A freak surfing accident forced director Peter Jackson to film a key actor’s scene in The Lord of the Rings from just one angle.
Aside from nearly being killed in a minefield, filming of The Lord of the Rings was no easy task with lead actor Viggo Mortensen sustaining an injury that forced Peter Jackson to change an iconic scene.
Surfing accident forced Jackson to adapt on the fly during The Lord of the Rings
Due to the extensive filming schedule of Peter Jackson’s original The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, there was plenty of downtime for the cast to enjoy themselves in beautiful New Zealand landscapes.
Some of the cast even took up surfing for the very first time on the picturesque coastline; however, this activity would turn sour for the veteran filmmaker when lead actor Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) suffered a nasty facial injury.
Whilst out surfing one day with The Lord of the Rings co-stars Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan, Mortensen was in an accident after being struck in the face by his surfboard, suffering a black eye and some heavy swelling on the right side of his face.
As the makeup department could only do so much to hide the injury, director Peter Jackson decided that the only way to get around the issue was to film Mortensen’s Aragorn from just one angle.
So, if you go back and watch the scene in the Mines of Moria, Aragorn is actually only filmed from the left. Jackson later commented, “He [Mortensen] arrived on a Monday morning with a puffy face, we had to film his left profile, which explains why some shots seem weird. I had no choice but to shoot otherwise.”
In one of the cast commentary DVD for the franchise, Boyd is cited as revealing:
“He had the biggest black eye you’ve ever seen. Initially the hobbits were worried their friend had more than a bruise. When I asked if he was alright, he said, ‘I don’t know, am I?’ And when Viggo says that, you know something’s wrong.”
In a later interview with Entertainment Weekly, Mortensen laughed when asked about his surfing skills: “Let’s just say I’m not as good as the hobbits.”
Unfortunately, the surfing accident was only the tip of the iceberg, with Mortensen making a habit out of injuring himself on set during The Lord of the Rings filming.
The iconic actor also suffered a chipped tooth from a fight scene during The Two Towers and even broke two of his toes when kicking an Uruk-Hai helmet when he, Legolas, and Gimli find traces of the group taking Merry and Pippin to Isengard.
There was even a moment when Mortensen thought he might drown whilst filming a scene in a river. In an interview with The Mirror, archived by Free Library, the actor explained how “I was in a river, down on the South Island, when I got caught in a current. I had all my gear on and was pulled straight to the bottom of the river. The water was cold so that I could feel my lungs constricting.”
“It was one of those beautiful New Zealand rivers and I remember, just as I started to black out, that it was a really sunny day and that the river looked lovely. I did think, ‘This is really it’, because nobody knew I was there. Then, somehow, I managed to kick against a rock and get myself out of there. It was just a brief, very dangerous moment but, of all the things that happened during this movie, that was the one where I genuinely thought my time had come.”