Modified & Updated: 30 Dec 2023

Lord of the Rings Facts

J.R.R Tolkien spent 40 years of his life completing the Lord of the Rings books. Despite being a fantasy series, it tends to take an alternative life based on historic events. This franchise was popular not only for its imaginative storytelling but also because it was incredibly ahead of its time. Here are some Lord of the Rings facts that will show you how much work was put into the writing and production of the series.

  1. Legolas is famous for his white-blond hair but it was never indicated in the books that he was blond, to begin with.
  2. Sean Connery turned down the role of Gandalf because he didn’t understand the script.
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien typed 1,200 pages worth of text for the books with just two fingers. 
  4. Christopher Lee had read the LotR books every year for over 40 years before getting the role of Saruman. 
  5. The director and his children had small cameos in each trilogy.
  1. Return of the King broke film records for having the highest number of actors featured in it.
  2. Over 18,000 costumes were made for the filming of all three movies. 
  3. Ian McKellen kept the original staff and wizard’s hat from his time playing Gandalf. 
  4. Frodo takes 17 years to start his adventure after finding the ring.
  5. Tolkien did not intend for the books to be allegorical.
  6. A few actors sustained injuries while on set.
  7. Cate Blanchett was given her elf ears as a gift after filming was done because she loved her character so much.
  8. Actors that were part of ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ had the number nine in Elvish tattooed onto them after filming.
  9. Viggo Mortensen learned how to speak fluent Elvish for the films.
  10. The Return of the King is the first fantasy film to win the Best Picture category.
  1. Elijah Wood and Ian McKellen never filmed any scenes together.
  2. Some costumes for the movies needed to be replicated more than 40 times.
  3. Viggo Mortensen broke two of his toes during the making of the LotR movies.
  4. Christopher Lee originally wanted to play Gandalf.
  5. Over 2,000 weapons and 10,000 arrows were made for the filming of the trilogy.
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Lord Of The Rings Facts Infographics

Lord Of The Rings Facts Infographics

Viggo Mortensen bought 3 horses that were used in the films.

This actor has a particular habit of adopting his equine co-stars. Mortensen is better known for his role as Aragorn in the film.

He also bought several of the horses he worked with on the film Hidalgo.

The son of Tolkien does not like the LotR books that Peter Jackson wrote.

Christopher Tolkien claims that he dislikes the Lord of the Rings trilogy due to it lacking the beauty and seriousness the original series had. According to Tolkien, this was further butchered by aiming the films to older teens and young adults. 

Christopher hates this version of the series so much that he refuses to meet Jackson.

Sean Bean climbed the mountains of New Zealand daily to get to the set.

Bean had a phobia which made it difficult for him to ride a helicopter up to set. As a result, he was forced to hike up the mountain daily to reach the set on the top of the mountain. 

Sean Bean is known for his portrayal of the character Boromir.

The LotR movies cost less to make compared to the Hobbit films.

It was estimated that the budget needed to make the Hobbit films cost twice as much for all three Lord of the Rings films. This is an estimated worth of $745 million.

Christopher Lee met Tolkien by coincidence.

They came across each other in an Oxford bar one night unexpectedly. Lee is reportedly the only member of the film set to ever meet with J.R.R. Tolkien. 

The Beatles tried to make their own LotR movie.

This version of the film starred all of the original members. However, Tolkien wasn’t too keen on the idea, so the movie was quickly put to an end. 

Merry originally had a different name.

During the first few drafts of the book, Merry was originally named Marmaduke Brandybuck. Later on, Tolkien decided to change her name in the final production of the books.

Peter Jackson’s LotR movies takes almost half a day to finish.

Watching the three films will take you approximately 9-10 hours to complete. Each film takes about 3 or 4 hours to complete. 

All the mountains on Saturn’s largest moon is named after the mountains from LotR.

This was stated so by the International Astronomical Union. The mountain range found on Titan is referred to as Doom Mons, which is named after Mt. Doom. 

Elijah Wood immersed himself in the role of Frodo for his audition tape.

He filmed his audition in the middle of the woods. Additionally, he also had his homemade hobbit costume for the part. 

Thanks to this, he is now a well-known actor that brought his character to life.

Lord of the rings facts
Image by Andrew Martin

John Rhys-Davies refused to get his matching Elvish tattoo with his fellowship.

Among the 9 cast members for the fellowship, he was the only one who did not want to get inked. However, the fellowship tattoos were technically completed by Davie’s stunt double

All 9 cast members have the number tattooed onto their bodies in different locations.

Tolkien did not receive the total amount he was owed for the LotR Trilogy.

Originally he had only received a total amount of $62,500 which was around $150 million short. After a lengthy lawsuit, Tolkien was finally given the full amount he was owed. 

Filming the destruction of Sauron’s tower was difficult.

The Return of the King debuted sometime in the year 2003. Back then, the memory of the 9/11 incident was still fresh with most people. Choreographing the scene of Sauron’s tower was a difficult process as creators did not want to make it resemble the World Trade Center attack.

The LotR trilogy could not fully make use of CGI for its effects.

The production of the films required an extensive number of practical effects. Over 10,000 prosthetic facial appliances were used and over 3,500 pairs of hobbit feet were made. However, all the attention to detail was well made which gives its feeling of realism so impactful.

Tolkien originally did not want to name the third book The Return of the King.

Tolkien refused to go with this title because he claimed it revealed too much about the story. This title was chosen by the publisher. 

A rumor around the internet states that the original title was actually: Lord of the Rings: The One Where Something Happens That You Won’t Believe, But You Have To Read It ‘Cause I’m Not Telling, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Tolkien and his wife’s gravestones are engraved with two names from LotR.

Their gravestones are marked with Luthien and Beren. These were two lesser-known characters in the Middle Earth Tolkien created. They were two characters that were deeply in love. The male was a mortal man, and the woman was an immortal elf.

The University of California offers a LotR dorm for its freshmen.

This dorm is thematically named Middle Earth. All of its corridors are also named after the towns and regions of the franchise. 

This is a dream come true for young fans of Lord of the Rings.

Frodo is depicted as a clumsy character in the films.

He is so clumsy that he is seen falling exactly 39 times throughout the whole trilogy. Many fans are annoyed by this character and often wonder why he was chosen by Aragorn. 

Christopher Lee has always wanted to play the role of Gandalf.

However, Jackson believed he was too old to play the role due to the fight scenes he would be required to do. Instead, he was given the role of Saruman. 

While it wasn’t exactly his dream role, he still enjoys being part of the cast that brought the franchise to life.

Nicolas Cage was originally supposed to play the role of Aragorn.

He refused the role mainly due to family obligations. Daniel Day-Lewis was next in line for this role, however, he also refused to take it up.

Lord of the rings facts
Image by Empireonline

The fight scenes were choreographed by an Olympic fencer.

Bob Anderson worked closely with the cast to teach them the fight choreography for all three films. He is also known for helping to choreograph the fighting scenes in Star Wars as well. 

Anderson states that Aragorn was the best swordsman he’s ever trained during his career.

Viggo Mortensen did his stunts without a double.

While filming, Mortensen did not use a stunt double and also used a real steel sword while filming. Despite having to shoot particular scenes over and over again, Boyd believes that Mortensen enjoyed himself greatly. 

Orlando Bloom broke his ribs during filming.

He was thrown from a horse while filming the Two Towers scene. However, he was able to get back on set the very next day. 

Videos online show his castmates teasing him about his complaints about the injury.

John Rhy-Davies is the tallest actor in the fellowship.

Most viewers did not know this considering he played Gimli the Dwarf. This is also proof of how detailed the special effects were for the movie despite not having the CGI we know today. 

Peter Jackson’s daughter makes several cameos throughout the films.

She is found playing the role of an attractive female hobbit, a child in Minas Tirith, and Helm’s deep refugee. Samwise Gamgee’s daughter in the film was also portrayed by his real-life daughter. 

Denethor could not light the pyre on fire.

This was mainly due to Gandalf’s horse refusing to be near the flame. To fix this, the film crew had to set up a glass panel for the flame. 

It was placed in front of the lens so that it would project as a real flame in the camera.

Green ping pong balls were used as stand-ins.

Often, Ian McKellen would use these ping pong balls for adding in CGI character later. This method was used mainly in the movie the Fellowship of the Ring. 

The Queen of Denmark illustrated the Danish edition of LotR.

She used a pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer for its publication. Her illustrations were also used for the British editions of the series. 

Nazgul screeches were made with plastic cups.

This noise is known to torment the characters in the series. The sound crew was able to produce this sound by recording the noises of plastic cups being scraped together. 

This incredibly simple trick created one of the most iconic sound effects in movie history.

The Gollum Effect was loosely based on the withdrawal symptoms of heroin addicts.

Writer Venkatesh Rao stated in a published article that the Gollum’s behavior mirrors archetypal addicts who have now become a shell of their former selves. Rao also examined how this affects them since the ring does not kill them prematurely.

Lord of the Rings facts
Image by Vicki Lynn

The filming of the battle of Helm’s Deep took forever to finish.

It took an estimated four months to finish filming the whole thing. What made it more difficult was that they could only film scenes for this battle during the night.

Gollums were originally kind creatures.

A whole chapter was re-written when Tolkien realized that it would not have made sense for them to be so kind. He stated that due to the corrosion of the ring, they would not have been so willing to give the ring away.

The Dead Marshes were said to be based on Tolkien’s experience in WWI.

Tolkien served in the British Army during the early 1910s. Specifically, he served in the battle of the Somme. 

The whole franchise is crucially based on Tolkien’s experience during his time in the army. Additionally, he included his son’s experience during WWII as well.

Sean Astin was knocked unconscious during filming.

He was knocked on the head by a wooden loom located on the set of Rivendell. Much later, Frodo also injures himself by stepping on broken glass. 

This required over 20 stitches on his foot.

The LotR franchise has won every award it was nominated for.

In total, the franchise has won 11 Oscars, with the most notable being its Best Picture award. This makes it one of very few films that have won all nominations it has been it.