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Early Roles From Lord Of The Rings Actors They Want You To Forget About

It's been over 20 years since the release of the first film of Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" series, and the epic fantasy trilogy still holds more influence than ever. The seemingly insurmountable task of adapting the beloved J.R.R. Tolkien works was as harrowing as the quest to destroy the One Ring itself, and yet Jackson, along with producers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, rose to the occasion to give fans an unforgettable moviegoing experience. Thanks to the writers' reverential treatment of the source material and the talented Wētā Workshop special effect studios, the "Lord of the Rings" movies managed to bring the magic of Middle-earth to life on the big screen.

Besides an innovative script and high-quality production design, the films needed a stellar group of actors to portray the iconic heroes and villains of such an important story. The "LOTR" films have a massive cast list, and many of its actors were relative unknowns before the movies were released. Some of the films that came before the fantasy trilogy, though, might be a source of embarrassment for some of the actors. As we delve into the early works of some of the fellowship members, here are some movies that these actors may wish had been thrown into the fires of Mount Doom along with the One Ring.

Elijah Wood

Elijah Wood was just 18 when he was cast as Frodo Baggins in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy (per The Independent), the role that launched him into stardom. Yet Wood had been acting since he was 8 years old (per Cosmopolitan) — long before strapping on the prosthetic hobbit feet. He started out doing commercials before landing a part in Paula Abdul's "Forever Your Girl" music video in 1989 (via The Wall Street Journal), and went on to appear in films such as "The Adventures of Huck Finn" and "The Good Son." Though some of Wood's early roles ranged from respectable to subpar, there was one movie in particular that stands out as being the worst of the worst, one that he possibly regrets ever getting involved with. In the 1994 Rob Reiner comedy adventure "North," Wood plays a boy who feels unappreciated by his birth parents and thus travels the world to find caregivers that he feels are more deserving. Along the way, he meets an array of strange — and sometimes despicable — characters who help him come to appreciate the family he left behind.

"North" has topped many lists as one of the worst movies of all time, an achievement that Wood probably isn't too proud of. It was bashed by critics upon its first release and currently holds a rating of 14% on Rotten Tomatoes. But hey, everyone makes mistakes when they're young, so we can forgive Wood his cinematic sins of the past.

Ian McKellen

Though his portrayal of Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings" has become his most noteworthy role, Sir Ian McKellen had a long career in film, television, and theater many years before being cast as the benevolent wizard. Some of his earliest roles included adaptations of classic literary characters, including figures from the works of William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. However, there is one movie from McKellen's filmography that should perhaps be left on the shelf to gather dust.

The 1983 horror "The Keep" takes place during World War II in the majestic Carpathian Mountains. A small Romanian village has been occupied by Nazi soldiers, led by a particularly nasty customer by the name of Erich Kaempffer (Gabriel Byrne). In a nearby fort known as the Keep, an ancient evil force is awakened and begins to terrify the inhabitants. As the bodies pile up, the German soldiers forcefully recruit a local professor (McKellen) to investigate the supernatural horrors within the Keep.

Directed by Michael Mann, the mind behind acclaimed films such as "The Last of the Mohicans" and "Heat," "The Keep" fell far short of impressing the critics. Though some praised the film's visual style, like critic Simon Abrams, even Abrams concedes that the film is an unrestrained "mess" (per Slant Magazine). McKellen is likely grateful that this horror flick has mostly faded from the public's memory — until now, that is.

Orlando Bloom

English actor Orlando Bloom attained star status for his role as the nimble elven warrior, Legolas, in "The Lord of the Rings." His work in the trilogy led to even more opportunities, including a starring role in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise and parts in historical epics such as "Troy" and "Kingdom of Heaven." However, there was one film that took Bloom off the beaten path and unfortunately produced disastrous results.

Bloom plays a milkman-turned-boxer named Jimmy Connelly in the 2004 British mockumentary "The Calcium Kid." When a prominent fighter is injured before a big bout, Jimmy is discovered and enlisted by manager Herbie Bush (Omid Djalili) to fight a middleweight champion (Michael Peña). Things go awry when Jimmy follows some bad advice given by Bush, and chaos ensues as Jimmy's reputation as the fresh-faced underdog is shattered.

"The Calcium Kid" was a fantastic flop, grossing a measly $100,000 internationally, and was severely beaten down by critics. Empire Magazine called the film "irksome, irritating and unoriginal," and The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw similarly roasted it. The movie also holds the rare honor of a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 0%. It's lucky that Bloom's career wasn't KO'ed following "The Calcium Kid" and that knowledge of the film's existence seems to have been lost in bad movie purgatory.

Cate Blanchett

With so few female characters in "The Lord of the Rings," director Peter Jackson knew what he was doing when he cast Australian actor Cate Blanchett as the Elven sorceress Galadriel. Blanchett's ethereal grace and power as the Lady of Lórien made such an impact on the original trilogy that she was brought back to reprise her role in "The Hobbit" films as well. Blanchett has been hailed as one of the finest actors working today, and besides her acting career, she is an avid environmentalist and humanitarian. However, there is one film from early in her career that may cause some embarrassment.

The 2000 period drama "The Man Who Cried" stars Christina Ricci, Johnny Depp, Cate Blanchett, and John Turturro as four immigrants who attempt to find art and love in World War II Paris. Ricci plays a young Jewish refugee, who is taken in by the Russian dancer Lola (Blanchett). Depp plays Cesar, a Romani horse trainer with whom Ricci's character falls in love.

Despite being jam-packed with high-caliber film stars, "The Man Who Cried" did not succeed in eliciting any tears from the critics -– except, perhaps, from boredom. Though Blanchett won awards for her performance, most reviewers had only negative things to say about the film. Some critics, like Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle, accused the movie of being too dull and melodramatic. With all of her other more successful endeavors, Blanchett probably hopes that this one will be forgotten.

Sean Bean

Since his characterization of Boromir in "The Lord of the Rings," actor Sean Bean has become notorious for playing characters with short life spans in film and television. After the conflicted son of Gondor falls prey to the power of the One Ring, he redeems himself when he saves his hobbit companions, only to be brutally killed by Uruk-hai captain Lurtz (Lawrence Makoare). Fantasy fans will also remember his role as the noble Eddard "Ned" Stark in season one of "Game of Thrones," whose meddling in political affairs results in his brutal execution.

With 120 acting credits to his name, Bean has had plenty of opportunities to wow viewers with his classical training. However, there is at least one film that Bean may wish his fans to steer clear of. The 2000 crime drama "Essex Boys" is inspired by true events that occurred in the village of Rettendon, Essex, England in 1995 (per the True Crime Database). Bean plays Jason Locke, a dangerous drug dealer who takes the newly initiated Billy Reynolds (Charlie Creed-Miles) under his wing to teach him the ropes.

Despite the attempt from director Terry Winsor to make a slick, gritty action drama, "Essex Boys" failed to excite the critics. David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews called it "unoriginal," though he says Bean looks like he's having fun. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 17%, it would probably be best for Bean fans to overlook this one.

Viggo Mortensen

Though he wasn't the original casting choice, it's difficult to imagine anyone but Viggo Mortensen as the heroic Aragorn, the rightful king of Gondor, in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Sent in to replace Stuart Townsend at the last minute, Viggo brought depth and soberness to the character, making him one of the most memorable elements of the franchise.

Since the ending of the epic fantasy films, Mortensen went on to receive critical acclaim in other projects. He was nominated both for Academy Awards and Golden Globes for his performances in "Eastern Promises," "Captain Fantastic," and "Green Book." However, some of Mortensen's earlier works were not as impressive. One film in particular, 1993's "Boiling Point," has him squaring up against Wesley Snipes, but even the "Blade" star couldn't save this action flop.

Snipes plays Jimmy Mercer, a cop bent on revenge for the murder of his partner by Mortensen's Ronnie. Ronnie had been released from jail thanks to crime boss Red Diamond (Dennis Hopper), and now both of them are on Jimmy's hit list. "Boiling Point" was slammed by the critics, who said the film lacked action and excitement. Though he has more than made up for his lackluster performance in "Boiling Point" since, this is one movie that Mortensen would probably like his fans to forget.

Liv Tyler

The Elf Arwen (Liv Tyler), daughter of Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and betrothed to Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), was only a minor character in the original J.R.R. Tolkien story. Thankfully, her role was expanded upon significantly in the films, allowing for a strong female presence the epic fantasy tale was sorely lacking. At the time, Tyler was fresh off the success of the blockbuster hit "Armageddon." Tyler appeared regularly in films throughout the 1990s, including "Empire Records," "Inventing the Abbotts," and "That Thing You Do!" However, her very first movie role was not the big break she has been hoping for, and she probably wishes it would stay under wraps.

The 1994 mystery thriller "Silent Fall" stars Richard Dreyfuss as Dr. Jake Rainer, a therapist trying to help Tim (Ben Faulkner), a young autistic boy who witnessed his parents' murders. Tyler plays Sylvie, the older teenage sister of Tim, who is very protective of him and skeptical of Rainer's abilities.

"Silent Fall" has a score of 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. Prominent critic Roger Ebert gave it one and a half stars, calling it "torturously constructed." Thankfully, most audiences seem to have already forgotten about this underwhelming film debut from Tyler –- but then, it's important to remember that everyone has to start somewhere.

Sean Astin

As many fans will attest, Samwise Gamgee is often considered the true hero of the "Lord of the Rings" story. As Frodo's most loyal companion, Sam sets out on a harrowing quest the likes of which few hobbits had ever dared to even consider. Sean Astin plays the sweet-natured Sam, portraying him with all the reverence and respect that the beloved character deserves. Before the "Lord of the Rings" films, Astin had a lucrative career as a child actor, notably in the nostalgic 1980s favorite "The Goonies." Yet the project that followed the treasure-hunting adventure comedy was not as memorable, or as lauded.

Two years after the release of "The Goonies," Astin co-starred with Kevin Bacon in the 1987 coming-of-age drama "White Water Summer." Astin plays a teenager named Alan, who is persuaded by a nature guide, Vic (Bacon), to join a wilderness survival camp for the summer. However, the experience proves to be much more trying than Alan had anticipated. Joined by three other boys, Alan is faced with one arduous challenge after the other as Vic pushes him to the limit with his severe leadership methods.

"White Water Summer" may have escaped the notice of most filmgoers since it only had a limited theatrical release. The critics who did see it were unimpressed and gave it dismal reviews. Even Astin's boyish charm wasn't enough to save this mess of a movie, so it's probably for the best that it stayed under the radar.

Brad Dourif

Known primarily for his role as the voice of killer doll Chucky from the "Child's Play" films, Brad Dourif played the sleazy Gríma Wormtongue in "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers." As Saruman's (Christopher Lee) loyal minion, Grima whispers suggestions into the ear of the stricken King Théoden (Bernard Hill), weakening him so that his evil wizard master can exert his control over Rohan. Dourif's acting career began in the 1970s when he received his first film role in Milos Forman's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Since then, he's acquired over 170 credits to his name, though there is one very obscure horror film Dourif might wish would stay 6 feet under.

The 1990 horror movie "Graveyard Shift" is based on the Stephen King short story of the same name (incidentally, King called the film one of his least favorite adaptations). It tells the story of a textile mill with an out-out-control rat infestation and a mutated monster that feeds on the factory's workers. Dourif plays an eccentric exterminator, Tucker Cleveland.

Like so many Stephen King adaptations, "Graveyard Shift" missed the mark entirely. Critics tore the film to shreds, though Den of Geek's Rebecca Lea did have high praise for Dourif's performance, hailing it for its intensity and high entertainment value. All in all, besides his performance, "Graveyard Shift" is a film that Dourif's fans would likely rather sleep through.

John Rhys-Davies

John Rhys-Davies took on the role of Gimli in "The Lord of the Rings," the gruff yet lovable dwarf who lends his ax to the fellowship's quest. Rhys-Davies is also well-known for playing Sallah in the "Indiana Jones" films. It was possibly due to his portrayal of the fez-wearing excavator that Rhys-Davies was cast in a similar action-adventure feature in 1985. Unfortunately, that film ended up being far inferior and should have been lost to the ages.

"King Solomon's Mines" was adapted from the novel by author H. Rider Haggard. Haggard's stories featured the adventures of Allan Quartermain, the character who inspired the creation of Indiana Jones. Opposite Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone, who play the heroes, Rhys-Davies plays Dogati, Quartermain's rival and a vicious killer, who teams up with a German colonel, Bockner (Herbert Lom), to find the legendary mines of King Solomon before Quartermain.

With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 8%, it's clear that "King Solomon's Mines" was not the fun-filled adventure the film's creators had set out to make. Walter Goodman of The New York Times criticized its worn plot and campy characters while also noticing the "strenuous efforts" of Rhys-Davies despite the poor quality of the rest of the picture. It seems even the appearance of Gimli actor Rhys-Davies couldn't save this dud of a movie.

Miranda Otto

Eowyn (Miranda Otto), the shield maiden of Rohan, is a heroic figure in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy who plays an important role in the latter two films, particularly in the final battle against Sauron's forces. She bravely fights in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and deals the final blow that destroys the Witch-King of Angmar. For Otto, an Australian actor, Eowyn was one of her first major film roles after working on a series of mainly independent projects. The Australian Film Institute had previously nominated her for her work in films "The Girl Who Came Late" (alternately titled "Daydream Believer") and "The Last Days of Chez Nous." Unfortunately, Otto's career took a downward slide when she appeared in a dramedy in 1995.

The Australian independent film "Sex Is a Four Letter Word" features an ensemble cast of characters brought together for a dinner party hosted by Sylvia (Joy Smithers), a columnist hoping to gather stories about love and relationships. Otto plays Viv, a fashion designer, who is invited along with her boyfriend, Tom (Timothy Jones) (per Variety).

"Sex Is a Four Letter Word" has the lowest rating of Otto's filmography on IMDb. The highest praise for the movie comes from David Stratton's review in Variety, which praises the performances, particularly Otto's, while merely dubbing the film "adequate." It seems that the biggest sin of "Sex Is a Four Letter Word" is being ultimately forgettable — which, in this case, might not be a bad thing.