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Feature: The Lord of the Rings

Longer lasting…

With the special edition of The Return of the King arriving on DVD, we talk to stars Bernard Hill and John Noble about their work on the trilogy and what we can expect to see in the extended version…

Bernard Hill
How does Bernard Hill find the time to come to a convention? “I was really dubious about coming here,” the gently-spoken Mancunian relates. “I’ll endlessly do promotions to support the film, but I wasn’t sure whether I really wanted to do this. But then I spoke to Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis and Billy Boyd and they all said I should at least do one appearance for the genuine fans, and I’ll give them as much as I can in the time available.”
Of course, most of the questions levelled at Bernard are about the extended version of The Return of the King, particularly Saruman’s demise at Orthanc. “When that scene was removed, Christopher Lee was really upset. He and I had quite a few conversations about it and we all did what we could to make things feel OK for him. I backed off from any major response to it myself because it was actually my best scene in the entire movie, and objecting would have been a bit churlish of me.”
Bernard explains what happens. “It’s a lovely moment because it shows that Théoden has forgiven Wormtongue [for manipulating him under Saruman’s spell]. He says to him, ‘You were once a man of Rohan, and someone who was close to me. Come down to me.’ It’s a scene full of lots of knots being tied, things being resolved, as well as the deaths of Saruman and Wormtongue. I’m not going to tell you exactly what happens, but it reveals an awful lot about where Théoden is in his story arc. It’s a massive stage in the character’s development because it shows his recognition that Saruman was ultimately responsible for what had happened.”

John Noble
John Noble, who played Denethor, the mercurial Steward of Gondor, quickly shows a passion for the material. “I’ve seen the extended version of The Return of the King, and it’s a magnificent film,” he enthuses. “Like the extended Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, this version is far superior to the cinema releases. The full version allows the story to gel so much better because you get more detail and time to breathe. Peter [Jackson] was forced to cut out certain vital story links, and be grateful that he can now tell the story he really wanted to. In years to come, people won’t even think about watching the shortened versions – I won’t.”
So, what of the new material, particularly John’s scenes? “From Denethor’s perspective there’s an important new scene which I was very disappointed that it didn’t make the original,” he shares. “It’s a scene with his son Faramir and gives some explanation as to why he is so disappointed with him. Faramir has returned, but he hasn’t brought the Ring with him, and that is just too much for Denethor to handle. You’ll recall that he sent Boromir on the original mission [to go to Rivendell] because he didn’t trust Faramir to successfully get the ring. But now he has returned, Boromir is dead, there’s still no Ring to protect them and the army of darkness that is descending on them. He then has an apparition in this scene where he sees Boromir again, and so you get to understand the grief more, rather than the rapid cuts in the theatrical release. And while Denethor isn’t in the scene, the sequence with Faramir in the House of Healing is just wonderful.”

by Nick Joy

Get the full interviews in
Xposé Special #27

Photo © New Line
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Xposé Special #27
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