BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September, 2003, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
Taking a break with a Rings monster

By Stephen Dowling
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Makoare as Lurtz
"And I thought 'How would Olivier have done it?'"
Lawrence Makoare, who played a terrifying warlord in the Lord of the Rings films, has spent the morning under hot lights promoting the films' exhibition at London's Science Musuem.

And now he is hot. Very hot. He is sprawled out on a garden bench on the roof of the museum, bottle of water and cigarette in hand, thoroughly exhausted.

It is not an uncommon sight to find an actor taking a breather after meeting the public, except Makoare - Uruk-hai orc Lurtz in the first of the Lord of the Ring films - is sipping his water through fearsome prosthetic make-up.

It is, he says wearily but good-naturedly, a hard life being an Uruk-hai. "It usually takes four-and-a-half hours to put this make-up on," he says. "And then another hour-and-a-half to take it off."

Make-up marathon

That is on a good day. As Makoare has already recounted at the press conference, the scene in Fellowship where Lurtz is "born" under evil wizard Saruman's tower took 11 hours in the make-up chair.

"Pete [Rings director Peter Jackson] rang me up and asked me if I'd come over to launch the exhibition as Lurtz," said Makoare, a cheeky smile lurking behind the latex fierceness.

"I said 'Which Lurtz?'. He said 'the newborn Lurtz'." Makoare suddenly mimes indignant rage - pretty easy to do in Uruk-hai warpaint. His reply to Jackson is unprintable.

Lawrence Makoare and May Meredith
The exhibition runs at the Science Museum until January

To anyone who has sat in the cinema, thinking that donning orc armour would have been a fun day out, Makoare gives short shrift.

"When we were filming that fight scene on Amon Hen, loads of the guys playing the Uruk-hai fainted from heat exhaustion. And they could take their masks off if they wanted to!

"You know how it is if you're running in a coat and you get hot? You can take the coat off. Not me. As soon as we were finished filming about four people would crowd round me sticking icepacks down my neck! They lasted about two minutes."

Makoare is a former roadbuilder who stumbled into acting after accompanying a girlfriend to her drama class a decade ago. The teacher took one look at his six-foot-something frame, brought him into the class and a career treading the boards beckoned.

Stunt career

Although when you are as impressively built as Makoare - whose arms are probably thicker than my legs - you do not get cast as troubled, tragic, misunderstood heroes.

Ever since playing the villainous strongman in the Kevin Costner-produced Easter Island drama Rapa Nui in 1994, Makoare's career has been built on biceps and baleful staring. And rather a lot of stunts.

It was as a stuntman he made his name, before his agent recommended he become an actor as well.

There was certianly enough rough and tumble and stunts filming the Fellowship to last him a lifetime. "The contact lenses I was wearing made it really difficult for the fight scenes.

"They were like a ping-pong ball cut in half, and if you blink too much in them they dig into your eyes. It bloody hurt.

Take a peek at the Science Museum's exhibition

"Originally the fight scene I was did with Viggo Mortensen [who plays Rings rival Aragorn] took 20 minutes of rehearsals. We kept cutting it down because I couldn't see."

Lurtz, of course, got his comeuppance at the hands of Aragorn at the end of the first film, though that did not mean the end of Makoare's work on the film.

"Richard Taylor [the head of special effects for the trilogy] was trying to work out a way for me to come back. I was like 'Maybe it's like Highlander! My head wasn't completely cut off and I can stitch it back on!"

Look away now if you haven't read the books - Makoare plays a completely new character for The Return of the King. He appears as the Witch King, the chief Ringwraith who leads the armies of Sauron to besiege Gondor.

"I play another character too," he says hesitantly. "Which I can't really talk about. But he's another of the bad guys. And I'm a backdrop orc too." Peter Jackson certainly got his money worth.

Makoare has not resigned himself to simply donning the Lurtz mask for Rings devotees. He swapped battle armour for a tuxedo to play evil henchman Mr Kil in the last Bond film, Die Another Day.

"I get killed in that one too," he says, rolling his eyes. "My friends keep saying, 'Bro, when are you going to do a film where you don't die. I say, 'mate, when you die, that's it. When I die, I just keep coming back!'"

Museum launches Rings show
15 Sep 03  |  Film
Towers DVD unveils its secrets
02 Sep 03  |  Reviews
Kiwis take over Hollywood
28 Dec 02  |  Film

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific