Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved movies. I love the trailers that come before the movie (especially if the movie is older and the style of trailers lock them into the time in which they were released.) I love the film itself and the music they choose to accompany the credits. But most of all, I love the behind-the-scenes featurettes. Few things bring me as much joy as opening the ‘special features’ section of a DVD menu to see multiple lengthy behind-the-scenes documentaries waiting for me. I love seeing the cast goof-off while in costume on set.
I love seeing relationships build and friendships grow. And most of all, I love seeing how the movie was made. How the costumes were chosen and what each color and fabric texture means for the characters and the scene in which they were worn. Seeing how stunts and effects were conceptualized and carried out. Finding out which effects were practical and which required a healthy dose of CGI to complete. Seeing the film go from concept to finished product has always been so fascinating to me. My perfect Sunday would involve buckets of rain falling from the sky and binging over 8 hours of bonus content from my favorite movies.
And I know that I am not the only behind-the-scenes fanatic out there. So, if you’re like me and cannot get enough of that sweet bonus content, sit back and enjoy these 25 behind-the-scenes images from the making of The Lord of the Rings movies.
24 Nazgul Get Chilly Too
Sure, the Nazgul hoard can be a spooky bunch, but they get chilly just like everyone else.
They too need to dress appropriately for all weather and believe me when I say that those cloaks are not as waterproof as they appear.
This photo makes me picture a tiny little Nazgul trying to sneak out of its home without its mom noticing so that it can run off and play with its friends without its mother scolding it for not wearing its coat, gloves, and rainboots.
23 A More Casual Gandalf
The best part about the ‘behind the scenes’ stills and featurettes that accompany fantasy/period films is being able to see these actors decked out in these fantastical costumes while interacting with modern items like cell phones, Starbucks cups, and mixing in modern garments with their costumes. Imagine an alternate universe Lord of the Rings trilogy where Gandalf dons a blue American-style baseball cap instead of his famous wizardly chapeau. I think that would be something special. But I have to admit that seeing Legolas in a bandana is one of the greatest sights I have ever laid eyes on.
22 Never Work With Children
You know, I have always found it amusing that everyone seems to ignore that old “Never work with children in Hollywood” adage. Consider this: the Lord of the Rings films contain little to no children (narratively) and yet the sets were absolutely crawling with the little tykes at one point or another. The children were used to provide a live scale model for the Hobbits so that they could be properly sized when placed next to their human/regular sized cohorts and pals.
21 Take The Chopper To Mount Doom
Now, this has to silence Team Eagle for good. No longer will they infiltrate forums and comment sections to explain that the ragtag gang of misfits would have been better off had they simply rode the eagles all the way from the Shire to Mount Doom itself.
For now, we have documented proof that Middle Earth has the technology to support modern flight.
The new question that will haunt the fandom for decades to come will be why the Hobbits simply did not just hop on board their handy-dandy chopper and cruise on down to Mount Doom to dispose of the ring in their spare time.
20 Enter The Landscaper
Imagine how easy it would be to maintain the grounds of your estate, paint the palace walls, or repair the roof if you could scale your home down to a miniature size during reconstruction. Due to the immense scale of some of the sets required to fit the narrative of the books and the expense of digital recreations, many of the sets in the series were made practically to scale. This method of filmmaking was also used in the Harry Potter series for exterior shots of both Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.
19 I've Never Liked Puppets
The moment in which Bilbo was momentarily overtaken by the power of the ring and briefly assumes the appearance of evil Bilbo will haunt me for the rest of my life. Seeing the comparison of the original puppet tested to create the effect next to the final product is truly jarring. The contorted features and exaggerated shapes create a face that is easily recognizable as human but different enough to set off the "danger" alarms in the observer's brain. Staring at this puppet for too long is a sure-fire way to find oneself on a one way trip to the uncanny valley.
18 A Break Between Takes
Will there ever be another human being on this Earth who is even half as cool as Orlando Bloom? I mean, look at him. Just lounging about between takes. He looks simultaneously ethereal and powerful.
The intense nature of these films and lengthy shooting schedules the actors committed themselves to must have been absolutely exhausting to maintain.
So a peaceful moment where the actor has nothing to do but curl up on a set of nearby rocks would have been cherished and appreciated. Thank you, Mr. Bloom, for sharing this moment with us.
17 A Gleeful Battle Stance
The look of absolute glee on each and every single person's face in this photo is absolutely life-changing. Look how happy these people are to be staring at a plethora of weapons aimed directly at their own faces. When you know the weapons are made of safe materials and that there is no risk of any harm befalling you, it can be a regular old ball of a time! I find that the more serious a film is, the more comical the “off” moments on set tend to be. If someone stayed serious for six or so weeks, they’d go insane.
16 Middle Earth Home Makeover
There is just something so calming about this photo. I don’t know whether it is the bright blue background, the fact that the set dressers and the actors are working together as a team to prepare those props, or the sheer amount of skulls. But something about this photo exudes such calming and peaceful vibes. My money is on the mountain of skulls. I wish that whoever decorated this set would come to my home and give it a mini makeover. How many skulls do you think I could find in a one bedroom apartment?
15 The Icy Waters Of Middle Earth
See, this is why we need to bring back cloaks and capes. Thank you, Orlando Bloom, for proving just how necessary and convenient this item of clothing can be. If you’re tired or cold, your cloak can become a cozy blanket in a pinch to keep you both warm and comfortable. Not to mention how utterly awesome and wicked they look. The unfortunate thing about filming movies is that your costume is often rarely suited for the weather that is occurring around you but you have to act as if it does not bother you. Luckily, Mr. Bloom here was able to turn his costume into a warm blanket to protect him between takes.
14 Forbidden Love
This is the kind of content I live for. While I love watching stunt breakdowns and seeing how the combination of practical and digital effects can bring our favorite movie moments to life; there is just something special about seeing adults goof around onset with each other. They unleash their inner child and seeing that unbridled joy captured on film is one of those special pure moments that warms the heart of anyone who witnesses it. She says, while describing a photo of a man and his disembodied Orc head.
13 Substituting Views
Wow, I had no idea that there was so much green in Middle Earth. The Lord of The Rings series contains some of the most stunning landscapes in modern cinema. But sometimes, the right look needed for a scene just cannot be found in nature.
And that is where the green screens come in.
With the help of modern technology, no one will ever know that your beautiful waterfall and sweeping hills are not that of some foreign land but rather the product of a green screen placed in a warehouse outside a major city.
12 Just A Man And His Horse
Fun fact: while filming The Lord of the Rings, Viggo Mortensen fell in love with the horse that his character rode throughout the film. So, when filming wrapped at the end of production, he bought it. He developed a close bond with the animal during the film shoot and did not want to part ways once the filming process had ended. And I appreciate that. If I ever filmed a movie with a rabbit or a doe as my costar, you can guarantee that I will do my darndest to adopt the thing before filming wraps.
11 Friendship Forged In The Flames
When filming a movie, you have no idea whether or not the final product will be a hit. There is no real way of guaranteeing audience approval. The best thing that you can do is make sure that the filming process is a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Make sure that each actor's needs are respected and create an environment where friendships can be formed between all involved. You can’t guarantee a masterpiece that will win over critics and fans alike but you can guarantee a good time by creating a healthy work environment.
10 Child For Scale
Sometimes I forget how small the hobbits were truly supposed to be. Using a child to substitute for these characters is such a striking reminder of their miniature scale when compared to their human/average sized counterparts. In scenes that only feature hobbits and other small creatures, one can so easily forget that these men aren’t of average size and builds. This photo, from the smiles to the sunny day visible in the background, just emits such a positive and joyful energy.
9 Will The Real Frodo Please Stand Up?
I know that I shouldn’t judge Frodo for his continued use of the ring. It takes an incredibly strong being to be able to resist its mind-altering siren call and most people would off their best friend in order to get their hands on it.
But his continued use of the device coupled with his rejections of Samwise’s assistance and kindness always rubs me the wrong way.
Comparing the pure and untouched Frodo to one who is on his way to being another ring-obsessed shell of a hobbit just demonstrates the power that the ring has over those who possess it.
8 The Raddest Baddest Wizard Around
Okay, lights out. That’s a wrap. Everyone is free to go home because I have just found the coolest photo on the entire internet. Maybe even the coolest photo that was ever taken in the history of the world. Everything in this photo just exudes pure awesomeness. From the wicked beard, to the steely gaze, to those sunglasses straight out of the early 2000’s. Every single aspect of this photo simply exudes this raw and totally radical power. Also, seeing wizards in modern-day apparel will always be an utterly magical experience. I'm really sorry, but I had to.
7 Tea And Bants Between Monsters
The only thing cooler than seeing actors chilling out between takes and interacting with modern technology while in period clothing is seeing actors in full practical effect makeup doing the same. Seeing someone decked out in monster makeup enjoying a peaceful moment between takes is surreal in the best way. We are so used to seeing these creatures constantly on the verge of attack that seeing them simply lounging about is so out of character that it automatically becomes funny in the most calming sense of the word. The only thing that could improve this photo would be if the actor was holding a Victorian style teacup.
6 Wind Blown And Bruised
This photo is such a work of art that it could be a poster for the series itself. The intense gaze cast off into the distance, the bruise and dirt marring his perfect and angular face, the way in which the breeze is whipping through his hair, and the picturesque mountain scene in the background creates this sense of an epic fantastical journey contained within one photograph. I sincerely believe that this photo could be used as a promotional piece for the series.
5 Pint Sized Castles
Though I completely respect the immense work that goes into CGI and all forms of digital art, there is just something so magical about practical effects. Seeing these sweeping landscapes, beautiful castles, and immense palaces created in a way that makes them appear larger than imaginable (even though they are no bigger than your average preschooler) is one of the best feelings. Knowing that someone spent weeks painstakingly building these scales models and dressing them for each and every scene in which they would be featured is just so awe-inspiring. It is an art form that deserves all of the recognition it can get.
4 Brotherly Love
This is what I love about behind-the-scenes, bonus content, and special featurettes. I love seeing the comradery between actors, stuntmen, directors, and the crew. Filming a movie is an intense process which forces you to quickly bond with those around you. So seeing photos of actors choosing to spend their free moments between takes together. These smiles cannot be faked. These smiles are the product of a healthy and safe filming environment from which true comradery can grow. Hopefully, the on-set experience was as wonderful as these photos make it appear. Nothing would be moresoul-crushingg than to find out that the opposite was true.
3 A Day At The Spa
Though I tend to feel as though the intense prosthetics needed to create many special effect looks would create immense feelings of claustrophobia if left on too long or if given the opportunity to restrict too much movement; the idea of sitting in a chair quietly while someone paints my skin for hours seems relaxing.
I have only ever had my makeup professionally done twice and both times I felt like I could have fallen asleep in that chair.
This simply looks like the extreme version of that experience.
2 Mountain Hike Photo-Op
This shot features several title actors as well as the adult stand-ins for the hobbits which were often used for scaling (when the use of the children was not practical) as well as wide shots. There is just something so peaceful about a quiet and snowy mountainside. This photo makes me want to take a hike while decked out in full cosplay. It can be difficult to fully immerse yourself in a character while in an environment foreign to their backstory but those mountains are such a perfect backdrop.
1 The Infamous Motion Capture Suit
Ah, the famous motion capture suit. Motion capture filmmaking has always been one of the more fascinating ways of creating an element for a film. It allows post-production to bring the actors expressions and movements into the mix so that their mannerisms and quirks aren’t lost during the CGI process. I also find that it brings a bit of realism to the CGI models as many human facial expressions can be difficult to replicate due to their subtlety and miniscule nature. Plus, seeing the actors flail about in blue suits while covered in little black dots provides an entertaining look behind the scenes.