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"Life after Middle-Earth"

LIFE AFTER MIDDLE-EARTH
By Susan Wloszczyna, USA TODAY

Shoes. That's what Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy who famously shares a hobbit's preference for being unshod, would toss into Mount Doom instead of that terrible ring. Several Lord of the Rings cast members would like to toss their prosthetics into the fiery pits of Mount Doom.


New Line Cinema

As this historic three-year odyssey comes to an end — the final chapter, The Return of the King, has reigned at the box office four weeks in a row — USA TODAY talks to a dozen of the lead players as they look back at the final chapter and ahead to post-Rings projects. And they, too, reveal what they would pitch into the fiery pits of Mount Doom.

Elijah Wood, Frodo the hobbit
• Favorite moment in King: "When Frodo collapses on the side of Mount Doom, and Sam tries to make him remember the Shire."
• What will you miss most? "Working with Peter, the crew and the actors."
• What won't you miss? "The press tours. They are an exhaustive process."
• What would you toss into Mount Doom? "I don't know if I have anything that I would so desperately want to get rid of. We come in contact with things in our lives for a reason, negative and positive."
• What's next? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, opening March 19; the voice of Mumble the penguin in Happy Feet, a computer-animated comedy.

John Noble, Denethor, mad steward of Gondor
• Favorite moment in King: "When Sam picks Frodo up to carry him the last few yards."
• What will you miss? "I close this door with joy and will try to move on. That way, it will stay special to me and I won't become melancholy about it."
• What won't you miss? "There's not a moment of it I won't at some time treasure."
• What would you like to toss into Mount Doom? "Gossip. It's something that upsets me because it only comes from negativity."
• What's next? Fracture, a New Zealand film that will open the Berlin Film Festival. "It's about two families set against a background of crime. I play a self-made property developer."

Bernard Hill, Theoden, king of Rohan
• Favorite moment in King: "When Sam says of the ring, 'Mr. Frodo, I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you.' It's one of those lines that's up there with 'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.'"
• What will you miss most? "Being in New Zealand. And working with Peter Jackson."
• What won't you miss? "I won't miss wearing heavy armor — 22 kilos dry (48.5 pounds) and 25 kilos wet (55 pounds)."
• What would you toss into Mount Doom? "My bad temper."
• What's next? The tennis drama Wimbledon with Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst, opening Sept. 24. "I have a little part as Paul's dad."

Miranda Otto, Eowyn, the White Lady of Rohan
• Favorite moment in King: "There are three. When Theoden rousts the troops on the hill, when Gandalf and Pippin talk about death in the middle of battle and when Sam says he will carry Frodo."
• What will you miss most? "Middle-earth. It brought out the best in all of us."
• What won't you miss? The jumbled shooting schedule. "One scene would be shot and then the scene that came before it would be shot two months later."
• What would you toss into Mount Doom? "Those recorded menu choices on the phone."
• What's next? The Flight of the Phoenix with Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi and Tyrese.

Dominic Monaghan, Merry the hobbit
• Favorite moment in King: "Pippin finding Merry on the battlefield after he's all broken down. I like the idea of Merry looking after Pippin for two movies, and then it going full circle with Pippin caring for Merry."
• What will you miss most? "Working with these guys. We'll do 10-year reunions and get back together."What won't you miss? "Nothing. I pretty much enjoyed every aspect."
• What would you toss into Mount Doom? "The idea of different territories and countries. We all live on the same planet and want the same things."
• What's next? Spivs, about working-class mates and illegal immigrants.

Billy Boyd, Pippin the hobbit
• Favorite moment in King: "I have a real soft spot for the scene where Pippin thinks he's going to die and he says to Gandalf, 'I didn't think it would end this way.' "
• What will you miss most? "Working with this group of people was really special."
• What won't you miss? "The three hours getting ready to be a hobbit every morning."
• What would you toss into Mount Doom? "Weapons."
• What's next? Currently in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. May sign up for On Love, a romantic comedy that will shoot in London.

Orlando Bloom, Legolas the elf archer
• Favorite moment in King: "When you see Frodo and Sam, just lying on that rock with all the lava passing behind them. Two little hobbits who have just taken on the world."
• What will you miss most? "The friends I made."
• What won't you miss? "The wig more than the ears. It's just uncomfortable."
• What would you toss into Mount Doom? "Lies."
• What's next? The Greek epic Troy, opening May 21; finishing Haven, which follows three stories set on the Cayman Islands, with Bill Paxton and Gabriel Byrne; starts shooting Kingdom of Heaven, a Crusades epic directed by Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down), this month in Morocco and Spain.

Liv Tyler, Arwen the elf princess
• Favorite moment in King: "When the hobbits return to the Shire and there is that scene of them in the pub. They are all sitting at that little table with their pints. That's all they've dreamed about the whole time, and they're not saying a word to each other. You can see the intensity of what they've been through."
• What will you miss most? "My friendships and relationships I've developed."
• What won't you miss? "My ears."
• What would you toss into Mount Doom? "Cruelty."
• What's next? Jersey Girl with Ben Affleck, opening March 19. Will soon start Lonesome Jim, co-starring Casey Affleck.

Ian McKellan, Gandalf the wizard
• Favorite moment in King: "When, at the coronation of the king, the hobbits start to kneel before him and, instead, he kneels to them and then everyone kneels to them."
• What will you miss most? "The New Zealand spirit."
• What won't you miss? "The hair was unpleasant. And my nose didn't take kindly to being covered up all day with a prosthetic one."
• What would you toss into Mount Doom? "There are quite a lot of cell phones."
• What's next? Brings his Broadway show Dance of Death to Australia in January. Will he return as Magneto in a second X-Men sequel? "I made sure that (director/writer) Bryan Singer got the ticket he wanted for the opening of The Return of the King in L.A."

Sean Astin, Sam the hobbit
• Favorite moment in King: "Picking up my daughter (played by real-life daughter Alexandra, now 7) at the end."
• What will you miss most? "The sense of confidence and importance that comes from knowing you are working on something with integrity."
• What won't you miss? "The promoting of The Lord of the Rings and the making of the movie. It was hard for me."
• What would you toss into Mount Doom? "About 6% of my body fat."
• What's next? 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, opening Feb. 13. He plays Doug, Barrymore's brother. "He's kind of an idiot."

Viggo Mortensen, Aragorn, the man who would be king
• Favorite moment in King: "The lighting of the beacons," which signals that the city of Minas Tirith is under attack.
• What will you miss most? "I don't see that it needs to end. I'm not in a hurry to forget about it. I was given my sword and other souvenirs, but they pale in comparison with what I have in my heart and my head."
• What won't you miss? "I don't have a pet peeve I can think of."
• What would you toss into Mount Doom? "Arrogance."
• What's next? The horse-race adventure Hidalgo, opening March 5.

David Wenham, Faramir, Denethor's warrior son
• Favorite moment in King: "When Sam picks Frodo up and carries him towards Mordor. It encapsulates so much of what the books and films are about."
• What will you miss most? "The people, because people make films."
• What won't you miss? "Being asked if it's a bittersweet experience now that it's the last film. Actually, there's no downside to doing this project."
• What would you toss into Mount Doom? "Ignorance."
• What's next? Van Helsing, starring Hugh Jackman as the famed monster hunter, opening May 7. "I happen to be a monk and Van Helsing's best friend."

x-posted to lordoftherings, legolasofmrkwd, ringbearerfrodo, tolkien.
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