Famous Magazine (Canada) | Vol 4 No 12 | December 2003
AS TOUGH-AS-NAILS EOWYN, MIRANDA OTTO GOES TO BATTLE WITH THE BOYS
by Ingrid Randoja
Australian actor Miranda Otto plays Eowyn, The Lord of the Rings' lone
female warrior. Eowyn's heroic nature is alluded to in The Two Towers,
yet instead of fighting she is asked to herd women and children into Helm's
Deep. But in The Return of the King, Eowyn gets to ride into battle.
Here, Otto tells us what it feels like to be the toughest chick in Middle-earth.
Eowyn is one of the more complex characters in the book. Does that come across in the film?
"When you first read the book you think Eowyn's story may be a romance story, that's what I thought at first - 'Ah, she meets Aragorn, right, I get it, there's going to be to-ing and froi-ng and eventually they'll get together.' And then you realize that it's not really a romance story, but rather a journey of discovery for her, finding out who she really is. Here's a woman character who is not just driven by romance, but is driven by her ideals, her willpower and her courage. After all, you don't just want to be mooning around looking at Aragorn all the time thinking, 'Please, love me, love me, love me.'"
Is it true your part kept changing?
"When I originally accepted the role the script was quite different to what ended up happening. I got my script in bits as we went along. You'd be doing scenes not knowing what had happened before, and there were even times when, geography wise, I was completely confused about where I was - 'If I'm in Edoras, why did I watch everyone leave Edoras? And now I am at Dunharrow, but I saw everyone leave to go to Dunharrow...I don't understand.' [Laughs]"
Did your part become better?
"Oh definitely, no disappointments, it was much better for me. Originally, there was much more stuff between Liv and I, jealous stuff about Aragorn. I was like, 'No!' But when I got there they said, 'Don't look at that stuff, we're not doing that stuff,' and I said, 'That's good because there are so few women in this so don't make us fight over the boy.'"
Your action stuff turned out to be much more compelling than Liv's.
"At one stage Liv did have some more action, but she felt it wasn't true to the book and her character in the book. I'm speaking for her here, and I hope I'm speaking correctly, but I think she was worried, reading on the internet sites people saying, 'That's not what Arwen does. What are they trying to do to Arwen?' And I think she felt responsible and worried that all the fighting wouldn't be in line with who Arwen really is. She really pushed for the return to the love story that's in the book."
What was it like filming the battles?
"Pete [director Peter Jackson] really likes all the actors to do all the fights themselves, as much as possible, but I can't do all the horsework myself because some of it is just too dangerous. When you hit the battlefield things amp up 100 percent and Pete really pushes you. He wants it to seem real and desperate, and the Battle of Pelennor Fields is the battle where everyone is basically riding to their deaths. It's a more emotional battle than Helm's Deep. Helm's Deep is a victory and it's exciting, but there is a lot of grief in the Pelennor Fields. I felt completely overwhelmed when we were doing it."
How did it feel to be alone amongst thousands of pumped-up men?
"Actually, we needed as many horse people as we could get, so they called for people across country to come to the Pelennor Fields and a fair amount of them were women. They put beards on them and the guys seemed to get strangely excited by these women with beards. The women weren't very excited about having them on, with all that sticky stuff, but, gee, it did something strange to the guys, especially Bernard [Hill] and Viggo, look out."