The LOTR Movie Site
June 23, 2000
Commentary on the Survey
This may be a weird topic, but it will be mercifully brief.
To wit, the last survey prior to the current one asked: "Which character do you think
was best cast?" It was followed by a list of just about everyone except Sauron and
the ghosts on the Paths of the Dead.
Does it strike anyone else as just slightly premature to ask such a question?? Half of the
cast consists of little-known or unknown Australian or New Zealand actors. Legolas is
being played by Orlando Bloom, who had barely finished acting school when he was cast. How
can we possibly make such a judgment? Obviously, we can look at Ian McKellan or
Christopher Lee and have a fine row over who is better suited to his character. But Viggo
Mortensen? John Rhys-Davies?? Hugo Weaving????? With respect to Mortensen, with prompting,
I vaguely recall some tough Navy Seal with maybe two lines from G.I. Jane; John
Rhys-Davies evokes memories of Indiana Jones but nothing more; and Hugo Weaving... I
hesitate to criticize, but did anyone else wonder if he had a speech impediment in The
Matrix?? I nearly died laughing when I heard him delivering those lines. And that, sad to
say, is all I have to base any judgment of his skills on.
Maybe I'm just far too ignorant of pop culture to come up with better examples. My movie
savviness ranks right up there with my knowledge of particle physics, and perhaps that's
why I feel like the survey was rather odd, premature, and meaningless. Like a popularity
contest gone awry, the best-cast character won't be the one we all pick, simply because of
a lack of data. It'll be a survey that documents which actors are most well-known (and
well-liked) rather than anything approaching a survey of who actually fits his/her part.
But again, maybe I'm just dwelling apart in my little cave, and you all have access to
information I don't.
Nevertheless, I also suspect certain parties of taking that survey as yet another
opportunity to pass unwarranted and premature judgment on the films themselves, even if
only in the privacy of their own homes. I didn't see the results, since I abstained from
polluting the poll with my totally vacuous vote, but I'd be willing to bet Liv Tyler got
dumped on and that McKellan and Lee got praised to the high heavens. But really, in
a sense, who cares about which characters are best cast at this point?? Sometimes even the
best actors exhibit little or no feeling for the character they've managed to land
(witness Harrison Ford in Blade Runner). Sometimes relative unknowns do remarkably well
(Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker... yes, you can see how very limited my movie knowledge is
just from the examples I pick) and no one could have reasonably made any judgments without
actually seeing the film itself. LOTR is definitely a tough call in terms of casting and
actors, though at least a few of those actors are fairly well known and have done
creditable (no pun intended) work before. But chance is still random, and any movie
has lots of room for chance to operate in: McKellan could blow it just as easily as Bloom
could, even though no one would take that bet.
All in all, I think I'll wait til after I at least see the Fellowship of the Ring before I
cast a vote as to who is best cast. At least then, I'll have data.