Online Q+A: Jay Schadler in Middle Earth

Ever wonder what it was like on the set of The Lord of the Rings trilogy? Do you want to learn more about how director Peter Jackson and his crew recreated J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth in the wilds of New Zealand?

Primetime correspondent Jay Schadler got an exclusive look at the last days on the set of the blockbuster films when director Peter Jackson and the huge cast and crew returned to New Zealand this summer to wrap up final shooting.

Schadler spent a day with Jackson and star Viggo Mortensen — as well as untold numbers of orcs, elves and assorted fanciful creatures. He answered questions from ABCNEWS viewers.

Read about Schadler's time on The Lord of the Rings set.

QUESTION: Vince Williams of Fort Wayne, Ind., says: "I believe the one thing that was a constant theme throughout the trilogy being made was the wonderful relationships that have formed between the cast members. How much did you sense this during your time there? Have you ever seen this occur in other films?"

ANSWER: There is no question in my mind that the cast and crews truly became a close family — closer than on most movies, certainly. The isolation in such a beautiful place lent itself to bonding, but so did the movies' subject matter. These people were spellbound by the story and felt a real connection to the power of the films/books. Every one of the cast members told me they understood they were experiencing a once in a lifetime phenomenon.

Q: Rita Hinman of The Dalles, Ore., asks: "How were you selected for this commission out of all of ABC's excellent field reporters? Was this assignment one that you will remember throughout your career?"

A: I have been a correspondent with ABC for a long time — 23 years now — so my relationship with the producers goes back a bit. In this case, I had done a previous story with producer Kate Harrington and when she asked if I would be interested in The Lord of the Rings, I jumped at the chance. I had been a big Tolkien fan in college and so it seemed a natural. Plus, the interviews were going to be loose, and on the fly … get the director here, run into the actors' trailer there, back over to the set and catch Serkis [Andy Serkis, the actor who played Gollum] getting into character, etc. That's the way I like to work, so it was a natural. And I was lucky to be involved.

Q: Jennifer of Calgary, Alberta, asks: "After spending the time in New Zealand getting an inside view on Middle Earth, don't you wish you had gotten the chance to play a character? Which one would you be — elf, dwarf, man or orc?"

A: I would choose to be a hobbit. I love those cozy houses! Plus, they got their priorities straight — home, family food and drink … with a little adventure on the side.

Q: Amy of Tracy, Calif., says: "I read that Peter Jackson may do the prequel to The Lord of the Rings, meaning The Hobbit, after he finishes the remake of King Kong. Any hints from Peter about this?"

A: Peter told me he very much wants to do The Hobbit after King Kong but they are having a hard time getting the rights to the books.

Q: Jodi Diminick in Savoy, Ill., asks: "Why do people like Orlando Bloom so much? To girls, it's the most IMPORTANT question. Is it his eyes or his wig? Or just his personality?"

A: I'm probably not the best person to ask. Now, my daughter would say it's the whole package — face, eyes, hair and personality.

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