Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies were filled with exceptional talent, which meant for some improvised moments that made the movies that much better. Actors like Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Bean, and Bradford Dourif are experts at their craft and bring a unique flavor to their characters. Sometimes, this meant going beyond the script to achieve a certain passion that Jackson hadn’t originally thought of for his movies. The Lord of the Rings films wouldn’t have been at the same level without these moments.
Because of the strong performances from The Lord of the Rings cast, several moments throughout the films have been rumored to have been improvised. Of course, many of these have never been confirmed, so audiences are left admiring the scenes in their speculation. However, in some cases, Jackson revealed the unscripted actions of the actors left in the movies, or the actors themselves shared their decisions during interviews. Knowing without a doubt that these moments were improvised (or even happened entirely by accident) makes the already beloved films even better.
Gandalf Bumping His Head In Bag End In Fellowship Of The Ring
Some improvised moments are full of passion and majorly impact the mood of a film. However, some of the best spontaneous actions come from the subtle details an actor adds to their performance. In the case of Gandalf, actor Ian McKellen clearly put a lot of work into portraying the wizard described by J.R.R. Tolkien as being as quick to laugh as he was to lose his temper. It meant for a truly dynamic character—but it was the small moments that made him better.
During the director commentary of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Jackson stated that the moment that McKellen hit his head on the ceiling of Bilbo Baggins’ home (Bag End) had not been planned or intended, but that the actor continued with his performance anyway and it was ultimately left in the film. However, in an interview on his official website, McKellen explained that “the head-banging” had been his idea but that he was glad it looked so genuine that Jackson thought it was spontaneous. Ultimately, it was a charming touch.
Boromir Bowing His Head During The Council Of Elrond
Boromir’s speech about the One Ring during the Council of Elrdon in Fellowship of the Ring is one of the most iconic of the franchise. His “one does not simply walk into Mordor” comment was as meme-worthy as it was quotable. This had a lot to do with the actor’s passion as he tried to convince the important people of Middle-earth of his One Ring plan—something that audiences already knew was a bad idea. Still, Boromir’s frustration was palpable, as seen in Bean’s performance.
Throughout the Council of Elrond, Boromir is seen bowing his head into his hand in an action that Jackson described (via MTV) to be “as if [he was] dealing with the emotional weight of the horrors of Mordor.” However, the director explains that this was because Bean was looking at the script, which had been taped to his knee. “We revised Boromir’s long speech about Mordor at the last minute and only got it to Sean Bean on the day it was being shot,” he said. This didn’t hinder Bean’s performance, and the peek at his revised script only made Boromir’s speech more intense.
Aragorn Deflecting The Orc Dagger In Fellowship Of The Ring
Aragorn’s battle scenes were among the most intense of the Lord of the Rings movies, partly due to Mortensen’s action experience. The actor wasn’t afraid to go all in, which was perfect for the exiled king, willing to do whatever it took to protect his friends and the rest of Gondor (and Middle-earth as a whole). This is seen especially in Aragorn’s battle with the Uruk-hai in Fellowship of the Ring.
Just before the Uruk-hai captain, Lúrtz, was about to finish off Boromir, Aragorn lept into the scene, and the two engaged in an epic battle. The displaced king of Gondor stabbed Saruman’s lackey in the leg with a long dagger, which the beast gruesomely pulled free and threw at Aragorn. According to the film’s director commentary, Lúrtz was supposed to throw the blade off to the side, but thanks to his prosthetics, he accidentally threw it directly at Aragorn. Jackson stated that it had been a real dagger, and Mortensen instinctively swung his sword to deflect the blade. It worked so well in the action that it was left.
Aragorn Kicking The Helmet In Two Towers
Perhaps one of the best-known “little-known” facts about The Lord of the Rings was Aragorn’s famous scream when he found the burned Orcs and Uruk-hai but no sign of Merry and Pippin. A good deal of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers saw Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli running across Middle-earth in search of the abducted hobbits, and they always seemed a step behind. Their search seemed to come to an end when they learned that the Rohirrim had killed the band of villains that had taken Merry and Pippin—but there had been no sign of the halflings.
According to Jackson’s commentary of Two Towers, Mortensen had attempted the despair required for the scene several times, but the director felt the takes weren’t quite right. After an unknown number of repeats, the actor kicked a helmet, likely hoping that it would assist him in expressing Aragorn’s rage, and managed to break his toe in the process. The pain brought Mortensen to his knees, and without breaking character, he let out a heart-wrenching scream. The moment has since become a staple of Mortensen’s legacy (and everyone’s favorite “did you know?” moment).
Grima Crying At The Sight Of The Uruk-Hai Army In Two Towers
It’s easy to love the deeply impactful moments of characters like Aragorn and Boromir, but greasy villains like Grima Wormtongue often go unappreciated. Still, there is a lot to dive into with this character, and this was a task that was eagerly taken on by the actor that portrayed him in Two Towers. Dourif said in an interview that he loved the idea of being the bully but also recognized that Grima was a character who wanted power and love—and he felt that was something anyone could relate to.
This allowed him to bring an extra level of passion to Grima’s scenes. Wormtongue wasn’t just a villain for the sake of it. He had appetites and a complete lack of power, so he had been drawn to all Saruman had to offer. Of course, he would later turn on his master (though the LOTR movies cut Saruman’s death), but before that, Grima had really believed the wizard would grant him everything he craved. This was seen in the tear the man shed when he saw Saruman’s massive Uruk-hai army—another Lord of the Rings moment the director hadn’t planned.