Being on set for 438 consecutive days and then for even more dates over three years is grueling. It's taxing on any crew member, but it had to done in order for The Lord of the Rings movie series to become the masterpiece it is.
Seventeen Oscar wins and countless accolades later and you can safely say it was worth every minute spent on it.
The actors, though, were put through their paces as they had to become physically and mentally tough for this trilogy.
It took years of preparation and required them to tap into a strength from within to prepare for these roles. Frankly, every single cast member deserves a round of applause for having the guts to follow through with such an intense project.
That said, some of these actors are already tough guys and gals in the real world. They're only taking what they know from their own lives and bringing it to the big screen.
Others prefer to live a life less frightening and keep it calm – and hey, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, either.
So, join us as we take a look at the 8 Lord Of The Rings Stars Who Are Legitimately Tough (And 7 Who Are Only Tough On Screen).
15 Tough: Orlando Bloom
British actor Orlando Bloom, who portrayed Legolas in The Lord of the Rings series, looks like the kind of guy you'd like to bring home to your parents.
He's charming, well-spoken, and an absolute gentleman whenever he's out and about on the red carpet – far removed from the action heroes he often plays on the big screen.
Yet, in the real world, Bloom knows how to handle himself. In preparation for his role as Danny Stratton in S.M.A.R.T. Chase, he underwent some serious martial arts training and even posted a video of him training with another fighter.
Unlike other actors who wrap themselves up in cotton wool when they aren't filming, Bloom engages in some high-risk activities in his downtime.
In fact, he's broken several bones playing rugby, his right leg while skiing in Switzerland, his left leg in a motorbike crash, and a broken wrist in a snowboarding accident. You'd think all the breaks would stop him, but nope.
Additionally, who could ever forget the time when he slapped the snot out of Justin Bieber at a party?
While it's likely that a Chihuahua could maul Bieber to tears, there's something pleasing about knowing that the pop singer's obnoxious behavior finally resulted in some retribution.
14 Not Tough: Ian McKellen
In all fairness, the classically trained Sir Ian McKellen isn't renowned for action work. He's better recognized for his roles in dramatic productions, which have resulted in him earning six Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, and a Golden Globe Award among many others.
McKellen, who portrayed Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series, takes his craft very seriously and is extremely passionate about the industry.
He gives his all and gets frustrated when the work isn't up to his high standards.
ContactMusic reported that the veteran actor even broke down on the set of The Hobbit.
"In order to shoot the dwarves and a large Gandalf, we couldn't be in the same set. All I had for company was 13 photographs of the dwarves on top of stands with little lights – whoever's talking flashes up. Pretending you're with 13 other people when you're on your own, it stretches your technical ability to the absolute limits," he said.
"And I cried, actually. I cried," McKellen added. "Then I said out loud, 'This is not why I became an actor.' Unfortunately the microphone was on and the whole studio heard."
It's a shame. It sounds like McKellen misses the good ol' pre-CGI days when actors used to act together.
13 Tough: Dominic Monaghan
As Merry Brandybuck in The Lord of the Rings, Dominic Monaghan showed courage when it mattered. He proved that even a tiny hobbit like him could change the course of the world with a simple act of bravery.
Outside of acting, Monaghan loves the great outdoors and all the activities it provides. He's into kayaking, surfing, snowboarding, hiking, and especially football.
His love for football is noted as he's an ardent Manchester United supporter – something that was incorporated into his character Charlie Pace's personality on Lost.
Additionally, Monaghan spends significant time in the gym doing strength and weight training. This helps him stay fresh for his roles as well as all the other activities he engages in.
Honestly, you have to ask yourself where he finds the time for all these things.
In his childhood, Monaghan practiced karate and his combat training came in handy as he took on his Lord of the Rings co-star Elijah Wood in a friendly boxing bout over a World of Warcraft debate.
Monaghan showed off his impressive skills and put the smackdown on Wood, proving that he's the superior hobbit. Watching him move around in the ring it wouldn't surprise us if a role in a boxing movie is in the future for him.
12 Not Tough: Karl Urban
Karl Urban has staked a name for himself by playing tough guys on the big screen. We all know him as Judge Dredd in 2012's Dredd and he also portrayed Éomer in The Lord of the Rings.
Unfortunately, the latter role was somewhat diminished from the source material.
When he's not on set, though, Urban is nothing like the characters he portrays. He spends time with his family and involves himself in charity work.
He's a celebrity ambassador for the New Zealand charity KidsCan, which supports disadvantaged children by providing them with food and clothing.
Urban isn't shy to show his kind heart to his supporters, either. A fan tweeted him, telling him that her niece, Millie, is ill but scared of going to the doctors, but she tried to remind her that Urban's character Leonard McCoy in Star Trek is a doctor to encourage her to go.
Urban responded: "Hi Millie, I'm sorry to hear you have a nasty cough. It would mean the world to me if you would please go to your doctor and get it checked. Recently I had the flu and was very unwell. But I went to my doctor, and now thankfully I'm feeling so much better."
How many celebrities would take the time to do something so small yet so kind for their fans?
11 Tough: Elijah Wood
The casting of Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins was simply genius. Frodo epitomizes the heart and soul of The Lord of the Rings saga, as he took on death-defying odds and proved heroes come in all shapes and sizes.
Forget about Aragon or Legolas, because Frodo is the true MVP of J. R. R. Tolkien's story.
When he's not on screen, Wood isn't scared of standing up for what he believes in – especially on Twitter. When he spotted a website throwing shade at Zack Snyder, he stood up for the director and told them to stop.
Wood also risked the ire of the Star Wars troll community when he tweeted out his support for Kelly Marie Tran after the actress was bullied off the internet by a bunch of 40-year-old delinquents with peanut butter sandwiches for brains.
He tweeted: "[I love Kelly Marie Tran] and her incredible work in The Last Jedi."
Also, as mentioned above, Wood took on co-star Dominic Monaghan in a friendly boxing contest.
Even if Monaghan did get more shots in than him, the fact that he's willing to put it all on the line in front of the whole world shows that Wood has some massive guts.
10 Not Tough: Andy Serkis
Andy Serkis is the motion-capture king of the world. The fact that he hasn't received an Oscar for his outstanding work in The Lord of the Rings as Gollum or The Planet of the Apes as Caesar is simply a tragedy.
Despite the physicality of the characters he's portrayed, Serkis is a sensitive and sentimental gentleman in his personal life.
When quizzed by The Guardian on when he was the most happiest, he responded with: "When my wife Lorraine and I got together in 1990. We were in a play at the Royal Exchange theater in Manchester when we suddenly realized we were falling in love."
You don't see Serkis taking up space in the tabloids for wild behavior, either, as he uses his celebrity to raise awareness for good causes instead.
He is a patron of The Creative Works, which aims to advance education through creative means.
Additionally, he's thrown his support behind PETA, arguing that because of motion-capture technology it's unnecessary to use wild animals in films for entertainment purposes.
It's obvious that Serkis is a gentle soul with an absolute heart of gold. It's this sort of celebrity that we should get behind and support for all the good they're doing in the world.
9 Tough: Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen is a man of the world. The multitalented creative is renowned for his heroic role as Aragon in The Lord of the Rings, but he's also a painter, poet, musician, and author. Is there anything that Mortensen isn't good at?
You'd think that with so many different careers that Mortensen wouldn't have time for anything else-- however, you'd be wrong.
In fact, he's fully capable of bringing the pain if he has to, thanks to the action parts he's had to prepare for.
In an online chat with El Mundo, Mortensen revealed how much training he did for the role of Nikolai Luzhin in Eastern Promises.
"I did a lot of training in martial arts, as they are taught by the Russian military. And I also insisted on learning how to avoid knives," he said.
That wasn't the only training that he's undergone as well. Chatting to the National Board of Review after the screening of Captain Fantastic, Mortensen discussed the training that he and the other cast members underwent for their roles.
"A couple weeks before shooting, we all started preparing the special skills we had to use in our scenes: martial arts classes and rock climbing [as an example]," he stated.
8 Not Tough: Hugo Weaving
Australian-born actor Hugo Weaving, who played Elrond in The Lord of the Rings, is similar to Sir Ian McKellen in the way that he views his craft.
He's a thespian who transforms into what's required of him on the screen, but doesn't carry it with him into the real world.
Weaving also doesn't harbor any celebrity grandeur and is often cited as one of the nicest (and most genuine) people to interview.
Even after injuring a disc in his neck while filming The Matrix movies, he still has a sense of humor about it, telling AP: "I'm very fit, and I'm not injured yet."
Weaving gets behind causes he believes in, too, as he appeared in a video, in conjunction with Sentis, to help raise awareness around autism. One of the children in the video was Weaving's nephew Ky.
"It's always wonderful for me to come and spend time with the family so to be involved with something which is to do with family and also which is of great benefit to not only to Ky but anyone living with autism and families dealing with the issues that goes with it is wonderful and something that was very easy to say yes to," he said.
7 Tough: Christopher Lee
The late Sir Christopher Lee will forever be known as one of the finest actors of all time.
From his performances as Count Dracula in various productions, to Count Dooku in Star Wars, and his impressive turn as Saruman in The Lord of the Rings, Lee cemented himself as a fundamental part of cinematic legend.
What many people don't know is that Lee volunteered to fight in World War II and actually fought real-life Nazis in the war.
In addition, he witnessed the last-ever public execution by guillotine. These are things that can break and haunt any ordinary man, but not Lee.
According to the Daily Mail, when director Peter Jackson wanted Lee to scream out in agony for a scene in the film, Lee responded with, "Peter, have you ever heard the sound a man makes when he's stabbed in the back?"
Jackson responded in the negative, so Lee said, "Well, I have, and I know what to do." He elaborated on how the lungs are punctured and the victim cannot cry out, only being able to emit a quiet groan.
The cast and crew went silent at his revelation. They all knew he had served in the war, but this signified that he'd seen some true horrors in his time.
6 Not Tough: Brad Dourif
Brad Dourif has made a career out of playing the creep. Throughout his time in Hollywood, he's always gravitated towards eerie roles that send shivers down people's spines, including his performance as the manipulating and evil Grima Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings.
Dourif, though, is a sweetheart when he's off screen. He acknowledges that he's an odd character but doesn't understand why people are scared of him.
Speaking to Independent, he said, "Sometimes people are afraid of me, and I think, 'What? How can they be afraid of me?'"
In the same interview, he admitted that success was a source of terror for him and he agonizes over everything, as well as that he's intimidated by working with some directors.
Dourif is extremely close with his daughter Fiona and they worked together on Curse of Chucky.
In a conversation with Vice, he revealed he'd suggested his daughter but she got the role on her own merit.
"Don [Mancini, Curse of Chucky director] called me up, and actually it was about [the part of] Barb, and he said, 'Do you know any actresses who are edgy?' And I said, 'Um, yeah. Actually I do.' And then I think [Fiona] went in for Barb. And I had nothing to do with what happened after," he said.
5 Tough: Sean Bean
Sean Bean has the unfortunate reputation of being an actor whose characters meet their makers in most productions he's in.
The same is true of his role as Boromir in The Lord of the Rings. Well, at least his character has become one of the most famous memes in internet history, right?
When he isn't acting, Bean is known for his fiery temper and doesn't back down from fights. He's a massive fan of football club Sheffield United and was heavily involved in it for many years.
Former manager Neil Warnock claimed that Bean stormed into his office, swearing and screaming at Warnock in front of his family after the club had been relegated from the English Premier League; however, Bean denied the claims.
In another separate incident, Bean got into an altercation outside a bar after some lewd comments were made about his date.
A staff member told the Daily Mail the story: "Sean is a regular here and we’ve never had any problems before. He was with a very attractive woman and an incident occurred outside the bar. He came in with a cut on his arm and a bruise on his eyebrow. We saw to his injuries with the first aid kit. He seemed ok and wanted to have another drink."
4 Not Tough: John Rhys-Davies
John Rhys-Davies might be an imposing actor with a huge presence, but behind the scenes he isn't quite as aggressive as the dwarf warrior Gimli.
Chatting about Grizzly II: The Concert to The A.V. Club, Rhys-Davies recalled an amusing story from the production that proved he's far from the unmovable force we think he is.
"Personally, I remember standing on a hill for 45 minutes in the cold, waiting to turn up the hill and run. And, of course, like an idiot, I did stand on my mark for 45 minutes and, when camera was called, I did turn and run up the hill, which when you’re standing facing downhill, your Achilles tendon is in its shortest position, and when you start to run up the hill, it is fully extended," he said.
He continued: "And I heard both of mine go [makes a twanging sound]. Oh, I was in agony. But that was my fault. In those days, I thought I was unburstable and immortal, anyway. But now here we are, many wounds later…"
Additionally, Rhys-Davies bemoans how society has lost its moral compass as it descends into anarchy.
"Unless we find it, we’re going to lose our civilization," he said, in an appearance on Adam Carolla's podcast. "I think we’re going to lose Western European Christian civilization, anyway."
3 Tough: Cate Blanchett
The two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, who portrayed Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings, doesn't need to prove anything to anyone. Her success in film and theater speaks for itself.
However, Blanchett is living proof that there are two types of toughness (mental and physical) and she has both.
With regards to the mental side of things, as the jury president of the Cannes Film Festival, she stepped out to field difficult questions about the #MeToo movement and she took no nonsense in doing so.
"For profound, lasting change to occur, it has to take place through specific actions – not through generalizations, not through pontification. It's about addressing the gender gap and addressing the racial diversity and equality and the way we make the work. And of course that is going on in many industries," she said.
In terms of physical strength, Blanchett admitted she fails like everyone else to stay fit, but her role as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok inspired her to take it more seriously.
"I thought, 'I really want to stick to this,' and of course as life tramples on, it's been sporadic, but I really want to get back to that place. It's actually easier to do a little bit every day. And there's so many apps now and the thing is, I'm like everybody – it's so hard to start. But once you start doing a little bit, like walking to work, it actually gives you more energy," she told Coveteur.
2 Not Tough: Craig Parker
New Zealand actor Craig Parker became an in-demand star after he appeared as Haldir in The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, leading to more spots in action productions.
However, Parker's tough-guy stance is only for the big screen, as he prefers to live a more calm and chilled lifestyle.
For many years, Parker played Mr. Nice Guy on TV and film, but he's having a ball portraying darker and more aggressive characters.
Chatting about his role as Sabas in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Parker gushed to The New Zealand Herald about it, especially the opportunity to work with Bill Nighy. "He's such a wonderful actor who always has a twinkle in his eye. And it's just cool to be in a movie that has vampires and werewolves."
While Parker enjoys the acting side of things, he's also got green fingers as he revealed: "My mum told me that I had to get a hobby so I took up gardening. There's definitely something satisfying about planting things and watching them grow."
To top it all off, Parker is a terrific poker player as he secured himself the title of New Zealand's Celebrity Joker Poker champion.
Maybe acting does help improve the poker face?
1 Tough: Sala Baker
Sala Baker might not be a recognized name among fans, but he's had quite the career in Hollywood, thanks to his career as a stunt performer.
Originally, he was hired as a stuntman for The Lord of the Rings films, but he ended up getting the role of Sauron in the production.
Baker revealed to LOTRfanclub's Prancing Pony Board that he felt incredibly lucky to get the part. "I had never really thought that I would be in his type of film and working with the cast. It was [an] opportunity of a lifetime that I was never going to give up. It was the best thing ever."
Additionally, his connection to stunts helped secure the part of the adult Russell Collins in Deadpool 2, which was directed by David Leitch, who also has close ties to the stunt world.
Being a stunt performer is no easy task and takes incredible fortitude to do so. We see so many incidents about stunts gone wrong (or even worse) but these guys and gals continue to do so at a risk to their own health and safety.
They deserve recognition and a round of applause for being the unsung heroes of films and TV shows everywhere. It's a lifestyle, not just a career choice.
Do you know any other Lord of the Rings stars who are tough in real life or only on screen? Let us know in the comments section!
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