The Fellowship of the Ring, The story begins in the Shire—a part of Middle-earth where the small, good-natured, quietly domestic hobbits live—like the eccentric hobbit Bilbo Baggins is celebrating his “eleventy-first” (111th) birthday. During the party Bilbo announces his departure and disappears with the use of the magical ring that makes its wearer invisible; his discovery of the ring is chronicled in The Hobbit. Before leaving the Shire, however, he returns home. Although he intends to give all his possessions to his young relative and heir, Frodo, at the last minute he balks at leaving behind the ring. However, he is persuaded to do so by the wizard Gandalf, who later learns that Frodo’s ring is the One Ring, the most powerful of the 20 Rings of Power. It was fashioned by Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor, to rule the other rings and enable him to conquer and enslave the world. The One Ring will also eventually corrupt its possessor. Sauron wants the ring back and knows that it is in the Shire. Gandalf tells Frodo to take the ring to the one place where it can be destroyed—the place where it was forged, the fires of the Cracks of Doom under Orodruin (the Fire-mountain), in the very heart of Sauron’s realm of Mordor.
Hobbiton Was Built A Year Before Filming So The Gardens Could Grow
Hobbiton is supposed to be lush, green, and beautiful. And while New Zealand provided a beautiful setting for Middle-Earth, a little extra work was needed for the home of the Hobbits. The Hobbiton set was built near Matamata, New Zealand a year before filming began. The goal was to make Hobbiton look like Hobbits live there, with all the grass and gardens being fully grown.
The result is one of the most breathtaking locations in cinema history. Fans love Hobbiton so much that the area is still a tourist attraction to this day, and they should know how much work went into making it.
Viggo Mortensen Wasn’t The First Aragorn Cast
Viggo Mortensen gave one of the most beloved performances in the trilogy as Strider (aka, Aragorn). But he wasn’t the first actor cast for the films. Stuart Townsend, 26 at the time, was cast as Aragorn first. Aragorn is supposed to be 87, but he appears far younger than he is.
Despite the difference between Aragorn’s appearance and actual age, Townsend was deemed too young during the first month of filming. A very quick recast brought in Mortensen, who was 41. Mortensen’s son was a fan of the books and encouraged him to take on the role of the useful Fellowship member. His performance would become iconic.
The Staircase Sequence Was Added During Filming
When the Fellowship are in Moria, one line in the script simply says, “They run down some stairs towards the Bridge.” A wonderfully-designed staircase was created in pre-production, and it appeared in the final film. But while filming, Peter Jackson took a look at the staircase, and decided something exciting had to happen with it.
What resulted was a thrilling moment where the Fellowship has to leap over a gap in the stairs while being shot at by Orc archers. Part of the staircase collapses, and Aragorn and Frodo end up riding a broken part to cross the gap.
The Prologue Was 5 Minutes Longer Than The Studio Wanted
The Lord of the Rings and Middle-Earth have a lot of backstories to tell and including every detail simply isn’t possible, but some information is vital to enjoyment and understanding of the depth of the movies. The original prologue was much longer, but New Line Cinema found the beginning of the movie confusing, and they asked Jackson to do a prologue but to keep it at 2 minutes.
The epic prologue that kicks off the series provides all the important information, but it comes in at 7 and a half minutes. New Line accepted this much longer prologue, and it paid off by giving viewers all they needed to know. And it’s a scene that lives rent-free in every fan’s head.
Sean Astin Cut His Foot At The River Scene
For the scene near the end of the film where Sam chases after Frodo, Sean Astin had to wade into the water. Divers made sure there were no sharp objects in the water, but unfortunately, they missed one. Sean Astin stepped on a piece of glass, and it cut right through his fake Hobbit foot and his real foot.
Sean Astin shortly returned as the Fellowship’s unsung hero, Sam, after he was flown to a hospital and required stitches. This shows just how dedicated an actor can be to their craft. In the behind-the-scenes features, when Sean Astin sat on the shore with his injured foot, Elijah Wood remarked, “That’s a lot of blood.”
Christopher Lee Met Tolkien And Read The Books Every Year
There were many Lord of the Rings book fans who worked on the trilogy, but Christopher Lee was the only one who actually met the author, J.R.R. Tolkien. He also read the trilogy every year from its original release until his death in 2015.
Christopher Lee not only brought great acting skills to the film in his role as Saruman, but he also brought the knowledge and love of a true Tolkien fan. As a result, fans got a legendary performance from Lee.
The Fellowship Got Matching Tattoos
Spending 18 months shooting a movie will certainly bring people closer together. When that group of people plays the legendary Fellowship of the Ring, the bond is even stronger. And so the 9 members of the Fellowship all got matching tattoos, the Elvish symbol for “9.”
John Rhys-Davies didn’t want a tattoo, so he sent his stunt double in his place. The actors have often shared stories about their tattoos, and it’s become one of the most endearing stories of the making of the films. Orlando Bloom’s tattoo can notably be seen on his wrist in the blacksmith shop fight in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Gandalf Hitting His Head Was Accidental
Some accidents or mistakes are perfect enough to stay in the movie. One such mistake takes place early in the film. In a scripted moment, Gandalf bumps into a chandelier in Bag End. But immediately after this, Gandalf hits his head on a beam. He lets out a brief groan and laughs it off, continuing into the next room.
The bump to the head was completely accidental, but Peter Jackson felt that Ian McKellen handled the moment very well, so it stayed in the movie. This moment gives fans a humorous unplanned moment to look forward to every time they watch the trilogy.
Sean Bean Climbed A Mountain To The Set
For the scenes set on the snowy mountain of Caradhras, the cast was flown up by helicopter. However, Sean Bean hated flying and avoided it when he could. So, every day, he would spend two hours climbing the mountain in full Boromir costume, to reach the spot where they were shooting.
This has become one of the more well-known and loved behind-the-scenes stories over the years. Other members of the cast noted they’d see him climbing each day while they took their helicopter ride up to the top.
Forced Perspective Made The Hobbits Look Smaller
The 3 foot, 6 inch Hobbits needed to look small in the film when next to Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and other tall characters. Dwarf actors were used as body doubles, but forced perspective was also employed. This meant that an actor playing a larger character would be much closer to the camera than the Hobbit actor, but the actors would look in a different spot so it looked like they were looking at each other.
Ian McKellen noted that he really didn’t get to look Elijah Wood in the eyes when filming because of forced perspective. But the result is spectacular. In shots with both Gandalf and Frodo, it looks like they’re right next to or across from each other, one being tall and the other being short. But in reality, Elijah Wood was always further back, like on Gandalf’s wagon coming into Hobbiton.