Read in one sitting last night Sean Astin’s recount of his work as Samwise Gamgee on the Lord of the Rings movies.
If you are expecting a day by day recount capturing all the occurrences and minutiae that Astin experienced while making these movies prepare for disappointment. Instead you get a glimpse into the surreal world that people in the TV/filmmaking business live in. Despite his repeated statements that Astin understands the ludicrousness of the money being thrown around his actions speak otherwise. I found it sad and bemusing that Astin feels he is in touch with the common folk when it is apparent from his expectations that he is not. Buying a $750,000 house with no steady income does not speak of someone who has their feet firmly on the ground.
There are a few interesting tidbits doled out on the business side of things. I admit I was shocked to find that Astin was only paid $250,000 – look at me I am as bad as Astin now – for all THREE movies. I mean we are talking about a $300 Million dollar production that ended up bringing in around $3 Billion US dollars! Astounding. Unfortunately, he does not go into details about the other areas of his contract such as bonuses, etc so you never know how much he ended up making on the whole LOTR experience. I can only guess at how much some of the other cast members made – given that most of them were unknowns at the time.
On the people side of things he does not reveal much but he did confirm for me that the other hobbits were closer to one another than he was. Partly circumstances, he is ten years older than them and was the only one married on, which he recounts in the book and I agree with. I also believe, based on the tone of the book, that Astin is his own worst enemy. Astin has a high insecurity level and an immature need for constant recognition. He needs to learn to lighten up. He is frank with his family history and reveals the mental health problems his mother – Patty Duke suffers from. Is that an issue with him as well? Hard to say and again it is the environment he grew up in where mental stress is part of everyday life.
I went in wanting to learn more about the behind the scenes information about the making of the movies and instead came away with a glimpse into a mindset of people that really live in a different plane of existence much like rock stars and professional athletes.
A quick and interesting read.