“Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, seven for the Dwarf-lords in halls of stone, nine for Mortal Men, doomed to die. One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne in the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to rule them all, one Ring to find them, one Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings.
We all love The Lord of the Rings! Here are our favorite facts about the movies!
44. No wings for Sean.
While filming Lord of the Rings in the mountainous New Zealand, Sean Bean refused to fly to remote set locations because of his fear of flying. Even for the scenes set on mountains, he hiked to the set clad in Boromir’s full suit of armour.
43. An actor and an author walk into a bar…
Christopher Lee (Saruman) was the only person involved with the Lord of the Rings films who had actually met Tolkien. He met him by chance at a bar in Oxford.
42. Glad they decided to “Let it Be.”
In the 1960s, The Beatles pitched legendary director Stanley Kubrick on shooting a Lord of the Rings movie that starred them. Kubrick rejected the idea, but the Beatles persisted. The final nail in the coffin came from Tolkien himself, who said he wasn’t a fan of the collaboration. Apparently, John Lennon wanted to play Gollum.
41. Super Sam.
Tolkien considered Sam Gamgee to be the true hero of The Lord of the Rings.
40. Friends with fur.
Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) bonded with the horse that he rode in Lord of the Rings, so he purchased it from the owner. He purchased another horse from the set so that his first horse would have a friend.
39. Well-earned recognition.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the first and only fantasy film ever to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.
38. Tolkien in space!
An International Astronomical Union regulation states that all mountains on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, must be named after the mountains from The Lord of the Rings.
37. We’re taking the hobbits to Isengard.
Elijah Wood created his Lord of the Rings’ Frodo audition tape in the woods with a homemade Hobbit costume.
36. Elvish ink.
The members of the fellowship got matching ink. Spearheaded by Viggo Mortensen, they all committed to a small tattoo of the number nine in Elvish to link the nine members of the Fellowship. John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) declined to get his, but his stunt double (Brett Beattie) got the artwork instead!
You can see Viggo’s tattoo when he plays a Russian gangster in Eastern Promises.
35. A bigger budget for a shorter tale.
The budget for the first two “The Hobbit” movies is almost twice the budget of the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
34. Money madness.
JRR Tolkien’s estate only received $62,500 for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy until a lawsuit was filed to claim the $150 million owed.
33. Falling with compassion.
In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, they made sure to choreograph the destruction of Sauron’s tower so it didn’t resemble the World Trade Center attack.
32. Bits and pieces.
Around 10,000 prosthetic facial appliances, over 3,500 pairs of hobbit feet, 2,500 foam body suits, 1,200 suits of armour, 2,000 weapons and 10,000 arrows were made to film the Lord of The Rings trilogy.
31. Spoiler alert!
Tolkien didn’t want the third Lord of the Rings book to be called “Return of the King” because he felt it revealed too much about the story. This title was chosen by the publisher.
30. Until death do us part.
The gravestone of Tolkien and his wife is inscribed with “Lúthien” and “Beren,” who were two tragic characters in The Lord of the Rings. The pair, a mortal man and an immortal elf, were madly in love.
29. We’re taking the students to Isengard?
Freshmen at University of California Irvine can opt to live in a dorm named Middle Earth. Every hall in the dormitory is named after towns or regions from Lord of the Rings.
Middle Earth dormitory.
28. Clumsy little hobbits.
Frodo falls down exactly 39 times in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
27. A wizard is never old. He ages precisely as he means to.
It was Christopher Lee’s lifelong dream to play Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. He auditioned for the role, but Jackson thought he was too old to handle the fighting scenes. He was given the role of Saruman instead.
26. Time jump.
In the book, 17 years pass between the time that Frodo gets the ring and when he sets out on his adventure. In the movie, the chopped this down to a couple of weeks to keep things rolling!
25. Nicolas Cage, King of Gondor.
Nicolas Cage passed on the role of Aragorn because of “family obligations.” Daniel Day-Lewis also turned down the role.
24. The coolest thing anyone could ever say about anyone?
Olympic fencer Bob Anderson choreographed the fight scenes in The Lord of the Rings. Anderson, who has trained professional fencers and also did the choreograph for Star Wars, said that Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) was the best swordsman he ever trained.
23. Viggo is the man.
Mortensen did his own stunts and used a real steel sword while filming, rather than one made from aluminum and rubber like the rest of the cast.
22. Sounds tedious…
Tolkien typed all 1,200 pages of The Lord of the Rings with two fingers.
Orlando Bloom (Legolas) was thrown from a horse filming The Two Towers and broke his ribs. He was back to work the next day, but there are plenty of videos of the rest of the cast making fun of him for complaining about the pain!
20. Giant freaking dwarves.
At over six feet tall, John Rhys-Davies, who plays Gimli the dwarf, is the tallest actor in the fellowship.
19. Get in there, sweetie.
Peter Jackson’s daughter has multiple cameos throughout the movies. She plays a particularly cute hobbit, a Helm’s Deep refugee, and a child in Minas Tirith. Also, Samwise Gamgee’s daughter in The Return of the King is played by his real-life daughter, Alexandra.
18. Dwarven sea creatures.
John-Rhys Davies (Gimli) is also the voice of Man Ray on Spongebob Squarepants.
17. You shall not pass!
In The Fellowship of the Ring, when Gandalf has his standoff with the fire-whip-wielding balrog, Ian McKellen was actually looking at a green ping pong ball that was used to stand in for CGI characters.
16. Royal drawings.
The queen of Denmark illustrated the Danish edition of The Lord of The Rings under the pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer.
Sean Connery turned down the role of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy because he had never read the books and “didn’t understand the script.” He was offered 15% of gross profits, which would have net him about $400 million (more than any other actor has ever been paid for a single role).
14. I knew party cups were evil.
The horrific Nazgul screeches were created by sound technicians scraping plastic cups together.
13. Fellows from a distance.
Ian McKellen and Elijah Wood never filmed a scene together in person. “I never worked with Elijah Wood,” McKellen confessed. “He was the main part in Lord of the Rings, but he’s smaller than me, so we could never be together.”
12. Needles and rings, what’s the difference?
Andy Serkis said he based Gollum’s desperation on the withdrawal of heroin addicts.
11. Jackson the warrior.
Peter Jackson didn’t spend all his time behind the camera. In The Fellowship of the Ring, he strolls past the camera munching on a carrot in the town of Bree. In The Two Towers, he defends Helm’s Deep—we see him throw a spear at the Uruk-hai.
10. Months of darkness.
The Battle of Helm’s Deep took four months to shoot, all of it at night.
9. A lot of dead extras.
The Return of the King holds the record for highest human body count in any movie. The total number of corpses? 836.
8. Realism or fantasy?
Tolkien’s daughter said that she believes her father’s description of the Dead Marshes, a treacherous bog littered with thousands of corpses, is actually a description of his experience in World War I.
7. More injuries.
Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee) was knocked unconscious by a heavy wooden loom on the set of Rivendell. Later, while filming the scene where he rushes into the water after Frodo, he stepped on a piece of broken glass. With twenty stitches on his foot, he was back on set in 24 hours.
6. This is why insurance is so expensive.
While filming a scene where he kicks an Orc helmet, Viggo Mortensen broke two toes. He didn’t say anything about it until after the shot was done. In another scene, he knocked out a tooth, but asked for it to be superglued back in place so he could finish the scene.
5. Viggo the legend.
Stories about Viggo Mortensen on the set of The Lord of the Rings are legendary. The Danish actor (and painter, and poet, and musician) isn’t just a talented swordsman. He also learned to speak Elvish for the films, making it his sixth language—he also speaks English, Danish, French, Italian and Spanish.
4. Miles of mail.
If you stood all the chain mail made for the movie adaptations side by side, it would stretch more than six miles.
3. That’s all of them, ladies and gentlemen.
Each Lord of the Rings film scooped multiple Academy Awards. The Return of the King won a whopping eleven Oscars, winning every single award it was nominated for.
2. Sticky-fingered wizards.
Sir Ian McKellen was praised for his portrayal of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, but most fans don’t know just how much of Middle Earth he took with him. Ian confessed that he actually stole Gandalf’s staff, and he proudly displays it at his pub, “The Grapes.”
1. If you insist, son.
Viggo Mortensen said that he only accepted the role of Aragorn because he wanted to please his son, who was ten at the time and an avid Lord of the Rings fan.
“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.” – Samwise the Brave.
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