|The Evening Post
August 28, 2000
Rings Film-goers to be
Spared Elf Gobbledegook
The $360 million Lord Of The Rings trilogy will have subtitles when elves speak in their own language, British star Sir Ian McKellen has revealed.
Sir Ian, who plays the wizard Gandalf in Peter Jackson's production, revealed several unknown details about the hush-hush project by answering questions from fans on his website last week.
Filming is due to take place this week in Golden Bay, around 1500m Mt Olympus, which is near the top of the Aorere Valley, and in the Kahurangi National Park.
Asked how people would be able to understand several languages spoken in J R R Tolkien's trilogy, Sir Ian said lines spoken in elvish would be translated with subtitles.
Australian star Cate Blanchett plays elf queen Galadriel. Earlier this year she said speaking elvish was difficult and actors wanted to avoid it sounding like "badly done Shakespeare".
Sir Ian said Gandalf's accent would sound a bit like the recorded voice of British writer Tolkien. Hobbit Frodo, played by American actor Elijah Wood and Bilbo, played by British actor Sir Ian Holm, would sound like "middle-class gentry", he said.
Scottish actor Billy Boyd will use his Scots accent for the Hobbit Pippin. American actor Sean Austin will have a "West Country" British accent for Sam. British actor Dominic Monaghan's Merry would be tinged with North English vowels. Aragorn, played by American actor Viggo Mortensen, will have an Irish burr.
Sir Ian, nominated for a best actor Oscar last year, said he felt more secure in his role as Gandalf by wearing a wig, moustache and beard for the part all day during filming. "After all, without them I wouldn't look or feel much like Gandalf," he said.
If a wind was blowing or a wind machine used, he sometimes got a crew member to comb and tease the wig and beard. "At lunchtime my wig is pinned back and the beard bundled into a hairnet . . . out of the way of salad and dessert," he said.
Sir Ian said he was impressed with computer special effects he had seen so far. "Even at this stage they look convincing . . . A digitalised fight between a cave troll and a scantily dressed muscle man was so impressive I asked for his name. Unfortunately he was as artificial as his opponent."
Department of Conservation spokesman Hans Stoffregen, who will accompany the film crew to Mt Olympus, said helicopters would fly in accommodation for 140 people during filming at Golden Bay. The film makers wanted clear conditions, without snow or wind.
Sir Ian also revealed:
* Thousands of photographs have been taken during filming by the production unit's photographer. They are closely guarded and will be released only for publicity purposes. On set, all other cameras are banned.
* Each of the three films - the first of which is due for release in December next year - will have a prologue explaining previous events.
* He was tired of being asked "Have you read The Lord Of The Rings". He has.
* He wears trousers underneath Gandalf's gown in the films.
* Principal filming is still due to finish at the end of the year.