Miranda Otto

Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King

Interviewed by David Michael

“The swordfighting was good fun, despite the fact I did actually stab somebody in the leg ”

Until now Miranda Otto has been Australia's best-kept secret. With her career of Australian films (including Doing Time With Patsy Cline and Love Serenade) relatively unknown. An appearance in the underrated Charlie Kaufman-penned Human Nature, and the token nextdoor neighbour role in What Lies Beneath, failed to get her noticed. After being introduced as Eowyn in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, she's about to take centre stage in The Return Of The King.

After appearing in The Two Towers as a bit-part, Eowyn gets stuck in in real Joan of Arc fashion in The Return Of The King...

Yes, I guess, but in some ways it's not like Joan of Arc, because she doesn't rally the troops. But there is the aspect of drag, of her dressing as a man. You could draw a parallel, but there are so many things that are not the same as well.

She's the strongest of the few female characters in The Lord Of The Rings...

Yes. She's in despair about what has happened to her country, Rohan. Then Aragon (Viggo Mortensen) comes along and she sees him as the saviour. He doesn't fall in love with her, so she dresses up as a man and then goes to war. I thought, "This is a story where a woman becomes her own knight in shining armour". That's a great role model, because most mythic stories we're given as children are about women being saved by men.

Was it a more physical role than you've done before?

Parts of it were physical. There's a bit of sword waving but not all the time. If you read the book, there's a whole part of Eowyn that is repressed, she's not allowed to do all those kind of things, even though she's good at them. She's expected to be the woman; she's expected to stay back. But the swordfighting was good fun, despite the fact I did actually stab somebody in the leg. You can't lose your concentration!

Internationally, you've been fairly anonymous and now you're part of a movie legend. Are you prepared for such fame?

I must ask the other guys sometime, I haven't spoken to them in a while and I don't know if they've had that feeling or if they've just carried on with their normal lives. Everyone keeps talking about the effect this film will have on my life, I just can't really fathom it.

Career wise, you'll probably get different kinds of script offers now...

It would be fun to dress up in medieval costume again and run around the countryside, I wouldn't mind that! [laughing]

The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King is released in UK cinemas on Wednesday 17th December 2003.