Lord of the Rings star Billy Boyd keen to revisit old South Island haunts
Calling all South Island hotel and tourist attraction owners still in the same business they were 15 years ago – Billy Boyd is hoping you can help him.
The Lord of the Rings star is back on the mainland for the first time since filming Peter Jackson's epic trilogy at the start of the 21st century and is eager to revisit some of his old haunts. The problem is he can't remember exactly where they were.
"Anyone who can remember that we were in their hotels, tell them to tell me would ye, so I can so and see them again," Boyd says in his gentle Glaswegian accent. "So many of the Rings locations were in the South Island and we'd be one day in Paradise outside Queenstown and the next in Dunedin. It all got completely confused in my mind, so I really want to get a map out, rent a car and see if I can retrace my footsteps a little bit."
The actor, who played Hobbit Peregrin "Pippin" Took in the Rings movies, has five days of touring planned inbetween duties at this weekend's Armageddon Expo in Christchurch and its sister show in Dunedin on March 18 and 19. He'll be joining the likes of former Doctor Who companion Deborah Watling, Arrow star Chad Coleman and Games of Thrones' Miltos Yerolemou in meeting fans and signing autographs at the annual pop culture expos.
Speaking to Fairfax recently from a Taco Hut carpark near his home in Los Angeles, while he waited for his son to have a "quick snack" before his dental appointment ("I don't know if it's a great idea," he muses), the 48-year-old says he's found fan events like Armageddon have changed a huge amount in the past decade.
"I don't think I'd be wrong in saying that you used to be very, male-centric and much more about comic-books. Now they are much more a family weekend and all the kids dress up as their favourite superhero or Doctor Who. There's a lot more people now and a real sort of carnival atmosphere. They always seem to be joyful occasions, with people having a great time looking at each other's costumes. I find them really fun."
Boyd admits that they also give him a chance to be a fan, especially when he gets to meet fellow "guests" who are his idols. "I'm a big Star Trek fan so anyone from that I get really excited about. It is amazing who you bump into, I was hanging out with Lance Henrickson [Aliens] at a convention recently, I love his movies – he's an amazing actor."
When asked, what's the strangest piece of memorabilia has been asked to sign? Boyd ponders for a moment, before saying: "There have been a few weird ones. There was a beach towel and a salami sausage, I remember. People bring along new Rings toys I've never seen before, even now."
While it has been a long time since he was on the southern side of Cook Strait, Boyd says he thoroughly enjoyed his last visit to Wellington in 2014. "I was only meant to come down for 10 days, but I ended up staying for a month writing the end credits song for The Battle of the Five Armies. It was so nice just to have that extended time sort of just by myself and going to visit all the old haunts."
When asked if it was fun to follow in the footsteps of Ed Sheeran in writing a Hobbit tune, Boyd laughs, admitting he was more excited getting to record some of it in Neil Finn's studio in Auckland.
He says he still keeps in close contact with other members of the Rings' Fellowship (he and Dominic Monaghan are planning a TV show together), but says that, contrary to some reports, last year's 15th anniversary "reunion" was just something that happened by accident. "Viggo Mortensen was having an evening for the cast of his film Captain Fantastic. It has a lot of kids in it and a lot of them were Lord of the Rings fans, so he called us up and said, 'can you guys make dinner because it would really make these kids' night."
Still an avid surfer, Boyd says he has plans to hit the South Island beaches, but is anxious to avoid a repeat of what happened when he tackled the waves further north at Raglan.
"I split my face open the day before the first big Vanity Fair photoshoot of the four Hobbits.
"Ah, there's a lot of good memories just there."
Billy Boyd will be appearing at Armageddon Christchurch (March 11 and 12, Horncastle Arena) and Armageddon Dunedin (March 18 and 19, More FM Arena). For more information, see armageddonexpo.com