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The Stunts & Action
The increased action element of The Two Towers required a stepping up of the stunt demands. Armies of horses and footsoldiers had to be coordinated for major attack sequences. In The Two Towers, live action soldiers would clash with digital ones, but all had to work in concert to mount these intense battles.

Swordmaster Bob Anderson, who in his long and illustrious career worked with Errol Flynn and performed as Darth Vader under the black costume in the original Star Wars films, was impressed with the swords and fight tools created by WETA Workshop. WETA technician and sword smith Peter Lyons created a shock absorbent, steel-sprung blade that remained intact during fight sequences.

Anderson created a distinct fighting style for each civilization of Middle-earth, from Elves to Orcs, and calls Viggo Mortensen, the film's Aragorn, a better swordsman than Erroll Flynn. "He has a natural ability that I have never seen in any performer," comments Anderson.

New Zealand-based archer Jan Kozler trained actor Orlando Bloom in archery for his role as Elf Legolas over six extensive archery sessions.

Shadowfax and Horses

To create the army of horses used by the Rohan people, horse coordinator Steve Old held "auditions" all across the country of New Zealand. His search yielded breeds of all types, with owners traveling for hours with their horse and trailer to the audition.

The two horses chosen to play Shadowfax, the majestic white horse on whose back Gandalf the White makes his first appearance, were of the Andalusian breed.

A stable was set up outside Wellington with 75 core horses being housed and trained there. The open-door policy for actors to come and ride any time of day or night paid off. Cast members such as Mortensen, Tyler and Bloom rode for leisure, even on their days off. Mortensen developed such a close bond with his horse that he purchased it from its owner.

In some scenes, the production used as many as 250 horses at once- side by side riding on New Zealand terrain. The resulting image possesses a realism that can't be duplicated digitally.

Horse technical advisors Lyle Edge and John Scott, whose work includes such films as Unforgiven and Legends of the Fall, were on location to help orchestrate and choreograph the complicated riding and battle sequences.

Tim Abbot and his team made 70 saddles by hand especially for the production. Each of these saddles are embossed and carved with Middle-earth history and were also aged and painted for authenticity.


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