Viggo Mortensen On ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Trilogy: ‘Whatever Was Subtle In The First Movie Gradually Got Lost In The Second And Third’

Fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy tend to fall into two camps—those who think that the Two Towers is the best of the three, and those who insist that that honour goes to Return of the King.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Viggo Mortensen reveals that he falls into neither camp. According to the actor who played Aragorn, The Fellowship of the Ring is the highlight of the trilogy, and for two reasons: Fellowship had tighter screenplay, and it didn’t get go overboard on special effects.

“Peter was always a geek in terms of technology but, once he had the means to do it, and the evolution of the technology really took off, he never looked back,”; says Mortensen. “In the first movie, yes, there’s Rivendell, and Mordor, but there’s sort of an organic quality to it, actors acting with each other, and real landscapes; it’s grittier. The second movie already started ballooning, for my taste, and then by the third one, there were a lot of special effects. It was grandiose, and all that, but whatever was subtle, in the first movie, gradually got lost in the second and third.”;

Now that Jackson has unlimited funds at his disposal, Mortensen says that he is indulging all of his worst instincts.

“With The Hobbit, one and two, it’s like that to the power of 10,”; Mortensen continues. “I guess Peter became like Ridley Scott – this one-man industry now, with all these people depending on him. But you can make a choice, I think. I asked Ridley when I worked with him [on 1997’s GI Jane], “Why don’t you do another film like The Duellists [Scott’s 1977 debut, from a Joseph Conrad short story]?’ And Peter, I was sure he would do another intimately scaled film like Heavenly Creatures, maybe with this project about New Zealanders in the First World War he wanted to make. But then he did King Kong. And then he did The Lovely Bones – and I thought that would be his smaller movie. But the problem is, he did it on a $90 million budget. That should have been a $15 million movie. The special effects thing, the genie, was out of the bottle, and it has him. And he’s happy, I think…”

Mortensen also reveals that, although the trilogy was “officially”; shot back to back to back, Two Towers and Return of the King would have been all but unwatchable had it not been for extensive reshoots. “Anybody who says they knew it was going to be the success it was, I don’t think it’s really true,” he says. “They didn’t have an inkling until they showed 20 minutes in Cannes, in May of 2001. They were in a lot of trouble, and Peter had spent a lot. Officially, he could say that he was finished in December 2000 – he’d shot all three films in the trilogy – but really the second and third ones were a mess. It was very sloppy – it just wasn’t done at all. It needed massive reshoots, which we did, year after year. But he would have never been given the extra money to do those if the first one hadn’t been a huge success. The second and third ones would have been straight to video.”

For the full interview with Mortensen, click here.

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