Empire Magazine (UK) | January 2003
The Two Towers Preview: Miranda Otto, The White Lady
Meet Éowyn, Tolkien's ballsiest lady
by Ian Nathan
So you've got the hots for a bloke who's already spoken for; your brother has
ridden off in a huff; your uncle is under the influence of some bad juju; a
lecherous villian is making a move on you; and the whole kingdom is going to
the dogs. And you are not allowed to fight 'cos you're a girl. Thus is the none-too-encouring
state of affairs for Éowyn, The White Lady of Rohan, played by Australian
beauty Miranda Otto
"Things are going badly," admits the bright, personable actress, trying to steel herself for her first taste of Tolkien's fever. "Still, by the third film, a lot more things happen - she ends up dressing as a man and going to war and battling the king of witches."
The Brisbane-born, 34 year-old Otto is the daughter of revered Aussie actor Barry Otto, so clearly has the craft in her blood. She made her movie debut at 18 in Emma's War, but it has been a slow, satisfying move into the 'big time', with small parts in The Thin Red Line and What Lies Beneath. Still, it took Peter Jackson a single watch of her audition video to be convinced that this was his lonely, haunted, empowered Éowyn, probably the strongest female character in all of Tolkien's writing.
"I had to do lots of sword training," she laughs. "As a woman I highly recommend it. It's a great thing because you get to let out so much aggression - you don't have to punch people in the head, you can do it all with the sword." And, of course, you still get to make out with Viggo Mortensen.
"Are you kidding?" she screeches with mock incredulity. "There's no sex in Tolkien! It's more subtle and romantic. Basically, not to give too much away, it is an unrequited relationship."
And although she has no idea how such sudden exposure will change her life, Otto is certainly not hungry for fame (she avoids the LA scene like the plague). Mind you, you've got to face up to things when a plastic version of you arrives by first class post. "I was in Virgin Megastore one day," she says, "and there were these Popstars dolls reduced to one pound." I thought, 'Oh no, that'll be me one day. They'll be throwing them at people as they leave the shop!"