Thursday, December 9, 2010
It's not often that you come across a film where everyone is perfectly cast in their respective roles -- especially a cast as large as The Lord of the Rings. Thanks to director Peter Jackson and his casting directors, fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's novel were treated to an enormously talented international cast.
I always respected the decision to ignore the head honchos of New Line Cinema and go with lesser known actors. Sure, we may have grown up watching Elijah Wood movies when he was a child actor or we may have been familiar with Ian McKellan and Cate Blanchett from big-budget costume dramas; however, when The Lord of the Rings finally debuted on screens, the biggest "star" of the picture (at the time) was Liv Tyler -- and she's wasn't exactly going to be filling seats. Therefore, I admire the decision to use talent over star-power. It's how it always should be.
By the time all three films were released (The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001, The Two Towers in 2002, The Return of the King in 2003) the entire cast had become household names for Tolkien fans and film buffs alike. The decision to cast virtual unknowns worked entirely in the franchise's favour. There were no preconceived notions about the actors going into the film. Most of the faces were completely unfamiliar to its audience and, as a result, there weren't big name stars (like a Tom Cruise or Nic Cage) to ruin the film. It was about the character development and the actual performances. No high-priced egos here.
When most people think of fantasy films, one doesn't normally equate it with great acting. Or, at least, it's not the first thing that comes to mind. This is why, in my opinion, The Lord of the Rings stands head and shoulders well above any other film(s) of the genre and beyond. You've got McKellan, Blanchett and Wood, but you've also got Ian Holm, Hugo Weaving, Viggo Mortensen, Christopher Lee, Brad Dourif, Bernard Hill, Sean Astin, Sean Bean, David Wenham and ...last but definitely not least, Andy Serkis as Gollum/Smeagol (pictured above). Serkis, especially, became a household name for me and everything I've seen him in since The Lord of the Rings has not disappointed. He's one of the best and most underrated actors working today.
The cast managed to elevate the trilogy even further beyond being just another cash-grab franchise.