Since bursting onto the Hollywood scene at a young age in 1985 with The Goonies, actor Sean Astin has been a part of many memorable roles, none more so than as Samwise Gamgee in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In an interview with the ReelBlend podcast, Astin recalled that despite the immense pressure on Jackson by the studio and fans to do justice to J.R.R Tolkien's classic fantasy novels, his method of direction was never overbearing or loud.

"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. 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.'"
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In The Lord of the Rings, Sean Astin played the role of the loyal servant sidekick to the lead character of the series, Frodo Baggins. Samwise Gamgee was a man of great courage, despite his diffident nature, and was instrumental in the destruction of the one ring that belonged to the Dark Lord Sauron. Despite the gravity of his role, Astin admits there were times when he was unable to keep his mind on his character, which led to Jackson delivering a piece of acting advice that had a devastating impact on him.

"[Jackson] 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."

It is a testament to Astin's commitment to his job that Jackson's single line of rebuke had such a deep effect on his conscience. And the piece of direction by Jackson appears to have worked since Astin's portrayal of Sam is considered one of the highlights of the movies. According to the actor, the fact that the director of the movie was doubting his conviction in the scenes was what drove Astin to focus harder on making sure he was 100% present in every shot.

"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."

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