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The cast of Lord of the Rings is huge - how many extras were involved

01:00 Mon 24th Dec 2001 |

A. More than 20,000 extras were cast in the epic Lord of The Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. The movie, out now, cost over 264 million to make and took 274 days of filming.

In all, 1,2000 suits of armour were used and 1,600 pairs of prosthetic feet and ears were used. The cast used 2,000 weapons to recreate the battle scenes, and in order to create Hobbiton, 5,000 cubic metres of vegetable and flowers gardens were planted a year before filming.

Q. Who is the director behind the blockbuster

A. New Zealand director Peter Jackson might film The Hobbit if Lord of the Rings trilogy is a sucess. He has said he might go back to his King Kong remake, which was shelved in the studio in 1997 for fear of a clash with Mighty Joe Young and Godzilla.

Q. What kind of director is he

A. As a child, Peter Jackson was an innovative film-maker - for a World War II epic, the young teenager built a trench in his back garden and punched holes in celluloid to simulate gunfire. The story goes that Jackson used to make Thunderbirds craft and spaceships out of toilet rolls. These days, his effects house WETA employs artifical intelligence to make armies of creatures to fight each other.

In 1995, New Zealand TV showed a Peter Jackson-directed documentary called Forgotten SIlver, about an unknown film-maker called Colin McKenzie who had footage of a man flying a plane nine months before the Wright Brothers. After it was screened, Jackson confessed to the bewildered NZ citizens that it was a complete work of fiction.

Q. How did he cast the actors

A. Elijah Wood wanted the part of Frodo so much that he sent Jackson an audition tape before casting began. A friend had filmed him reciting passages from the book in an English accent.

Ian Holm, the British actor who plays the ageing Bilbo Baggins in Jackson's three films, previously starred as Bilbo's hero nephew Frodo in a 1981 BBC radio production.

Jackson originally cast Stuart Townsend as Aragorn (now played by Viggo Mortensen) but Townsend left the production soon after filming began. Jackson says he was too young for the role, despite a rumour of "creative differences".

Hollywood starlet Liv Tyler plays elf Arwen, Sean Astin is the hobbit Sam and Sir Ian McKellen is the wizard Gandalf.

Q. How many worldwide fans are there

A. There are an estimated 50 million Tolkien fans. In the first 24 hours of the first trailer going out there were 1,671,000 downloads .

Q. When are the films released

The Lord of the Rings boxset was released on DVD in 2003 and is available on Amazon.

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By Katharine MacColl

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