The Lord of the Rings will go down as one of the greatest movie trilogies in history, and this year Peter Jackson’s follow-up trilogy The Hobbit will be coming to a close as well.
The movies are tremendously detailed and, at least with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, incredibly faithful to the books. Obviously, there are some omissions and additions, but particularly with the extended editions, they’re everything a Tolkien fan could ever hope for.
But there are probably some things about the movies that not even the most devoted Tolkien fans realize. If you are like us and loved these movies, you’ve watched them all dozens of times. After all, you can barely go a week without one of the three being broadcast on cable. These are some of the coolest facts about arguably the most successful movie trilogy ever made.
13The Portraits of Bilbo’s Parents Look Familiar…
They don’t get much screen time, but the portraits of Bilbo’s parents in Fellowship were modeled after Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh.
12Andy Serkis Pulled Double Duty
You know that Andy Serkis played Gollum (and Smeagol), but he also voiced the Black Rider in Fellowship who says, “Shire…Baggins…”
11Those Were Real Forges Used by Saruman’s Orcs
Saruman’s forge of Orthanc were actual forges, and the goblins doing the forging were actual foundry workers.
10One Does Not Simply Memorize an Entire Scene
Unless it’s Sean Bean, who was given his big, foreboding speech about Mordor just the night before and still nailed it on the first take.
9Bill the Pony was at Times Two Dudes
Believe it or not, Sam Gamgee’s pony, Bill, was actually two guys in a pony costume for some shots.
8Gandalf was Mourned Before He Actually Died
The scenes where the Fellowship actually mourns the death of Gandalf were filmed before Ian McKellen ever arrived on set to film his first scene.
7Aragorn Was Really in Pain When He Kicked a Helmet
In The Two Towers when Aragorn thinks Merry and Pippin are dead and he kicks a helmet, Viggo Mortensen broke his toe and that yell was one of actual pain.
6Gandalf’s Rebirth Was Literally Written as Weird
By that we mean the script literally said “Death. Birth. Cosmic. Weird.”
5The Black Gate Was Designed Based on a Typo
The Black Gate is supposed to be singular, but a typo in the script given to the art department lead to it being turned into two gates.
4Saruman Actually Knew J. R. R. Tolkien
Christopher Lee, who played Saruman, is an immense Tolkien fan and in addition to reading the trilogy every year, he’s also the only cast or crew member to have met the man himself.
3Viggo Mortensen “Killed” His Son During Filming
The first orc that Aragorn kills at the battle of Pelennor Fields was played by Viggo Mortensen’s son, Henry.
2Aragorn Read The Book Right Before Filming
Mortensen wasn’t originally cast as Aragorn, and filming had already begun by the time he got the gig. He has stated he read the books for the first time on the flight to New Zealand.
1Gandalf Once Had a Ring of Power
If you’ve read the books you know this already, but for movie fans only, Gandalf was one of the original ring-bearers, possessing the Ring of Fire, one of the three rings gifted to the Elves from Sauron.