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Feature: LOTR – The Two Towers

The Making of The Two Towers

Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood

The second Lord of the Rings film is nearly here. We start our coverage with star Elijah Wood, and take a first look at the Battle of Helm's Deep…

Elijah Wood
Most period Fantasy films stumble badly when trying to find a young performer capable of playing opposite Britain’s distinguished acting Knights, but Elijah Wood has proven he can certainly hold his own against the likes of Sir Ian McKellen and Ian Holm. And unlike many young American actors, he doesn’t have the kind of contemporary face that seems jarringly out of place in a historical setting. “Anytime you’re playing with an actor who is as good as Ian McKellen is,” states Wood, “it makes your own job easier. Part of the pleasure of working with great actors, is that it brings out the goodness in you. You want to be better, and it makes you better, because they are giving you so much to work with. I found Ian McKellen to be an incredibly giving actor. It was really an extraordinary thing to see Gandalf come to life before my eyes.”

One of Wood’s most challenging moments in The Fellowship of the Ring occurred when Frodo watches in horror as Gandalf perishes at the hands of the demonic Balrog. “I already had it my head that I had to be extremely affected by Gandalf’s death,” says Wood, “since he was my great friend, really like a family member to Frodo. Well, Peter gave me a interesting piece of direction that day. He said, ‘I want your reaction and the look on your face, to scare the audience, because they’ve never seen Frodo look like this before, or be in this much despair’. I felt that was a really good piece of direction, because it drove me to make the shot far more profound and more heartbreaking. It was an interesting thing to get my head around, because it was open-ended enough, that I could play with that thought and make it into whatever I wanted, within the guidelines that Peter had given me.”

Helm’s Deep
While Frodo and Sam are navigating through the treacherous terrain of the dead marshes, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli discover Gandalf in Fangorn forest, and make their way back to Rohan. At the refuge of Helm’s Deep, Aragorn and King Théoden lead the Rohirrim against Saruman’s invading army of Uruk-hai and Orc soldiers. The momentous battle that ensues promises to be a virtuoso sequence of cinematic skill.

“Helm’s Deep is the major action set-piece of the movie,” says Jackson. “It’s a large stone fortress, which we built in a narrow rocky gorge. It’s not a strategic castle, but a refuge, where the people of Rohan go for protection in times of war. Saruman sends a huge army of 10,000 Uruk-hai against Helm’s Deep, who are intent on killing every man, woman and child inside.”

by Lawrence French

There are more features on The Two Towers in the Starburst Yearbook and in the next issue. More from Elijah Wood and
the battle of Helm's Deep in
Starburst #293

Photo © New Line
Feature © Visual Imagination 2002. Not for reproduction

Taken from
Starburst #293, see below for ordering options
Starburst #293
December 2002
ships from Nov 21 2002
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