Femail.co.uk | December 12th 2002
Meet the Ladies of the Ring
by ISOBEL FOX, femail.co.uk
Male characters may dominate Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the few
female roles he does create are brave, beautiful, fearless and strong.
Millions of fans were enraptured by the actions of Galadriel and Arwen in the first of Peter Jackson's film adaptations of the classic books, The Fellowship of the Ring, last year. Now they are preparing for a totally different type of heroine in the form of warrior-like Eowyn in the latest instalment, The Two Towers.
Tolkien is often criticised for ignoring women in his novels, or making them idealised versions of maidenhood. But actress Mirando Otto, who plays Eowyn in the new movie, says this couldn't be further from the truth.
'Although there are very few women in the books, Tolkein did make them strong characters,' she said in a recent interview.
'Eowyn rides horses, uses her sword and fights men at their own game. My character has to act as a prop for the king, who is confused and losing his power.
'I can't think of any other myth or legend in which the woman actually saves the men. So this very much fits the idea of the new woman who makes her own decisions and fights.'
Otto's Eowyn is undoubtedly Tolkien's strongest female character. She is the niece of ailing king Theoden, a warrior princess who leads her people into battle at Helm's Deep and becomes the saviour of Rohan - a proud race of humans on Middle Earth. She also becomes involved in a romantic triangle with Arwen and Aragorn, played by Viggo Mortensen.
The Australian actress - who beat off stiff competition from several Hollywood starlets to secure her role - took on a gruelling nine month schedule between March and December 2000 to film the part, for which she was given training in horseriding and sword-fighting.
Otto was born in Brisbane and grew up surrounded by actors. Her father is the respected Australian actor Barry Otto - who played the father in Strictly Ballroom - but she lived with her mother when her parents divorced.
The 34-year-old actress's CV so far includes a handful of movies such as The Thin Red Line and What Lies Beneath but playing Eowyn may well catapult her from the peripheries of the Hollywood circle to centre stage.
'Everyone is keen to tell me my life will change,' she says. 'But I'm keeping in mind that I will still have to clean the bathroom.'