Film Review Magazine (UK) | January 2004
There will have been many actresses jealous of Miranda Otto winning the role of Eowyn in The Lord of the Rings, but what's next for the Australian star?
All of the characters in The Return of the King must confront their
greatest fears, Miranda Otto believes, any they must discover for themselves
who they are and what they stand for. That's particularly the case for Otto's
character, Eowyn. "This is the point where all the characters are brought
to the brink," the actress says. "Eowyn goes through a lot of loss.
Hers is a very tragic story in a lot of ways. But there's also the journey between
Eowyn and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), and what ends up happening there."
Otto, Liv Tyler and Cate Blanchett provided the only glimpses of femininity in The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Whereas Arwen (Tyler) serves as Aragorn's muse and Galadriel (Blanchett) offers mystical elf help, Eowyn earns her action figure stripes in Return. "I was really excited to do it," she enthuses. "When we were doing the initial shooting I did some fighting that was originally going to be in the Helms Deep sequence [in The Two Towers]. During that I was in my costume. I found it really fun to let out all the aggression and get to dothe stuff guys get to do. I was always asking to do more. When we came back to New Zealand to do pick-ups on Return I said to Pete Jackson, 'You know, it's really important that Eowyn gets to fight a lot. She's on the Pelennor Fields and you've really got to make sure you've got enough coverage of her because so few women get to fight.' Then, when we went and did some more, I wore the full armour. It was really hard. The training was fun and the stunt guys are fantastic. That was fun, playing with all of the swords and learning all different positions and choreographing it and getting it all happening. But when it comes to wearing the armour and getting on the set, it's sort of like the difference between training for war and actually being in war."
Picking a favourite scene from The Two Towers is an easy task for Miranda Otto. It was the one between Aragorn and Eowyn, as the sparks fly while she wields a sword. Choosing a scene from Return proves tougher. "I love all of my scenes with Bernard Hill," she says. "I think they always work really well. I suppose that the killing of the king of the witches is really the most iconic scene. I haven't seen it all cut together, so I don't know exactly what it's going to be. Filming it, it was hard, really hard, and physically exhausting. Pete likes it so real and so intense that in the end you feel absolutely drained. So, doing the physical work takes you to that emotional place. You don't have to try. It's just there."
Like all of her Rings co-stars, Otto on her last day enjoyed a send-off that included parting words from Peter Jackson, a screening of her work and a few outtakes, as well as several farewell gifts. So, what did she receive? "You know, I haven't received it yet," she notes. "I don't know where it is. I'd better check up on this. They presented me at the end with my sword from the films. But that has yet to arrive. I don't know where that's disappeared to! It was back in July. They said they were going to send it to me because I wouldn't be able to take it on a plane, obviously. They also gave me the belt that my character wore on a lot of her costumes. It's a beautiful belt and I'd always said that if I could have anything I'd like the sword to represent that [physical] side of Eowyn and the belt to represent the more feminine side. I was really thrilled when they gave me the sword and the belt!"
Now that the Rings trilogy has finished, Otto must decide what to do for an encore. And she must also decide where to do it. Right now, it's her plan to move from Australia, where she was born, raised and has lived, to London but not Hollywood. "I do go in and out of Hollywood quite a bit," she says. "I go there to look for work and it's always fantastic going there because there are people from all around the world who come there to cast movies. When you got to LA it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be working in LA. I like the idea of just dipping in and out of there. I'd like to live in London because I like a lot of English work as well, and I'd like to try to work in London. If something's going to come up for me in Australia, I'll be offered it. I don't really have to be there to get it.
"LA is too unreal to move there," she adds. "I could live in New York. New york is great. But I think it's very hard to get away from the business in LA. I'd really like to have my life as well. I like to meet people who are excited about something other than acting, like people who are excited about art or making toy cars! I've got friends who are singers. I've got friends who do all sorts of things. I think if you were born in LA, perhaps it'd be different. For someone like me, most of the people you're going to end up meeting are in the business. I just feel like it eats away at you after a while when, socially, that's [missing part* - all?] you get to talk about! It is [missing part* - like a?] classic dinner party thing. [missing part* - when?] all not talk about acting [missing part* - for?] minutes,' and withing two [missing part* - minutes?] you're somehow back on the topic of movies!"
* Sorry for those missing parts towards the end - but that's what the magazine looks like, some letters and words have been accidentally cut off. I tried to fill in those missing words, according to what I think Miranda said, but those are just guesses.