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Sean Astin on the ‘Most Painful’ Feedback Peter Jackson Ever Gave Him

The "Lord of the Rings" star opens up about the most harrowing thing the director ever said to him.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING, Sean Astin, 2003, (c) New Line/courtesy Everett Collection

“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”

New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

Peter Jackson is known for being an exacting filmmaker, especially on the set of his Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Sean Astin, who starred as the beloved Samwise Gamgee in “The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Two Towers,” and “The Return of the King,” recently opened up on Cinema Blend’s ReelBlend podcast about the challenges of filming the J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation in New Zealand, and didn’t mince words about an especially harrowing moment with his director.

“The most painful thing Peter Jackson ever said to me… you know, he’s a man of few words. He’s a very, very stoic guy. He can be performative when he wants to, or needs to,” Astin said. “He can act things out, and he’s very eloquent and so forth. But on a day-to-day basis, Peter Jackson is basically like a quiet guy. He sort of lets the work do the talking, and his direction was always very minimal. Mostly his direction would be, ‘Let’s do it again’… But he came up to me at one point and he looked at me and he said, ‘I just didn’t believe that.’ Oh my God, he might as well have — it was like a Mortal Kombat death blow. It was like he ripped my hair off of my body, and my spine came out with. … [But] it was, it was true. It was true that I was not invested, that I was out of it. I was out of the character. I was out of the mood. I was out of… I just wasn’t there.”

While Astin didn’t reveal which film or scene this encounter took place during, he did add, “It was brutal. And he didn’t mean it to be brutal. He meant it to land. He didn’t mean for it to be brutal, but it was a perfect piece of direction. And he was absolutely right. And it made me be better. It made me focus harder.”

In any case, “The Lord of the Rings” continues to live on, with a 4K edition of the trilogy hitting shelves December 1, right in time for the holidays, and an Amazon series coming up next year.

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