Rings Star Fired After Just Two Days Of Filming
17 October 1999
© New Line Productions Inc.
The cast and crew of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film project are reeling after one of the stars was sensationally sacked after two days of filming. Irish actor Stuart Townsend, who had been cast to play the key role of Aragorn, was dumped on Wednesday and left New Zealand the same day, insiders on the set told the Sunday Star-Times. The shock dismissal was reportedly ordered by Jackson over what a senior studio executive described as "director-actor creative chemistry". It is understood no formal announcement was made and the dumping filtered through to bemused cast and crew on Thursday.
Sources said the trilogy's producers were already negotiating with Viggo Mortensen (A Perfect Murder, GI Jane, Crimson Tide) to fill the vacated role. Townsend's dismissal had thrown the first week of filming in Wellington into disarray, forcing at least one and a half days of scheduled scenes to be postponed.
Just one week into a marathon 18 month shoot, the project is already believed to be behind schedule. However, crew morale has been boosted by screen siren Liv Tyler's arrival in Wellington. She is playing the elf princess Arwen. It is understood she ate lunch on the set on Friday, though her first scenes are still weeks away.
Jackson's production company confirmed Townsend had been dismissed but refused to comment further. Rumours on the set suggested Townsend (26), the star of the British comedy Shooting Fish either looked too young for the part or that Jackson was under pressure from studio bosses to replace the actor with a more recognisable star. New Line Productions president Michael De Luca has reportedly said: "It's not over any other names, just director-actor creative chemistry."
A spokeswoman for Townsend's London agent confirmed the dismissal yesterday but referred all other comment to the film's publicist.
Townsend was to have played Aragorn, a human raised by elves, who is later revealed as the rightful king of Gondor.
The central character enters the first book at an early stage and guides hero Frodo Baggins (played by Elijah Wood) on his quest to destroy the all powerful ring.
Sources said Townsend's dismissal forced scenes scheduled for Thursday and Friday to be postponed. Several local actors hired as extras, some of whom have grown beards for the part, were told by their casting agents their scenes had been postponed. No reason was given for the delay.
Hollywood entertainment newspaper Variety reported yesterday Mortensen was negotiating with the film's backers to replace Townsend.
Mortensen (41) is a stranger to New Zealand but not to some of the country's leading film talents. He had a role in Jane Campion's Portrait of a Lady and in his latest film, A Walk on the Moon, he stars with Anna Paquin.
Last edited: 17 March 2010 08:01:53
© Sunday Star-Times.