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Orlando Bloom & Liv Tyler

One Magazine, June 2004

Orlando Bloom and Liv Tyler have become good friends since working on The Lord of the Rings. Even though their respective careers don't allow them to see each other as much as they would like, the two stars call each other on a regular basis and remain very close. They reflect on the incredible experience they both shared: becoming elves for 18 months.

In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you both play elves. Before you began shooting the movie, what impression did you have of these unique creatures?
Orlando Bloom: Personally, I've always been fascinated by elves, but they're so complex that I wondered how Peter Jackson was going to be able to make them believable. In Tolkien's work, elves are depicted as fearsome warriors capable of taking on the worst enemies, but also as very sensitive, gracious, and refined beings, with a rather androgynous appearance. Basically, nothing like what we tend to imagine when we think of a warrior.... Before filming began, I wondered what Legolas was going to look like, and what look Peter Jackson had conceived for him. To tell you the truth, I was a little worried, because I didn't want Peter to overemphasize the androgynous or effeminate nature of my character. In other words, I frankly didn't want to have to walk around in a frock... [laughs]. But I knew I didn't have to worry about it when I saw my costume. It was great to pick up my bow and arrows for the first time.

Liv Tyler: Peter could have decided to portray the elves in the movie in a much less realistic way. In classic mythology, elves are often described as these really strange creatures, almost like aliens. Fortunately, Peter wanted to make them as human as possible, so that the audience could still identify with them, especially with Legolas and Arwen. I think that was a very wise choice.

It looks like he succeeded; Legolas is undeniably one of the audience's favorite characters...
Orlando Bloom: Right, and to get that sort of response, Peter added a few spectacular scenes that weren't originally in Tolkien's book. They're what I call Leggy's big, bad moments.... For example, the scene where I surf on the Uruk-hai's shield was clearly done to get the audience excited about Legolas. Just like the one where I climb on the Cave Troll, or the one where Legolas takes down an Oliphant in a few seconds flat. I'm really glad that Peter made Legolas a sympathetic and accessible hero instead of a cold killing machine incapable of uttering the simplest phrase.

Liv Tyler: What the audience doesn't know is how much Peter Jackson and the costume designers struggled with how the elves should look. There were times when they began to doubt their choices and thought the costumes looked ridiculous. The day we began shooting the Council of Elrond scenes, I remember Peter looking over what we had just shot, and when he saw how the elves looked, he looked at us and said, "You know, I wonder if these costumes aren't a little ridiculous. I feel like I'm looking at dozens of Spocks walking around in house robes..." [laughs]. But in the end we kept our pointy ears and our tunics, and I'm pretty pleased with the results.

Orlando Bloom: Shooting the Council of Elrond scenes was memorable for me too, but for another reason. Peter had dozens of extras who all had to be dressed like elves for the scene.... The problem was that most of the extras didn't know much about elves. So Peter had me explain the psychology of these mysterious creatures, and specifically the way that elves are supposed to move, with grace and majesty. All of a sudden, I found myself teaching dozens of people that I had never seen before in my life how to walk, and I just felt completely ridiculous! [laughs]

Making Lord of the Rings has been an unforgettable experience for all the actors involved. What's the most important lesson you learned from the whole experience?
Orlando Bloom: I think we're going to have the same answer....

Liv Tyler: If you steal my answer, I'll kill you! [laughs]

Orlando Bloom: I think I'll let you start then....

Liv Tyler: (to Orlando) You've just narrowly escaped death... [laughs]. I think the main lesson I learned from this experience was to be more patient, and to trust the people around me more. The Lord of the Rings shoot was really long and difficult. There were times when I really doubted that the movie would work, when I almost wanted to quit. I have to admit that I sometimes doubted Peter's talent, which I'm not very proud to admit today. In fact, in the beginning, I acted a bit like a rebellious teenager. I was convinced that I was always right and that Peter didn't know anything. Later, after seeing the final product, I understood that I was the one who didn't know anything. I guess you could say that The Lord of the Rings has made me more humble.

Why did you doubt Peter Jackson?
Liv Tyler: Because I sometimes had the feeling that he didn't have complete control of things, that he didn't always really know where he wanted to take things. For example, we would sometimes shoot entire scenes and then, at the end, Peter would look over what he had shot and decide to change everything. So we would reshoot the same scene, but in a totally different way, with different extras and sometimes even new scenery. At first, I didn't understand why he chose to do that, but as time went on, I came to know him better and learned to trust him.

Can you tell us about your last day on the set?
Liv Tyler: It was really strange. When I finished my last scene, it didn't hit me right away that it was over, that this incredible adventure had come to an end. But a few minutes later, I saw Fran Walsh, the movie's co-producer, who was sobbing. That's when I understood that it was really over, and then I started to cry, too. A little later in the day, Peter got all the actors together in a big room. He gave a long speech, thanking all of us, and then he gave each of us symbolic objects belonging to our respective characters. That's why I left New Zealand with Arwen's dress and her sword. After the speech, Peter showed us a bunch of little hilarious clips made from outtakes from the movie. In the clip made for me, he showed Arwen outtakes, and put it to Total Eclipse of the Heart, the famous Bonnie Tyler song. It was really funny to joke about Arwen's heartache that way.