Brad Dourif Online
Brad Dourif

July 6, 2000

Interpreting Tolkien
Cinescape Reporter

In taking on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, director Peter Jackson and his crew dare to tackle one of the most beloved works of fantasy fiction in history. Naturally, that leads to some pressure, especially from the legions of Tolkien fans, who want to see the books translated accurately to the screen. According to actor Brad Dourif, who portrays Grima Wormtongue in the film, Ring fans shouldn't worry about the accuracy of the upcoming films--the work is in good hands.

"They had people on the shoot like Christopher Lee, who knew Tolkien," said Dourif to a packed panel audience at last weekend's Dragon Con. "He's been around a while. He loves the books; he's read them every single year, and he's correcting everybody. He runs down to all the people whose job it is to get it right, and he corrects them; he gives them lessons. I had to work with him, and I didn't want to be wrong. Not with Dracula."

That doesn't mean that the screenwriters haven't interpreted Tolkien's masterwork for a film audience, however. "One of the areas in which it's been much looser has been in nailing down the characters," explained Dourif. "I had meetings with the writers when I came on, and a lot of stuff got rewritten. They say, 'What do you think of this guy?' and the scenes get rewritten according to our conversations. It's character-driven in the book, but it doesn't work as well dramatically in the movie. It's a great effort, with a lot of leeway in that area."

Aside from the writing, the special effects crew has also gone above and beyond the call of duty to bring Tolkien's world to vivid and realistic life. "The attention to detail is just absolutely incredible," said Karl Urban, who portrays Eomer. "You see these little rivets on your costume, and they could be the rivets that you can buy nowadays, but they're actually a cast rivet. Every single rivet is different from the one next to it. On my helmet it says, 'This helmet belongs to Eomer,' and it's got writing all the way around it, in a real Elven language. It's phenomenal."