The Lord of the Rings film trilogy is so complex and jam-packed that fans have been trying to unravel its mysteries for 15 years. Even with all of that work, there are still plenty of things about the original trilogy that fans are unaware of. Peter Jackson is an enormous Lord of the Rings fan, and that love gave him a knowledge that he utilizes throughout the trilogy. Because Jackson’s knowledge is so extensive, he was able to add Easter eggs to the trilogy that help to make the world feel vivid and alive.
These little tidbits or Easter eggs may take the form of callbacks, clever dialogue, casting, or homages to other adaptations of Tolkien’s work. Each one of these offers proof of the level of detail that Jackson wanted to infuse into this entire trilogy. Jackson proved himself the perfect person to adapt this massive trilogy for the screen. He knew every inch of the world, and was able to infuse life into the smallest moments. There are plenty of reasons to praise Jackson’s direction, and his attention to detail is almost certainly one of them. Without that level of detail, the series would never have truly come to life.
Here are 15 Things Even Die-Hard Lord of the Rings Fans Missed.
15 Odo Proudfoot
Odo Proudfoot is not the best-known name in Lord of the Rings, but for die-hard fans, Jackson’s adaptation worked so well because of its attention to the details like this. This seemingly insignificant shot of Odo Proudfoot actually shares similarities with a similar shot of Proudfoot in the 1978 animated adaptation of Lord of the Rings.
Although that series was met with a mixed reaction, Jackson’s commitment to replicating those kinds of minor details shows how steeped he was in the history of this trilogy. There probably aren’t many people who noticed this parallel, but those who did only came to appreciate the detail of these films even more. Jackson cared about this story, and that’s why he was able to tell it so well.
14 Gandalf's Staff Has a Pipe Holder
Gandalf is a fascinating figure because he is incredibly powerful, but that power does not eliminate his personality. Gandalf is a genial man, and he would like nothing more than to simply kick back and smoke his pipe with his hobbit friends. Unfortunately, he’s also a powerful wizard who keeps finding himself in the middle of grand adventures.
In spite of his adventures, Gandalf’s ready to relax whenever he gets the chance. In fact, he has a pipe holder built into his staff that gives him the opportunity to have it ready whenever he needs it. When Gandalf is reborn as Gandalf the White, he loses his staff, and his pipe with it. It’s probably for the best. This new Gandalf is much more serious.
13 Flight of the Concord's Brett McKenzie Played an Elf
There are plenty of cameos in this trilogy, and some of them have been well-discussed in the years since the films were released. One of the more obscure is Brett McKenzie, a member of Flight of the Concords who was an Elven Escort in Rivendell. There are a number of notable elves throughout the series, but McKenzie’s character definitely wasn’t one of them.
Still, like Game of Thrones and other popular fantasy series, cameos were a part of the deal. Jackson himself made several cameos throughout the trilogy, and Stephen Colbert was given a chance to appear in The Hobbit trilogy. McKenzie is not exactly an exception, then, but his cameo provides yet another thing for die-hard fans to rewatch the series and look out for.
12 Boromir's Noble Father
The dialogue for this trilogy is, for the most part, completely natural. Although the world of Lord of the Rings is completely fantastical, the dialogue always made sense, and never seemed too expository or wordy. Of course, there were some cases where Jackson simply couldn’t help himself. During one scene, when Boromir is discussing his father, he describes him as a noble man.
While we eventually come to learn that Boromir’s father is anything but noble, in that moment the scene seems like a son speaking about a father he deeply loves and admires. The scene also has another meaning though, because the actor playing Boromir’s father is played by John Noble. It turns out he really is a noble man, at least in one way.
11 Sean Astin's Daughter Plays Sam's Daughter
Samwise Gamgee is the heart and soul of this entire trilogy, and Sean Astin plays the role beautifully. He saves Frodo and helps him destroy the ring. He helps his friend, even when his friend rejects that help. Although Frodo is forever scarred by his journey, Sam gets the happy ending that he deserves, complete with children of his own.
In the scenes with Sam's children, Astin’s own daughter played one of Sam’s children. Using Astin’s daughter doesn’t just make for a cool cameo, it also further underlines just how happy Sam is with his quiet life in the Shire. He has a family that he genuinely loves. Sam has had enough adventures to last him a lifetime, and he’s ready to settle down and live a quiet, simple life.
10 Ian McKellan Based Gandalf's Accent on Tolkien's
Ian McKellan is a deeply gifted actor, and his performance as Gandalf helped to define the course of the entire series. McKellan is a British man, but the accent he uses for the character of Gandalf is different than his own. In fact, McKellan based his accent as Gandalf on J.R. Tolkien himself, the creator of the entire universe of Middle-earth.
This idea is a rather brilliant one, as Gandalf is probably the closest analog to Tolkien inside the original trilogy. He’s the knowledge-bringer; a good character who uses knowledge as his greatest weapon. Gandalf’s authority is only increased by McKellan’s decision to mimic Tolkien’s accent. It was a brilliant decision from an actor who knows how to make every character he plays come to life.
9 Ian Holm Voiced Frodo
Ian Holm, the actor behind Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, had had other encounters with Tolkien’s popular story before signing onto the role. In 1981, Holm had lent his voice to a 1981 radio adaptation of Lord of the Rings for the BBC. In that production, Holm was the voice of Frodo.
It’s fitting then, not just that Holm is in Jackson’s adaptation, but that he portrays Bilbo, who plays such a formative role in the beginning of Frodo’s journey. Holm’s performance in the role is quite phenomenal and suggests Bilbo’s history without making it too explicit. Holm was able to draw on his own history with Lord of the Rings to bring history to Bilbo, and the results are evident on screen.
8 Bag End's Portraits
Peter Jackson loved to insert cameos into Lord of the Rings. That fact is fairly well-known. Jackson played at least one character in every chapter of the original trilogy. What fewer people may know is that Jackson also included portraits of himself and his wife Fran Walsh on the mantle in Bag End.
These portraits are minor details, but they’re also a subtle clue for fans to root out. These kinds of details aren’t meant to be examined or explored on the first watch. They’re the details that keep fans coming back to the trilogy, even though they’ve seen it many times before.
Jackson and Walsh are meant to be Bilbo’s parents, though Jackson may be hard to recognize, as he’s lacking his signature bushy beard.
7 The Wizard of Oz Reference
The Two Towers almost ends the trilogy a movie early. When Frodo and Sam arrive at the black gate, it seems like they may have the opportunity to sneak into Mordor before the series ends. Ultimately, Frodo and Sam decide that entering Mordor through the front door is not the best idea.
This scene shares some striking similarities with a scene in The Wizard of Oz in which the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow are led to the Witch’s fortress by Toto in order to rescue Dorothy. The three see the Witch’s army marching through the gate, and eventually decide to steal their uniforms to get inside, in much the same way that Frodo and Sam eventually steal Orc armor. Jackson clearly noticed the parallels between these two plotlines and decided to emphasize them.
6 The Source of the Ringwraith's Scream
The screams of the Ringwraiths inspire fear in the hearts of every character in this story. The screams meant these unbeatable demons were coming for the ring, and there was little that our heroes could do to stop them. They are iconic, but many fans may not know where they originally came from.
Fran Walsh, Jackson’s spouse and co-write - a key reason the trilogy worked as well as it did - once came down with a throat infection that radically changed the sound of her voice, and Jackson based the sound of the ringwraiths’ screams on her voice. Luckily, Walsh had a good sense of humor. Otherwise, she may have taken slight offense to her husband using her voice as inspiration for one of the most demonic parts of the story.
5 The Hobbits' Hiding Place is an Homage to the Animated Series
The 1978 adaptation of Lord of the Rings was a decidedly mixed bag, but part of what Jackson brought to these films was a deep and abiding love for what had already been done in attempts to adapt Tolkien’s work. The 1978 animated series was one previous attempt, and it’s one that Jackson drew from significantly. In fact, one of the most iconic shots of Fellowship is an homage to the animated series.
That shot, of the hobbits hiding in a nook beneath a tree, just barely able to escape the detection of the ringwraiths who are searching them out, is lifted from the 1978 series. This shot is one of the defining moments of the entire series, and the fact that it was lifted out of the animated series only proves Jackson’s credentials for these adaptations.
4 Parallels Between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings
There are plenty of parallels between the acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy and its successor, which was met with a more mixed response. After all, the two trilogies were directed by the same man. The most notable connection is the troll which the Fellowship stumbles upon in The Fellowship of the Ring. These are the same trolls that turn to stone in The Hobbit.
There are also several locations that turn up in both trilogies. Weathertop is a notable example, as it provides the setting for one of Azog’s meetings and also the backdrop for Aragorn’s confrontation with the ringwraiths. In the mines of Moria, you can also see the skeletons of several of the dwarves that accompany Bilbo on his adventure. No wonder Gimli’s so torn up about it.
3 The Hidden Meaning of Bormir's Final Moments
Boromir’s death is a tragedy in part because it comes just as he begins to redeem himself. Throughout the entirety of The Fellowship of the Ring, it seems like Boromir is a danger to Frodo and the rest of the hobbits. When he eventually lets the hobbits go, and sacrifices himself to see them to safety, he reveals his own nobility.
The score during Boromir’s death scene emphasizes the tragedy of his death. During the scene, you can hear singing in Elvish, which translates to "I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness; I love only that which they defend.” This quote is not only fitting, it’s also lifted from the books, where Boromir’s brother Faramir says it. This story is about protecting what we love, not killing the things we hate.
2 John Howe and Alan Lee Cameo in the Prologue
Peter Jackson gets a lot of credit for bringing Tolkien’s world to life, but he could never have done it alone. He had plenty of help, and a huge part of it came from the work of illustrators John Howe and Alan Lee. These two were responsible for creating the world of Middle-earth, from the terror and heat of Mount Doom to the beautiful halls of Rivendell.
Jackson gave Howe and Lee a thank you in the form of on-screen appearances during the prologue that starts Fellowship of the Ring. As Galadriel explains how Sauron came to power and was defeated, we see nine men who were granted rings of power, and eventually became Nazgul. Two of those men, at the left and right of the screen, are played by Lee and Howe.
1 Theoden Goes Out Like Vader
King Theoden is one of the more tragic characters in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. When we first meet him, he’s a hollowed out man. Although members of the fellowship manage to restore his former self, Theoden doesn’t get to be a valiant king for very long. He dies during the battle of Pelennor Fields in Return of the King, and his final moment with Eowyn closely resembles Darth Vader’s final scene with Luke in Return of the Jedi.
During that iconic scene, Luke tells Vader that he has to save him. His father replies saying “You already have, Luke.” As Theoden lays dying, Eowyn insists on saving him as well. “You already did, Eowyn,” is Theoden’s response.
Everyone loves Star Wars, and apparently Peter Jackson is no exception.
Are there any other little details in Lord of the Rings that we missed? Share them in the comments!