Forget Viggo Mortensen breaking his toe, this resurfaced Lord of the Rings interview shows the true danger behind one of the trilogy's most iconic battles

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

An old interview from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King DVD extras has resurfaced – and it explains just how treacherous The Battle of the Black Gate actually was.

The Lord of the Rings movies were famously shot in New Zealand, which is green and mountainous and more or less perfect for J.R. Tolkien's fantastical world. The final major battle of the War of the Ring, seen in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, takes place at Mordor's Black Gate – which is anything but lush and green.

"For the Black Gates of Mordor location we needed an area that's a bit like a desert," director Peter Jackson explains. "This area of the desert is unfortunately where the New Zealand army do their live firing exercises." Two soldiers then appear to explain that the area in question is where bombs are dropped and demolitions are done.

In the interview, Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen humorously explain that an army officer came to set one morning to explain the difference between a rock and a bomb – and not to touch, kick, or activate the latter. Mortensen goes on to explain that this was kind of an impossible task given that a literal battle takes place in that sand, where those leftover bombs and fragments were embedded. 

"We were filming right in the middle of it doing a battle scene," Bloom recalls. "Churning up the earth with all of us running around and jumping and down."

Because the army didn't want to be responsible for blowing anyone up, they would periodically remove bomb fragments throughout their shooting days. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

For more, check out our list of the best movies of the decade.

Lauren Milici
Senior Writer, Tv & Film

Lauren Milici is a Senior Entertainment Writer for GamesRadar+ currently based in the Midwest. She previously reported on breaking news for The Independent's Indy100 and created TV and film listicles for Ranker. Her work has been published in Fandom, Nerdist, Paste Magazine, Vulture, PopSugar, Fangoria, and more.