Why ‘Lord of the Rings’ Star Orlando Bloom Says Filming the Trilogy Was Like Making a Giant Student Movie

The Lord of the Rings is one of Hollywood’s most successful fantasy franchises. But Orlando Bloom, who plays the elf warrior Legolas in the films, recently suggested that his experience filming the trilogy felt like a giant student movie.  

Orlando Bloom
Orlando Bloom | Paul Archuleta/WireImage

The Lord of the Rings movies were released back-to-back

When the first film in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring,  premiered in 2001, no one anticipated how successful the debut would be. It became the second-highest-grossing film that year, earning over $887.8 million worldwide. The film landed 13 Academy Award nominations, winning four. 

Its sequel, The Two Towers, was released a year later in 2002. It surpassed the first film, grossing $951.2 million worldwide. And it earned the franchise another six Oscar nods, with two more wins. 

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The final movie of the saga, The Return of the King, hit theaters in 2003. It earned over $1.142 billion globally, making it one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. The epic finale nabbed 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Director Peter Jackson tried to shoot all three films at once

Most epic fantasy-style films take years to come out with a sequel. But by shooting a bulk of the trilogy at the same time, filmmaker Peter Jackson managed to release all three The Lord of the Rings movies one year apart. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, actor Viggo Mortenson — who plays Aragorn in the trilogy — revealed that the success of the first movie allowed Jackson to go back and reshoot the scenes that needed improvement. 

“Officially, [Jackson] could say that he was finished in December 2000 — he’d shot all three films in the trilogy — but really the second and third ones were a mess,” Mortensen explained.  “It was very sloppy — it just wasn’t done at all. It needed massive reshoots, which we did, year after year. But he would have never been given the extra money to do those if the first one hadn’t been a huge success. The second and third ones would have been straight to video.”

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Orlando Bloom says filming The Lord of the Rings was like making a giant student movie

In a recent interview with Collider, Bloom was asked about production on The Lord of the Rings.  He noted that Jackson filmed much of the trilogy in the first 18 months of production. But he went back to recreate some pivotal scenes later.

“Pete sort of shoots a movie three times,” Bloom explained. “He goes back to reshoot, and he needed to do that to fill those missing pieces in and to clarify certain things. It was a huge undertaking, and he was very clever about how he shot.”

Bloom said that initially, Jackson coaxed the studio to allow him to shoot all of the films at once by pointing out that sets were already built and in place. He said that at the time, Jackson probably feared the project would get shut down, so he tried to shoot whatever he could when he had the chance. The actor noted that this haste, dedication, and passion for the project made it feel like a film they were making for school. 

“In some ways, it was the first of its kind,” said Bloom. “It almost felt like a giant student movie, honestly, in terms of the experience…such belief and love for it.”

Bloom also revealed that he’s not going to be a part of the new Amazon Lord of the Rings series. But he says he will be watching along as a fan.