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Interview with John Rhys-Davies About "Lord of the Rings"

The Final Film in the "Rings" Trilogy

By

Lord of the Rings John Rhys Davies

John Rhys-Davies as Gimli in "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."

New Line Cinema
John Rhys-Davies, the man under all that dwarf make-up in "The Lord of the Rings," is no stranger to working on epic sagas, having experienced it to a lesser degree with the “Indiana Jones” movies. That experience semi-prepared him for the overwhelming reaction to Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. In this interview from the press junket, Rhys-Davies talks about the films and the fans.

After doing press for these films over the past years, do you have any stories left you haven’t yet shared?
I do, but I’m not allowed to tell them (laughing). In a word, most of the stories have been told. All that can be done is to underline, yet again, the extraordinary achievement of Peter Jackson.

If you list all the qualities that you need to be a great director, you could spend five or six hours just [putting that list together]. PJ has got the full palate of colors that you need to be a director. He has real strength and depth. Not the least of his achievements was putting together this little group of actors. I wish I could tell you that there was conflict and tension between them, but there really wasn’t. The hobbits would work together all day and then go off and terrorize whichever town we happened to be in all night, and then come back and work together the next day. Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean, who you would have thought that there might be some testosterone conflict, they too would finish working together and go off and have dinner together. It was a remarkably harmonious experience. I had a not-so-harmonious experience on a film I did early this summer where there was a lot of testosterone around. It was nowhere near as productive and happy an experience as it was in New Zealand. Jackson has it all as a director. I hope the Academy gives him that recognition this year.

Have these films changed your life?
(Laughing) They made me fall in love with New Zealand but no, they haven’t changed my life. There are great parts that come along once every 10 years if you’re a very, very exceptionally fortunate actor, like me. By and large, most of what we do is very forgettable and it is a great joy to have done something that is fairly memorable.

I like actor-proof parts. Let me define what I mean by an actor-proof part: a part that is so well-written that even I can not screw it up. They are very rare. It’s a joy when they come along. I guess we now have to wait for the next actor-proof part to come along. In the meantime, I will screw up everything I do.

How much of an impact do the fans have on you personally?
I’m overwhelmed and touched by their generosity and their passion. I would also say that our fan base for this particular film is very smart. These are all people who have at least got the IQ that enables them to read the book. Even if they didn’t do it beforehand, they certainly do it after. To be honest with you, that’s a pretty remarkable test. It’s a bloody big book. They are thoughtful, they are considerate, and we are very lucky to have them.

When you adapt something like this, which is so monstrously unwieldy - Tolkien himself did not think it could be turned into a film, I think he sold the film rights for 100 pounds - you have to leave things out that are very dear to the fans. But I’ve not had a single bit of criticism from any fan that the omissions and the adaptations have diminished their respect for these films.

How do you feel about the changes made from the book to the final film?
To me the omission of more details of the extraordinary relationship of Faramir and his brother and his father, you just get a little glimpse and you assume a full-fledged tragic relationship between father and son. It’s sad because you have to move on because it doesn’t relate directly to the journey of The Ring. Peter Jackson tried to keep as much in of the text as he could. It’s 3 hours and 20 minutes long, he would have loved to have done a six hour or seven hour film.

What do you think of Gimli’s journey over the course of the films?
The journey is from distrust, if you like, which all tribes had. This particular thing is that Gimli actually goes to the meeting because he’s heard about The Ring and he doesn’t want the elves to gain an advantage. But once he meets the elves, he falls madly in love with Galadriel and that actually is a typical thing in his life. Of course, that means that he could never truly return to his own culture, his own people and be truly satisfied again.

Additional “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” Press Junket Interviews:
Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Bernard Hill, David Wenham/John Noble, and Richard Taylor/Barrie M. Osborne

“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” Premiere Coverage:
Orlando Bloom/Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Elijah Wood/Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, David Wenham/John Noble, John Rhys-Davies/Bernard Hill, and Peter Jackson/Richard Taylor

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
"Return of the King” Trailer, Credits, and Movie News

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