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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Poster

Trivia

Viggo Mortensen and Billy Boyd were standing off-camera during Sam's wedding scene, pretending to be wedding guests, in order to help Sean Astin's performance. After Sarah McLeod threw her bridal bouquet to Boyd, Mortensen gave Boyd a passionate kiss. The filming of the scene (and the kiss) appear on the Extended Edition DVD extras.
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Andy Serkis and Elijah Wood were each given prop rings by Peter Jackson, used in the movie. They both thought they had the only one.
The dead oliphaunt carcass, used in this film, is reportedly the largest prop ever built for a movie. According to members of the Prop Department, Director Peter Jackson still thought it could have been bigger.
Great caution was taken for the scene where Faramir is dragged back to Minas Tirith on his horse. The filmmakers were afraid that the horse might suddenly start to run, dragging David Wenham behind it, so a release system was built into the saddle. Wenham held a handle in his right hand, and if the horse started to run, he could simply pull it and be released from the stirrup. Fortunately, they ended up not needing it.
Peter Jackson is arachnophobic, and based the Shelob design on the types of spiders he feared the most.
Each of the cast members was given a gift on their last day of shooting, usually a prop that was significant to their roles. Miranda Otto received one of Eowyn's dresses and her sword, Liv Tyler received Arwen's "dying dress", Orlando Bloom got one of Legolas' bows.
Since John Rhys-Davies suffered constant rashes from wearing the Gimli make-up, the Make-up Department gave him the opportunity to throw his Gimli mask into the fire on his last day of pick-up photography. He didn't hesitate a moment to grab and burn it.
Horses owned by the production company were placed up for auction to the cast and crew after the film was shot. Viggo Mortensen purchased two horses, the one he rode for most of the film, and one for Liv Tyler's riding double.
A normal movie averages about two hundred visual effects shots. This film had one thousand four hundred eighty-eight.
The movie made a one thousand four hundred eight percent profit for New Line Studios on their initial outlay.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy became the most nominated film series in Academy Award history with thirty nominations, surpassing both the Godfather trilogy (twenty-eight) and the Star Wars franchise (twenty-one).
To get enough extras for the Battle at the Black Gate, a few hundred members of the New Zealand Army were brought in. They apparently were so enthusiastic during the battle scenes, that they kept breaking the wooden swords and spears they were given.
The final day of filming on the trilogy actually happened over a month after this movie was theatrically released, and three weeks after the 2004 Academy Awards. Peter Jackson arranged to film one final shot of skulls on the floor in the tunnel of the Paths of the Dead, which was included in the Extended Edition DVD. He thought it was funny to be doing filming on a movie that had already won the Best Picture Oscar.
Viggo Mortensen estimates that during the course of filming the entire trilogy and including all takes, he "killed" every stuntman on the production at least fifty times.
It has the highest perfect score at the Academy Awards, with eleven wins out of eleven nominations. Its wins also means that The Lord of the Rings franchise has won every category, for which it was nominated, except one (Best Actor in a Supporting Role).
Fans of the film often speculate why the characters didn't just fly on the giant eagles into Mordor and drop the ring into Mount Doom. This is not, in fact, a plot hole. This was explained in the book, but the filmmakers didn't think there would have been a need to, because they felt it was obvious why they didn't do this. The Eye of Sauron would have been a major obstacle. Even Professor Tolkien vetoed the abuse of eagles' intervention, when presented an early project of a movie from his book, also it is explained that the eagles are very proud creatures, and did not take sides in the War of the Ring until the end, so they would not have assisted.
In the scene when Denethor attempts to burn Faramir on the pyre, the pyre could not truly be on fire, because Gandalf's horse would not go near it. To solve this, the crew reflected a real fire onto a pane of glass in front of the camera, so that it looks as though the pyre is burning.
Billy Boyd's singing scene largely came about because Philippa Boyens went for a night out at a karaoke bar with the younger male cast members, and she was very struck by the quality of his voice. Remembering that Denethor asks Pippin to sing him a song when Faramir heads off to war, she resurrected the lyrics from the novel, and Boyd himself came up with the tune for it.
Elijah Wood is noted for his ability to stare fixedly in front of him for ages without blinking, which came in very useful for the scenes where the comatose Frodo was wrapped up in Shelob's web-like cocoon.
Elijah Wood was wrapped in a latex-like material that represented Shelob's webbing. On the DVD, he jokes that it is like being encased in the world's largest condom.
Gollum is missing his left ear lobe. This is due to an air trap in the casting that was made for Peter Jackson's approval of the figure. When looking at the casting, the design team concluded that it should stay that way, since it looked like a battle wound that might have occurred during Gollum's past adventures.
In every installment of the trilogy, one character says the subtitle of the film. In Fellowship during the council scene Elrond refers to the nine as the "Fellowship of the Ring"; in the Two Towers it's Saruman who says "The Two Towers" during a voiceover; and finally in this film, Gandalf tells the steward of Gondor that he cannot deny the Return of the King.
According to a magazine article, Peter Jackson hated the Army of the Dead, thinking it was too unbelievable. He kept it in the script, because he did not wish to disappoint diehard fans of the book.
The opening scene, in which Smeagol discovers the Ring, and starts on the slippery slope towards ultimately becoming Gollum, was directed by Fran Walsh. Originally, it was set to appear in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), immediately after Frodo first revealed Gollum's real name.
The battle scenes, which reportedly contain over two hundred thousand digital participants, are so huge, that an extra room had to be built onto Weta Digital's effects facility, to house all the computer equipment needed to render the scenes.
(Extended Edition only) The runes on the helmet worn by the Mouth of Sauron, when transliterated, say "Lammen Gorthaur". Lammen means voice, and Gorthaur, which is mentioned in the Silmarillion, means Dread Abomination, another title by which Sauron was known. The complete phrase, "Voice of the Dread Abomination", identifies the speaker as the Mouth of Sauron.
During one of the shots filming the charge of the Rohirrim, a horse rider fell off the back of his horse. All the horses that came behind him miraculously managed to either miss or avoid him.
The first shot of Sam's arm coming into frame, holding Sting towards Shelob, is Director Peter Jackson's arm.
King Theoden touching the spears of his soldiers before they charge into battle, was Bernard Hill's idea.
The final reel of the film to be completed was done only five days before the world premiere in Wellington, New Zealand. It was actually still wet from the developing process because there was no time to dry it. The premiere was the first time that Peter Jackson had seen the completed film.
The movie marks the second time in history that the third movie in a trilogy was nominated for Best Picture, by the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, after The Godfather: Part III (1990), and the only time that a third movie has won the Best Picture Oscar.
Shelob's shriek is the combination of several elements, including the sounds of a plastic alien toy, steam hisses (inspired by an incident where an alligator hissed at Peter Jackson's daughter Katie Jackson), and the shriek of a Tasmanian Devil.
After the premiere in Wellington, the city held a party that went on until dawn, funded by the City Council to the tune of four hundred thousand dollars, with street performers, outdoor screenings, an introduction from Prime Minister Helen Clark, and a giant mock-up of a Nazgul flying over the Embassy Theatre.
Miranda Otto had to undergo numerous fittings to finally settle on a helmet that disguised her face yet revealed enough of it so that the audience would know who she was.
While much of the score to these films was a departure from Howard Shore's usual style, Peter Jackson told him that, to score the Shelob's Lair scene, he should "Go off and pretend you're making another movie for David Cronenberg. This should sound like The Fly (1986)."
Denethor (John Noble) carried a sword strapped to his belt. Although he never draws it, the Prop Department made a full sword that could be drawn from its sheath, so that Noble would feel as important as the rest of the cast, which used their swords.
One hundred thousand people lined the streets of Wellington for the world premiere. That's roughly a quarter of the city's population.
The Battle of Pelennor Fields was filmed on a large field heavily populated with rabbits. The place had to be carefully inspected for rabbit holes, which were all filled, due to the danger they would pose if a horse were to step into one, which could cause a major pile-up, with injuries to horses and riders.
Facts and numbers about the trilogy: Over six million feet of film was shot during production; forty-eight thousand swords, axes, shields, and make-up prosthetics; twenty thousand six hundred two background actors cast; nineteen thousand costumes made by the Wardrobe Department; ten thousand crowd participants at a New Zealand cricket game, who made orc army grunts; two thousand four hundred behind-the-scenes crew members at the height of production; one thousand six hundred pairs of prosthetic hobbit feet created; two hundred fifty horses used in one scene; one hundred eighty computer Visual Effects Artists employed; one hundred fourteen total speaking roles; one hundred real locations in New Zealand used for backdrops; fifty Tailors, Cobblers, Designers, and others in the Wardrobe Department; thirty actors and actresses trained to speak fictional dialects and languages; seven total years of development for all three movies.
The live-action Rohan Army was made up of several hundred New Zealander extras, who responded to an open casting call for anyone who could ride a horse. Many of them were women, who had to perform male riders. The only woman in the Rohirrim huge assault is Eowyn (Miranda Otto).
Bret McKenzie had a silent cameo as an elf in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). His attractive character was noticed by female 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 this film as Arwen's escort, with two scripted lines of dialogue.
The confrontation between Saruman and Gandalf from the second individual book was filmed, but was not included in the final cut, for reasons of length and pacing. The scene is included on the DVD.
For the scene where Merry and Pippin are smoking their pipes at Isengard, Dominic Monaghan (Merry) had to drink a glass of milk beforehand, to keep himself from throwing up while smoking the pipe.
While filming the trilogy, Viggo Mortensen got so into character, that during a conversation, Peter Jackson referred to him as "Aragorn" for over half an hour, without Mortensen realizing it.
Broke the international box-office record for an opening weekend, bringing in nearly two hundred fifty million dollars.
Sean Astin tested for the part of Samwise by playing the scene where he cradles the comatose Frodo after his encounter with Shelob.
A scene was cut from the finished film that showed Eowyn (Miranda Otto) stripping away her regular clothes, and then dressing herself in the armor of a Rohan warrior.
The "oil" that Denethor pours over himself and Faramir was a combination of water and glycerin, to achieve an appropriate glistening effect. Because this soaked the wigs and costumes, this scene had to be filmed in a single take.
The "fall of Smeagol" scene had to be digitally touched-up in two ways. First, Thomas Robins (Deagol) accidentally blinked after being strangled. However, Peter Jackson liked that particular shot so much better than others, that he decided to have the Weta Digital crew "freeze" the eyes. Second, in the shot where Smeagol falls on the rocks (just before Gollum begins to narrate), Andy Serkis' legs were considered to be too muscular and athletic, and so they were digitally thinned-down.
Andy Serkis was not the filmmakers' first choice to play the real Smeagol at the beginning of the film. However, once they started considering other actors, they realized that Serkis was the natural choice.
Since 2007, Composer Howard Shore and Conductor Ludwig Wicki have worked together to bring the movies to the concert hall, with the complete score being performed live to the movies by a complete symphony orchestra and chorus.
In the extended cut of the film, the song during the Houses of Healing sequence is sung by Liv Tyler.
Filming was progressing on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) in the location of Queenstown, when suddenly the town was hit with massive floods and exterior filming had to be suspended. The only available indoor facility that could be used for a studio set, was the squash court in a local hotel. Thus, the next day, the next scene to be filmed was the intense moment from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) when an obsessed Frodo sides with Gollum, and sends Sam on his way. Elijah Wood and Sean Astin baulked at having to do such a pivotal scene without preparation (Andy Serkis had not been cast at this point, so someone from the crew filled in for Gollum) but filming went ahead as planned. Astin's scenes were all successfully completed. The next day, however, the sun came out, and the floods abated, so exterior filming could resume. The intent was always to return to the squash court (where the set remained standing) to do Elijah Wood's scenes, but, for the next five weeks there was no rain to interrupt exterior filming. At the end of that period, the crew had moved to a new location. Elijah Wood finally got to do his side of the scene one year later in the same location, the squash players of Queenstown had been without a court that whole time, as the set had remained in place on the court the entire time.
The scene where Aragorn's army assembles in front of the Black Gate of Mordor, was shot in a desert that was used by the Army as a training field. Because it was still littered with mines, and bombs that hadn't gone off, the Army had to sweep the field with metal detectors, to make the danger for the actors, actresses, and extras acceptable at least.
When Aragorn holds his speech to the troops he says "A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down!" This is a very close paraphrase to 45th stanza of the old Norse poem Voluspå which describes Ragnarok. The original stanza goes about like this: "Brother shall strike brother and both fall, Parents shall defile their kin; Evil be on earth, an age of adultery, Axe time, sword time, Of splintered shields, A wind-age, a wolf-age till the world caves in; No man will spare another." The same poem is also the source of several of the names of the dwarves in the world of Tolkien.
Frodo's and Sam's climb up Mt. Doom was shot on a volcano called Ruapehu. The footing was so steep on the volcano, that Elijah Wood and Sean Astin were hooked up to safety wires. If one of them lost their footing, the wires prevented them from sliding halfway down the volcano. The wires were painted out digitally.
It broke another record, by winning all the Oscars for which it was nominated (eleven out of eleven). The previous record was nine out of nine by The Last Emperor (1987), and nine out of nine by Gigi (1958).
This is the second movie featuring Bernard Hill that earned eleven Academy Awards. The first was Titanic (1997).
The entire running time for The Lord of the Rings trilogy is approximately twelve hours and one minute, from start to finish.
John Rhys-Davies provided the voice of Treebeard (uncredited for this movie, but credited for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)).
The model of Shelob was based on a New Zealand funnel web spider.
The last words exchanged by Elrond and Aragorn are "I give hope to Men", and "I keep none for myself", are taken from Appendix A, in which the Elvish translation of those lines (Onen i-Estel Edain, u-chebin estel anim) are the final words of Aragorn's mother, Gilraen. Estel, meaning hope, was also the name given to Aragorn before his true heritage is revealed to him.
EASTER EGGS: On the Extended Edition DVD, disc one, as per the first two movies, go to the scene selection menu, to the last page. Press down until a ring icon appears next to the "new scene" phrase; up comes a satellite "interview" of Elijah Wood, given by Dominic Monaghan using a German accent. Do the same thing on disc two to uncover an MTV skit, featuring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn pitching The Lord of the Rings sequels to Peter Jackson.
In the scene where the Hobbits return to Hobbiton, three of the hobbits had slight problems during the shoot. Elijah Wood had a hard time controlling his pony, Sean Astin was allergic to the ponies, and Dominic Monaghan was in a really bad mood because of technical aspects revolving around the scene. Billy Boyd was "in stitches" during the shoot.
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.
Most of the lines Legolas says in the Extended Edition scene of the Paths of the Dead are direct quotes from the book.
The deformed Orc leader Gothmog is only mentioned once in the original novel of The Lord of the Rings, identified only by name, and as the Lieutenant of Morgul. His race is not given. It was the filmmakers' choice to make him an Orc. The name Gothmog is shared with the leader of the Balrogs in Morgoth's army in "The Silmarillion", J.R.R. Tolkien's history of Middle-Earth, several centuries before the events in The Lord of the Rings.
For the lighting of the beacons sequence, one beacon was helicoptered up to the top of a mountain and then lit. The rest were all computer generated.
Andy Serkis' last day of filming was only a few weeks before the theatrical release. On the carpet of the floor of Peter Jackson's house, they filmed the facial reaction of Gollum, when he realizes Frodo intends to destroy the ring. The resulting video was e-mailed to Weta Digital, so the animators could replicate the shot with the CGI character.
The Steps of Cirith Ungol were crafted out of polystyrene, and proved to be a difficult set, on which Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, and Andy Serkis had to film. The steps were so steep and fragile, that they sometimes broke, and because the steps were sprayed down with water, Astin and Wood sometimes got their Hobbit feet stuck to the steps, and had to be pulled off.
The Weta visual effects crew felt very challenged when creating Shelob, by how effective the giant spider had been in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002).
The end-credit portraits of each of the lead actors appearing alongside their name was the suggestion of Sir Ian McKellen. The sketches were created by Production Designer Alan Lee from production stills, although what is seen on the movie, is actually a slight morph between the sketch and the original photograph.
The three movies were filmed simultaneously.
The amount of money that New Line Cinema reclaimed in tax breaks on the three "The Lord of the Rings" films was ten times more than the annual budget of the New Zealand Film Commission, which funds local filmmaking.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) had five hundred forty computer generated effects. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) had seven hundred ninety-nine, and this film had one thousand four hundred eighty-eight.
The original design for the Witch-King featured a helmet that resembled a bucket with a crown of spikes on top. However, after watching test footage, the producers thought it looked confusingly similar to Sauron's helmet from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). The redesign was made to pay homage to the Ringwraith designs. In addition, they also redesigned the Witch-King's flail. Peter Jackson said the original flail was okay, but he wanted it bigger. Weta workshop enlarged it, but Jackson wanted it bigger, so they made it bigger. In the end, it was so large and heavy, it had lost practical use for the fight scenes, in which it was replaced by a digital version.
In February 2004, it became second film to break the one billion dollar mark in worldwide box-office revenue (Titanic (1997) was the first).
According to the cast commentary, although Lawrence Makoare was the person in the Witch-King's costume, his voice was later performed by Andy Serkis.
Aragorn speaks to Eowyn before departing on the Paths of the Dead. In the book, this is actually the first time these two characters speak to each other, and is a much longer scene. It begins with her bringing him a goblet of mead, and their discussion includes her saying that she does not fear death, but rather "a cage", and that his other followers go with him, not because he commands it, but because they love him. Since these characters met earlier in the films, those story elements were used in earlier exchanges between the characters in this and the previous film.
In the scene where Faramir is leaving Minas Tirith, he and his soldiers are riding their horses downhill. Because the streets were paved with smooth bricks, the usual steel horseshoes proved to be too "slick", and the horses were all re-shod with rubber horseshoes.
On the Extended DVD extras, Peter Jackson explains that the head of Gothmog, the Leader of the Orcs during the Siege of Gondor, was partly derived from the head of Joseph Merrick, also known as "The Elephant Man". Also of influence, was the alien leader from Jackson's earlier film Bad Taste (1987).
The movie tied with Ben-Hur (1959) and Titanic (1997) to win the most Oscars (eleven) in a single year. It is also the only one of the three to win a Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium Oscar.
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) originally auditioned for the role of Denethor.
Orlando Bloom's big heroic scene atop the Mûmak was shot in just one day. Bloom was filmed on top of a pile of sandbags.
While John Gilbert was editing The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and Michael Horton was editing The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), Jamie Selkirk was cutting the final chapter. From the start, Peter Jackson wanted his longtime associate Selkirk on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), as he knew Selkirk would stay focused on the climax of the entire saga.
Gollum says the word "precious" seventeen times in this film.
The House of the Healing sequence was David Wenham's first day of shooting.
In the Extended Edition DVD, the Mouth of Sauron is played by Bruce Spence. Spence's real mouth was digitally enlarged to underscore his role in Sauron's service, as well as further give the character an inhuman aspect.
The scene of the Rohirrim charging the Pelennor had to be filmed fifty-two times, before the crew were satisfied with the take. During this process, about sixty of the two hundred eighty horses participating, had to drop out for various reasons.
The first fantasy film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
When Frodo is stuck in Shelob's web, as Gollum taunts him, Elijah Wood was actually suspended on a harness with bungee cords fastened around his wrists and ankles. In the commentary, he jokes that he was "not hanging up by sheer strength of the web".
Dominic Monaghan was allergic to the elven cloaks the Fellowship wore. Before scenes were shot, Peter Jackson used to joke around and say "Are we ready to go? Does Dom have his cape on?"
The first sequel since The Godfather: Part II (1974) to win an Oscar for Best Picture.
To get the idea of perspective as Denethor drags and throws out Pippin from the burial chamber, Billy Boyd's double was dragged and rolled out. When the double hit him in the back, he popped up.
Director of Photography Andrew Lesnie caught most of his shots during the intense battle on the Pelennor Fields, by putting on polo armor, and wading into the thick of the action.
Minas Tirith and the surrounding area are actually a combination of several locations. The seventh tier was a backlot set at Three Foot Six Studios. The other streets were a maze-like set built at the same rock quarry where the Hornburg (Helm's Deep) was shot. Pelennor Fields was a large open field in Twizel. Osgiliath was another backlot set. The full cities of Osgiliath and Minas Tirith were built as models. The surrounding mountain ranges were a digital composite of photographs taken of several mountain ranges in New Zealand.
The scene on the Extended Edition DVD version of the "Corsairs of Umbar" being attacked by the Army of the Dead, includes several cameos. Peter Jackson is the one hit by Legolas' arrow. (In the commentary, he states that he performed six or seven takes of the hit, without any padding.) Co-Producer Rick Porras is seen with a "look of horror" as the ghostly hoard attacks at the end of the scene. Also in the scene, are Weta Supervisor Richard Taylor, Prosthetics Supervisor Gino Acevedo, and Director of Photography Andrew Lesnie.
To create realistic galloping horses for the largely CGI horseback army, they took some footage of a horse in a motion-capture suit.
For Bernard Hill, this is the third film in as many decades he has appeared in that also won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. The others were Gandhi (1982) and Titanic (1997).
The London Daily Mail reported (December 5, 2003) that the stars of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy were paid bonuses on top of their salaries, depending on how long cast members spent on the three films. The hobbit actors, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, and Dominic Monaghan received bonuses of between four hundred thirty thousand dollars and five hundred sixty thousand dollars per film. Bernard Hill and Sir Ian McKellen earned three hundred twelve thousand dollars per film, with Liv Tyler making a little less.
Combined as a trilogy, these were voted the best movie of all time in a 2005 Australian Movie Poll.
Lawrence Makoare, when wearing the Gothmog make-up, was called "Pimplehead" by extras who didn't know his name.
One of only three films to win eleven Academy Awards with the other two being Titanic (1997) and Ben-Hur (1959). It is, however, the only film of the three to win every single award, for which it was nominated.
Additional scenes were filmed in New Zealand in 2003, in much the same way as new sequences were shot for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) prior to that film's release.
Won the Science Fiction Achievement Award (Hugo Award) for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form in 2004. This makes it the first work to take the top film honors in both the Oscars and the Hugos. The "profane acceptance speech" Gollum made for the MTV Movie Awards won the Hugo for Best Dramatic presentation, Short Form.
Of the three films to have won eleven Academy Awards, it is the only one not to have received a nomination for its acting.
The Minas Tirith set was built on the same site as Helm's Deep, after the Helm's Deep scenes had been shot. Pieces of Helm's Deep were altered and built on top of the Minas Tirith set.
Sir Christopher Lee read The Lord of the Rings once a year until his death in 2015, and is the only member of the cast to have met J.R.R. Tolkien.
Alison Doody had been asked by Peter Jackson to play Eowyn, but had to decline the role, due to her pregnancy, and the sixteen-month commitment.
Peter Jackson finally managed to have the world premiere of the last film take place in his native New Zealand, where the trilogy had been made. The decision had technically not been made yet, but during promotional tours of the previous movie, Jackson announced that Producer Mark Ordesky had a special surprise for New Zealand fans. This practically forced Ordesky to promise that Wellington would have the world premiere at the spot.
Sam is left-handed. However, he can sword fight with both hands.
Andy Serkis' "Fall of Smeagol" prosthetic make-up (the final stage before the CGI Gollum) took five hours to apply. The same length of time it took for Arnold Schwarzenegger's damaged terminator make-up application in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).
WILHELM SCREAM: -When a Southron is knocked off an Oliphant by Legolas. -When an Oliphant wrangler gets hit by a spear thrown by Éomer, right before the collision of the two Mûmakil during the Battle of Pelennor Fields. -During the retreat from Osgiliath, when Faramir is leading his men in a frenzied charge back to Minas Tirith, a Fell Beast picks one of the soldiers off his horse.
Also on the day of the premiere, New Zealand's two major television networks both suspended regular broadcasts to give over to live coverage of the event.
Listed on the first release of the cast list for this film was Wi Kuki Kaa, who was to have appeared as a character named Ghân-buri-Ghân. In the book, this character is the Chieftain of the Woses, a group of wild men that inhabited the the Druadan Forest of Gondor, who offered their assistance to the Rohirrim as they passed through. Ghân-buri-Ghân does not appear in either the theatrical, nor Extended Editions of the film, nor is any mention of him made.
"The Return of the King" is also the title of a graphic novel in the X-Men series. The title refers to Magneto, who has also been played by Sir Ian McKellen. The series also features a villain named Sauron.
The only trilogy to have all three films nominated for the "Top 100 Greatest Films of All Time" by the AFI (American Film Institute).
The way Mûmakil falls when Legolas pierces its skull with arrows and kills it, is reference to how AT-AT walkers fall in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) after Rebellion pilots attacked them with harpoons and tow cables.
The character of Irolas was originally written to be Beregond, a character who appears in the book. Irolas does not appear in the book, but he is identified as being Beregond's brother (spelled Iorlas in the book. The name "Iorlas" means "Old Leaf", whereas "Irolas" has no meaning in Sindarin Elvish).
Jed Brophy, who appears as a "Featured Orc", also appeared in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) as an orc, and would later appear in King Kong (2005), and the Peter Jackson-produced District 9 (2009), before receiving a featured role as Nori in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).
Cameo: When the Hobbits are in the Green Dragon pub near the end of the movie, the local fellow polishing his prize pumpkin is played by Andy Serkis.
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SDDS 8 channel decoders list the title of the film that it is decoding on its display. For this film, certain reels were labeled "Till Death for Glory", whereas others were labeled "Beijing Chicken".
Smegol's final transformation into Gollum in the opening flashback, was strongly influenced by the final transformation of Seth Brundle into Brundlefly in The Fly (1986).
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The Extended Edition DVD reveals what happens to Gothmog (Lawrence Makoare). He fights with Eowyn, and then gets killed by Aragorn and Gimli. In the theatrical version, he is only shown backing away.
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The cast features eight Oscar winners: Cate Blanchett, Peter Jackson, Andrew Lesnie, Bret McKenzie, Christian Rivers, Michael Semanick, Howard Shore, and Richard Taylor in roles of varying importance. The cast features five Oscar nominees: Sean Astin, Sir Ian Holm, Sir Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, and in the Extended Edition DVD, Brad Dourif.
At thirty-five letters, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" has the longest title of any Best Picture Oscar winner in history. It surpasses the record previously held by Around the World in 80 Days (1956), which has twenty-six. It also set the record for the number of words in a Best Picture title, with ten.
Scenes from the book, such as goblins attacking the Fellowship after leaving Rivendell, can be seen in the 2011 Blu-ray bonus material.
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Bernard Hill's first film to win Best Picture was Gandhi (1982), which featured Sir Michael Hordern, who played Gandalf in the BBC Radio adaptation. It also featured the character Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who was later played by Sir Christopher Lee in Jinnah (1998).
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John Howe jokingly stated he wanted to take home the twin Watchers statues from the Minas Morgul set to scare solicitors away from his house.
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Gollum shares several elements with Darth Vader, a.k.a. Anakin Skywalker, from the Star Wars saga. Both characters started out as good characters, who later descended into evil, due to greed and power getting the best of them. They both get effected by lava, and they both cut off, or bite off (in Gollum's case) the protagonist's limb (hand in Luke Skywalker's case, and index finger in Frodo's case).
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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John Rhys-Davies appeared in War and Remembrance (1988), which also featured Robert Stephens and Peter Vaughan. Stephens and Vaughan appeared in the BBC Radio adaptation, as Aragorn and Denethor.
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The individual novel, on which the film is based, "The Return of the King" by J.R.R. Tolkien, previously appeared in Conrad Jarrett's bedroom in Ordinary People (1980) which, like this film, won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
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Bernard Hill previously appeared on the television series Fox (1980), in which he played the son of Peter Vaughan. Vaughan played Denethor in the BBC Radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Bill Nighy, who played Sam, also made a guest appearance on the series.
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Sir Christopher Lee's voice, in the Italian version of the film, was dubbed by Omero Antonutti.
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Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee) and Billy Boyd (Peregrin "Pippin" Took) appeared in The Witches of Oz (2011) and Dorothy and the Witches of Oz (2012).
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Cameo 

Henry Mortensen: The first Orc that Aragorn is seen killing on the fields of Pelennor is played by Viggo Mortensen's son.
Royd Tolkien: (J.R.R. Tolkien's great-grandson) as a Gondorian Ranger handing weapons to his fellow soldiers when the orcs are invading Osgiliath.
Rick Porras: The other soldier watching the beacon at Minas Tirith is the co-Producer.
Christian Rivers: Art Director and Storyboard Artist, appears as one of the Gondorian soldiers watching the beacon in Minas Tirith.
Howard Shore, Michael Semanick: Seen over Legolas' shoulder during the drinking game in the Golden Hall, in the Extended Edition DVD.

Director Trademark 

Peter Jackson: [children] Jackson's children Billy Jackson and Katie Jackson appear twice in the film: in Gondor, when the horsemen leave the city; and in the Hobbit wedding.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

While filming Saruman's death scene (on the Extended Edition DVD), Peter Jackson tried to tell Sir Christopher Lee how to react and breathe after he was stabbed in the back. Lee, a World War II veteran with British Special Forces, assured Jackson that he knew what a man sounded like when stabbed in the back.
Even though Saruman's demise appears in the Extended Edition DVD of this movie, Sir Christopher Lee was "not amused" that his character was cut from the theatrical release. In an interview done after the release of the Extended Edition DVD, he acknowledged that the makers gave him several arguments for trimming the scene (pacing and time constraints), but in his opinion, none of them justified omitting such an important narrative element. As a result, Lee and Peter Jackson had a brief falling out. Lee eventually agreed to appear in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), and asked Jackson if his scenes had been cut when he was invited to the premiere.
For the scene when Frodo gets pierced by Shelob, Elijah Wood had two Alka-Seltzers hidden under his tongue, which he chewed up to create white foam, which he then leaked out of the corner of his mouth.
In the book, Eowyn rides into battle with the Rohirrim, taking Merry with her, but without revealing her identity to them or the audience. Instead, she is disguised as a character who calls himself "Dernhelm", and only reveals herself in the battle when she takes off her helmet to show the Witch-King that she is a woman. In the film, Merry and the audience are always aware that it is Eowyn. The filmmakers made this change because they felt that, in a visual medium, it would be difficult to conceal her identity, and because not recognizing her would make Merry look like "the stupidest Hobbit on Earth."
The last shot of principal photography was when the newly-crowned Aragorn bows to the four Hobbits. Although Viggo Mortensen did not need to be on-set for that day, he nevertheless insisted on attending. He didn't have a crown (it wasn't necessary, he wasn't being filmed), so he fashioned one out of paper. With each successive take, the crown was becoming more ornate and sillier as crew members kept decorating it, so the four actors playing the Hobbits often had difficulty suppressing their giggles.
The last spoken line of the movie, "Well, I'm back.", is also the last line of the book.
Sir Ian McKellen's first day of shooting on the trilogy was Gandalf's first scene, arriving in Hobbiton. His second day of shooting was Gandalf's final scene of the film, at the Gray Havens.
Body count: eight hundred thirty-six.
For the Extended Edition DVD, the scene in which Pippin is looking for Merry after the battle on Pelennor Fields, was digitally altered so that it appears to be night, instead of day. According to Peter Jackson on the commentary track, this was done to make it appear that Pippin has been looking for several hours, instead of several minutes, underlining the friendship between the two Hobbits. In the original edit, because it appeared that Pippin had only been looking for a few minutes, his reaction to finding Merry seems like he's overreacting.
The Grey Havens scene had to be shot three times, much to the dismay of the actors, who had to be crying for most of the scene. On the first try, it was discovered in viewing the dailies, that Sean Astin was wearing the wrong shirt under his cloak. After shooting the scene a second time, the negatives were inadvertently exposed to light during processing, causing a white haze over the entire day's footage. It was finally captured successfully on the third try.
The film was originally going to end with a voice-over epilogue by Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), detailing the fate of the Fellowship of the Ring, after the events of the movie. Scenes showing Gimli and Legolas for this purpose had been shot, but were not used in any version of the finished movie.
When Frodo is stabbed by Shelob's stinger, Elijah Wood was actually stabbed with a prop one. In the Extended Edition DVD Commentary, he and Sean Astin comment that it was not only very painful, but had actually done damage, to the point that Wood had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days. Astin (on the Commentary track) jokes that they used appendicitis as the excuse, but wonder if that event is what (ironically) caused Wood's actual episode of appendicitis later on, in 2003.
For the moment when Eowyn comforts the dying King Theoden, Miranda Otto had to play most of the scene without her co-star, as Bernard Hill had already completed filming all his scenes, and had been given a farewell party. Fortunately, when the filmmakers realized they wanted to do a little more with the scene, they were able to call on Hill, who was vacationing on New Zealand's South Island, to come back for one more day of filming.
Like Billy Boyd earlier in the film, Viggo Mortensen also composed the tune and sung the part to the song Aragorn sings at his coronation. The translation of the Elvish words runs "Out of the Great Sea to Middle Earth I am come. In this place I will abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world." This is, according to the book, the same verse Elendil sung when he first arrived in Middle Earth from Númenor.
Peter Jackson purposely avoided filming Frodo's left hand after the Mordor scenes to avoid conflicts as to the positioning of the wound on the index finger. It is only seen twice: when the Fellowship is re-united (the hand is bandaged) and when Frodo is writing his final pages in the Red Book (before he turns back to add the title).
When filming the scene "The Sacrifice of Faramir" David Wenham's horse became excited and ran away with him. A professional rider had to chase the horse and stop it. David was not a rider, and had not been taught what to do in such a situation, to pull the rein and force the horse to turn too sharply. Horses cannot run in a tight circle, and this would have stopped the horse. Thankfully, David was not harmed. (The extras in the Extended Edition DVD has the full story.)
Andy Serkis' first scene was on top of Mount Doom near the Cracks of Doom. His last scene, was the scene were Gollum and Frodo are fighting, and fall off the ledge.
Special care was taken to make sure that the destruction of Sauron's tower of Barad-dûr did not resemble the destruction of the World Trade Center. For this reason, it disintegrates from the ground up, and the sound was made from breaking glass, so that it would not sound or look as if it were exploding.
The Oscar-winning end-title song, "Into The West", while being directly about Frodo's departure, was inspired by Cameron Duncan's struggle with cancer. The first time the song was ever played publicly was at his funeral.
Sean Astin's daughter, Ali Astin, plays Sam Gamgee's daughter, Elanor. Sarah McLeod's daughter, Maisy McLeod-Riera, plays Sam and Rosie's son Frodo.
Lawrence Makoare plays both the Witch-King and the orc Gothmog. At one point, the two characters exchange dialogue, and later Eowyn fights both (she injures Gothmog, who is then killed trying to attack her, and she kills the Witch-King).
When Frodo is writing the book, the top of the page notes that Sam was elected Mayor of Hobbiton, as told in the novel's "appendices".
Originally, Aragorn was to have fought the physical embodiment of Sauron during the climactic battle at the Black Gate, but the footage shot, was not used in the final film. Aragorn's fight with a troll at the Black Gate uses footage from the Aragorn and Sauron battle.
In the crowd shot of the scene of Aragorn's ascension you can see the blue banner with the silver swan of Dol Amroth being waved. The prince of Dol Amroth, Imrahil, isn't a major character in the story, but is the one who discovers that Eowyn is still alive after her slaying of the Witch-King.
The last scene shot during principal photography, was a scene where Aragorn was dressed by Gondorian Soldiers in his armor before his coronation. The soldiers were played by people from the Wardrobe Department, but the scene was eventually cut. Some behind-the-scenes footage of its filming can be seen in the Extended Edition DVD extras.
The original storyboards for the destruction of Barad-dûr had a volcanic fissure appearing between Mt. Doom and the tower, with lava erupting into the tower and melting it from the inside. When the post-production schedule became too hectic, the sequence was simplified into the version that now appears.
Scenes were shot that involved Aragorn tackling a physical manifestation of Sauron one-on-one while outside the Black Gate. In the scene, Sauron would have appeared even taller than the Sauron seen at the start of The Fellowship of the Ring. Once footage was reviewed, however, it was decided that to include this scene would pervert Tolkien's ideas, and also distracted too much from the climax of Frodo and Sam's storyline. Footage from the fight was re-used in other ways: Aragorn would originally step forward and see an image of Sauron in his original, Elvish-like appearance. This was changed to Aragorn gazing at the Eye of Sauron, beckoning to him from atop the tower of Barad-dûr. Aragorn's charge towards the Black Gate was to take him into a heated sword fight with the real, armor-clad Sauron. A large troll was digitally imposed over the stuntman playing Sauron. The temp work on this scene can be seen on the third disc of the Extended Edition DVD.
The names from the places seen throughout the trilogy have translation from the Sindarin language: -Rivendel/Imladris: elven outpost/deep valley of the cleft. Lothlorien: dream flower. Isengard: iron fortress. Caradhras: red horn. Anduin: long river. Argonath: two noble stones. Emyn Muil: the drear hills. Fangorn: treebeard. Rohan: horse country. Gondor: land of stone. Osgiliath: citadel of the host of stars. Minas Tirith: tower of watch. Minas Morgul: tower of dark sorcery. Moria: black chasm. Cirith Ungol: pass of the spider. Mordor: black land.
In the narrative behind Frodo leaving Middle Earth and The Shire to The Grey Havens. Frodo was unable to cope with the traumas of his journey.
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Throughout the course of all three films, Gollum is the only character who Frodo kills.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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