I was there, Gandalf… I was there twenty years ago when The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring hit American theaters on December 19, 2001! Much has happened since then: two more The Lord of the Rings movies, a trilogy of The Hobbit movies, and amusing tales of the making of these films from director Peter Jackson and his cast and crew! Let’s take a look at some of this trivia — derived from IMDb.com — for each member of the Fellowship in honor of the film’s twenty year anniversary!
1. Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood):
Wood never got to wear a full Mithril shirt; just the top half. Such an awesome shirt, too! But he did, along with Gollum actor Andy Serkis, get one of the rings used in the movies as a post-shoot gift (both actors thought they had the only one). In fact in some close-ups of Frodo’s fingers touching the ring, while some cuticles look well managed you can tell which ones are Wood’s because he has a habit of biting his nails.
Lastly, the funniest bit of Frodo/Elijah trivia here: according to the actor commentary on the Extended Edition of this movie, it’s said that during one take for the Buckleberry Ferry scene, poor Wood accidently overshot that jump Frodo takes and landed straight into the river!
2. Gandalf (Ian McKellen):
Actors like Sir Sean Connery, Sir Patrick Stewart, and Christopher Plummer were originally offered the role of Gandalf and all refused for various reasons: Connery reportedly because of “not understanding the story”, Stewart didn’t like the script, and Plummer because of the long filming commitment.
Funny piece of trivia: the part where Gandalf first enters Bilbo Baggins’ home in the beginning and his subsequent turn while walking headfirst into a ceiling beam was not scripted; it was purely accidental! But McKellen acted expertly through it and director Peter Jackson kept it in the final product!
3. Sam Gamgee (Sean Astin):
Poor Sean suffered an on-set injury. In the scene where Sam pursues Frodo on the river Anduin, insisting he will accompany Frodo to Mordor, Sean managed to step on a piece of glass in the river body and it pierced his foot. He had to get stitches after being helicoptered to a hospital.
4. Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen):
Aragorn actor Viggo Mortensen gave the role his absolute all! The man did his own stunts, for one thing. When it came to his swords and swordplay, Mortensen wouldn’t go for safer or lighter swords made of aluminum or rubber; the actor would only use steel. And he was called “the best swordsman I’ve ever trained” by veteran sword-master Bob Anderson. What’s more, Mortensen was quite a linguist (speaking English, Danish, and Spanish) and asked to let the script have Aragorn speak more in Elvish!
5. Boromir (Sean Bean):
While cast would have to be flown via helicopter to some locations, Bean found this prospect a no-go due to his fear of flying. He opted to spend two hours each morning dressed as Boromir climbing from mountain base to the near top where they filmed the Fellowship crossing snowy mountain-scape.
6. Gimli (John Rhys-Davies):
John Rhys-Davies was — at 6’1″ — the tallest of the other actors who also played members of the Fellowship! And the role was not easy once Rhys-Davies found he suffered a reaction to his makeup prosthetics and needed at least a day after shooting each of his scenes to get his skin normal.
7. Legolas (Orlando Bloom):
While having only two days left of drama school to complete, Orlando Bloom landed the role of Legolas — though he auditioned for the role of Faramir (Boromir’s brother) originally. Bloom gave two months to learning how to fire a bow; he also did most of his own stunts and managed to break one of his ribs!
It’s also interesting to note that in all of this movie, Legolas only says five words to Frodo Baggins: “And you have my bow!” After that, nada!
8. Pippin Took (Billy Boyd):
That scream heard immediately as the great dragon firework bursts forth after Merry and Pippin light it… That was all Billy Boyd who had zero idea that the firework would actually explode!
9. Merry Brandybuck (Dominic Monaghan):
It was during a take of the scene where the Hobbits board Buckleberry Ferry, and poor Monaghan managed to get stuck in the foot with a splinter! He assured the other Hobbit cast members that it was a large splinter, but it was ultimately not very big; something which Billy Boyd teased Monaghan with often!
The Fellowship of the Ring was an amazing experience in theaters twenty years ago; I’ll always remember how jazzed I was to see it. It’s worth another watch today on its twentieth anniversary!