Taking on the role of the heroic swordsman was no mean feat for the GI Jane star—he even suffered a few genuine war wounds…
Had you read the books before you landed the role of Aragorn?
No, I hadn’t. Can you fill me in really fast? [laughs]
You joined the shoot quite late, replacing Stuart Townsend. How tough was that?
I was offered the job and the next day I was on a plane to New Zealand, with a book and three scripts, wondering what I’d got myself into and worrying about not having time to get ready. I knew they’d been there for a few months preparing and that they’d been shooting for two weeks. It was a question of diving in.
How do you ‘dive’ into fight scenes?
Well, the first day I met the fight choreographer, Bob Anderson, who’s been around a long time—he taught Errol Flynn to fence and represented the UK at the Olympics. I went into this room and there were all this stunt people standing there and screaming and yelling. He had them all pumped up and he stood me in front of them and said: “Okay, go!” And they all started running at me, and I was like, “Holy shit!” He said “stop” and they all stopped. Then he told me: “This is what you are going to be dealing with so let’s get to work…” He gave me a sword and it was just, like, crazy for two days. The first thing I did on camera was swordplay and I liked it. It was fun.
Didn’t you lose a tooth?
Yeah, I got hurt a few time—everyone did. But I never ended up in hospital. I broke a few things, but there were a few people who got seriously hurt. There was one stunt guy who had to spend a long time in hospital, but the shoot was so long he recovered in time, got the cast off and was doing more stunts by the end.