On May 31, actor Josh Gad brought together the cast of Lord of the Rings on Zoom, posting the video on his channel as part of his series, Reunited Apart. To see the reunion yourself, the video is available for free viewing online here.
The gathering begins small, with Sean Astin (Sam) being the first to join Gad, who mentions that more people may be joining in. Moments later Elijah Wood (Frodo) pops on, followed quickly by Dominic Monaghan (Merry) and Billy Boyd (Pippin). The four of them make up the primary group that leaves The Shire at the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring.
Just as in the movies, more allies join in along the way, starting with Orlando Bloom. They joke that the cast is always on a video call together, hinting that they all stay connected and are very close friends. Sir Ian McKellan joins in, quoting his iconic character of Gandalf.
Director Peter Jackson and writer Phillipa Boyens are added to the call and Jackson is wowed to see so many of the cast together, saying “Is this a hallucination?” They all start laughing and playing around immediately, as if no time has passed since they were all together in person.
They discuss the writing of the series with Phillipa, who describes how some of the iconic Gandalf lines such as “You shall not pass!” and “A wizard is never late. Nor is he early; he arrives precisely when he means to,” were written by her and not pulled from the books. Jackson reveals that Viggo Mortenson (Aragorn) was added to the cast very last second, and that his son, who was a fan of the books, persuaded him to take the role. Moments later, Viggo and Andy Serkis (Gollum) join the party.
Viggo explains that the project was a huge undertaking that was intimidating at first, but also was something he found he could connect to. The first scene he shot was no easy one- Aragorn fighting the wraiths with fire and blade.
Andy Serkis next explains that at first he was cast as strictly a voice actor, and that the motion capture idea was brought up later. Of course, he ended up being on set and having to weather the embarrassment of wearing the unflattering, tight motion capture suit.
The group starts to joke about John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) who had an Easy Boy recliner on set, including when they were on a mountain on location in New Zealand. John is brought onto the call then, wearing his character’s helmet, along with Sean Bean (Boromir).
Jackson explains the hazards that came up with shooting on location, including a time when Bloom and Bean were trapped on a road because of a landslide and had to seek shelter with a New Zealand local until they could be flown out.
Moving to talking about the second of the series, Gad introduces Karl Urban (Eomer), Miranda Otto (Eowyn), and Liv Tyler (Arwen).
They all start to pull out their props that they each got to take from the set. Then they recite lines from scenes that Gad had assigned to them beforehand, including a scene between Gollum and Sam to which Serkis does his character’s voice perfectly on command. Jackson jokes, “How does social distancing work for Smeagle and Gollum?”
Gad asks about learning elvish, and the cast attributes their success to their dialect coach Andrew Jack, who just recently passed away from COVID-19. Otto and Tyler recite a few of their lines in Elvish and old English, showing that they have retained what they learned after all these years.
Gad mentions that one of Sean Bean’s lines has become an internet meme, which Bean agrees to recite.
Composer Howard Shore makes a late appearance in the video. He describes how The Shire theme was the first they composed for the film, and that Jackson and Boyens were immediately taken with it.
A surprise guest joins to engage the group in some Lord of the Rings trivia, Thor: Ragnarok director and New Zealand local Taika Waititi. The trivia reveals some fun facts, including that writer and producer Fran Walsh is the voice behind the screaming wraiths, and that The Two Towers is the only film in which no one wears the ring.
The call wraps up with each of them describing what the shoot meant to them, and how they wished they could do it all again. The video also acts as a fundraiser event, so Gad calls for donations to No Kid Hungry. In less than two days, the video has raised almost $90,000.
Billy Boyd brings the call to an end by singing “Edge of Night,” and they all wave their goodbyes. You can visit Josh Gad’s YouTube channel for more cast reunions here.