There And Back Again: A Geek's Adventures In Middle Earth! CHAPTER SIX!!!
Ah, my time departed from you has been spent in quite a violent adventure.
As I uploaded the last installment to you folks around the globe, my writing and accounting of my adventures here in Middle Earth were so Earth Shaking that … well… AN EARTHQUAKE occurred here in Middle Earth… I shook the very foundations of the Earth itself with my prose… either that or I rolled out of bed.
But let me tell you about the EarthQuake… I have never ever experienced an EarthQuake before. So I was up on the seventh floor of my hotel… I had just clicked the UPDATE button in the administration area of the site… when suddenly the entire room began swaying side to side… I instantly began wondering about the Ice Cream I was given at the Weta Workshop… Was this the beginning of some poison taking affect… but then I noticed the pins on my desk rolling about….
I’ve never been in one of these before, so I stood and I thought… Hmmmm…. Perhaps I should stand in a doorway… but then I thought, "Well… if I stand in a doorway, and there is any sort of trouble at all… and I’m on the 7th floor… I’m screwed. So then I pick up the mattress off my bed and run into the bathroom… hopping in the bathtub and cover myself with the mattress.
A couple of hours went by, and I thought… Do I come out? Is it safe? Is this like one of those Wile Coyote cartoons… I pop out of the tub and zzzzziiiiiiiirrrrrrrrr BAM…. Flattened Harry Burger!
Suddenly the phone rings, well… the lines are still working. I pop out of the tub… no fall to the death… and make it to the phone to hear that I will be joining Richard Taylor and a whole ton of the WETA WORKSHOP crew for dinner and DRINKS!!!!
So I place the "Please Make Up My Room" sign on my door handle and giggle thinking that the poor lady that makes up the rooms will look at the mattress in the tub and ponder exactly what I was up to.
I take a cab to this restaurant/drinking hole on the waterfront called SALT! Much to my surprise, Randy Cook and Andy Serkis are there… (two very significant parts of GOLLUM) along with the Weta Workshop crew. I get there and am instantly forced to order a drink… I choose this New Zealand beer (it is that Rome thing dahlink) called SCHOETZ or SPEITZ or something like that…. Just so long as it isn’t the talking chin beer! That’s some scary shite!
Randy Cook and I instantly hit it off when he begins to try to sing the song from GIANT GILA MONSTER, and I instantly begin singing it perfectly… "The Lord said Laugh children Laugh, the lord said Laugh Children laugh…" ahhhhhh… then I mentioned WONDERBAR and he began singing GOIN TO HEAVEN ON A MULE! Well, twas love I tell ya… Next thing you know we begin talking about THE WRONG MAN and I CONFESS… The original Green Print of FRANKENSTEIN… what happened to the original Mighty Joe Young skeleton… and stuff like John Wayne’s THE BIG TRAIL… Many of the other good folks at the gathering stare at me and Randy like we’re aliens from another world.
We talk about the LORD OF THE RINGS work and they all have this gleam in their eyes… they know it is special. Meanwhile, more and more of that blasted beer arrives and disappears before me… All in impossibly tall glasses. Chip the glasses and crack the plates, just like me and my mates!
Soon I end up in a car with a pair of Dutch Weta Guys that drove me home… carried me up the 7 flights of stairs (on account of the Earthquake) having to listen to me sing, "I come from the land down under!" It was messy.
Well, I awake today with a clear head and an known agenda. I was going to make my way to the coronation. This was filming in a place called… THE LOWER HUTT! I know about Huts… they’re an intergalactic organization of gangsters and Mafioso types!
I signal a cabbie, and tell him to take me to "THINGEE ON PAPER" and I get in. About this time… the moment my ass hit the cushion of his backseat, I realize that I don’t have a LORD OF THE RINGS yearbook.
What is a LORD OF THE RINGS yearbook? Well… funny you should ask. You see, ever since I arrived, I’ve seen people running around with various editions of THE LORD OF THE RINGS and having everyone sign the dang thing. Not only that, but write comments in the book about their drinking adventures, their eternal friendships, the time they woke up with all the sheep…. That sort of thing.
Well, dang it… I tried to suppress that geek in me that wants autographs… but I couldn’t do it this morning. After that blasted trip to WETA… I am a blithering neanderthal in love with this film right now. A Pure Born Again Tolkienite!
"Take me to BOOK STORE on the way!"
The Cabbie looks at me confused. "Any bookstore will do."
He nods, and we are off. We begin dodging in and out of buying districts all the way from my hotel in the center of Wellington to this Lower Hutt place. Butcher shops, appliance shops, massage parlor, magazine stand, bar-b-que shop, photo shop, hair salons, Mail shops… and on and on and on… Nearly at the end of our quest, there was this little book store in a little burg… not 5 minutes from this set I was headed to. I walk into the store… and there is this GIGANTIC LORD OF THE RINGS display. However, no hardcover edition… however there was this excellent boxed set with Alan Lee illustrations!!! Hubba hubba hubba! I buy it and head to the set… Heheheheh… the Coronation of Aragorn… ALL THE CHARACTERS ARE THERE! Hehehehe, a coup…
I arrive on set, my computer bag over my shoulder, my 40 pound set of Tolkien in the left hand, my hat in my right hand… and I’m walking along with Melissa, who is taking me to set… We’re chatting away, walking along… minding our own affairs… when suddenly my eyes catch the TREE OF GONDOR!!!! In my absolute worst Jerry Lewis/Steve Martin pratfall, I tumble… ripping the left knee open… blood mixes with the earth of Minas Tirith.
Just so you know, when you are watching the film… 3 years from now… After Aragorn is crowned and he turns from Arwen… 30 yards to their west, I’m falling and bleeding on the grounds that spilt the blood of many an orc.
All of a sudden, it is this HUGE PRODUCTION! Harry has fallen… he’s bleeding on the ground… They bring over the crane… wrap the belt around me… I’m like a flipped over tortoise with a stuck pig hindleg… Medics are called to the scene… drugs are taken… everybody wants to take off my pants… My pride is officially hurting about a 1000 times more than my knee. I mean… CRIKEY… I bet Viggo didn’t get this much attention when he chipped his tooth during battle.
I wave off medical attention… I’m a Texan! We’re built tough down in the country of Texas! Blood… dirt… HAH I say. Why, my buddies didn’t die in Nam so folks could cry over my bloodied knee… When Charlie over ran Point 34 Alpha 2 this isn’t what they intended. So like Lon Chaney… I untwist my legs, and with the help of the crane… I regain my normal height.
I round the corner into the key area of filming, and I head back to the monitors. I figure, now with a bleeding leg, I should have no problems getting autographs… hehehe… this is the same ploy I did with my hand in THE FACULTY to gain the attention of Salma Hayek. Hehehehe… Old tricks rule!
As I grab a seat behind the crew, I spy Liv Tyler… She is wearing a wonderful key lime green luminous dress with this Elvish headpiece… quite lovely… Her skin is so fair and with the ears… she is quite Elvalicious… Yummy. She comes over and I point to my leg and make doggy whimper noises… I hand her my book, like little Timmy in the hospital would… and she signs it, "Dearest Harry, Thank you for being so kind to us and coming to visit. LOTS OF LOVE from pointy ears! Liv Tyler X" BLUSH BLUSH BLUSH! I am simply not worthy. I have questions about Arwen, but she’s called back into action quite quickly… so I hand the book to Philippa Boyens… LOTR Goddess and grand orchestrator of the sun and moon rising. Hehehe… She writes, "In the beginning there was Harry… for your support – ‘Im gwennen le’ We probably had fate on our side… With love – Phil" Awwwwww… blush blush blush I so don’t know what that ‘Im Gwennen Le’ means… 10 to 1 it is Elvish for, "Marry me Stud" but I am gonna have to find someone else fluent in Elvish before I respond. Eyeing the Droolalicious Miranda Otto, Eowyn, I decide to line up three babes in a row! Miranda is in yet another amazingly gorgeous dress… Man, the costume designer on this thing is so gonna get a little gold statue. I’m telling ya. Miranda is smiling and impossibly adorable smile at me as she hands me my book back and I read the caption, "Dear Harry, Love my new Word. Thank you for coming to my wedding! Lots of Love! Miranda Otto XXX" Faint.
A while later I come too and David Wenham is standing over me… and not just that, but he’s David "Sexiest Man In Australia" Wenham… Sorry Dave, that was a special request from a secret admirer of yours. Again I thrust out the book… this is Faramir! "Harry, An Absolute Pleasure to Meet You! Best Wishes, David Wenham"
I stand up, and I look around for Viggo… He’s gone, he was just there… Right there… I saw him.
And like that… he was gone.
There were about 300 extras in costume… Viggo has already been crowned and this is a different scene I believe, perhaps after the crew from Rivendell rode in with the Scepter… I suppose… Earlier I was feeling the bark of the great tree of Gondor…Nimloth descended from the tree of the High Elves, Galathilion… It’s white petals in bloom…. An ancient tree… old beyond description… the roots gnarled and the tree itself is a vegetation of Legend.
Aragorn and Arwen are there… and while watching the beautiful Liv perform her last scene in this epic…. I ask Philippa Boyens a question that many of you have been pressing me to ask Peter… How different is Arwen from the book?
Other than the scene you’ve seen of Arwen on the horse… it is exactly as she is portrayed in the book and in Tolkien’s appendix at the back of the book. From talking to Philippa, the horse riding scene was done as a cinematic change, to make a scene play better on screen. Just as a reminder, Philippa is one of the screenwriters on the film, that made sure that Tolkien is well represented on set. The other day I was watching her on the BLUE SCREEN set and there was a moment that she felt unsure about the scene they were shooting… so she pulled out her books, and went right back to the actors and the Blue Screen Director and problems were solved.
Speaking of Blue Screen… I left the Minas Tirith set to goto the Blue Screen stage, cause I love those guys and gals down at Blue Screen so much, and the set is always the most action packed thrill ride you ever did go to!
To tell the truth, I heard that Legolas, Pippin, Merry and Aragorn were all going to be there and my sacred texts needed their illuminations.
While here, I decided to check out and fondle some fellowship weaponry… Legolas’ bow, his quiver and arrows… his short swords/daggers. 4 of Gimli’s five axes. And Aragorn’s reforged from the shards of Narsil, the sword that cut the ring from Sauron’s hand, and is now Anduril ‘the flame of the west’. OH BABY WHAT A SWEET SWORD! Man, I begin swinging it around… OH HELL, this reminds me… I held the ring the other day! It was chained to Elijah’s neck, but the second I saw it, I moved with the speed required to capture my precious…
Now I know the ring holds no power… I know that this ring was made for a movie… BUT DUUUUUUDESSSS!!! The vibe I got off of holding that ring… I seriously did not want to let go. I mean that. Elijah, a fella I consider my friend, had this frightened look on his face… I had it in my clutches… security was beginning to make their move… I COULD TAKE EM! I KNOW IT! The ring is as described simple and perfect. Gold and evil. Watching Elijah tuck the ring beneath his shirt… was sooooooo cool.
But anyways… back to today, The weaponry for these three members of the Fellowship were awesome. Gimli’s axes are of another age. I have some quite old axes at home… a couple that are 400 years old plus… and these look older and more practical and formidable. John Rhys Davies and these Axes would KICK ASS!
All of Legolas’ stuff is ornate and Elven as it should be. Masterful crafts-elf-ship!
As soon as Orlando Bloom arrives, slaps me on the shoulder and does the, "Hey hey hey Harry, how ya doing." Bit… I ask if he’ll sign my book and he says sure, but after the scene… That’s cool. That is when Viggo arrives and he asks me, "Is that your book?" Heh… "Yes" and he takes it from me. I haven’t really met Viggo much on set while I’ve been here. It’s probably because his character awes me. ARAGORN/STRIDER is just so kickass… and in costume, he really really looks the part. He has a hard face and steely gaze. He takes the book and begins writing, "Dear Harry, I don’t know you very well, nor am I well-versed in internet sites, but I can see in your eyes that you love this story. I hope we won’t disappoint you in our telling of it. Viggo" and then he drew the TREE OF GONDOR! Alright, Viggo drew the Tree Of Gondor in my LOTR book… He rules. He rules hard!
About this time, Orlando signals me over and shows me something AWESOME.
Sunday afternoon…. The actors that play Gandalf, Gimli, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn and Legolas… set out with an Elvish design created specifically for them by ALAN LEE and had it tattooed on them. There is one stat of this design left. Orlando Bloom has been charged with returning and finding Sean Bean… Boromir… and having him tattooed as well with it. For all time, the Nine actors that played the Nine that set out… They are joined by a tattoo that only they carry.
When I saw the design, I will not break the trust and reveal what it is… but folks… After I saw it, I went to an area and just teared up. That is how much these folks believe in what they have done. When I asked if Sean was going to get his, Viggo and Orlando shared a look… a smile…. And yes.
This year and a half they’ve spent in these characters… they feel attached for all time now. There is a brotherhood between them… a sense of purpose. Can you imagine? I mean… They care enough to get tattooed forever with a shared marking.
The scene they are shooting is as Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas are luring the Corsairs in while the Army of the Dead begin firing their arrows all around them and they capture the ships… I suppose… at least I think that is what happens here.
This is a dramatic somber kinda forebodingly lit scene… of course it is all against blue screen… but it’s still creepy looking!
Meanwhile, as they are shooting that, Billy Boyd/Pippin has just arrived and is all ready to shoot a new scene as well. First thing out of his mouth, "I heard you had a bit of a tumble" ARGH! So I tell him the truth… "There was this Earthquake yesterday and I was doing some free climbing on some of the Wellington cliffs when my death grip on the side of the ancient rock… and I plummeted. However, due to the ingestion of much milk, no bones were broken… only the tearing of me flesh."
He just stared at me. I hand him my book and he writes: "Harry, Great to meet you, Hope you enjoy the movies ‘Lang may yer lumb reek’ Ton of love, Billy Boyd"
Then Dominic Monaghan arrives… I hand him Book Two: THE TWO TOWERS as FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS has filled up on the cover page. "Harry, It was great to meet you, and I look forward to hooking up with you in the States…. Its been a hugely enjoyable experience to chat with such a learned guy and to read a Fantastically witty and informed website. My Best, Dominic Monaghan (Merry The Hobbit)" and a little drawing of Merry the Hobbit off to the side. I notice though that my hat no longer fits my head.
We talk about CHARLIE’S ANGELS which he loved, I begin going on about Cameron Diaz’s magical swirling ass… he stares at me funny… I guess he’s thinking, "Did I write Witty and Informed?" Suddenly he and Billy are called over to do a scene in the sleeping quarters of EDORAS. Again this is all blue screen, so I can’t really tell what is going on… as they have no dialogue here, and it’s just one waking the other.
In all this wasn’t a grand day of key scenes really, but damn… I got to play with all those weapons… gaze upon the beautiful Arwen and Eowyn… and VIGGO ROCKS!!! Tomorrow I rejoin Peter’s crew… where I understand Elijah Wood and Sean Astin are working the Clacker Boards! Isn’t that cool. OH… and as Orlando promised… here’s what he wrote in my edition of THE TWO TOWERS: "Harry, A pleasure to meet & party, I hope you liked what you saw of our Middle Earth madness. Take Care, I’m sure we’ll meet again somewhere over the rainbow till then, all the best… Legolas – Orlando Bloom"
By the way, I’ve decided when I get back home to scan all these signatures so you can tell what a real signature looks like from these people so you don’t get snookered at a fan convention! Well my injuries call for sleep… I hope you enjoyed this my latest rantings and ravings…. I’m beginning to lose sanity here….