LOTR Movie Site
Sir Ian McKellen

Ain't It Cool News
July 28, 2000

Sir Ian McKellen at Comic Con
Joram Manka

This is a selection from an article by Joram Manka from the "Ain't It Cool News" web site, and relates that Sir Ian McKellan got a surreptiously up-close and personal bit of feedback from the audience.

I was backstage with Sir Ian McKellen, Bryan Singer, Tom DeSanto, and some various folk from some of the studios waiting for the Lord of the Rings footage to start. What happened during the next 15 minutes of Comic Con would probably be one of the most magical moments of my life. The lights went down; the words "It has been called the greatest and most popular book of all time..." were heard booming throughout the packed convention hall. At that exact moment Sir Ian and all the rest of us snuck into the convention hall from the backstage area. We took a seat in front of the people in the front row, they didn't even know that Sir Ian was sitting two feet in front of them, they were totally transfixed on what was happening onscreen!

I have to admit straight up that this won't be the most meticulous retelling of what happened in this trailer, I was so amazed to be sitting next to Sir Ian while watching Gandalf on the projection screen! It was totally surreal. But I will do my best because I know thousands of you are wondering what happened.

What was shown was a mixture of stuff that we've seen in the Internet Preview (and who hasn't watched that 1453 times?), the infamous ShoWest trailer, plus a sprinkling of new stuff thrown in. It took me a while to get in position to see the action being shown since we were all coming in from backstage. The first glimpse I caught was the Orcs coming into the picture that we've seen in the Internet Trailer (IT). Some new stuff that I noticed was Aragorn fighting between some pillars, I'm not sure if it was from Helm's Deep or not. But the set design for it looked amazing for the 4 seconds we had a shot of it for. More mixed in scenes from the IT, the Nazgul closing in on the Hobbits and Elijah's hand opening up to reveal the Ring.

We saw more shots of stuff scene in the Internet Trailer, stuff like the Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood interviews. They took a bit to show various covers of some Tolkien books. Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee) was interviewed, but I can't seem to remember what he said, but he was in costume during the interview (same costume as shown in the Vanity Fair spread). Some new stuff for me was the Hobbits running through a forest and a shot of Arwen fleeing Nazgul on horseback.

I tried to take glances at how Ian was taking in most of the footage. He was very engrossed in what was happening onscreen and would occasionally take a look into the crowd to see how they were reacting as well. I probably missed some stuff in the trailer, but it was so cool to watch one of the actors react to others seeing his own work.

The MASSIVE software (codename for the system used to run the, er, massive battles in Midde-earth) was shown in fuller form. We got some shots of warriors battling each other and the roar of thousands of soldiers marching over large plains, which I'm not sure it was Mordor or not. We got some good close-ups of Legolas looking intently at something during the Battle of Helm's Deep and Gimli without his helmet. I noticed also that an orc (Uruk-hai?) had a sword with a curved tip, much like a hook that he threw towards someone) There was a scene with the Fellowship at night with some of them holding up torches, I assume this is going to be the Wolf Attack portrayed in Fellowship of the Ring; because there was a creepy wolf howl just at the end of the scene. This was followed by some questions with John Howe and they featured some of his great artwork.

I again took a look into the crowd and checked for reactions from Sir Ian. I think this is one of the first times other than the IT that Ian had been able to take a look at some of the polished work. They began announcing the cast: Sean Bean as Boromir, Ian Holm as Bilbo, etc. The biggest cheers (to my surprise actually!) were for John Rhys-Davies when announced as Gimli. He looked AWESOME. A perfect rendition of a Tolkien Dwarf in my mind, and he looked basically like the toy figure shown at the show in Vegas a couple weeks back. There was a sweet shot of Christopher Lee with his hand over the Palantir. He IS Saruman.

The trailer started speeding up and the music began moving at a quicker pace and I knew it was quickly coming to a close. I took note of Samwise picking up a young Hobbit, perhaps his daughter and perhaps alluding to a return to
obbiton at the end of Return of the King as well! I hope so! The last shot I remember from the trailer is the Nazgul reaching out from his horse at someone... very scary for the kids!

As the trailer wrapped up, it was almost an exact replica of the Internet Trailer, it showed the major cast members. Then it went through the release dates of the movies:
Fellowship of the Ring - Holiday 2001
The Two Towers - Holiday 2002
The Return of the King - Holiday 2003

Ian McKellen snuck backstage and the lights slowly came up. Some people, assuming that the event was over began heading out to catch up with the rest of the programming for the day. Chris from IGN went up to the podium and said "Thanks for coming, and we'd like to introduce a special guest; ladies and gentlemen... SIR IAN MCKELLEN!!" The crowd absolutely LIT UP!! Standing ovation as Sir Ian burst from the backstage area with his hands in the air waving to the crowd. It was honestly one of the most electric moments of my life! After the applause had subsided he made a small speech thanking everyone. He washappy to be able to see the work because with movies you can never act for an audience, it's only for yourself. He thanked everyone again and headed offstage, what an amazing event for everyone involved I'm sure!