FOND MEMORIES FROM DANIEL FALCONER
I recall fondly the day Viggo Mortenson arrived in New Zealand to play the part of Aragorn. Shooting had already begun when the role was recast, throwing everything into uncertainty, but just as quickly the situation resolved itself. Mere days after accepting the offer of the role at incredibly short notice, famously thanks to the insistence of his son Henry, Viggo jumped on a plane and flew to New Zealand. He was swiftly ushered through all of the key departments and companies needing to fit him with costumes, hair, make-up, armour and weaponry, including Wētā Workshop, where we all waited with bated breath to meet the movies’ new star. Strider was such a critical role, and with the shoot already underway there was almost no time at all for the actor to find his way into the role. He had to arrive and become Aragorn overnight.
Thankfully, we couldn’t have wished for a better man for the job. Relief and exhilaration spread among the entire crew of the production the minute Viggo stepped in front of camera. This guy was Aragorn. He got it, and he lived it throughout the long, and at times gruelling, shoot. He asked for a utility blade to accompany his sword, and a whetstone; he took it upon himself to look after the blade rather than return it to the Weta Workshop armoury crew each night, and slept with it under the stars on location; he favoured using the heavier spring steel ‘hero’ sword instead of lightweight aluminium alternatives because in his opinion it looked more authentic; and all of it while also being the most charming, unassuming, warm-hearted man you could meet. Viggo took responsibility for the integrity of the character’s portrayal in the best ways possible, becoming an example to everyone on the project. It is no accident that the character resonated so strongly with audiences.
Because we were the people that made the stuff for the movies, we’ve got the costumes. I can take measurements from certain details on the costume and translate that directly to the sculpture.
Though true and thoughtful, Aragorn struggles to keep his company together. Doubt and disagreement gnaw as the Ring exerts its dark influence upon the party, and Boromir’s brooding disapproval hangs above them like a dark cloud, smothering their spirits.
Seeking comfort in solitude, Frodo strays among the trees, climbing the wooded slope of Amon Hen, and here finds Boromir waiting for him. In a fit of madness Gondor’s son tries to wrest the Ring from Frodo, and the Hobbit flees to encounter Aragorn searching for them both. Aragorn gazes long upon the Ring, but in the end does what Boromir could not, overcoming its lure and accepting the truth that the Fellowship is no more: what hope they have lies now on Frodo’s shoulders alone.
Yet even as this understanding settles between them a new peril appears. Emerging from the trees in clouds of dust and the rumble of iron-shod feet come scores of slavering Uruk-hai. Now Aragorn must fight to buy Frodo’s escape, and as the Hobbit vanishes among the leaves the clear horn of Gondor sounds below: Boromir calls for aid. Outnumbered, desperate and dispersed, the Fellowship is broken, but its members might yet be saved…
ARAGORN AT AMON HEN
Unveiled for the first time at Emerald City Comic-Con 2019, Wētā Workshop is proud to present Aragorn at Amon Hen. This 1:6 scale polystone marries traditional hand-crafted techniques with modern technology to create an ever-more exacting piece.
BEHIND-THE-SCENES AT WETA WORKSHOP
Senior sculptor Daniel Cockersell was charged with recreating this climatic moment as a collectible. Daniel worked in clay, using traditional techniques to develop the figure’s dynamic pose. To embody the collectible with the same sense of urgency felt in the scene, Daniel ensured Aragorn is fully armed and in full pursuit of his enemy.
The robes of Aragorn billow out as he races towards Lurtz with sword and Elven hunting knife in hand. Using the original costume as reference, Daniel created a film-accurate representation of the character- even taking care to add hundreds of individual stitches throughout Aragorn’s costume.
The final and most crucial step was to create Aragorn’s facial features. To capture an extreme likeness, Daniel had the benefit of the original face cast of actor Viggo Mortensen, taken at Wētā Workshop during the production of The Lord of the Rings. For the sculpture, the face cast was scanned by the Workshop’s 3D Department, then converted into a digital model. From here, Daniel worked digitally to develop Aragorn’s intense expression.
Senior painter Jules German drew on his knowledge of painting prosthetics to bring Aragorn to life. The result is an exacting likeness of the character in polystone, frozen in time in this most highly charged of moments from The Fellowship of the Ring.
Creating Aragorn™ at Amon Hen
Please note: images are of pre-production prototype. Each item is painted by hand and variations will occur.