December 21, 2001

Wraiths Top the Terror Stakes
Staff Reporter

There's no doubt about it, the actors who play the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings say - the Ring Wraiths are the scariest creatures in the film.

The JRR Tolkien fantasy classic is being turned into a trilogy of films by New Zealand director Peter Jackson.

In Wellington for the Australasian premiere of the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, Elijah Wood (Frodo), Dominic Monaghan (Meriadoc) and Billy Boyd (Pippin) agreed that their three characters showing the right degree of terror when being hunted early on in the film by the wraiths was something Jackson worked hard to achieve.

"It was very early on in the shoot and we did spend a lot of time getting that one right," Boyd said yesterday.

"It took us three days to film, making sure not only us felt this fear but everything around us - the plants, the insects, the worms - wanted to get away from this evil."

Monaghan: "We also rehearsed the attack on Weathertop (where Frodo is almost fatally injured by a wraith) a long time before we did it, so it was obviously something in Pete's mind that was paramount. When we were rehearsing sword fighting techniques it would always be Weathertop."

The three young actors and their fellow hobbit Sean Astin (Sam) formed a close bond with each other - and the other five actors who played members of the Fellowship - during the 15 months it took to film the three Lord Of The Rings films.

The Fellowship now all sport a tattoo souvenir of the film: high elvish runes spelling out the number nine.

"My Mom wasn't too happy about it actually," Wood said.

"I told her I was going to do it before I did it and she had some harsh words to say about it, but she couldn't not enjoy it for the fact that it represented such an important part of my life."

With the hobbits' day beginning at 5am with three hours in make-up, most of which was spent applying their prosthetic hairy hobbit feet, the quartet had plenty of time to get to know one another.

"That was our time to write in our diaries, read Lord of the Rings and listen to all our music - we'd take turns to play music each day," Monaghan said.

While Wood and Astin were already established as actors, Briton Monaghan and Scotsman Boyd were just at the beginnings of their careers as Jackson came calling. Despite the making of Lord of the Rings taking such a big slice of their lives and taking them so far from home, everyone had the same motivation for agreeing to do the movies, the hobbits said.

"It was a real-life adventure," Wood said.

"When we signed on to the movie we were asked to join a group of people and go on an adventure. It really transcended film making, and I think that was interested for all of us, it just separated it from any other kind of experience. We knew it would be different and profound."