I bring you - finally - the next chapter of 'A Journey With Frodo'. This one has been quite a struggle due to all my computer woes - also Photobucket has been doing some very strange things lately - I wonder if anyone else has experienced this or perhaps it's because of my strange computer. For instance, it will often upload two copies of the required pic instead of just one - and takes ages to do it!! Also having the same problem with this post that I had last time - suddenly sticking on italics at a certain point. I just can't find out why this happens. (ETA: FIXED!!)
I'd like to thank my very good friend janejanejane and her husband Chris for their valuable contribution to this chapter.
As filming progressed to scenes for 'The Two Towers', Elijah and Sean were inevitably separated from Dom & Billy.
”I remember when we first started breaking up into little groups for filming as the storyline separated us, and even that was hard because we became so close. We're the only ones who will know what it was like to be in New Zealand for that length of time bringing these incredible books to the screen. Even now it's difficult to part when we spend time together. It goes so far beyond making a movie” (Elijah ~ EW.com Movie News)
Now Elijah and Sean had a new companion …
This is Andy's account of their first meeting:
"It was on the last leg of the journey from Aukland to Wellington that I was finally to meet the first of my acting comrades with whom I would be sharing the journey for the next few years - Elijah Wood, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd and Sean Astin with his lovely wife Christine and their beautiful daughter Ally. The four hobbits were all returning from a few weeks R&R after the first block of filming, and we spotted each other as we boarded the plane. They were clearly already a team with a history and they regaled me with amazing stories of filming during the first six months." ('Gollum':How We Made Movie Magic' by Andy Serkis)
In April/May 2000 Elijah, Sean and Andy were on location in Tongariro National Park to shoot various scenes for both TTT and ROTK. At first they stayed at the Grand Chateau and later moved on to the Powderhorn Chateau in nearby Okahune:
“The drive up to Tongariro National Park takes around four to five hours. I shared the journey on 10 April with Elijah and we spent some time starting to get to know each other. Also travelling with us was Janine Abery, Barrie’s assistant, who was to become a great friend. (Janine and Tanya, who also worked with Barrie were the patient, caring and devoted friends, and touchstones of the cast. They worked and played hard, and we all adored them).
I had been a huge fan of Elijah’s work, particularly in The Ice Storm, and was so excited to be working with him. He has an incredible depth and understanding of life that completely belies his young years, and I was to find out on set that his energy, focus and consummate professionalism really gave power to all around him. He just was Frodo. We started to tentatively unravel the Frodo/Gollum relationship, and by doing that began to show each other what we were about.
We were on our way to Mordor – true to film form, the first scenes we’d be shooting together would be the climactic moments of their storyline. And then we saw our hotel in the far distance – the Grand Chateau perched on its own under the gigantic, recently active volcano, Mount Ruapehu.
[This is what they would have seen at that moment - this is a screencap from the video footage I took when we did this same drive in 2005. Sorry it's rather hazy but with the car window and everything I think this gives a realistic feel to how they would have got their first view of the Chateau.]
The 1920’s hotel, which reminded us all of the hotel in The Shining, was our home for the next few weeks. Every evening we’d all gather together in the hotel’s cinema, have a beer and snacks and watch what everybody had been doing during the previous day’s shooting.” ('Gollum': Andy Serkis)
A clearer pic from the hotel's website. It is - inexplicably - now called the Bay View Chateau - but there are no bays around there!! If you'd like to see a bit of the inside this is a link to a short video: http://www.tourismonline.net.nz/media/436
We spent a couple of nights at Tongariro and stayed at a hotel just behind the Grand Chateau. We popped into the Chateau a couple of times for a cup of tea!! It's such wild, rugged country round there – sadly we had camera trouble at this time so could take no pics but we do have plenty of video footage. Whenever I watch this I’m immediately transported back to that atmospheric place – so easy to picture poor Frodo and Sam traipsing over the rocky terrain.
We didn’t get to stay at the Powderhorn Chateau (referred to by Elijah & Sean as ‘The Powderhorn Lodge’ on the dvd commentary)and we never even got to see inside as it was closed when we turned up!! However, my dear friend Jane and her husband Chris stayed there – not once, but twice, and each time they managed to stay in The One Room – No. 317 – the room used by Elijah during his stay(s) there. I wonder if he had the slightest idea back then that one day fans would be requesting this room because he had stayed in it!! The amount of envy I have for Jane – sleeping in Elijah’s bed, wallowing in his spa bath and, er – using his facilities – is limitless!!
Jane and Chris have kindly agreed to let me include some of the pics which Chris took during their stay at the Powderhorn:
The Powderhorn Chateau – renamed ‘Camp Goodtimes’ by Sean on the dvd commentary!!:
Room No.317 – Elijah’s room!!
Jane said that the chambermaids treated Elijah very well and always brought him a flat white coffee first thing every morning. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, a ‘flat white’ is what you ask for in NZ if you just want an ordinary coffee with milk. Ohhh, the memories …
I’m sure Elijah enjoyed soaking away his aches and pains in this spa bath after a hard day climbing the mountains of ‘Emin Muil’!!.
The Guest Book – “I hope to come back” said Elijah – and he did, during TTT pick-ups!!
Can’t believe they put Frodo and Gollum in rooms next to each other!! I’m assuming that Sean’s second stay refers to the time they returned during TTT pick-ups to shoot some of the Ithilien scenes. Presumably Elijah and Andy had the same rooms as before.
A t-shirt signed by Elijah and Sean:
Can't remember how I came by this pic, but it was apparently on the wall of the bar at the Powderhorn:
Despite the strictest security during filming, there were a few spies who managed to get pics of what was happening. ‘The Woman’s Weekly’ magazine published these pics taken during the filming of Frodo & Sam at Emyn Muil:
Those naughty spies ~ how I love them!!
“Lord of the Rings actors Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, who play hobbits Frodo and Sam, look perfectly happy clambering over rocks and taking advice during the filming of these scenes at Whakapapa, near the base of Mt. Ruapehu, recently. But the chill in the air obviously proved too much for them - the pair sat on hot water bottles to keep warm during the breaks in filming.” (Womans Weekly, NZ)
"Q: You have a lot of screen time in this one with Sam – can you talk about Sean?
Elijah: Good old Sean Astin. Yeah, we became like brothers in this movie. That relationship you see onscreen is very much the relationship that we had. He would help me, I would help him – I don't think I've ever become so close with someone and had to spend so much time with someone over such a long period of time. It was amazing. Literally half the movie experience was spent with Sean. The relationship you see and our performances are informed by that." (IGN)
"It was an amazing kind of parallel experience - the story, and the separations that happened, and how that was reflected in the actual shooting schedule. Elijah and I really bonded we, really became more than friends, almost brothers really." (Sean ~ Return to Middle Earth)
"It was so different from Fellowship experience-wise - and there was a literal breaking of the Fellowship in a sense that they all went off to do their journeys." (Elijah ~ DVD)
"There was one day when we were filming dialogue between Frodo and Sam - in the afternoon the clouds came in and the clouds just suddenly surrounded us and we couldn’t carry on shooting that scene - however we just thought well – this is pretty atmospheric – it was fantastic …" (PJ ~ DVD)
A foggy day in Emmin Muil:
"It was really haunting and beautiful at the same time and Peter just said ”Lets go, lets start filming”." (Sean ~ DVD)
"Well we grabbed one camera - hand-held -and about a dozen of us went walking up into the mountains with Elijah and Sean, you know we got some great footage, we came up with a fantastic sequence with very little technology, the sort of thing you could have done on a small budget film."(Andrew Lesnie ~ DVD)
"So we really took advantage of the location that day and the way that it looked ‘cos it was absolutely perfect - but so bone-chillingly cold." (Elijah ~ DVD)
But even when they were not on the side of a mountain, there was no escape from rocks!!
"Two thirds of our experience on LOTR was spent - I mean it seemed anyway -on these massive rock sets that were the same rocks over – and over – again!" (Elijah ~ DVD)
"If a particular set wasn’t finished being built by a given week and Pete was waiting for it the standard fall-back plan was put up some polystyrene rocks and we’ll shoot some Sam and Frodo stuff." (Sean ~ DVD)
"We’d get to set and he’d look at me and he’d go “Here we are again” - and another batch of rocks!! It was monotonous and it was kind of tedious because it was the same thing every day - which is perfect, you know, it's perfect for our journey, it's perfect because that’s exactly what they were going through and, you know - that feeling of them being lost at the beginning of 'The Two Towers' and what we were feeling every day and being on those rock sets - it really added to the reality of what Frodo and Sam were going through."(Elijah ~ DVD)
"When Frodo and Sam first meet Gollum it’s a really important moment in the story and Peter wanted to make sure that it was realised perfectly on screen" (Sean ~ DVD)
Elijah and Sean act out the moment when they spring up from their 'sleep' and jump on Gollum - only without a Gollum!!
However, when they watch this on the screen it seems all is not as it should be - there is plenty of Sam, but no Frodo!! Elijah has a great time ribbing Sean about this, and I don't think I've ever seen Sean laugh this much before!! Elijah's dialogue went something like this:
"There you are, there it is - I'm not in it at all!! I'm not in it at all - that was your shot!! Let's see that again ... and you're preparing to get your face up there, to really present yourself for the shot!!"
It cuts off there, but I can never watch this without a huge grin on my face -it's delightful.
And back to the fight. They rehearse the moves in slow motion - it looks like some strange kind of ballet:
Elijah is wearing a back protector as all the actors do when they have to fall:
PJ is obviously happy with what he's seeing:
“Elijah and Sean were, I think, quite bemused, and I did think ‘This must be totally bizarre for them. I mean, at least when I look up at them I see Frodo and Sam, and I just play off them, but when they look at me all they must see is a man in a gimp suit with a face that makes Jim Carrey’s look relaxed and a voice that sounds like a cat being sick.’ I had total admiration for the fact that they could act with me. It wasn’t an easy ride for any of us to begin with but gradually we hit our stride together, and between us, we eventually eliminated the technical hurdles and concentrated on the drama of the scenes.” (Andy Serkis ~ from his book 'Gollum')
And then they come to the famous 'This is Sting' shot:
"Pete decided that he wanted to make the shot an exact replica of one of Alan Lee’s paintings and so we got it on set and got Andy down on the ground, then we got Sean there in his arms and got me above him and we completely recreated it for the film. I just love the fact that it came back to that original Alan Lee painting - I think that’s beautiful" (Elijah ~ DVD)
Strangely enough, the very first shot Andy ever did with Elijah and Sean was the one where Gollum is leading Frodo and Sam out of Emin Muil - 13 April 2000, Scene 256:
"I start thinking to myself as I crawl up the gully, 'Master trusts us, yes Precious, this way, yes, here we are'. Then I call out, 'Hurry Hobbitses' as I reach the ridge. I point towards a huge blue-screen backdrop. Frodo overtakes me, then as Sam comes towards me I'm thinking, 'But the other one hurts us, and we hates him', and then I mumble, 'Nice Hobbit'.
At last I was no longer a Gollum virgin. I had completed my first shot on 'The Lord of the Rings'." (Andy Serkis ~ "Gollum")
"He has an incredible depth and understanding of life that completely belies his young years, and I was to find out on set that his energy, focus and consummate professionalism really gave power to all around him. He just was Frodo."
TO BE CONTINUED
LINK TO PREVIOUS CHAPTERS:
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