Lord of the Rings: see how its cast changed in the past two decades

LOTR: a historical franchise
Most Oscars for 'Return of the King'
Shot back-to-back
See how the LOTR cast changed
Viggo Mortensen then
Viggo Mortensen now
Orlando Bloom then
Orlando Bloom now
Elijah Wood then
Elijah Wood now
Liv Tyler then
Liv Tyler now
Sean Astin then
Sean Astin now
Sean Bean then
Sean Bean now
Dominic Monaghan then
Dominic Monaghan now
Billy Boyd then
Billy Boyd now
Cate Blanchett then
Cate Blanchett now
Peter Jackson then
Peter Jackson now
John Rhys-Davies then
John Rhys-Davies now
Ian McKellen then
Ian McKellen now
Miranda Otto then
Miranda Otto now
Andy Serkis then
Andy Serkis now
Karl Urban then
Karl Urban now
John Noble then
John Noble now
Hugo Weaving then
Hugo Weaving  now
Sir Christopher Lee then
Sir Christopher Lee
LOTR: a historical franchise

Peter Jackson's film franchise cost a staggering 281 million dollars, grossed more than 2.9 billion and made Oscar history with 17 statuettes to its name.

Most Oscars for 'Return of the King'

Interestingly, 11 of these Oscars - winning ALL its 11 nominations - went to 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' (2003). But overall, the trilogy is highly valued by the critics.

Shot back-to-back

Although the first film was released in 2001, shooting had begun in 1999 and lasted almost 15 months. The three films were then shot back-to-back.

See how the LOTR cast changed

Obviously, after more than two decades, the film's lead characters bear little resemblance to those who, at the beginning of the century, became world stars. Let's see how they have changed.

Viggo Mortensen then

He was 41 years old when he stepped into Aragorn's shoes for the first time. But here is a little secret: Stuart Townsend was actually chosen before him to play Aragorn. He lasted four days on set, before being fired by Peter Jackson, claiming he was too young for the role. As hard as it was for the actor, changing him for Viggo Mortensen was a wise move.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Viggo Mortensen now

Academy Award nominee for his leading roles in Captain Fantastic (2016) and Green Book (2018), Viggo continues to produce some great work, having most recently filmed 'Crimes of the Future'. He has been happily in love with Spanish actress Ariadna Gil Giner since 2009.

Orlando Bloom then

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest actors to receive huge stardom after the trilogy. He went from being an unknown 22-year-old British boy to one of the most sought after and desired actors in the world.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Orlando Bloom now

He has done extremely well maintaining credibility in Hollywood - which is no easy feat - but he has not exploded as the star he was aiming for. The actor is now with Katy Perry - after a failed marriage with model Miranda Kerr.

Elijah Wood then

He was 18 when he began filming and stepped into Frodo Baggins' shoes. Now, more than 20 years later, he still looks 18.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Elijah Wood now

The actor's pact with the devil is as noteworthy as the interesting career he has led this century, where independent and smaller roles have kept him busy. He has alternated between film and television since almost the beginning of his career, which has allowed him to be a truly flexible actor.

Liv Tyler then

Despite her 22 years, she was one of the best known members of the cast. Arwen did nothing but multiply that fame and turn her into a Hollywood name.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Liv Tyler now

She is still seen on screen but taking things slow. We highly recommend watching 'The Leftovers' (HBO) where she has an absolutely overwhelming role. Her time is mainly spent at home with her three children and being an outspoken activist.

Sean Astin then

Interestingly, Sean Astin was more successful in Hollywood before he played Samwise Gamgee than after the successful trilogy.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Sean Astin now

The actor was 28 years old when he moved to filming in New Zealand and was an established star who had risen to stardom 14 years earlier with 'The Goonies'. Difficult to mention any starring role for the actor after 'The Lord of the Rings'.

Sean Bean then

Sean Bean knew that the role of Boromir was a little flower that he could make bloom and shine in the trilogy. He was 40 years old when the filming began and he was already a star, which he has continued to be.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Sean Bean now

Of course, in these 20 years, his most relevant role came from the hand of Ed Stark in 'Game of Thrones'. By the way, he has died a total of 23 times on screen, a record that has earned him the nickname of 'Walking Spoiler'.

Dominic Monaghan then

Dominic Monaghan was 23 years old when he took on the role of Merry for the first time. Despite the huge success, his most significant role was yet to come.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Dominic Monaghan now

After 'The Lord of the Rings', the actor is most remembered as Charlie Pace in 'Lost'. Despite this, he didn't end up breaking through as most would have expected, although he has been constantly presenting 'Wild Things', documentaries about wildlife, since 2012.

Billy Boyd then

Merry's mischievous sidekick, Pippin, was 31 years old in real life and had the perfect friendly face that encompassed the character completely.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Billy Boyd now

Although Billy Boyd hasn't stopped working since the trilogy ended, no role has come close to matching the success of his memorable hobbit.

Cate Blanchett then

Galadriel was one of the most striking and intriguing characters in the saga and it is impossible to think of any actress other than Cate Blanchett who could have played her.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Cate Blanchett now

Ms Blanchett was 30 years old at the time and still seems to be 30 years old now. The actress already boasted an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for 'Elizabeth' when she joined he LOTR cast. To date, she now has six more nominations and took two of those Oscars home.

Peter Jackson then

He was 38 years old when he took on one of the most complex projects in the history of Hollywood and pulled it off rather superbly.

Peter Jackson now

The films were such a huge success that, 10 years later, he signed up for The Hobbit trilogy, which was obviously another success, although it wasn't quite as big as the first instalment. A fresh take on the new 'Rings of Power' series means Jackson will be watching it from the audience's seat instead of the director's.

John Rhys-Davies then

The actor who played the dwarf, Gimli also lent his voice to Treebeard and, far from what it may seem, he is 185 cm tall.

Photo: New Line Cinema

John Rhys-Davies now

He was 55 years old during the filming and boasts a tremendous filmography that has continued into the 21st century. Of course, 'The Shannara Chronicles' in 2016, was his last work so far.

Ian McKellen then

Sir Ian McKellen was 60 years old when he donned Gandalf's long beard, which would turn him into one of the world's most recognisable film characters. He would then come to reprise the role in the trilogy of 'The Hobbit'.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Ian McKellen now

In recent years, he has also joined another string of films, with another majestic character: in this case a comic book character, Magneto, in the 'X-Men' franchise.

Miranda Otto then

Her instantly recognisable and totally envied long locks have definitely worked in Miranda Otto's favour. That hair turned Éowyn into a character desired by millions and has been enjoyed and seen in multiple films and series since the end of the trilogy.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Miranda Otto now

'Homeland' and, lately, 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' have been two of her most successful roles. She also received the AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her part in 'The Daughter' 2015.

Andy Serkis then

Doing the motion capture of Gollum opened the doors to other computer generated characters such as King Kong and Caesar, the lead in the 'Planet of the Apes' saga.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Andy Serkis now

Today, he flips between working as an actor and as a director, whilst among his titles is the live action version of Disney's 'The Jungle Book - Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle.'

Karl Urban then

He was 27 years old when he eagerly jumped into the role of Éomer. Since then, his fimography looks like the action section of a video store.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Karl Urban now

'Doom', 'Star Trek' and 'The Chronicles of Riddick' are some of his most interesting titles. And let's not forget his role in 'Thor: Ragnarok'. Despite the success of these films, global recognition came to him in his second appearance in a series: 'The Boys', where he took on the role of Billy Butcher.

John Noble then

The prolific actor was 51 years old when he became Denethor. He has a great face for the camera - and for the 'baddie' roles...

Photo: New Line Cinema

John Noble now

Despite the importance of his character in the franchise, it was Walter Bishop, his alter ego in 'Fringe' that has given him the greatest success in his career. But where do you remember seeing him recently? He teamed up with his old colleague, Karl Urban, for an episode of 'The Boys'.

Hugo Weaving then

The Nigerian actor (yes, he was born in Nigeria) was 39 years old when he started playing Elrond. Hugo Weaving came from the Matrix as Agent Smith.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Hugo Weaving now

He would then reprise the role after the trilogy of 'The Lord of the Rings', to complete the Matrix trilogy. He was not in the latest film, however, because it 'didn't work out'. His powerful voice has also earned him the role of Megatron in the 'Transformers' saga.

Sir Christopher Lee then

The great Christopher Lee was cast as Saruman when he was 78 years old. He was often jet lagged from the trips to New Zealand and, one time when he was particularly tired, broke his hand smashing it against a wall. Several shots of him in the finished films show him carefully hiding his bandaged left hand.

Photo: New Line Cinema

Sir Christopher Lee

The well-loved actor departed the screen and the world when he passed away from heart failure just after his 93rd birthday in 2015. A true legend of the cinema.

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