''Rings: The Two Towers,'' explained by its director. The barefoot leader of the ''Lord of the Rings'' trilogy returns with more tales from the Shire

By Adam Duerson
Updated December 18, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Peter Jackson: Todd Plitt

”The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” earned $860 million worldwide, but director Peter Jackson still sports a ratty jacket, mended at the seams with duct tape. And even on New York City’s coldest morning of the year, he’s padding around the hotel lobby barefoot, the way he did on the set of his ”Fellowship” sequel, ”The Two Towers.” A Hollywood rarity, the 41-year-old New Zealand native appears unchanged by his critical and commercial success. To find out more, EW.com talked to Jackson about the difficulties of making ”Towers,” one unlikely Oscar nomination, and what — if anything — comes after the trilogy.

What’s the difference between ”The Two Towers” and ”Fellowship”?
”The Two Towers” was much, much harder because of the simple fact that ”Fellowship” was a linear story. It started with Frodo and followed him all the way through. The decisions were simple: What do you leave in and what do you cut out? You didn’t change the order of things; you just kind of followed the plot. In this film, because we have three different plot lines branching out, we had a lot of flexibility over how long we stayed with a particular plot before cutting to the other one. For example, in the last cut, [the CG creature] Gollum appears in the second scene of the film. But we did edits earlier this year where he didn’t appear for half an hour. It was much more fun and much more of a creative exercise this year.

What was the most painful thing to cut from this one?
Not a great deal was cut. There’s not very much [extra footage] with Frodo and Sam because there’s so much of Gollum in each of their scenes, and because those shots are so difficult to do, you don’t really do Gollum unless you absolutely know that it’s going to be in the movie. [We cut] the whole scene where Merry and Pippin drink the Ent draught. I’ll definitely put that on the DVD because it’s so funny.

Gollum already has Oscar buzz. Can you imagine Andy Serkis — who voiced and provided the movements for the CG character — getting a supporting performance nomination?
To be honest, I think that what Andy has ultimately achieved with Gollum is as relevant an acting performance as ”The Elephant Man” with John Hurt. Hurt’s buried beneath inches of rubber, but he has to use his acting skills to push this prosthetic around and fuel the character. Andy is really doing the same thing. He’s the driver manipulating this pixilated skin that we see in the film.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 179 minutes
  • Peter Jackson