“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 first Lord of the Rings movie, Fellowship of the Ring, earned over 800 million worldwide when it was released and helped inspire a new generation of fantasy movie lovers.
Here are 45 facts you probably don’t know about the first part of the trilogy.
The scene where Gandalf hits his head off a beam in Bilbo’s house as not originally in the script. Ian McKellen knocked his forehead on the beam by accident. Peter Jackson thought McKellen did a fantastic job “acting through” the gaffe, and so he kept it in the final cut.
44. The One True Ring
The wedding ring of Co-producer Rick Porras was the the template for the look of the Ring used in the movie.
43. Not Quite the One Ring
Director Peter Jackson gave one of the rings used in the movie to Elijah Wood and another to Andy Serkis, who played Gollum, when the shooting for the film was finished. Both Wood and Serkis thought they had the only one.
42 Fly you Fools!
The cast often had to fly to isolated locations in a helicopter to shoot scenes. Sean Bean had a fear of flying and would only get in the helicopter if there was no other choice. When shooting scenes of the Fellowship where the characters were crossing snowy mountains, Bean would spend two hours each morning hiking from their base camp to the set, all while dressed as Boromir.
41. Put me Back in Coach!
Viggo Mortensen chipped a tooth while filming a fight scene. He wanted Peter Jackson to superglue the piece of tooth it back into place on so he could finish his scene, but the director had him go to the dentist on his lunch break, get it repaired, then return to the set that afternoon.
40. Terminator is Real…
A computer program called “MASSIVE” was used to make armies of CG orcs, elves, and humans. These digital characters could ‘think’ and fight on their own, recognizing friend from foe. Different species even had their own fighting styles.
39. What about 16th Breakfast?
When Pippin is hit in the head with an apple after asking about if they can have second breakfast, it is Viggo Mortensen throwing the apple at his head. They had to film the shot 16 times to get it just right, and Pippin actor Billy Boyd says he believes Mortensen loved each take.
38. Late Arrival
Viggo Mortensen joined the film after it had begun shooting. He had never met Peter Jackson before, or read any of the Lord of the Rings books. It was Mortensen’s 11-year-old son who convinced his dad to join on as Aragorn.
37. The Tall Dwarf
John Rhys-Davies, who plays Gimli, is the tallest of any of the actors in the fellowship.
36 Don’t Need no Education
Orlando Bloom got the role of Legolas just two days before he completed drama school.
35. Fingers to the Bone
A total of over 12.5 million plastic rings were created to make fake chain mail armor for the movie. Two of the crew were tasked with connecting the rings by hand to help make costumes. By the end of shooting, they had worn the fingerprints off their thumbs and index fingers.
34. Magic Floor
According to Sean Astin, who played Sam, when Bilbo drops the ring onto the floor before leaving his house, the surface was magnetic to prevent the ring from bouncing and create the illusion of abnormal weight.
33. A Learner of Languages
Viggo Mortensen is trilingual. He speaks English, Spanish, and Danish, and asked that the script be altered to allow his character to speak more lines in Elvish.
32. A Close Shave
The blade that the Uruk-hai, Lurtz, throws at Aragorn during the final fight scene was a real dagger. It was supposed to miss and hit the tree behind Mortensen but because the Orc armor impleaded the actors’ mobility it was accidently thrown straight at Mortensen. Luckily Mortensen was quick enough to deflect it with his sword.
31. Dragon? What Dragon?
When the dragon firework goes off at Bilbo’s birthday party, the shriek heard is Pippin actor Billy Boyd screaming. He didn’t know that the firework was really going to blow up on set (he thought it would be put in with CGI). It was not scripted, but ended up in the final film because it sounded so real.
30. You Shall Not Pass!
To shoot Gandalf’s big scene with the Balrog, Ian McKellen was really looking at a green ping pong ball, which was used with a green screen during filming to give him and other cast members a point of reference for where the monster would be CGI’d into the movie.
29. An Extra Set of Hands
Christopher Lee was one of the first person to be cast for the movies in part because of his familiarity of the books. He visited the makeup department regularly, and often gave tips about how the monsters should look.
28. What do your Elven Eyes See?
Each of the different races of Elves was given their own eye colour. Elves from Lothlorien were given light blue eyes, while the Rivendell elves eyes were dark blue.
27. One does not simply Memorize Lines
Boromir’s speech at the Council of Rivendell was read from a sheet of paper sitting on Sean Bean’s lap because he had only received his lines for it the night before.
26. Elvish Runes
The Elvish lines used in the film are not simply quoted straight from the book, they were copied from J.R.R. Tolkien’s own dictionary of the language.
25.Get my Good Side
Most of the members of the Fellowship tried their hand at surfing in their free time. Viggo Mortensen fell off his board and busied a whole side of his face one day. Makeup couldn’t cover up the bruise so the entire scene in Moria where they find the tomb Aragorn is only seen from one side.
24. The Voice of Experience
Originally the narration at very beginning of the film was going to be done by Elijah Wood. Ian McKellen also recorded a version but it was thought that it didn’t fit either Frodo or Gandalf’s characters. Cate Blanchett, as Galadriel, was used because showed the agelessness of the elves.
23. What’s your Name Again?
Once Viggo Mortensen got so into character that while having a conversation with director Peter Jackson, Jackson referred to him as “Aragorn” for about half an hour without realizing it.
22. One Tough Elf
Liv Tyler, who played Arwen, stabbed herself in the right thigh by accident, while shooting the ‘If you want him, come and claim him!’ scene.
21. Permanent Members of the Fellowship
Eight of the nine members of the Fellowship got a tattoo of the word “nine” written in Elvish script. The ninth member, Gimli actor John Rhys-Davies, declined and sent his stunt double in his place.
20. Honey, I Shrunk the House
Two sets Bilbo Baggins’ home were built. One to for the Hobbits, the other 33% smaller for the scenes with Ian McKellen in them. Every detail was made precise right down to slightly tinier versions of books on the shelves.
19. Excellent Swordsman
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.
18. Gandalf, who’s that?
Ian McKellen had not read any of the Lord of the Rings books when he was first asked by Peter Jackson to join the cast. It was Jackson’s eagerness for the movie that convinced him.
17. Elvish Speed
Legolas’s arrows in the final fight scene are all CGI’d.
16 Camera Tricks
In order to make the Hobbits appear short they placed tall characters, like Gandalf, closer to the camera so they would seem bigger.
15. Missing the Boat
In one take of the Bucklebury Ferry scene, Elijah Wood mistimed his jump and fell into the river instead of landing on the ferry.
14. King for a Day
The moth that Gandalf whispers instructions to while trapped on the top of the Tower of Isengard was born just before before filming that day, and died soon after the scene was finished. R.I.P little guy!
13. You Filmed Without Me?!
Sean Bean has no memory of being in New Zealand on the day they shot the scene where the Fellowship departs from Rivendell. He says that Boromir must have been put in digitally.
12. Shortening Things Up
The original cut of the movie was four hours and thirty minutes in total. And you thought it was long before!
11. Bringing it to life
The town of Hobbiton was created a full year before filming began in order to make it look like it was a real lived-in place. It was complete with real vegetable patches and sheep ate the grass to keep it short.
10. Making it up as we go
The script was rewritten every day of filming, most of which was from added input from the actors who were all extremely involved in the creation of their characters.
9. Giving Thanks
The Orc blacksmiths shown at Isengard are actually members of the workshop who helped to make the weapons used in the film.
8. Meeting the Creator
Christopher Lee was the only member of the cast to ever actually meet J.R.R. Tolkien. He said that he had a chance meeting with the writer at a pub in Oxford.
7. Like Father like Daughter
Liv Tyler changed her own voice so much to play Arwen that her father, and Aerosmith singer, Steven Tyler asked her if her voice had been overdubbed by somebody else.
6. Do we have enough candles?
The birthday cake for Bilbo Baggins’ had 111 candles on it and they eventually set the cake itself on fire.
5. Hidden Talent
The scream noise for the Ringwraith’s was actually done by the co-writer and co-producer of the film, Fran Walsh.
4. Follow the Lights!
When the hobbits are shown watching Gandalf’s fireworks at Bilbo’s party, they were actually looking at flashing lights and an air horn.
The film stayed in the United States top ten earning films for 13 weeks after its release.
2. Real Steel
Viggo Mortensen, who plays Aragorn, did a lot of his own stunts. He was also adamant about using only real swords, instead of a much lighter aluminum sword or harmless rubber sword.
1. The Three Movies to Rule Them All
Miramax was the first studio to express an interest in Peter Jackson’s interpretation of the books but they wanted to do it all in one film. Jackson refused, and thank goodness he did!