December 2, 2001
Liv Tyler's Fear Spurs
A stunt double and a placid horse were needed during filming for The Lord of the Rings because Tyler wanted to avoid being on a horse as much as possible. Tyler, who plays Elfin princess Arwen, had riding lessons to build her equestrian confidence.
Stunt double, Jane Abbott of Te Horo said Tyler was "lovely, bubbly and fun".
"She was really friendly and nice when she came to the stables for her lessons . . . but quite scared of horses, particularly Florian (her horse in the film) because he is a stallion and she wasn't sure of him at all."
So, how do you deal with an actress who is fearful of her horse? Bring in a tame, ageing stunt horse, of course.
Abbott said Tyler didn't like sitting on Florian or his film "double" called Odie.
"When he had a fake mane in, Odie was a good match, a really sweet old horse. She was more relaxed on him which must make acting and remembering lines much easier."
Before filming for the Peter Jackson-produced epic began, a call went out for experienced horse handlers and riders. Abbott fired off an email, not really expecting a reply. But the reply came, she auditioned and ended up with a major role.
"I thought it was for a black rider part, but I came out as Arwen's double."
Over the next 18 months Abbott mainly rode Florian, and developed a strong bond with the horse whose screen name is Asfaloth.
When filming ended the horses were auctioned and Abbott feared she might never see him again. But, like all good fairytales, this one had a happy ending - a friend surprised Abbott by buying the horse in the auction for her.