The director of the "Lord of the Rings" movies talks to the trilogy's fans
Orlando Bloom, Peter Jackson, ...
Credit: The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers: Pierre Vinet

When New Line announced that Peter Jackson (“Heavenly Creatures”) would be directing three movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s ”Lord of the Rings” trilogy , the New Zealander had to be nervous. Not only is Jackson, 36, responsible for the $130 million the studio is spending on the flicks, which will all be filmed at once (the first, ”The Fellowship of the Ring,” will be released around Christmas, 2000), but he risks facing the wrath of the fantasy series’ devoted fans, who have bought 50 million copies of the books in 25 languages since 1954.

Knowing the fury of a Hobbitphile scorned (many are still grumbling about the 1978 animated ”Lord of the Rings” by Ralph Bakshi), Jackson appealed to the books’ devotees even before production started by answering 20 questions from fans on Harry Knowles’ movie website, Ain’t it Cool News. The queries ranged from the practical (”Who are you hoping to cast?”) to the obsessive (”Will we see the combat of Gandalf and the Balrog after they fall from the bridge in Moria?”). Jackson answered them all in detail: ”The basic philosophy is to cast unknowns as the hobbits and use better known actors for the smaller roles” and ”I don’t think so” were the answers to the previous questions.

Judging from the positive postings on the site by readers, Jackson’s answers seem to have pleased the fans, and he plans to keep them on his side. ”I don’t want you folk to feel that you are ignored or left out during this process,” he wrote in his initial open letter last week asking for questions. ”If this (Q&A) works out, it’s something we could do on a semi-regular basis over the next 3 years.” Boy, if only Joel Schumacher had taken fans’ suggestions before making ”Batman and Robin,” he could have saved everybody a lot of trouble.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Movie
  • 178 minutes