Christopher Lee 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 - Ian McKellen banged his forehead against the beam accidentally, not on purpose. Peter Jackson thought McKellen did a great job "acting through" the mistake, and so kept it in.
Viggo Mortensen did his own stunts. He also insisted on using only the real steel sword, instead of significantly lighter aluminum sword or safer rubber sword which were manufactured for battle scenes and stunts.
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.
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 the director took him to the dentist on his lunch break, had it patched up, and returned to the set that afternoon.
For high-tech tasks, a computer program called MASSIVE made armies of CG 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 20,000 and see through his "eyes". Different species even boast unique fighting styles.
When Pippin is being hit with the apples after asking about second breakfast, it is Viggo Mortensen himself chucking the apple at his head. They had to shoot the scene 16 times to get it just right, and Billy Boyd says he believes Mortensen enjoyed himself immensely.
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 it in his leg, and then Lurtz threw it at him. That was an actual dagger. It was supposed to hit the tree behind Viggo Mortensen, 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 that take ended up in the final film.
When Gandalf has his big stand-off scene with the Balrog, Ian McKellen is actually acting to a green ping pong ball which was used along with the green screen technology employed during filming to give him & other cast members a reference point for some of the larger CGI characters.
As well as being the only member of the cast and crew to have met J.R.R. Tolkien face to face, 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 makeup department and often gave tips about the facial design of the monsters.
The different colours 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 colour from dark brown to blue.
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 actual recordings of Tolkien reading his books to guide the actors' pronunciation.
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, makeup 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. 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). 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's home, were built. One to accommodate the Hobbits, the other 33% smaller for the full size Ian McKellen, right down to smaller versions of the books on the bookshelves.
It is estimated that filming of the trilogy pumped about $200,000,000 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 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 3 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 Europe and New Zealand correctly, was rung about 2am. 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 and tries to find Gollum and when he returns to send Frodo on his adventure is a span of 17 years.
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.
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.
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 high budget feature film to have more than one unit shooting at any one time, usually two or three. With "The Lord of the Rings", 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 Frodo turns to shows two illustrations of swords on one page, and a key on the other. Whilst varying visually from their movie counterparts, these swords are none other than Glamdring and Orcrist, the two swords Bilbo and the Dwarves find in the troll cave. The key is of the key used to enter The Lonely Mountain.
The four actors playing the young Hobbits would have to go into make-up at 5am 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 sacks and sacks of leaves during autumn, and of course dead leaves turn brown fairly quickly. Which also meant that every single one of those leaves had to be individually painted.
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.
A rubber puppet with a horrific face was superimposed over 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.
More than 1,600 pairs of latex ears and feet were used during the shoot, each "cooked" in a special oven running 24 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 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"
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, Ian McKellen jokingly said "Spies of Star Wars!".
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.
Every actor in the film wore a wig apart from Billy Jackson, the director's (Peter Jackson) toddler son, seen listening wide-eyed to a tale told by Bilbo Baggins at his birthday party; he had perfect Hobbit hair.
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 $15,000 ($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.
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 and his family moved to Australia.
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.
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 script dialogue lines.
John Rhys-Davies suffered from a reaction to his prosthetics - usually inflammation around the eyes - that meant that he could never be shot on consecutive days but would always require at least a day off for his skin to return to normal. He was never anything less than 3 hours in the make-up chair.
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.
Wherever possible, costume designer Ngila Dickson followed J.R.R. Tolkien's descriptions of the characters' clothing to the very letter. One such example is Bilbo Baggins's waistcoat which does indeed sport brass buttons, as referred to in "The Hobbit".
Before production began, it had to be determined whether computer effects could convincingly create battle scenes featuring thousands and thousands of warriors. Peter Jackson invested his own money in the pursuit of this software.
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' (a la Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)) where this inconsistency could be fixed.
Although Frodo calls him Uncle Bilbo, Frodo is in fact (according to J.R.R. Tolkien) Bilbo's second cousin once removed, which is also how Pippin describes his relationship with Frodo in the Prancing Pony.
Although larger actors were cast as hobbits, and shrunk by special effects, the filmmakers discovered that full-size actors (i.e., six feet tall) did not look right when the effects were applied. Therefore, the hobbit actors averaged around 5'6".
Usually on a feature film, when the director comes to view the dailies, there's about 20-25 minutes of footage to be seen. Because of the number of different units out filming at any one time, the dailies for "The Fellowship of the Ring" were about 3-4 hours long, ie, the length of the finished film.
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.
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. Tolkién refereed 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 water-proof so that the chlorinated water would not leak into the ground and contaminate natural water. After shooting was finished, the water used 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.
There are several close ups of fingers toying with the ring. While some have lovely cuticles and nails, some look quite ragged (see goofs). The latter are actually Elijah Wood's hands. He has a habit of biting his nails.
In order to make "forced perspective" a bit more interesting, the filmmakers devised a totally 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 actor(s) also moved, and the perspective (7-foot Gandalf - 4-foot hobbits) would always be okay. They also used three differently sized props (large, medium, small) to interact with the different sized characters
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, a pitch was set up with New Line President Robert Shaye. His only quibble with the presentation was that it had to be three films.
On the film's first theatrical release, a story circulated (and was reported in the goofs section) 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 windscreen 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 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.
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 production, writer Brian Sibley visited the set. Sibley had previously written the BBC Radio adaptation (with 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.
The design for the Hobbits's feet took over a year to perfect. Over 1800 feet were produced for the 4 lead Hobbits alone, and each pair would take about an hour and a half to be put on over the actors' real feet.
In the extended DVD edition of the film, 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.
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.
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.
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-visualisation. 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 previz concepts.
The sounds of the Orcs were in part recordings of elephant seal pups at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA, a marine mammal hospital that rescues, rehabilitates and releases sick and injured seals, sea lions, whales, and dolphins.
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.
There is a second hidden extra in the 4-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 Fellowship of the Ring near the end of its cinema 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.
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 himself to grant him permission to attempt one. In the 40+ years before Peter Jackson finally managed to film the trilogy, John Boorman, Stanley Kubrick, and even The Beatles had all either attempted or expressed interest in filming their own adaptation.
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 never worked on an epic film of this scale. He ultimately won his first Academy Award for Best Original Score for this film.
'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 so 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, the film's backers, which said there had to be a prologue. So, while Howard Shore was recording the music track, Jackson and his editor John Gilbert would be huddled in a corner with an Avid machine, compiling the footage that he had originally dispensed with.
Miramax spent $14 million to develop the project, but because of the projected budget, Weinsteins needed Disney's approval to go ahead. Harvey Weinstein made the pitch for two films, with a projected budget of no more than $180 million. Disney's head Michael Eisner rejected his proposal. He thought Lord of the Rings would not translate well to film and there was a limited audience for the fantasy genre. After Eisner's rejection Weinsteins reluctantly let Peter Jackson shop the project to other studios. After sitting through Jackson's presentation, New Line's chief executive, Robert Shaye, committed to three films with a combined budget of $350 million.
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.
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.
Viggo Mortensen claimed that although filming of entire trilogy was technically wrapped by December 2000, they had ran over-budget and that the second and third movies required expensive re shoots of sub par footage over the following years.
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.
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.
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.
The MTV Council of Elrond spoof easter egg Lord of the Piercing (2002) does not appear on the UK version of the 4-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 months in New Zealand.
Soria Moria Castle is a Norwegian fairy tale made famous by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe in their classical Norske Folkeeventyr. JRR Tolkien acknowledged that the name (in sound, not meaning) lay behind his "Mines of Moria."
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 13 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 the 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 green screen, 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.
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.
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 commentary for the Extended Edition, Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens joked that "budgetary cuts" led to "not enough blue left" for both swords. However, commentary for one of the later "prequel" films explained that a glowing Glamdring would have looked too much like a Star Wars "light-sabre".
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.
Johnny Vegas auditioned for the role of Sam. He recalled, "I was dreadful. I'm in front of a blue screen, 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 3,100 shots (78% of the Super 35 film) were color graded at Colorfront in Wellington, NZ 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 10 bits per channel. Because only 78% 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, NZ), and printed to 2.39:1 anamorphic Kodak film using an optical printer at Deluxe, LA. Fuji 3519-D was used for release prints.
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.
Andy Serkis would later go on to play another bald character whom is a CG 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. 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 centre of the screen, however he does not pass through it.
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.
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 top to bottom, requiring a helicopter to transport him to the nearest hospital and 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 offence 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 Fellowship of The Ring" 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 version released on DVD, the prologue title "Concerning Hobbits" was mentioned by 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 books, 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.