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    30 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About "The Lord Of The Rings" That Are Guaranteed To Change The Way You Watch The Trilogy

    One does not simply click on a facts post about these movies...

    The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the greatest film trilogy of all time.

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    Note the period on the end of that sentence. It's a statement, not a question.

    And, since we're in the midst of celebrating 20 years since the films were released*, we thought it'd be fun to revisit some of the coolest behind-the-scenes facts about the making of the film!

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    *The Fellowship of the Ring came out in 2001, The Two Towers came out in 2002, and The Return of the King came out in 2003! I'm very old!

    Ready? Here we go:

    1. Jake Gyllenhaal auditioned for the role of Frodo, and recalled it as being "literally one of the worst auditions."

    Nbc / NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images, New Line Cinema / ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

    "I remember auditioning for The Lord of the Rings and going in and not being told that I needed a British accent," Jake said. "I really do remember [the director] Peter Jackson saying to me, 'You know that you have to do this in a British accent?' We heard back that it was literally one of the worst auditions."

    2. Both Nicolas Cage and Daniel Day-Lewis turned down the role of Aragorn.

    Michael Kovac / Getty Images for NEON, Jason Merritt / Getty Images

    Nic turned down the role, citing "family obligations," i.e, not wanting to have to move to New Zealand for a couple of years. Meanwhile, Daniel actually turned down the role several separate times — much to the dismay of director Peter Jackson.

    3. Then, Stuart Townsend won the role of Aragorn, but was replaced by Viggo Mortensen immediately before filming started.

    20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection, Warner Bros / ©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

    "I was there rehearsing and training for two months, then was fired the day before filming began," Stuart said. "I have no good feelings for those people in charge, I really don't. The director wanted me, and then apparently thought better of it because he really wanted someone 20 years older than me and completely different."

    4. And Sean Connery turned down the role of Gandalf because he "didn't understand the script" — even though his contract would've included an absurdly good deal.

    A side view of Sean Connery
    Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

    Sean was offered "up to 15% of the film's total box office receipts," which — had he taken the role — would've equalled out to about $400 million.

    5. Alternatively, Christopher Lee (who played Saruman) was a huge fan of the source material and the only cast member to have ever met author J.R.R. Tolkien. He wanted a role in the film so badly that he campaigned for it.

    Saruman wielding a wand
    Warner Bros / ©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

    He was so obsessed with landing the role that — in the '90s — he began purposely auditioning for wizard-adjacent roles, eventually landing the role of Olwyn in The New Adventures of Robin Hood. "The only reason I did that was to show anyone who was watching that I could play a wizard, and that I would be ideal casting for The Lord of the Rings," Christopher said, admitting he even sent pictures of himself as a wizard to director Peter Jackson as casting began. "I sent him a picture of myself all made-up in the wizard’s role, but it was more in the nature of a joke, really. 'This is what I look like as a wizard, don’t forget this when you cast the movie.'"

    6. In the late '60s, the Beatles (yes, the Beatles) wanted to make their own movie adaptation with Stanley Kubrick directing, but Tolkien himself was basically like, "LOL, no."

    The Beatles sitting on a doorstep
    Icon And Image / Getty Images

    "Ultimately, [the Beatles] couldn't get the rights from Tolkien, because he didn't like the idea of a pop group doing his story. So it got nixed by him," Peter said. "They tried to do it. There's no doubt about it. For a moment in time, they were seriously contemplating doing that at the beginning of 1968."

    7. Also, Ian McKellen (who played Gandalf) once stated that he and Elijah Wood (who played Frodo) never filmed a scene together.

    Gandalf and Frodo having a conversation
    Warner Bros / ©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

    "I never worked with Elijah Wood," Ian said. "He was the main part in The Lord of the Rings, but he's smaller than me, so we could never be together."

    8. Andy Serkis was under the impression he was only being asked to do voiceover work for three weeks in New Zealand when he was cast as Gollum. However, when he auditioned in person, Peter was so blown away that he decided to use performance-capture technology so that Andy could play the character on set.

    Andy Serkis in a purple suit
    New Line Cinema / ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

    The character was originally going to be created using solely CGI, with Andy providing just his voice for the role.

    9. Andy also drank what he called “Gollum juice” — a mixture made up of honey, lemon, and ginger — to prepare his throat for the laboring voice work.

    Gollum looking at his reflection in a pool of water
    New Line Cinema / ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

    He said he based Gollum's uniquely terrible voice on "cats coughing up hairballs."

    10. In The Two Towers, the Battle of Helm's Deep alone took three and a half months to shoot.

    A battle from "The Two Towers"
    New Line Cinema / ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

    The iconic battle scene was shot entirely at night and in the rain, using a blue backlight to help emulate the natural light of the moon.

    11. In a very meta choice, the Orcs seen making weapons were part of the crew, and actual blacksmiths onscreen making the weapons.

    Orcs making weapons
    New Line Cinema

    The extras portraying the Orcs in the weapon-making scenes were members of the WETA staff, who were responsible for many of the props and weapons.

    12. Many beloved little moments from the films were unscripted and/or outright improvised. This included when Gandalf hit his head on the entryway in Bilbo's home.

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    Ian accidentally smacked his noggin for real on a beam in the house, due to not being used to the small size of the space. Peter liked the moment so much that he kept it in the final cut of the film.

    13. And when Aragorn whacked Lurtz's thrown knife away with his sword, like he was swinging a baseball bat.

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    The actor playing Lurtz was meant to throw the very real metal knife away from Viggo, and special effects would be used later to show it hitting a tree. However, due to the heavy prosthetics, the actor got turned around, resulting in them throwing the — again, very real — knife directly at Viggo, who whacked it away. "He did it [on the] first take," Peter said. "That was a real knife that was being thrown, and he literally did bat it away with his sword for real: there wasn’t anything fake about it."

    14. And when the flag tore off and dramatically flew away while Éowyn looked over Edoras.

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    Peter maintains that the flag tearing off of the post and flying away — as well as the befuddled looks on both Viggo and Miranda Otto (who played Éowyn) — were all real and unscripted.

    15. AND, of course, when Aragorn infamously improvised kicking an Orc helmet, which resulted in his breaking two of his own toes.

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    And I do mean infamous in the truest sense of the word, as this "fun fact" has now become a meme of epic proportions within the fandom.

    16. Speaking of injuries, the filming of this massive franchise had quite a few of them behind-the-scenes. Some of which included: Viggo chipping a tooth during a fight scene after being hit in the face with a sword.

    Viggo holding his sword up
    New Line Cinema / ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

    He, quite literally, went to the dentist during his lunch break, and then started shooting again the same day.

    17. And Orlando Bloom (who played Legolas) cracking a rib after falling off a horse.

    Orlando Bloom and Peter Jackson with others on set
    New Line Cinema / ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Orlando fell off the horse, and then Gimli's stunt double fell on top of him, resulting in the broken rib. Orlando was oddly proud of being the first cast member to be harmed, and was often teased by his castmates about how much he "whinged."

    18. And Sean Astin (who played Sam) stepping on a giant shard of glass during the climactic final scene of The Fellowship of the Ring when he chases Frodo into the water.

    Sean Astin as Sam in "The Fellowship of the Ring"
    New Line Cinema / ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

    The shard impaled his foot — through his prosthetic hobbit foot and real foot — while he was running into the lake. They were able to remove the shard on set, but the wound bled so much that he had to be helicoptered to a hospital.

    19. But, in happier news, not one of the 300 horses used were harmed during the making of all three films!

    Soldiers on horses
    New Line Cinema / ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Yay! Or should I say...Neigh! (No? OK.)

    20. Moving past injuries and into more cautious territory, Sean Bean (who played Boromir) was so afraid of flying that he opted to hike up the side of the mountain they were filming at in full costume, rather than take a helicopter.

    Sean Bean on set with Peter Jackson and others
    New Line Cinema / ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

    In a moment very relatable to me, the person writing this post who is also terrified of flying, Sean was so genuinely horrified of it that he refused to join the rest of the cast in the helicopter up to the top of the mountains for filming. Instead, he hiked two hours, every day, in full costume up to the set.

    21. Plus, a lot of thought and care were put into tiny details you wouldn't notice unless you were looking for them, like the leaves falling during the Council of Elrond scene.

    Frodo speaking to the Council of Elrond
    Warner Bros / ©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

    To keep up the sense of autumn, six crew members remained above the set to keep leaves blowing down on the scene in consistent intervals. This also meant that the crew had to gather up all of these leaves to have them ready during shooting. And — when the leaves started to wither — they painted them individually.

    22. And how the floors in Bilbo's Bag End home were made to be magnetic in order to show the metaphorical weight of the Ring, so that it wouldn't bounce when dropped.

    Peter Jackson holding the ring
    Warner Bros / ©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

    For scenes when the ring hits the ground, the production crew placed a magnet beneath the floor to make the ring cling to it so it wouldn't bounce or skid when it landed.

    23. And how the filmmakers used a special light for close-ups of Galadriel's (played by Cate Blanchett) eyes, so it appeared there were stars in them.

    Galadriel's eyes
    New Line Cinema

    Apparently, the unique lighting rig was made using Christmas lights! Which is festive! Since she's an elf! (Wocka Wocka!)

    24. Many of the Riders of Rohan in The Two Towers and The Return of the King were women horseback riders donning fake beards.

    A Rider of Rohan with an arrow pointing to her face and the words "Lady in a beard!"
    New Line Cinema

    “There are some very good women riders in New Zealand," Viggo said of the extras. "And it’d be silly not to take advantage of them. Some of the women rode better than any of the men.”

    25. Jane Abbott — the stunt double for Arwen (played by Liv Tyler) — loved riding Arwen's horse so much that Viggo bought the horse for her so she could keep it at the end of production.

    Peter Jackson and Liv Tyler on set
    New Line Cinema / ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

    And, in case you needed another reason to love Viggo, he also bought two of the horses for himself.

    26. Helm's Deep from The Two Towers and Minas Tirith from The Return of the King were both built on the same site.

    New Line Cinema

    The Helm's Deep scenes were shot first, and Minas Tirith was built on top of it once those scenes were done, with parts of the Helm's Deep set remaining — though altered — beneath it.

    27. Peter snuck himself into the films, with one cameo per movie.

    Each of Peter Jackson's cameos
    New Line Cinema

    He was a drunk gentlemen holding a carrot outside the Inn of the Prancing Pony in The Fellowship of the Ring, a chainmail-clad Rohirrim soldier during the Battle of Helm's Deep in The Two Towers, and a pirate aboard one of the Black Ships in The Return of the King.

    28. The studio wanted to cut Galadriel's iconic opening monologue in The Fellowship of the Ring down to two minutes because they thought it was confusing.

    New Line Cinema

    The filmmakers fought for the monologue to stay, as it provided a lot of much-needed backstory quickly, and the studio eventually gave in. The final version clocks in at seven and a half minutes (and, if you want to test how well you remember it, you better believe I made a quiz for it a little while back!)

    29. In The Return of the King, Pippin (played by Billy Boyd) sings a sad little song as Faramir rides off to his demise — this was added because producers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens heard Billy sing at a karaoke club one night, and were blown away by his singing voice.

    View this video on YouTube

    New Line Cinema / Via

    And, while the lyrics for "Edge of Night" were taken from the books, Boyd created the melody and sang the song himself. 

    30. And finally, the last day of filming on the trilogy took place after The Return of the King was already released — yes, you read that correctly.

    Dead soldiers
    New Line Cinema

    Several scenes that took place in the Paths of the Dead continued to be shot for the Extended Editions after a theatrical cut of the film had already been released in theaters, and a month after the film broke records winning Oscars. Peter was noted as finding it "funny" that he was still shooting scenes for the movie, despite already winning all of the Oscars possible.

    Well, there you have it! Which facts did we miss that you love? Who's your favorite character?! Share all of your LOTR thoughts and feelings in the comments below!