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Comic-Con Fans Get Taste of New <I>Rings</I> DVD

24 Jul, 2003 By: David Ward

Looking to whet the interest of Lord of the Rings fans for both next month's Two Towers DVD release as well as the holiday theatrical launch of third film The Return of the King, cast members Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan, Andy Serkis and others appeared at the Comic-Con International comic book festival in San Diego, Calif.

During the 45-minute appearance, the actors and others involved with the film trilogy demonstrated how some of the weapons and costumes in the film were made, as well as how Serkis' voice and movements were incorporated into the computer-animated character Gollum.

Serkis said that while he had originally been hired to provide the voice of Gollum, eventually director Peter Jackson said it would be better if the other characters could interact with a real person, even though that meant going through every frame after each shot and replacing Serkis with the computer-generated Gollum. “Peter wanted Gollum to interact with Frodo and Sam,” said Serkis.

Wood said the concept ended up working very well, adding that Serkis is “like a man possessed when he's actually in Gollum mode,” while Astin described one instance in which Serkis actually ripped the wig right off his head during a fight scene.

Comic-Con attendees, many of whom waited in line for hours, saw a 3-minute preview of the 12-minute The Return of the King preview that will appear on the Two Towers DVD. That segment was introduced in a taped greeting from actors Ian McKellen and Billy Boyd and director Jackson.

In addition to the Return of the King preview, the Two Towers DVD will include a five-minute film directed by Astin, “The Long and Short of It.” The short somewhat whimsical movie tells the story of several people who stop to assist a worker putting up an advertising poster on a brick wall. Among the highlights of the short is a cameo by Jackson as a bus driver. The DVD also will have an eight-minute film on the making of “The Long and Short of It.”

During the appearance, Astin explained how he shot the film in a single rainy Sunday afternoon, assisted by Wood, Monaghan and Serkis. Astin said Monaghan and he actually wrote the film together, adding that Serkis “was actually kind of a better first A.D. [assistant director] than even Elijah. Elijah was more like the studio exec going, ‘Let's go. Let's go. Peter's coming.’

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