Sunday Times
January 4, 2001

'Break a Leg' -- Kiwi Soldiers Fight for 'Ring'
David Robertson

Kiwi soldiers are more than a match for mace-wielding rock trolls and legions of murderous orcs.

The New Zealand troops have been kicking butt as extras in battle scenes for the Hollywood blockbuster Lord of the Rings.

But the soldiers - from Waiouru in the North Island and South Island bases - turned in such realistic performances, several were taken to hospital with broken bones.

Movie insiders told Sunday News the armour-clad, rubber sword-wielding soldiers went at it so hard that nine went to hospital with broken arms. Several more sported broken noses, twisted ankles and cuts.

"They got a bit carried away and were smashing each other with these big swords," the source said.

"The producers were trying to get them to calm down to protect the gear but it looked like the soldiers were having too much fun and just kept thumping each other."

A casting manager said the Kiwi troops had been fantastic and really helped the filming.

"I told them I'd have them in any film anytime," he said.

"They got into everything and were excellent. There are scenes with them marching in all the armour and because they are big boys anyway it is going to look fantastic on screen."

The first episode of the New Zealand-made $650 million Lord of the Rings trilogy will hit cinemas in about 12 months.

More than 3000 cast and crew celebrated the end of production with a $300,000 wrap party in Wellington last week.

Live acts included singer Dave Dobyn and scalped tickets were being sold to fans for more than $1000.

But sources say the best live act of the night was director Peter Jackson leading the all-star cast, including Americans Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, in a haka.