The Cast of ‘Lord of the Rings’ – Ten Years Later (Part 2)
If you didn’t catch the first part of this retrospective (shame on you) it can still be caught right here. Not wanting to forget the other great performers who made these films awesome we now being you part 2!
Cate Blanchett is one of the rare women in the business suited to playing this role. The ethereal elf queen only plays a small role, being one of the wise beings who assist Frodo on his way to destroy the ring. When the Fellowship first encounter the queen they are bombarded with psychic communications and visions. Her mysterious beauty is contrasted by the intimidation she holds over people. When in meeting with Frodo she shows him a possible future that may occur if he can’t continue his quest, and refuses his offer of the ring.
In the decade since playing an elf Cate Blanchett has continued to be one of the most respected performers in the acting industry. She’s featured in a massive range of roles at different levels of budget and scope. Blockbuster films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Aviator and Robin Hood have been countered with Hanna, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Babel, I’m Not There and Coffee and Cigarettes. She’s shown a good sense of humor by taking an uncredited and masked cameo in Hot Fuzz (with LOTR director Peter Jackson also playing a psychotic Santa) and reprising her signature role of Queen Elizabeth on Family Guy. Playing everything from a psychic Russian to Bob Dylan she’s always on form. More recently she’d had the pointy ears re-attached for The Hobbit.
Gollum and Smeagol were the character/s who truly stunned viewers when he first crawled onto our screens. The motion captured character paved the way for a new level of integrating an actor’s performance into a computer animated character. The interaction between the character, the other actors and the world the inhabit was nothing short of phenomenal and set a new bar for future film-makers. The tormented soul swung drastically between the timid Smeagol and bullying Gollum. Serkid did such a great job with the character that his role and involvement was expanded in the trilogy.
Andy Serkis has become the go-to guy for motion captured characters. In addition to Gollum in The Hobbit he’s been Ceaser in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Capt. Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin and Kong in King Kong. In addition to voice work in multiple video games and animated shows he’s down some face time in Burke and Hare and Inkheart. It’s Serkis’ motion capture roles that most impress (with the definition of performance held by the Academy robbing him of proper recognition).
SARUMAN THE WHITE
Saruman the White is not a complicated character – he’s just an evil bastard in the thrall of a greater power. Initially on the side of good, the wise Saruman is the leader of the order of wizards and Gandalf’s go-to guy when in a bind. Having come into the possession of a Seeing Stone Saruman came into contact with the Dark Lord Sauron who began to corrupt the wizards mind. Turning against Gandalf he turns his land in to an industrial production line used to create an army that will march against the free people of Middle Earth.
Christopher Lee had more than made a name for himself in the decades prior to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. After working as a spy (seriously) he became a regular feature on the silver screen, best known for playing the role of Dracula several dozen times. During the 80s and 90s it looked as though his career was winding down but the last ten years proved us wrong. In addition to playing Saruman in both the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies he’s featured in Star Wars and many Tim Burton projects.
Faramir entered the world’s most epic trilogy late in the second chapter, a ranger and son of Denethor, Steward of Gondor. Whilst Faramir is fiercely loyal and seeks his father’s approval he has always been looked over in favour of his brother Boromir. Upon learning of Boromir’s death the Steward sunk deeper into madness and depression before sending Faramir on a suicidal attack against the forces of Mordor. Having survived the attack Faramir recovered, during which time he fell in love with Eowyn, bringing Gondor and Rohan together.
Following on from Lord of the Rings David Wenham appeared in a number of major film productions including Van Helsing, 300 and Australia. None of these were the box office gold they were intended to be and Wenham went back to his already very successful television career. Recent years have seen him in both Killing Time and Top of the Lake.
Tolkien’s 1000+ page epic has been noted for it’s lack of female characters (only eight women in total are named, and one of them is a giant spider) but those who feature in the main story are memorable. Eowyn meets Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli when they arrive in Rohan, where she’s trying to hold the place together between her father King uncle being possessed, her brother being banished and Wormtounge sleazing around the place. When the war comes their way Eowyn dismisses her orders and rides in to battle, slaying the Witch King.
Since the trilogy Mirando Otto has spread her time between roles in indie films, blockbusters and television. War of the Worlds, In My Father’s Den and Cashmere Mafia have kept her more than busy. Most interestingly was her role in graphic novel adaptation of Locke & Key, but the series was not picked up.
Showing that Suaron’s influence had already spread far before the Fellowship of the Ring began their journey, King Theoden had been corrupted through the efforts of Grima Wormtongue. Being both psychically and psychologically weakened by the dark words of Wormtongue he slowly disbanded the forces of Rohan and left the borders open to invasion. When Gandalf the White freed him he banished Wormtongue and lead his forces in the charge against Mordor.
Bernard Hill had never been top of the marquee material he’s been a regular feature in cinema for a quarter of the century before playing Theoden. He was best known for roles in Shakespeare film adaptations and playing the Captain in Titanic, and he brings this weight of experience to his performance in this trilogy. Since then he’s continued to work steadily, picking up roles in Fable III and Paranorman that make the most of his strong presence.
Never one of the major players in the events, he does help turn the tide of a few battles. The nephew to King Theoden the young knight is a bold and stubborn leader to the Riders of Rohan. Whilst the King suffers under the thrall of Wormtongue in his keep Eomer patrols the borders of the land fighting back orcs. Eventually he is banished by Wormtongue but returns with Gandalf to help win the battle of Helm’s Deep.
Karl Urban has been plenty busy since his jaunt to Middle-Earth. After banking a few action flicks like The Bourne Supremacy and The Chronicles of Riddick he boarded J.J. Abrams reboot of the Star Trek franchise as ‘Bones’ McCoy. Next he picked up the lead role in comic adaptation Dredd. He won’t be long away from our screens with sequels to both Star Trek and Riddick due for release soon.
Although he is a human of Middle-Earth Wormtongue was in the employ of the enemy and worked on behalf of Mordor. Sent by Saruman the White to destroy the people of Rohan he instills himself as advisor to the King. True to his name he used his influence to poison the King’s mind against his family and subjects and slowly took control of the House Theoden. He was ejected from the King’s mind and hall by Gandalf the White, who also convinced Theoden to spare Grima’s life. Afterwards Wormtongue scampered back to his master.
Brad Dourif has long been associated with evil and disturbing characters in movies and on TV, a role he is exceptionally good at playing. This made him the perfect choice for the slippery Wormtongue. He’s kept up a steady stream of work across multiple mediums doing just that, with his recurring role as murderous doll Chucky popping up every few years. Aside from that his biggest role has been as Doc Cochran in the excellant series Deadwood.
Without a king in the throne of Gondor the leadership of the city fell to the Steward. The power and control of Gondor, greatest of the lands of men, has been passed to Denethor from his father and he expects that it would then pass to his eldest son Boromir. After the death of Boromir whilst he was part of the Fellowship his feelings of distaste towards his younger son Faramir become more pronounced, and he becomes hostile towards his neighbours instead of preparing a defence against Mordor. It’s only when the Faramir is almost killed defending the borders that his madness tips over the edge of and he burns himself to death.
Being a multi-talented performer John Noble has not been lacking in roles since Return of the King. He’s had a long running role in All Saints, Pirate Islands: The Lost Treasure of Fiji and a major role in Fringe. He’s done additional voice work as Unicorn on Transformers and in other shows. In between television seasons Noble is picking up movie roles, ensuring that we haven’t seen the last of him.
BONUS ENTRY: FIGWIT THE ELF
This character may be a mystery to some. He’s first spotted during the Council of Elrond sitting near Gandalf and not saying anything, and then re-appears in Return of the King and one of the escorts traveling with Arwen. He came to attention when he caught the eye of a fan who mentioned him online under the name ‘Figwit’ (her thought process at the time was ‘Frodo is great…who is that!’). The character isn’t really notable – more interesting is what the actor did next.
Bret McKenzie got his big break along with bandmate Jamaine Clement with their musical comedy television show Flight of the Conchords. The show and the act became an international smash hit. McKenzie’s next mark on the world of entertainment was with the Oscar winning songs he composed for The Muppets. Clearly Peter Jackson remembers him, as he was cast as Lindir the Elf in his new trilogy based on The Hobbit.