Posted by Julie on
Kia Ora Friends,
This week I had the opportunity to meet with Aragorn’s Stunt Double Kirk Maxwell!
He graciously gave me an hour and a half of his time. I asked as many questions as I could, regarding his time and work on The Lord of the Rings movie Trilogies.
Here are some snippets of our meeting. For those of you keen to meet Kirk in person and hear his amazing stories, book our August or September 2018 Lord of the Ring Tours where he will be a special guest.
What roles did you play?
“Aragorn, Rohirrim, Gondorian, Orcs and Uruk Hai”
What was your main role?
“I started out as one of the stunt performers then got chosen to be the Aragorn's stunt double, then I became the Assitant Sword Master to Bob Anderson. Then for the pick ups after principal photography was completed I came back as the NZ Stunt Coordinator and choreographed the Stunt sequences and all the fight scenes and was Stunt Double for Aragorn.”
“After we had run through each scene a couple of times Viggo would then step in as Aragorn and shoot the scene. Viggo was a very quick study and famous for doing one take. The director would always want another take though for safety.”
How dangerous were they?
“It was my job to put together the fight scenes, isolate the hazards and find ways of delivering the scene with minimal calculated risks. I was aware and concerned with the safety of the Stunt team and the actors that would follow in our footsteps. The environment of each location was very challenging.”
Do you have a favourite location or stunt?
“I enjoyed all of the fight scenes. I have a martial arts background and enjoyed the physicality of the challenge. Doing fight scenes is like performing a very aggressive dance and when the timing clicks it’s very energizing and rewarding. Bob Anderson taught me that every fight scene is like a conversation between two swords”
What was it like working with Viggo?
“It was great, I learned so much. Viggo was a very physical person, had no fear and totally absorbed his character. He threw himself into everything 110%. He got on well with the Stunt team and was one of us. He also did many acts of random kindness that his fellow crew appreciated.”
What was sword mastery like and working with Bob Anderson?
“Yes Bob was a very good drill Sargent. He was a legend… he was a PT instructor for in the British Army, an ex Olympic Fencing coach and he started his career as a stunt double for Errol Flynn back in the day. His credit list was amazing…Bond, ZORRO, LOTR, Pirates of the Caribbean etc..
After he left the project I took over Bobs duties of fight choreography and training our actors”
My LEGIT question would be more like "what was the best part of working on LOTR" or "What advice would you give someone who wants to get into stunt work?”
“The best part is the people, we were a family. I recommend you build a base: skills, body work, fighting, know your rigging and be responsible for your own safety plan and calculate risks.”
I would love to know which stunt from the LOTR he is most proud of. ‘Stunties’ don't often get the spotlight, much respect to him!
“Everything! Especially the creative expression of choreographing the sword fighting sequences. I was very fortunate to be in the position of Doubling for Viggo, it’s a part of my history I will always cherish.”
Did he feel left out when Liv demanded on kissing Viggo, and not the stunt double? I read that long ago ....
“No, not at all. I would have been too shy, that’s the actors job.”
Viggo as a prankster: Okay, then what was Viggo's best prank on him? ;)
“Viggo had a very dry sense of humour, sometimes you didn’t know if he was serious or just having a laugh. He was very laid back, he would walk around Cuba Street (Wellington) in bare feet. He would go fishing and ride his horse as much as possible. He was a very accomplished rider. He did however develop a thing of head butting the fellow Stunt team members at social gatherings….there were plenty of sore heads. Enough said…”
I remember Bob Anderson mentioning on one of the DVD’s that Viggo was a natural with sword work. Did Viggo do all his sword stunts, or did the stunt double do some of them (which ones, if so?)
“Viggo was a very quick study. The scene on Amon Hen where Aragorn takes on 30 Uruk hai, we had practiced that for 6 weeks. Viggo had two weeks and got it right in one take. It was a vicious and aggressive battle, Viggo hit every member and bent 2 swords.”
What was the most difficult stunt that you did?
“Each had its own difficulty either by way of location, rigging, falling, fighting etc. Helms Deep would have been the most challenging though due to everything being shot at night in the rain..it was an exhausting time for everyone involved.”
Did he have any accidents and near misses like Viggo Mortensen did?
“Yes at Helms Deep I was on the ladder with another stunt performer who was the Arwen stunt double, and on one of the rehearsals the ladder went the wrong way and hit the ground hard. This is why the rehearsal process is vital to getting the shot right.”
Did he adopt any of Viggo's method acting ideas to stay in character at all times? To ensure continuity?
“Yes, I would practice his movements and mannerisms, using them in his roles.”
What other movies has he been involved in since LOTR?
“Pirates of the Caribbean, I was one of Jonny Depp’s Stunt Doubles and also Will Turner for Orlando plus being a Pirate and a stunt double for one of the digital characters.”
Posted by Julie on
Join us on a Middle-earth adventure and even dress as your favourite characters. Enjoy role playing at your favourite movie locations with other like-minded people.
Join us this winter (August – September) to experience fun, friendship, special guests and snow!
For our Australian friends come and experience a Middle-earth winter and even add some skiing to the end of your journey.
For our fellow Hobbits out there, you will get to meet Rossie Cotton and for our Dwarves out there you will get to meet Dori!
Our passionate guides are LOTR fans themselves!
Direct bookings get a welcome pack with a Red Carpet Tours beanie and fellowship leaf broach.
Posted by Julie on
Join us on a Tour between June-September and experience a beautiful New Zealand winter.
All winter tours through June-September now include:
This winter, begin your Middle-earth adventure by meeting our beloved Rosie Cotton, actress Sarah McLeod. Sarah will have special stories and photos to share with us.
This is wonderful preparation for our visit to Hobbiton the next day. Enjoy winter in the Shire with a guided tour and festive feast lunch in the Green Dragon Marquee.
Actors Jed Brophy (who plays Nori from The Hobbit and Snaga and Sharku from LOTR) and Mark Hadlow (who plays Dori from The Hobbit) will be presenting for us during our winter Tours. You will love their stories, photos and great humour. Its always a very special day!
Daniel Reeve the Calligrapher and Cartographer will inspire and amaze you with his creative works from both movie trilogies. He will create beautiful custom souvenirs just for you.
This is your chance to have a LOTR adventure in a New Zealand winter wonderland where scenery, locations, activities and fun await.
Posted by Julie on
We are nearing the end of 2017 and what a wonderful year it has been!
There have been some amazing Fellowships and friendships made along the way.
We have also had many wonderful guest presentations from the likes of Sarah McLeod (Rosie Cotton), Mark Hadlow (Dori), John Callen (Oin) and Jed Brophy (Nori).
All direct bookings through our website will now receive a welcome package worth NZ$100 which includes: a free airport transfer to the tour hotel.
Posted by Julie on
As fans of the books and movies ourselves, we strive to create a fun atmosphere for groups to flourish in. We get people from all walks of life and all parts of the world on our Tours. It’s not only a great way to immerse yourself in everything LOTR‘s but also a great way to make life long connections. But don’t just take our word for it, here are some comments from our previous passengers:
"Its so difficult to narrow it down to a few but here are some of my favourite memories: At Hobbiton re-enacting Bilbo's running scene, standing in front of Bag End and having a pint in the Green Dragon – I still can't believe this happened! Climbing 'Edoras' and admiring the view from the top, while we play LOTR tunes in the background - incredible! Endless posing with weapons and recreating various scenes from the films. Creating a fellowship of our own, that will last a lifetime!"
"Well after 3 Tours with you guys I have about a million fond memories and life changing experiences. The first time I arrived at the remade Hobbiton movie set when that music came on in the bus... oh my gosh it was surreal. I was so glad that I had dressed as a hobbit and it was lovely to be nicknamed 'Rosie' by the rest of the group.
Back after the Return of the King when I first toured North Island with you I have very fond memories of madly running around in the Powderhorn Chateau getting photos in Peter Jackson, Orlando, Sam and Frodo's rooms. I am still in touch with the people from that tour. You really do nurture lifelong friendships with the best people.
On the Sketching Tour, apart from benefitting from the awesome tuition and company of Daniel Reeve and learning to write like Hobbit artists, I loved getting the chance to recreate the scene where Sam follows Frodo into the water at Mavora Lakes. I can't wait to plan my next trip. Book me in on the museum opening Tour!"
"I almost travelled through New Zealand with a different tour company. That would have been a huge mistake. What really made this trip incredibly was the amazing group of people that I got to experience it with. I was a little nervous going in as a single and as an introvert that I would have trouble experiencing everything to the full. I didn't know how I would feel being asked to act out scenes from the movies or sing on a table, but I found that from our first experience together in Hobbiton I felt like I was traveling with a bunch of friends. Meeting fellow nerds and going on this journey together was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I wouldn't trade that for anything."
"The fondest memory for me was meeting such excellent and admirable hobbits from all over the world, who had the same passion and love for the world of Lord of the Rings as I did. Before this trip, I would often hide my passion (and extreme wealth of knowledge) because all of my friends would laugh at me or call me a nerd. But then I came on this trip, and I felt so accepted and at home with these strangers from all around the world, who I can now call lifelong friends. It was in the little moments with these newfound friends that I have the fondest memories and I shall cherish them forever. Thanks to Red Carpet Tours, I finally found my people!"
"There were so many highs on the trip! From Mordor and Mt. Doom!! The Powderhorn and staying in Orlando Bloom’s room. Gollum’s Pool, Wellywood, Lothlorien, WETA, Daniel Reeves, and the Middle Earth Market Place! The costume party of grand magnificence. Helicopter ride to Dimrill Dale, climbing Edoras, Pelennor Fields, Mavora Lakes and Poolburn…. And so much more…
But the highlight from both tours is the lifelong friendships that we have formed with the Red Carpet Tours fellowship. The friendships are truly lifelong friendships. We keep in touch on Facebook or on Email. We keep in touch with some of our fellowship on a regular basis.
Our friendships are lifelong! We will be back again…"
Join us on a Tour and experience the unforgettable journey for yourself...
Posted by Julie on
As we see out the final months of winter, we are looking forward to welcoming in Spring time down here in New Zealand.
It’s the time of year to see baby lambs taking their first steps and melting snow revealing breath-taking views of mountains beneath.
The Hobbiton Movie Set is especially magical this time of year with the flowers in bloom creating colourful 360-degree views of the Shire. The vineyards are in their prime and the waterfalls are flowing. Its also the best time of year to visit the spectacular Milford Sound and take in all of its impressive scenery.
Its a special time to be in Middle-Earth. Gone are the night frosts and icy dew covering the fields. Instead open skies with an array of stars fill the night air and flowers blossom over the hills.
For more information go to our LOTR Tours tab and for bookings head to
this link: https://red-carpet-tours.rezdy.com/catalog/100263/14-day-tours?iframe=true]
Photo sources: https://www.hairyfeetwaitomo.co.nz (Hobbit Trollshaw location we visit each month)
Posted by Julie on
Many of our fellowships bring with them hand-made costumes to really feel like a part of the scene. These costumes create great opportunities for photos, memories and amusement of course! Below are some of our dedicated fans in their LOTR attire:
At our Hobbit Premier party in Wellington we had an amazing and impressive selection of costumes and characters present! Sir Richard Taylor himself attended and chose the top three costumes of the night and awarded the lucky three with Weta Workshop merchandise for their creative efforts and dedication. Below are just some of the amazing outfits our fans created and wore to our party:
Dressing up is not always for everyone, but it sure is a lot of fun just to admire
others costumes and be amongst such like-minded people!
Posted by Julie on
I still think Rosie is just lovely. The love that Sam has for her all the way through his struggles is so sweet and sad when he doesn’t know if he’s going to ever get back to her.
There was a really great sense of family and fun on set. The boys joking around. The happiness of Hobbiton. The beautiful costumes. The wonderful sets with real flowers and carrots growing in the gardens.
They were all so friendly and funny. The great thing about working with Sean was that he had his family with him so on a few occasions we all hung out together. I really do think that that is part of what makes the last scene in the final movie so poignant. He was there with his daughter playing Elanor and I was there with my daughter playing baby Frodo.
I still get fan mail! It will always be a proud memory to have been involved in such an iconic movie trilogy. And not just because the films are so well known but also because it was just such a lovely experience working on them. It surprises me that people still recognise me from the films – having had four children and growing my own apples and feijoas must be keeping me well connected to my Rosie Cotton character. ;)
Can I sign their photo. ;) I also get asked lots of questions about the intricacies of the embroidery on my costumes. Oh, and also whether it was hard to dance in Hobbit feet.
We are so lucky to live here! So many beautiful places to see. Given that it’s autumn, Arrowtown would be a must. But personally my connection is with the beaches – especially Whangamata where I grew up and the magical Whatipu which I love.
Posted by Julie on
A huge thank you to Dori for being part of the Red Carpet Tours family! He shared a few moments and memories with us.
How was Dori going to take shape. Prosthetics, makeup, costume and weapons essentially were going to determine his look, but maintaining the character for nearly two years in production was going to be a major part of the challenge. I think what helped was the brothers back-story. Dori, Nori and Ori were a pretty close family! Sure, there were squabbles and dislikes but ultimately they had each other's backs. Blood is thicker than water.
It's so hard to choose one, because New Zealand is so amazing to travel anywhere. I think all of the locations were outstanding. Pelorus river was exciting, going down it in barrels and seeing the grandeur of Paradise valley in Queenstown. There was something special about every location. Just like the movies - we were on an adventure, and the journey within the journey was traveling to the locations.
There were a number of them but probably the best was the barrels in the water race! A big water ride was built to shoot the close-up scenes in Upper Hutt in Wellington. It was like a Disney ride and we felt like kids in an amusement park. Two huge Diesel engines propelled water round this huge oval water channel the size of a football field and we got in barrels and were propelled around it we just had fun. It was brilliant, crazy and amazing.
I'm trying to get a film a mate has written up and running, called SWANSONG. It's a cop serial-killer movie, and the script is a page-turner. Stef Harris is the writer/director, I'm playing a cop and Jed Brophy is playing the serial killer. It's compelling. We are working pretty hard at getting some finance together but the process is pretty slow. Takes forever to bankroll but we believe firmly in the project and will keep sourcing interest. I have a play later in the year for ATC and I've been cast in a film happening mid-year. My Navy work will pick up again with a new project, I hope, and my one-man-show MAMIL (Middle aged Man in Lycra) hopefully may get another couple of seasons. All in all there's a bit on the horizon!
I am really enjoying meeting the fans on the Red Carpet Tours. I enjoy reliving the stories and the pictures as much as they do! Re-telling the excitement of days on set and the experience keeps it fresh in my ageing mind. I look forward to meeting more!
Probably the ones addressed to The Wizard himself, but there were a few in all the films so all of them I guess. Family squabbles with the brothers were good ones.
Posted by Julie on
Impossible question! I always love going to Hobbiton, and I’d never had the evening banquet there before, so that was really nice. Trollshaws was also a new experience – loved it! Meeting Ian Hayman – what a character! All the locations are fantastic. I also loved walking on the Routeburn Track on Day 14. But perhaps the favourite part was seeing the artists flourish as they learned new skills and techniques, and so many people trying calligraphy and loving it. And the whole group bonding – it really is a fellowship by the time the tour is done.
Oh, and the earthquake was pretty impressive too!
I did my first presentations with Red Carpet Tours in 2004, after a chance meeting at an LOTR-related event. I’ve done the presentations ever since, apart from 2-3 years off while making The Hobbit. It has been a fascinating journey, and every group is unique – but invariably wonderful.
I’ve been asked to do a solo exhibition at the Kapiti Gallery this February-March, so I’m busy preparing for that. Oh, and I’ve just made new signage for Hobbiton – that’s a nice on-going relationship. There’s the possibility of working on Mortal Engines, but I won’t know that for a while - and if it happens, I won’t be able to tell you!
Work on subjects for which you have a passion, as this will bring out your best. Think about composition. Use light for maximum advantage – it’s all about the light.
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can.
Pursuing it with weary feet, Until it joins some larger way, Where many paths and errands meet.
And wither then? I cannot say.
Not all those who wander are lost.
Don’t get so good that you steal my job!
No, seriously, try ALL aspects of lettering – there are so many more facets to calligraphy than what I get time to demonstrate for Red Carpet folk. Do all the styles, use all the different tools, go really big and really small, invent alphabets, create a font – become multi-talented. Each part reinforces all the others.
And probably more than anything, SHOW your work, and learn from other people’s work.