"Mercy!" cried Gandalf: "if the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What do you want to know?"
Q: I'm 18 and discovered the Lotr trilogy after reading The Hobbit at age 12 or so. With the movie coming out, I am currently re-reading the books for the fourth or fifth time and will re-read The Fellowship of the Ring a week before the movie hits the screens. One of my friend doesn't want to see this movie, because he knows he's going to be disappointed by everything Peter Jackson and his crew will not have pictured correctly or changed, or left behind. Although I kind of agree with him, I want to see this movie because I want to know if I will be able to feel the magic and magnificence I always felt while reading those books, I want to know if the movie will give me the same feeling as the trailers which make my senses go "WOW, that's so awesome."
A: I know, I know that's what everyone wants to know will Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings match the thrill of their own? As you've enjoyed the trailers, it's looking hopeful!
From: Michael Ahr email@example.com
Q: Does your esteemed Istari colleague Rhadagast the Brown appear in the movie?
A: No. But that left more room for Saruman and Gandalf, I suppose.
Q: I heard recently that there will be a preview of FOTR at the Toronto Film
Festival similar to the one at Cannes. Is there any truth to this rumour?
A: A good rumour but I haven't heard it before.
Q: My English is very very poor, but I will try to ask you something — and I
hope it will sounds not THAT stupid! You were acting with Elijah Wood about a year: will he make a "GOOD" Frodo? Someone tells me, that he not will be a good one (too young). But I think it is like "Hamlet": No one can be the "perfect" Hamlet..... Good bye from Germany.
A: The actor plays his own Hamlet. The audience responds. I've written in previous Grey Book chapters enthusiastically about Elijah's Frodo. He goes the full journey.
Q: Given the choice, would you prefer critical or commercial success for Lord
of the Rings if the two were mutually exclusive?
A: I'm not sure I like this game but "critical" if the critics you refer to are the audience as well as the media.
From: Dave Coleman firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Do you get more nervous the nearer that the release date gets?
A: I am reserving my nervous energy for the rehearsals and performances of Dance of Death. If I didn't have that absorbing job to occupy me, no doubt I would be as apprehensive and impatient as the next Tolkien fan.
From: Sara email@example.com
Q: I saw Heavenly Creatures, another of Jackson's films, and was glued to the screen. Have you seen it?
A: The magic and passion of Heavenly Creatures, in which all the actors were splendid, convinced me I wanted to work with Peter.
From: Danny van Flymen firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Gandalf is probably the most powerful person in the book, how does the film
portray his secretive nature and his spells and magic? The films will definitely not be as excellent as the book because no films are.
A: Yes, Gandalf has his spells and supernatural powers, but are they as powerful as Sauron's force or as Frodo's courage? If you are so sure, perhaps you shouldn't see the movies. But why not give the first one a try? It might just turn out to be the most wonderful Christmas present to yourself.
From: Steven Markley email@example.com
Q: You have been amazingly candid during the making of this film. I have enjoyed reading your running commentaries. What do you think of this ever-increasing trend to fan involvement in "Lord of the Rings" (and 'X-Men') from such early stages? How do you think it affects the audience's experience of the film? How has it affected your experience as an actor?
A: I can't see anything but good coming out of the fans' interest in an upcoming film being encouraged via the internet: and I have long thought studios should not resent it. Of course rumour, gossip, surmise, guessing and mischief are not helpful but can easily be countered by information released by a film's producers or, even, by efforts like The Grey Book.
Q: When I heard that "The Lord of the Rings" was going to be made into films, I was led to understand that the makers would be casting relative unknowns into the main parts. Do you think that the presence of 'Hollywood' names such as Elijah Wood, and Liv Tyler, excellent actors though they may be, will discredit the authenticity of the film to Tolkien's vast body of fans, especially those who consider themselves 'Tolkienites' so to speak?
A: Peter Jackson was contracted to cast whomever he wanted. I am sure that each of the actors was chosen for talent rather than celebrity. Of course Elijah and Liv's popularity can help, at least at the opening weekend when their fans will want to catch up with their latest work. There are some actors who have so far had little exposure in movies — e.g. the two British Hobbits, Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan are a delightful partnership (Pippin and Merry) and Orlando Bloom (Legolas). I doubt whether an all-star cast would make Middle-earth more credible.
From: Ralph Letzner firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: In The Grey Book you answer the question why we have to wait until the end
of this year to see the first movie. But why is there another year between the first and the second movie (and the third)? Won't the effects be completed in one session like the actual shooting? Or is it just means of PR?
A: All efforts are currently bent on completion of The Fellowship of the Ring. Once it is delivered in a couple of months, Peter Jackson's team will concentrate on the second two movies whose effects, music etc will be added in sequence. The decision to release them a year apart is unprecedented like the whole venture and I suppose could always be changed, once the response to the first film is clear. Harvey Weinstein of Miramax, who passed on the chance to make Lord of the Rings, told me at Cannes that New Line were "very brave." Time will tell whether the release plans prove practical as well as brave.
From: Cheryl Hopkins
Q: How on earth do you manage to fit the Grey Book and e-posts into your already hectic life? Your replies come across as genuinely concerned and caring - I really admire you for this (as well, of course, as for the joy you have given those
of us who have seen your movies)- thank you again...
A: Like other newcomers to the Internet, I am an enthusiast at least so far! As a kid I once produced a little magazine, with only one handwritten version, feeding my early hope to become a journalist. When I was 15 or so I contributed occasional pieces for our local newspaper "The Bolton Evening News." So the roots of this site are deep.
Q: Fan interest will only be rising over the year, while I assume you will be moving on to other projects. Will it be difficult to keep on talking about playing Gandalf for years - like for interviews in 2003 when "Return of the King" is finally released?
A: So far it has been a pleasure to talk and write about the movies with enthusiasm. But I don't know whether I shall relish the inevitably repetitious questions over the next couple of years. I encourage journalists who want to interview me, to first consult The Grey Book and these E-Posts as probably the fans have anticipated most topics. The problem is that all interviewers like to feel that they have some sort of exclusive and I doubt that will be possible by 2003. At Cannes in May, the actors did over 70 interviews each.
Q: Did you and Ian Holm ever take the mickey out of Sean Bean for being in Sharpe?
A: Certainly not! Although I did mention his withdrawing from the National Theatre's Coriolanus after only one rehearsal! He was understudying Greg Hicks' Aufidius.
From: Heather Marle
Q: Are any of Tolkien's songs (well,lyrics anyway) going to be sung, or is the music going to exist only in the background?
A: Gandalf gets to hum a bit. I hope there will be songs in the movies but I can't be certain. Off the set the Hobbits banded together musically and Peter Jackson has a framed photo of their ad hoc group like the new Beatles. Billy Boyd sings a treat to his guitar.
Additional E-Posts about LOTR may be found in
The Lord of the Rings