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"Rings" Director Reveals Truth Behind Special Effects
In a recent interview, Director Peter Jackson (of the recent blockbuster, *Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring*) admitted that many of the special effects previously discussed were, in fact, much simpler than had been related. "The promotional department always wanted it to sound more high-tech," he said, "so rather than have one more set of people nagging at me all the time, I told them to go ahead and say whatever sounded good to them. I guess they felt the public needed to be impressed with techniques that sound more complicated."
It turns out the many ways in which the actors were supposedly changed in size for the movie were all "just made up - they sounded good at night, after a couple beers. And the press liked it."
Jackson admits it is time the truth was out.
"You probably realize by now, what with all these publicity appearances and all, that all of the actors are the same height. We decided that every actor had to be exactly 6' for this to work, and they wouldn't have been hired otherwise. I mean, what would we do? Elevator shoes? Putting them down on their knees? People just like to believe that Elijah Wood is short, like a hobbit. He's exactly 6-foot, just like John Rhys-Davies and Liv Tyler."
So how did they get them to appear so different on film? "It's an old cinematic trick. We just use really tall or really short cameramen. Why, the whole camera team for the hobbits were usually employed playing College Basketball. Not a one under 7'5". And the guys that worked with the actor that played the Balrog, and the Troll, were, um, vertically challenged! (laughs). I mean, remember when you were really young and how tall your dad looked to you? Was your dad really tall? No, of course not! You were short! We just employ this perspective with film."
Surprisingly, Jackson has had a lot of success with applying this in other areas of his craft. "We did have a hard time finding enough cameramen to film the epic battle sequences," he says, "since it takes hundreds of them to make the 15 soldiers we had look like an army. When the cameramen were all lined up for that opening scene, they made a caravan about a mile long!" Other applications were easier and very useful. "We found we could save a lot of valuable time and money in the Make-Up Dept by employing really ugly cameramen. I mean, Orlando Bloom is pretty average looking, really, but his cameraman was exceptionally clumsy and homely, so on camera Orlando looks great! And Elijah's cameraman - whew! He's a great guy, and didn't mind having to wear that paper bag over his head too much, but it was a challenge to find a qualified cameraman who was both tall and ugly enough!" Jackson pauses to scratch his feet. "The technique can backfire in some ways, I suppose," and here Jackson shifted a bit uncomfortably, "since the guy who has an exclusive contract to film my personal appearances is a relative of Fran's and I can't really change who he is without hurting her feelings."
Our interviewer noted that the man who was filming this interview was very tall, lean and bald as a billiard ball. "Does it bother you that the public thinks you are short, chubby and hairy when you really resemble Pierce Brosnan closely enough to be his brother?"
"Oh, it used to," Jackson laughs, "but the public likes to think of me as resembling a hobbit, so I've grown accustomed to it."