The Press Online
August 27, 1998

Dozens of Would-Be Hobbits, Trolls Call Film Company
Press Reporter

WELLINGTON -- Would-be hobbits and trolls have already started calling film director Peter Jackson's production company, which was kept busy yesterday dealing with people wanting to play extras in his Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

Casting for the $264 million adaptation of the J. R. R. Tolkien books is not due to begin until the end of the year.

Jackson's Wellington-based WingNut Films said on Tuesday that it would need 15,000 extras and 50 actors for speaking parts in the project, which is the most costly film package in the southern hemisphere.

A WingNut Films spokeswoman said yesterday there were dozens of calls, mainly from men, from all over New Zealand. Many callers wanted to play extras but there were also calls from people who sought to be involved in any capacity in the project, including suppliers.

One call was from a man wanting to supply candles for lighting the project's many dark scenes.

People called suggesting locations where the project could be set. A Whakatane man suggested the stark volcanic landscape of White Island, off the Bay of Plenty coast, would be a perfect setting.

The spokeswoman said details had been taken from the callers and these would be kept on file.

The company had not expected such interest at this stage.

Casting agencies were also swamped with calls yesterday.

Double Happy director Sharon Power said more than 30 people rang the agency to put either their own name forward, or their children's names. Some of the calls were from established actors who wanted to ensure they did not miss the chance to audition for the speaking parts.

Aka Screen Actors manager Georgie Duwahl said she took dozens of calls, and passers-by came into her office to put their names down.

Some people had been willing to do anything from driving cast members around to organising extras, just to be involved in the project.

Wellington Actors manager Libby Justice said there had been interest from many actors.

WingNut would be looking for extras with different physical characteristics to play the people and creatures who inhabit Middle Earth, the film's co-producer, Tim Sanders, said.

People interested in auditioning for parts should call casting agencies.