CLICK HERE for the interview with Astin and the spectacular video interviews with the cast about the character, which includes new footage from Return Of The King!!!
In the hands of an actor like Sean Astin, the character of Samwise Gamgee is much more than a simple caretaker to the beleaguered Ring Bearer. Over the course of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Astin's gardener from the Shire evolves from Frodo's companion to his confidant and, at times, his pillar of strength.
Here Astin reflects on Sam's remarkable transformation as well as his own unforgettable experiences working on the production.
When you look at a character like Sam, the trait that really stands out seems to be his loyalty...
Sam is the best kind of friend. Through thick or thin, he is always there. I found myself gravitating toward that quality in my portrayal, toward this idea of an earnest, loyal, decent fellow.
He also has a surprising amount of bravery, right?
Sam is so brave. I think bravery is when you're afraid, and yet you act. Like when you take a 3-foot-6 hobbit and put him next to a three-story spider and say, are you going to get victimized or are you going to fight? What's going to happen? You'll see in The Return of the King.
It sounds like Peter Jackson had a real affinity for Shelob...
He knows audiences will just get wigged out by what he's done with Shelob in this movie. Also, as an admirer of Tolkien, he saw how much Tolkien was able to put into the character of Shelob. How much personality, how much substance. And he wanted to honor that.
How did you see the servant/master relationship between Sam and Frodo?I was never uncomfortable with that, I was never uncomfortable calling Mr. Frodo Mr. Frodo. When it comes to the servant/master relationship, there is something special about remembering every day and every moment to pay respect or courtesy to the person you're working with. And through hardship, through suffering, Frodo and Sam are able to achieve a level of parity, a level of equality in their relationship.
How does Sam's task change over the course of the trilogy?
When the journey begins, Sam's primary mission is just to help Frodo, making sure he's got the right utensils with him, for example, and that his food is prepared. But as the journey continues, that mission, that sense of loyalty is increased. Sam is tested in a lot of different ways, especially by the third film, with figuring out what it means to help Frodo emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally, psychologically. And these are areas that hobbits don't often venture into.
But through it all, it seems like Sam retains his core.
Sam would be more than happy never to do anything other than garden and drink ale and be with Rosie Cotton. I think that would be plenty for him. But Sam's got something a lot of people could use: good common sense. He's grounded in the earth, feet on the floor. He understands right and wrong.
Some of the scenery you guys traverse is almost surreal. What was it like working in those spots?
We found ourselves in places where you'd look around and think, wow there really are places like this on planet Earth. I mean it looks like a Martian landscape. And that would invariably trigger some other emotional or psychological thought process about portraying a character who would travel through a place like that.
What was it like to be part of Frodo's quest as he nears Mount Doom?
It was an amazing thing as an actor to watch the relationship of Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood. How could Elijah, who is so sweet and has such goodness in him, communicate the idea of trying not to give in to pain and suffering and darkness and hatred and villainy and treachery? You can see it on his face, you can feel it. The audience is in for a real treat--and for a bit of pain.
Can you talk about working with Elijah?
Working with Elijah was the realization of a brotherhood chemistry, onscreen and off. It's hard to put into words how someone like that is so important to you, what they mean to you and what working with them is like.
How do you think the audience will respond to The Return of the King?