The bumps and bruises of ''Lord of the Rings'' stars. The cast of the action-packed trilogy risked life, limb, and waistline off the set
Viggo Mortensen, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Credit: Lord of the Rings Return of the King:

Despite stunt doubles and safety precautions, the cast members of the ”Lord of the Rings” trilogy still managed to get themselves into trouble over the four years the film was shot. But don’t blame director Peter Jackson for the cast’s injuries. Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), Billy Boyd (Pippin), and John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) all incurred their broken bones and bruises off the clock, while other boo-boos didn’t even require Band-Aids (think ever-expanding waistlines). Here’s a rundown of who hurt what during the filming of this epic adventure.

INJURED PARTY Viggo Mortensen
WHAT HAPPENED Boyd and Dominic Monaghan (Merry) decided to teach landlubber Mortensen how to surf while they all had a day free from filming. Bad idea. ”It was Viggo’s first time, and the board hit him in the face,” Boyd recalls. ”He had the biggest black eye you’ve ever seen.”

Initially the hobbits were worried their friend had more than a bruise. ”When I asked if he was alright, he said, ‘I don’t know, am I?’ And when Viggo says that, you know something’s wrong,” says Boyd. Fortunately, the only complication was that Mortensen had to be filmed in profile for a month until the swelling went down. ”The scenes where we are in the Mines of Moria there are all these reaction shots, and you can see I do most of the scene like this,” laughs Mortensen, turning his head to the side.

INJURED PARTY Andy Serkis (Gollum)
DIAGNOSIS Back strain
WHAT HAPPENED Serkis found playing a CG-created creepy crawler made for great footage but aching muscles. ”When I was going back and forth a lot between the ‘Two Towers’ reshoots and doing motion capture, midway through my back started to give me a lot of problems,” he recalls. Still, the only person he blames is himself. ”It was my decision to make him crawl, because I wanted the audience to feel the physical tension of the character.” Serkis did get a respite, however. ”When he finally stands up towards the end of the last film, it was quite a relief to get to that moment.”

INJURED PARTY Mortensen (again!)
DIAGNOSIS Chipped tooth
WHAT HAPPENED During the filming of the fight for Helm’s Deep in ”The Two Towers,” Mortensen chipped his front tooth in the heat of ”battle.” Determined to finish the scene, he asked that his tooth be glued back on so he could continue filming. Jackson wisely demurred and ordered the warrior to go to the dentist. Still, such dedication seems fitting behavior for the man who would be king. ”He was an inspiration to all of us,” says Liv Tyler (the ethereal elf Arwen).

DIAGNOSIS Broken finger
WHAT HAPPENED Apparently surfing in New Zealand, where the trilogy was shot, was more dangerous than sword-fighting for this cast. ”I was grabbing at my surfboard, but then a wave took it and snapped my finger,” says Boyd. Now his crooked pinkie is a permanent souvenir. ”It’s got a bend in it, see?” he says, joking, ”that’s a terrible injury.”

INJURED PARTY John Rhys-Davies
DIAGNOSIS Broken back and arm
WHAT HAPPENED While the actors were intermittently called back for pickup shots on the three films until 2003, there was plenty of time to pursue other projects. Unfortunately Rhys-Davies suffered serious injuries when a stage wall fell on him in November 2002 during the filming of ”La Femme Musketeer” in Croatia. In addition to suffering a broken arm and head injuries, Rhys-Davies says, ”They discovered the other day I actually broke my back. And [the wall] scalped me. You can see there’s little odd partings of my hair in two places. And there’s a screw in the muscle of my wrist I need to get fixed.”

Rhys-Davies is currently suing Hallmark Entertainment, which produced the miniseries. But, in true dwarf spirit, he didn’t let that stop him from doing his part for the ”Ring.” ”I said, I’m not going to miss out on doing the publicity for ‘The Return of the King’! Wheel me through the airport!” says Rhys-Davies, who has a smaller role in ”Return.” Top that, Legolas.

”INJURED” PARTIES Sean Astin (Sam) and Ian McKellen (Gandalf)
DIAGNOSIS Weight gain
WHAT HAPPENED During filming, Astin found that reaching Sam’s maximum density required very little effort — literally. ”Once you had the hobbit feet on, they didn’t want you to walk around and mess them up,” says Astin. ”So you were made to sit there for 15, 16 hours a day swelling and having anything you ate go into all the wrong spots. I relished the sword fights, because it was like being let out into the prison yard.”

McKellan also packed on pounds, but for a different reason: He quit smoking in 2002. ”[For ‘The Return of the King”s pickup shots] Gandalf the White’s pants were let out by a couple of inches,” he reveals on his website. ”I promised myself a dietary regime was due.” If ”LOTR” prequel ”The Hobbit” gets made, maybe Astin and McKellan can sign up for Jenny Craig together.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 201 minutes
  • Peter Jackson