The Lord of the Rings trilogy is an Oscar repository with 11 total Academy Award wins. It also currently holds the title of the most awarded film series in cinematic history, winning 475 awards out of 800 nominations. All this was due to the combined effort of the cast, crew, production, source material, as well as the fans who made it possible.
Removing one of those elements would have made Lord of the Rings less successful, especially the production which to this day, has many unsung efforts for the film trilogy that we need to appreciate, particularly the makeup department. They have done many behind-the-scenes pieces of movie magic that you probably didn't know. Here are 10 of those awesome details even the eye of Sauron could have missed.
10 SOME OF THE GOBLINS WERE WOMEN
First up is a movie makeup cheat which probably subverted many of your expectations. One would expect that the gruesome and freakish orc and goblin extras would have been played by male stuntmen but in fact, many of them were either women or girls, especially for the goblins. That's because the goblins are usually smaller than the regular surface orc.
That's why women and girls fit the part well, plus most of them already had long hair anyway which made the wig budget allotment less expensive. Meanwhile, some of the goblins' crazed wide-eyed look was a combination of CGI and some very skillful eye makeup.
9 RIDERS OF ROHAN HAD WOMEN WITH BEARDS
As it turned out, it's not just the orcs and goblins who had women extras. The Riders of Rohan also had women among their ranks, though they were made to look like men. Hence, they had to wear fake beards in order to not look out of place in Theoden's or Eomer's riders, unlike a certain princess shieldmaiden of Rohan.
Obviously, they didn't have beards of their own. However, they are every bit as capable riders as the male rider extras. Peter Jackson was lucky enough since New Zealand had some adept local women horseback riders and they filled a good chunk of the Rohirrim. So yeah, Eowyn wasn't the only woman in the cavalry, at least behind the scenes.
8 BILL THE PONY WAS ONCE TWO PEOPLE IN A COSTUME
Speaking of riders and horses, the fellowship's trusty steed Bill the pony was not exactly himself during the Mines of Moria entrance scene. If you can recall, that area was actually a swamp and even Aragorn had to compel Sam to let Bill go because it was "no place for a horse."
Surely enough, a real horse or pony never would have ventured into a swamp even if prodded. As such, the production team had to improvise by mimicking Bill using a "panto pony" or basically two people in a horse costume, like in the cartoons. As you can imagine, it was quite hilarious for everyone on set since Bill's impersonators were effectively blind and waist-deep in bog water, leading to some unintended horsing around.
7 GANDALF WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE A LONGER BEARD
It's hard to imagine how any other old veteran actor would have played Gandalf. Ian McKellen's version is certainly definitive and difficult to replace. Even so, Peter Jackson had other plans in mind during the shoot. The Lord of the Rings director actually wanted his Gandalf to have a three-foot-long beard.
In the final cut, Gandalf's actual beard is only a bit over a foot long and it already did the job; it even became shorter once he turned "White." It's not clear what made Jackson change his mind about Gandalf's excessive beard, probably because it would be difficult to act through such a prop, even for someone like McKellen.
6 THE WILD MEN USED DOG HAIR AS WIGS
Since we're talking about hair, the production did run into a hairy situation once. At one point during the shoot preparations, Jackson somewhat surprised the makeup team that they were to begin shooting 50 Wild Men (Dunlendings) rampaging through Rohan for that memorable scene with the Rohan peasant slaughter.
Turns out the crew didn't have enough wigs and for all 50 Wild Men extras so they had to borrow some "hair" from dogs to repair and fill in their half-balding wig supply. They also used a combination of vaseline and several different shades of cream to make them look dirty.
5 EASTERLINGS HAD TO BE DEHUMANIZED
Orcs, goblins, and other monstrous ugly creatures are not the only enemies of the free people of Middle-Earth. Sauron also managed to bend the will of Southrons and Easterlings to his rule, like the Haradrim, who are also men. The primary inspiration for their design and ethnicity in the films was the Saracens of the Middle East which would certainly spark controversy, especially as they're portrayed in a similar fashion to the orcs.
So, in order to make them appear less human, the production team admitted that they had to mask the faces of the Easterlings. This way, having them killed on-screen would have as much neutral impact as killing the orcs.
4 THE URUK-HAI RECRUITMENT WAS MADE UP
The Uruk-hai are tougher, bigger, and more brutal versions of the Orcs whom Saruman regards as elves in their past lives. The thing is, and according to Peter Jackson, Tolkien never really went into detail how Saruman or Sauron actually raised and bred them.
Hence, Jackson simply chalked it up to "dark magic" and had Saruman dig them up from the ground "like soggy potatoes" whose harvesting grounds are also conveniently located beneath Isengard. That explains all the slimy goo Lurtz (the Uruk-hai leader) had all over his body, which shockingly took 10 hours to do for the makeup department.
3 HOBBIT FEET WERE BRUTAL
One look at Frodo and Sam's hobbit feet and you'd think that those babies are built for hiking and cross country backpacking in Middle-Earth. Behind the scenes, however, they're not as comfortable as the hobbits were used to. According to the main hobbit actors, these fake hobbit feet were made out of spongy material which had to be glued to the actors' feet.
Unfortunately for them, the glue was "freezing cold" and the spongy foam material of the hobbit feet made it absorb water; Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee's actor) admitted that wearing hobbit feet in cold weather was like having ice cubes strapped to your feet. Some of the actors also attested to how uncomfortable these hobbit feet were and they even got them into accidents.
2 HOBBIT FEET WERE ALSO HIGH MAINTENANCE
In addition to how unwieldy the Hobbit feet were, they were also delicate. Billy Boy (Peregrin "Pippin" Took) recalled that they were so fragile, the hobbit feet would rip off if he stood on his toes. They were so easily damaged on rocks that throughout the course of the first film, 1,600 pairs of hobbit feet had to be made. The actors even had to wear special protective boots for the hobbit feet in order to preserve them.
Since they were also flimsy props, the production crew had to designate a hobbit foot monitor in for emergency repairs. Coincidentally, his name was also Sean Foot-- what were the chances?
1 ACTING AS GOLLUM WAS EMBARASSING
Andy Serkis was relatively unknown in Hollywood until he lent his heart and soul into bringing Gollum or Smeagol alive. The act of doing that, however, was a lot less desirable back then that it was today. Serkis basically had to wear a skin-tight suit with his face visible and had to crawl around the set like Gollum so as to get into character better and for motion capture too. Everyone was looking at him and he was sure some of them were snickering at the sight.
One time during his off-hours, Serkis even got too dedicated to the role that he crawled down a mountain like Gollum in his casual clothes only to be seen by a random member of the production crew; he quickly and awkwardly had to act normally after that though he was certain the person who saw him thought he was deranged. Nevertheless, his leap of faith and method acting for Gollum paid off big time and even nearly stole the whole trilogy.