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Feature: The Lord of the Rings

Going into the West

Epic action

As Leonard Nimoy might tell you, you can’t wear pointy ears forever. We spoke to Orlando Bloom on giving up the bow, the wig and aural prosthetics…

Somewhere up in Reality’s version of the Grey Havens, Orlando Bloom believes, JRR Tolkien is smiling. The rising star is confident that the author of The Lord of the Rings saga would like Peter Jackson’s big-screen interpretation of his story and, more specifically, that he’d recognize Legolas in Bloom’s performance as the heroic elf. “I think it’s as close as it could be in order to still make them enjoyable films for the audience to sit through,” Bloom notes. “There are moments – the sliding down the stairs moments – which Tolkien didn’t necessarily write in there. But he created a character that was invincible, immortal, ageless, an awesome warrior and a fighting machine whose senses are so aware that he doesn’t get any kind of injury. Tolkien created that forum in which we could then develop the character, make it exciting and make it work for the screen. But I think that we’ve maintained the reality of the books. The essence of the books was really captured in the films, and that’s what Peter has done so well. He wanted it based in reality. He wanted us to believe that Middle-earth was a real world and that these characters existed, and so that was what we went from. Legolas is pretty close to what Tolkien would have wanted, I hope.”

The Return of the King, of course, is the capper of Jackson’s trilogy. In it, Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) continue on their way towards Mordor, where Frodo must destroy the One Ring in order to save Middle-earth. Meanwhile, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), in the service of King Théoden (Bernard Hill), readies for hellish battles and a treacherous ride through the Paths of the Dead, with Legolas and the dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) by his side. Bloom and company finished the bulk of their work on the film back in 2000, but – as had been done on both The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers – Jackson reassembled cast and crew in New Zealand for several weeks of additional Return of the King principal photography. Bloom finished his final scene in July 2003 and the end of his time on the trilogy was rewarded with a fitting farewell. “It was kind of emotional,” Bloom recalls. “It was a sad, emotional send-off, to don the blonde wig and the pointy ears for the last time. But it was good. They gave me the clapperboard from my last show and they gave me my bow and arrow. Pete said a few words and the stunt guys did a haka. I felt really overwhelmed, actually. Suddenly, it had all been brought home, what that whole experience had meant to me, how much I’d grown, and how much I had learned from it.”

by Ian Spelling

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Photo © New Line Cinema
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

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