the set near the top, already dressed as Boromir. The crew being flown up, could see him from their helicopters.
When Pippin is being hit with the apples after asking about second breakfast, it is Viggo Mortensen chucking the apple at his head. They had to shoot the scene sixteen times to get it just right, and Billy Boyd says he believes Mortensen enjoyed himself immensely.
For high-tech tasks, a computer program called MASSIVE made armies of CGI orcs, elves, and humans. These digital creations could "think" and battle independently, identifying friend or foe, thanks to individual fields of vision. Peter Jackson's team could click on one creature, in a crowd scene of twenty thousand, and see through his "eyes". Different species even boast unique fighting styles.
Over 12.5 million plastic rings were made in order to fabricate simulated chain mail for the movie. Two crew members spent the length of the shoot linking the rings by hand into suits of armor. By the end of production, they had worn the fingerprints off their thumbs and index fingers.
According to Sean Astin in the Extended DVD commentary, when Bilbo drops the ring before leaving Hobbiton, the floor was magnetic to prevent the ring from bouncing. This was done to demonstrate the importance and weight of the ring.
During the fight between the Uruk-hai, Lurtz, and Aragorn, the moment where Lurtz takes out the dagger Aragorn had stuck in his leg, and then threw it at him. That was an actual dagger. It was supposed to hit the tree behind Aragorn, but because of the bad capabilities with the orcs armor, he accidentally threw it towards Viggo. Luckily, Viggo was fast enough to deflect it.
When the dragon firework goes off at the party, the shriek heard is Billy Boyd actually screaming, as he was unaware at the time that the firework was really going to explode on-set (he thought that it would be put in digitally). It was not scripted, but the take ended up in the final film.
As well as being the only member of the cast and crew to have met J.R.R. Tolkien face to face, Sir Christopher Lee was also the first person to be cast in the trilogy, because of his extensive knowledge of the books. He frequently visited the Make-up Department, and often gave tips about the facial design of the monsters.
When Gandalf had his big stand-off scene with the Balrog, Sir Ian McKellen was actually acting to a green ping pong ball, which was used, along with the greenscreen technology employed during filming, to give him and other cast members a reference point for some of the larger CGI characters.
The Elvish language lines spoken in the film are not just quotes from the book, they were derived from J.R.R. Tolkien's own limited dictionary of that language. Dialect Coach Andrew Jack used recordings of Tolkien reading his books, to guide the actors' pronunciation.
The different colors of blue for the elves' eyes, revealed what race they were. The Lothlorien elves had light blue eyes, and the Rivendell elves were dark blue. Except when the designers forgot to alter Orlando Bloom's eye color from dark brown to blue.
During filming, most of the members of the Fellowship took up surfing in New Zealand in their spare time. Among them was Viggo Mortensen, who wiped out terribly one day, and bruised one whole side of his face. The next day, Make-up Artists tried to mask the bruising and swelling, but were unsuccessful. Instead, Peter Jackson opted to film Mortenson from one side for the entire scene. In the Mines of Moria, when they find the tomb, Aragorn is only seen from one side in the whole scene.
Originally, the narration at the prologue was to be spoken by Elijah Wood, but it was felt that the information imparted, had little bearing on the character of Frodo. Sir Ian McKellen also recorded a narration, but once again, it was felt that Gandalf wasn't the right character to speak it. They eventually settled on Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, as it emphasizes the timelessness of the elves.
Eight of the nine members of the Fellowship got a small tattoo of the word "nine" spelled out in Tengwar, which is the Elvish script created by Tolkien. They got it at a tattoo parlor in Wellington, New Zealand, to commemorate the experience of the movie. The ninth member, John Rhys-Davies, declined, and sent his stunt double in his place. Elijah Wood's tattoo is on his lower stomach. Sean Astin and Billy Boyd have the tattoo on their ankles (to commemorate all those hours in the hobbit feet). Orlando Bloom, who plays the archer elf Legolas, has his on his forearm. His tattoo is visible during a fight scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). Sir Ian McKellen's is on his shoulder. Dominic Monaghan's is on his shoulder. And the eighth member, Sean Bean, has his tattoo on his right shoulder. Viggo Mortensen has his tattoo on his left shoulder. It is visible on some pictures from the movie Eastern Promises (2007)
Two sets of Bag End, Bilbo Baggins' house, were built. One to accommodate the Hobbits, the other thirty-three percent smaller, for the full size Sir Ian McKellen, right down to smaller versions of the books on the bookshelves.
It is estimated that filming of the trilogy pumped about two hundred million dollars into the New Zealand economy. The New Zealand government even created a Minister for Lord of the Rings, whose remit was to exploit all the economic opportunities the films represented.
Peter Jackson originally contemplated having the character of Tom Bombadil, a character that was in the book, but never made it to the movie, incorporated into a cameo scene, in which the Hobbits are walking through the forest and see a man with a feathered cap dart through the trees, then they hear Tom singing, and begin running through the forest, but ran out of time to film it.
The hobbits needed to appear about three to four feet tall, tiny compared with the seven-foot Gandalf. This was often accomplished using forced perspective, placing Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf) consistently closer to the camera than Elijah Wood, in order to trick the eye into thinking McKellen is towering.
The two most renowned Tolkien artists are Alan Lee and John Howe, and so it was important to Peter Jackson to have those two on board. Lee was tracked down to a tiny little village in Dartmoor, England, and was FedExed a package of Jackson's Heavenly Creatures (1994) and a letter outlining his intentions. They monitored the progress of the FedEx package every step of the way, but were somewhat surprised when Lee rang them only three hours after delivery, to say he'd love to work with them. Howe, meanwhile, was living in Switzerland, and because someone hadn't worked out the time differences between Switzerland and New Zealand correctly, he was called at about 2 a.m. He says that the biggest frustration with that phone call, was waiting for Jackson to finish his pitch, before he could say yes.
Although in the movie, it seems to be only a week or so, in the book, the time between when Gandalf leaves to research the Ring, tries to find Gollum, and when he returns to send Frodo on his adventure, is a span of seventeen years.
The scripts were essentially being re-written every day of the sixteen month shoot, most of which, with the added input from the actors and actresses, who were all now heavily involved with their characters.
Throughout the trilogy, the color of Legolas' eyes change from blue to brown. This is because the contact lenses Orlando Bloom was wearing scratched his corneas, and could not be worn every day. In some of the shots, the post-production team digitally changed the color of his eyes.
Hobbiton was made a year before production began to make it look like it was a natural, lived-in place, complete with real vegetable patches. The greens department regulated the length of the grass by having sheep eat it.
Orlando Bloom originally auditioned for the part of Faramir, a supporting character (eventually played by David Wenham) in the next two movies. He was called back and subsequently cast, instead, in the more prominent role of Legolas.
After the New Zealand premiere, Director Peter Jackson joined the actors, who played the nine members of the Fellowship, by getting a commemorative tattoo of his own. While their tattoos were the Elvish symbol for "9", Jackson received an Elvish "10".
Viggo Mortensen kept his sword with him at all times off-set, so that he could remain in character. He was questioned several times by Police, after reviewing his training sessions with the sword, and being spotted by members of the public.
It's common practice with a big budget feature film to have more than one unit shooting at any given time, usually two or three. With these movies, there were occasions when there would be between five and seven units shooting at any given time.
When Frodo is leafing through Bilbo's book in Rivendell, a page with dwarven runes is shown. The runes translate thus: "Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the keyhole." This is a reference (actually a direct copy) to a map in the book "The Hobbit" and the runes tell of the secret entrance into The Lonely Mountain. Another page, to which Frodo turns, shows two illustrations of swords on one page, and a key on the other. While varying visually from their movie counterparts, these swords are Glamdring and Orcrist, the two swords Bilbo and the Dwarves found in the troll cave. The key is the key used to enter The Lonely Mountain.
The four actors playing the young Hobbits would have to go into make-up at 5 a.m. and stand for an hour and a half while their prosthetic feet were being applied. Sean Astin's personal Make-up Artist doing this, was called Sean Foot.
During the Council of Elrond, leaves are continually falling in the background to suggest that this is a meeting that is taking place outside. This meant about half a dozen crew members were positioned above the set, dropping leaves at various intervals. This also meant that the Production Department had to collect numerous sacks of leaves during autumn, and of course dead leaves turn brown fairly quickly, which also meant that every one of those leaves had to be painted.
A rubber puppet with a horrific face, was superimposed over Sir Ian Holm's face when Bilbo Baggins covets the ring in Rivendell. Holm was so delighted with the puppet, that the design team had a cast iron version of it made for his mantelpiece, and gave it to him as a parting gift, when Holm wrapped all his scenes on the film.
Sometimes when there is a close-up of the ring you can hear a gruff voice chanting. This is the voice of Sauron and the words he is chanting are, "One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them," in the language of Mordor. Whenever Frodo puts the ring on, it is also Sauron speaking to him.
More than sixteen hundred pairs of latex ears and feet were used during the shoot, each "cooked" in a special oven running twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There was no way of removing the feet at the end of the day without damaging them, and so each pair could only be used once. The used feet were shredded to prevent a black market in stolen hobbit feet, but apparently Dominic Monaghan (Merry) kept a pair.
When Frodo falls on the snow and loses the ring, a close-up of the ring with Frodo in the background is shown. In order to keep both the subjects focused, a giant ring (six inches in diameter) was used.
When Arwen escapes from the Black Riders through the river by flooding them, the spell she speaks isn't subtitled. According to the Encyclopedy of Arda (see External Links: Miscellaneous # 58), she says: "Nîn o Hithaeglir lasto beth daer; rimmo nín Bruinen dan in Ulaer", which means roughly "Waters of the Hithaeglir, hear the word of power, rush, waters of Bruinen, against the Ringwraiths!"
Although Bill the pony is a feature of the novel, the writers initially decided not to include him as the Fellowship make their journey, for the simple logistical reason of transporting a horse deep into the mountains. The problem was solved in the more difficult shots, by using the classic pantomime trick of dressing two people up as a horse, one at the front, and one at the back.
The Tolkien estate was never in favor of Peter Jackson's film adaptation, but seeing as J.R.R. Tolkien signed the rights away in 1968 for fifteen thousand dollars ($99,233.19 in 2012 dollars), there was nothing they could do about it. Tolkien's grandson Simon Tolkien came out in support of the production, and was, according to some accounts, disowned by his relatives, although Simon's father Christopher Tolkien later denied this.
Every actor and actress in the film wore a wig, apart from Billy Jackson, Peter Jackson's toddler son, seen listening wide-eyed to a tale told by Bilbo Baggins at his birthday party. He had perfect Hobbit hair.
When the fellowship comes out of hiding from the crows during their stop on the hills, Gandalf says "Spies of Saruman!" However, during the first take of this scene, Sir Ian McKellen jokingly said "Spies of Star Wars!"
During the council scene in Rivendell when the fate of the Ring is being decided, when Boromir makes his plea for the Ring to be brought to Gondor, the "Gondor theme" can faintly be heard. In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), when the characters finally reach Gondor, this theme is heard as a full orchestral piece. Composer Howard Shore didn't plan out that this Rivendell background music would develop into the "Gondor main theme" by the third film, but it ultimately did evolve into it.
The climactic fight scene was shot in the middle of a heatwave, with temperatures in excess of one hundred degrees Fahrenheit (thirty-eight degrees Celsius). Many of the actors playing the Uruk-Hai had to be carried off the set with heat exhaustion.
John Rhys-Davies suffered from a reaction to his prosthetics, usually inflammation around the eyes. That meant that he could never be filmed on consecutive days, and would always require at least a day off for his skin to return to normal. He was never anything less than three hours in the make-up chair.
Bret McKenzie makes a silent cameo as an elf during the Council of Elrond scene. His attractive character was noticed by fans, who dubbed him "Figwit" (short for "Frodo is great...who is THAT?!?"). His celebrity on the Internet was such, that Peter Jackson (who has informally accepted the use of the name), brought him back in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), with two scripted dialogue lines.
The map Gandalf picks up in Bilbo's study, is a reproduction of the map J.R.R. Tolkien drew for the book "The Hobbit". The map is of Erebor, The Lonely Mountain, which is the site of the quest in The Hobbit. The map plays a significant role in Peter Jackson's later trilogy of films based on that book.
Before production began, it had to be determined whether computer effects could convincingly create battle scenes featuring thousands of warriors. Peter Jackson invested his own money in the pursuit of this software.
Wherever possible, Costume Designer Ngila Dickson followed J.R.R. Tolkien's descriptions of the characters' clothing to the letter. One such example is Bilbo Baggins' waistcoat, which sports brass buttons, as referred to in "The Hobbit".
Peter Jackson's first two choices for the role of Aragorn, were Daniel Day-Lewis and Russell Crowe. Crowe was excited about the prospect of being involved with a major motion picture in New Zealand, but couldn't commit, due to scheduling conflicts in America. Crowe was born in, and lived in New Zealand until he was four years old, when his family moved to Australia.
Gollum looks different in this movie than in later installments, because scheduling forced those scenes to be filmed based on an early design (made before Andy Serkis was cast in the role). He is only seen in brief glimpses, partly due to this discrepancy, and partly to tease audiences before his entrance in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002). Peter Jackson (jokingly) said in the commentary on the Extended DVD that sometime in the future he would enjoy creating a "Special Edition" (à la Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)) where this inconsistency could be fixed.
Usually on a feature film, when the director comes to view the dailies, there's about twenty to twenty-five minutes of footage to be seen. Because of the number of different units out filming at any one time, the dailies for this movie were about three to four hours long.
In one of the most obscure references to the books, Bilbo states proudly to Gandalf that Frodo is "... a Baggins, not some blockheaded Bracegirdle from Hardbottle". Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, the relative who knocks on the door during this scene, is mentioned in the books as being born a Bracegirdle from Hardbottle.
Although larger actors were cast as hobbits, and shrunk by visual effects, the filmmakers discovered that full-size actors (six feet tall) did not look right when the effects were applied. Therefore, the hobbit actors averaged around 5' 6".
While the rest of the Fellowship struggle through snow drifts, Legolas walks on the top of the snow. This is in line with the information given in the novel, where Elves are so lightweight, that they are able to walk on top of snow.
Tolkien based Gandalf on two figures of mythology: first Väinämöinen, the hero of the Finnish epic Kalevala. The other is Odin, the Mayor deity god of Norse Mythology. Odin is traditionally seen as an old one-eyed wanderer, with a long grey beard, an old brimmed hat and a staff. Tolkien referred to Gandalf as an "Odinic wanderer".
The water used on the Rivendell set was brought in, and contained chlorine. The entire water system had to be waterproof, so that the chlorinated water would not leak into the ground and contaminate natural water. After shooting was finished, the water was collected back.
At the birthday party, when Bilbo is naming various hobbit families, he says "Proudfoots" and a hobbit calls back "Proudfeet", with his large feet in the foreground. The shot was deliberately framed to imitate the shot used in The Lord of the Rings (1978), as an homage to the film that introduced Peter Jackson to J.R.R. Tolkien's works.
Miramax was the first studio to express an interest in Peter Jackson's interpretation of the books, but wanted to do it all in one film. Jackson refused, leaving him with four weeks to find another studio for funding, touting the project as two films. Calling upon his friend Mark Ordesky, who was an Executive at New Line Cinema, a pitch was set up with New Line Cinema President Robert Shaye. His only quibble with the presentation, was that it had to be three films.
In the film's first theatrical release, a story circulated that when Sam tells Frodo that he is now the farthest he has ever been from home, a car is visible driving by in the background (top-right corner of the screen). Arguments ensued. Some said it was smoke from a chimney, others said they saw the glint of sunlight reflected from the windshield of a fast-moving vehicle. In the version of the film released on DVD, there is definitely no car, only chimney smoke and a one-frame flash of light, that could conceivably be a car, but not in any sense that could be considered a goof. Peter Jackson says (in the commentary track on the Extended DVD) that he looked at every frame on a computer, and has never seen anything resembling a car, and claims that it's nonsense (and certainly the original sighting remains unconfirmed by IMDb goof spotters). In the documentary of the Extended DVD version, Editor John Gilbert says that there was a car in the background, but they thought no one would notice it. They got rid of it in the DVD version. In a subsequent magazine interview, Jackson agreed that the car was there.
In order to make forced perspective a bit more interesting, the filmmakers devised a new system, consisting of a pulley and a platform. When the camera moved (which is normally impossible, as the forced perspective would become obvious) the actors also moved, and the perspective (seven-foot Gandalf - four-foot hobbits) would always be okay. They also used three differently sized props (large, medium, and small) to interact with the different sized characters
As Gandalf and the others leap the stairway gap in Moria while fleeing the Balrog, incoming arrows shot at them by goblins high above seem to rapidly flex. This is not an accidental special-effects artifact, arrows actually do this, and it contributes to stable flight, similar to a gyroscope's effect. That one of Legolas' arrows does not flex in a flying-point-of-view shot may indicate that elvish arrows are enchanted, or that the filmmakers just wanted to spare the audience the extra distraction in that shot.
During the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, twenty minutes of the film was shown to a crowd at a nearby castle, including members of the production, the first time the film's actors had seen any completed footage.
During one take of the Buckleberry Ferry scene, a very strong splinter found its way through Dominic Monaghan's prosthetic foot, and into his own, causing him considerable pain. While crew members took the splinter out of his foot, Monaghan bragged to his fellow hobbits as to how large the splinter would be, but it ended up being very small. From that point on, Billy Boyd would tease him about splinters whenever something happened to Dominic, much to Dominic's frustration.
In the Extended Edition DVD, during the "Concerning Hobbits" prologue, there is a brief shot of Sam holding up a bunch of flowers by the rootball for planting. This is the only place in the trilogy where Sam (Bilbo and Frodo's gardener) is actually seen gardening.
The design for the Hobbits' feet took over a year to perfect. Over eighteen feet were produced for the four lead Hobbits alone, and each pair would take about an hour and a half to be put on over the actors' real feet.
The shots that were too visually complex to be conveyed on a storyboard, were rendered digitally on a computer, in a stage known as pre-visualization. Peter Jackson received a lot of pointers on this from George Lucas, and his Star Wars Producer Rick McCallum at Skywalker Ranch. When he returned to New Zealand, he hired a lot of recent digital artist graduates to help him create his pre-visualization concepts.
The sounds of the Orcs were, in part, recordings of elephant seal pups at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, a marine mammal hospital that rescues, rehabilitates, and releases sick and injured seals, sea lions, whales, and dolphins.
James Horner was contacted to compose the music for the film, but he was unavailable, because of his work on A Beautiful Mind (2001). The choice of Howard Shore as Composer, took some people by surprise, because he was associated with dark thriller films, and he had never worked on an epic film of this scale. He ultimately won his first Academy Award for Best Original Score for this film.
Development of a live-action adaptation of the "Lord Of The Rings" books had been in process as far back as 1957, when Hugo Award-winning science fiction magazine Editor Forrest J. Ackerman had successfully convinced J.R.R. Tolkien to grant him permission to attempt one. In the forty plus years before Peter Jackson finally managed to film the trilogy, John Boorman, Stanley Kubrick, and The Beatles had all either attempted or expressed interest in filming their own adaptations.
During production, co-Writer Brian Sibley visited the set. Sibley had previously written the BBC Radio adaptation (with Sir Ian Holm), as well as the text to two maps of Middle-Earth. In this case, he was researching for two books about the production of the film version. He met co-Writer Fran Walsh, and discovered that they both had an interest in genealogy. They discovered that they had common ancestors buried in New Zealand, and were, therefore, distant cousins.
"Moria", in Koine Greek, quite appropriately means "folly", or "foolishness". In Elvish, it just means "black chasm". In Italian (accent on "i") it means a deadly epidemic, like pest or smallpox. In Dwarvish, it's Khazad-dûm, a very more reassuring "House of the Dwarves".
After much deliberation, it was decided to do away with a prologue, as it would have been overstuffed with information. It was only after production had wrapped, and Peter Jackson had flown to London to start working on the scoring of the film, did he get an instruction from New Line Cinema, which said there had to be a prologue. So, while Howard Shore was recording the music track, Jackson and Editor John Gilbert would be huddled in a corner with an Avid machine, compiling the footage, with which he had originally dispensed.
Viggo Mortensen became very attached to his sword during filming, while trying to fully become his character. He often carried it around with him, and even had the Police stop him once for having it in public.
There is a second hidden extra in the four-disc version of the DVD. It is the preview of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), that was attached to theatrical prints of this movie, near the end of its theatrical run. You can find it by going to the chapter index of the second disc, going to the last chapter "Official Fan Club Credits" and pressing "down". An icon of The Two Towers appears. Press play and you'll see Peter Jackson presenting this feature. The same trailer is on disc two of the Blu-ray release. Just stay at the special features screen after letting the extended credits roll.
At Bree, when the Nazgul "kill" the hobbits, Peter Jackson does a close up reaction shot of Merry, as he pulls back you can see Frodo come into frame. To facilitate the shot he wanted, Jackson had Elijah Wood sit on the very edge of the bed and then slide in as the camera pulled back. If you watch carefully you can see he is in motion.
Although the film received a PG rating in the UK, it was with a disclaimer, that some scenes might be unsuitable for young children. After Jurassic Park (1993) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), it was only the third film to receive such a disclaimer.
Viggo Mortensen claimed that, although the filming of the trilogy was technically wrapped by December 2000, they had run over-budget, and that the second and third movies required expensive re-shoots of subpar footage over the following years.
Miramax spent fourteen million dollars to develop the project, but because of the projected budget, the Weinsteins needed Disney's approval to go ahead. Harvey Weinstein made the pitch for two films, with a projected budget of no more than one hundred eighty million dollars. Disney's head Michael Eisner rejected his proposal. He thought The Lord of the Rings would not translate well to film, and there was a limited audience for the fantasy genre. After Eisner's rejection, the Weinsteins reluctantly let Peter Jackson shop the project to other studios. After sitting through Jackson's presentation, New Line Cinema's Chief Executive, Robert Shaye, committed to three films, with a combined budget of three hundred fifty million dollars.
John Howe, brought in to work on the production, because of his longstanding reputation as being one of the great artists of J.R.R. Tolkien's work, was given the task of designing the Moria Orcs himself.
Peter Jackson was concerned that the executives at New Line Cinema would object to the amount of smoking in the film. He jokingly suggested that if there was an objection, that Gandalf would be re-written to have recently given up smoking, and instead would suck on candies, in an effort to curb his addiction. Fortunately, for the filmmakers, there was no objection to the smoking.
WILHELM SCREAM: (At around three minutes and twenty seconds) After Sauron's third strike that kills a swath of enemies, The Ring is displayed while he is clutching his weapon. It can be heard briefly and partially.
In the French version, names are translated (as in the books) into names that sound medieval to French people. Thus, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins are called "Frodon et Bilbon Sacquet", the Shire is "La Comté", Rivendell is "Fondcombe", and so on.
Lurtz's name is never spoken aloud in the original film. It is only known from the franchise and credits. However, in the Extended Edition of the film, Lurtz's name is spoken by Saruman. Despite some initial fears that he was an entirely new character, he really wasn't much different from other "generic Uruk-hai leaders" already present in the book.
The MTV Council of Elrond spoof easter egg Lord of the Piercing (2002) does not appear on the UK version of the four-disc set. This is because the BBFC would have required a "12" certificate for the set, had it been included, instead of a "PG" certificate. For the same reason, one of the documentaries has had some swearing cut out.
Tom Baker was a candidate for the role of Gandalf after his brief, but praised, cameo as the dying elven king in Dungeons & Dragons (2000). He turned it down, not willing to spend sixteen months in New Zealand.
In a departure from the original Tolkien, Gandalf's sword (Glamdring) does not glow in the presence of orcs (like Bilbo's Sting) and is never named. In the commentary for the Extended Edition, Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens joked that "budgetary cuts" led to "not enough blue left" for both swords. However, the commentary for one of the Hobbit films explained that a glowing Glamdring would have looked too much like a Star Wars "light-saber".
Look carefully at the left hand margin of Bilbo's book when Frodo is flicking through it at Rivendell. Just before he turns it to look at the map, you can briefly see the names of all thirteen Dwarves featured in The Hobbit. (Bilbo also mentions wanting to go and see Lake-town again in the same scene.)
In order to make the actors playing Hobbits and Dwarfs look noticeably smaller than humans, Wizards, and Elves, roughly three techniques were used. The easiest way was to simply put some actors farther away from the camera than others, using forced perspective as a way to make some appear taller than others. In other situations, a small actor was used as a scale double, with the face of the real actor digitally superimposed over the double's face. Finally, for several shots, actors were filmed separately against a greenscreen, and were digitally composited together into the same shot with the desired height (the final shot at the end of the Council of Elrond was filmed this way). In Middle-Earth lore, Dwarfs are slightly taller than Hobbits. Luckily, John Rhys-Davies (Gimli the Dwarf) was slightly taller than the actors playing the Hobbits, so in every shot in which Gimli and a Hobbit actor appear, he did not have to be filmed separately from his fellow actors.
Soria Moria Castle is a Norwegian fairy tale made famous by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe in their classical Norske Folkeeventyr. J.R.R. Tolkien acknowledged that the name (in sound, not meaning) lay behind his "Mines of Moria".
Hugo Weaving was recovering from the flu during the filming of the scene where Elrond talks to Gandalf at Rivendell, and as a result he had a hoarse voice. Co-Writer Philippa Boyens remarked on the DVD commentary that she felt it actually enhanced the quality of his voice.
Because Lawrence Makoare's vision was impaired while he was made-up to look like Lurtz, he could not pull punches during the sequences when he battles Aragorn in hand-to-hand combat. Rather than having Makoare do this sequence over until he could pull his punches, Viggo Mortensen decided to fight back just as realistically, making the physical blows completely real.
Johnny Vegas auditioned for the role of Sam. He recalled, "I was dreadful. I'm in front of a bluescreen, they go, 'Imagine a spider' and there's me going, 'Oooh, Shelob! Shelob!' Peter Jackson's taking his glasses off and rubbing his eyes, saying: I flew from New Zealand for this."
About three thousand one hundred shots (seventy-eight percent of the Super 35 film) were color graded at Colorfront in Wellington, New Zealand, using 5D Colossus software, after being scanned by an Imagica XE scanner full 2K resolution (2048*1536). The color-graded shots were then recorded on Kodak 5242 intermediate film, by two Arri Laser film recorders at ten bits per channel. Because only seventy-eight percent of the film was digital, a digitally squeezed anamorphic print could not be made for the whole movie. Instead, the digital shots were recorded on an inter-negative hardmatted at 1.77:1, intercut with the non-digital original negative (which had been color timed by The Film Unit, New Zealand), and printed to 2.39:1 anamorphic Kodak film, using an optical printer at Deluxe, Los Angeles, California. Fuji 3519-D was used for release prints.
Liv Tyler was scared to operate a car during filming in New Zealand, due to having to drive on the opposite side of the road, than what she was used to in the United States. She often had Orlando Bloom drive her around, as he was familiar with driving on the left side of the road, being from England.
Andy Serkis played another bald character, who is a CGI character, Supreme Leader Snoke in the third Star Wars trilogy. Fans speculated that "The Lord of the Rings" was one of George Lucas' influences behind the Star Wars saga. Sir Christopher Lee played Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels.
When the four Hobbits are hiding underneath the grass verge early in the film, the black rider approaches above them. There is a gap between the tree and the pathway to the right of the screen in which you should see the rider pass through before entering the center of the screen, however he does not pass through it.
When Frodo is leaving everyone behind at the River Anduin, to take up the quest on his own, divers went into the water to make sure it would be free of any sharp objects or debris for Sean Astin to run into when Sam goes chasing after him. Although they gave the "OK", Sean ended up stepping on a piece of glass that completely pierced his foot from bottom to top, requiring a helicopter to transport him to the nearest hospital, and receive several stitches.
J.R.R. Tolkien's original novel describes the fate of all of the surviving dwarves from The Hobbit. Gimli originally comes to Rivendell only to escort his father, Gloin, a member of Bilbo's quest, who has come to inform the Elves that servants of Sauron are searching for Bilbo. Gimli ends up being selected, so that the Dwarves, along with all the other free peoples of Middle-Earth, would be represented in the Fellowship. Balin, whose tomb the find in Moria, was also a member. Sadly, most of the other surviving dwarves accompanied Balin there, and were killed when the Orcs and the Balrog returned.
Production Designer Grant Major personally supervised the translation of all the writings in Balin's tomb into Dwarvish. He was then horrified to learn that a visiting J.R.R. Tolkien scholar had taken great offense at seeing the phrase "Joe was here" among the writings. They scoured the contents of Balin's tomb and found nothing, only to learn that the scholar, who was overly serious about everything to do with Tolkien, had been told this by a crew carpenter, who has having a joke at his expense. Intrepid fans later published screen captures and translations of Moria wall segments, where the runes spelled "John was here", and "Made in New Zealand". During pre-production, Weta Artists asked Tolkien expert Michael Martinez if there were any examples of Orc graffiti in the book. Martinez found one citation (in the chapter where Frodo, Sam, and Gollum see a defaced statue in Gondor). He used other passages to argue that the Orcs would have used runes to carve graffiti on Moria's walls.
The climax of the film actually inter-cuts the last chapter of the book (Boromir trying to take the Ring from Frodo, Frodo's escape and his departure with Sam) with the first chapter of the second book, which shows Boromir's death and funeral, Merry and Pippin's capture, and Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas beginning their pursuit of the Orcs.
The chapter titles "A Long-expected Party", "A Short Cut to Mushrooms", "The Bridge of Khazad-dum", "Lothlorien", and "The Breaking of the Fellowship" from the book, are spoken lines at their respective points in the storyline, with the exception of "The Breaking of The Fellowship", which is foreshadowed during the scene at "The Mirror of Galadriel". "Riddles In The Dark" is also mentioned, the name of a chapter from "The Hobbit". In the Extended Edition DVD, the prologue title "Concerning Hobbits" was mentioned by Sir Ian Holm (Bilbo) in the opening scenes at Bag End, before the first chapter is named.
Despite Liv Tyler's role in the films, the character of Arwen only appears in one scene in The Fellowship of the Ring before the Counsel of Elrond and again with just one spoken line in The Return of the King after the One Ring is destroyed. Other key scenes from the book were not shown in the films, while many others were altered for the sake of entertainment. Several characters from the book, including Tom Bombadil, Glorfindel, Radagast and Bill Ferny, were never shown, or hinted at, in the films.
In the films, the shards of Narsil are kept at Rivendell, and not reforged and given to Aragorn until midway through the third film. This is a notable difference from the book, in which Aragorn is already in possession of the broken sword when the Hobbits first meet up with him in Bree. According to Peter Jackson's commentary on the DVD, one of the reasons for this change, is because he felt Aragorn would look silly wielding a broken sword.