Playing Aragorn in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
, Viggo Mortensen realized his childhood fantasies were nothing like reel life. "Instead of being in my backyard with a wooden sword or stick, imagining hundreds of monsters coming at me and people to save, I was wet, cold and tired," says Mortensen, 43, of the grueling 18-month shoot in New Zealand. "These monsters were coming at me full tilt, and if I didn't remember the choreography of the action, I was in a lot of trouble." Even the props were hazardous. "I had a really heavy, sharp and dangerous sword," says Mortensen, who learned he couldn't go around waving that thing in public. "A cop stopped me in Wellington [the New Zealand capital], because I was walking out of my building with a sword. It was an alarming sight at 5 a.m."
There were few private moments on the set of Stolen Summer, costarring Kevin Pollak, Aidan Quinn and Bonnie Hunt and opening on March 1. Matt Damon
and Ben Affleck
, who produced the comedy, allowed HBO to film Project Greenlight
, a 13-episode documentary series on the making of the movie that is now airing. The process was a little unnerving for Pollak, 44, who never quite adapted to the pesky Greenlight film crew. "They were everywhere," he recalls. "The crew—cinematographer, makeup and hair people—were always miked, and the mikes weren't visible. It was like they worked for the CIA." So for a little private conversation, Pollak and company went to the only out-of-bounds refuge they could think of: the bathroom. "There will be a portion of the documentary," says Pollak, "where all you hear are toilets flushing."
Cleared for Landing
Six months ago actress Angie Harmon vowed to stand by husband Jason Sehorn, cornerback for the New York Giants, in sickness and in health. Sometimes that's not so easy, as Harmon, who left NBC's Law & Order
last year to devote herself to matrimony, discovered when Sehorn, 30, had knee surgery on Jan. 11. "He's not allowed to bend it for six weeks, but he tries to do everything for himself, and it drives me nuts," says Harmon, 29, who also has found her husband's independence to be a challenge when it comes to his extravagant shopping habits. Lately, the haul has included two new high-definition television sets and a customized Cadillac Escalade SUV, which goes for around $60,000. "When you put it in reverse," Harmon says, "four spotlights shoot out of the back bumpers, and there's a [closed-circuit TV] screen so you don't have to turn around and look to back up." But Harmon isn't the least bit impressed. "I just want to go to the store," she says. "I don't want to dock the Star Trek Enterprise, you know?"
The Music Man
On film Richard Gere has played a hustler (American Gigolo
), a gynecologist (Dr. T & the Women
) and, currently, a newspaper reporter in the sci-fi thriller The Mothman Prophecies
, which opens on Jan. 25. Next he will play a singing lawyer in the movie adaptation of the long-running Broadway show Chicago
, due in theaters for Christmas. "It's my first stab at a [movie] musical, and when it came up, I thought, 'That would be fun,' " says Gere, who stars as a fast-talking shyster opposite Rénee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones
. "It's all new to me, and to find things totally fresh to your experience is rare at this point in my career." The 52-year-old Gere last put his pipes to work in the 70s as a fledgling theater actor. Things have changed a lot since then. "The musicals of the time were a lot of rock operas," he says. "And I had hair down to my chest."