Figwit Lives!

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Elf who launched a thousand hits

  The Daily Telegraph 13/12/2002

By Oliver Poole

He appears for only three seconds, but a moody elf in The Lord of the Rings has inspired a fanatical following on the web.

As Lord of the Rings fans count the days to the opening of the second instalment next week, there is a particular group of die-hard female enthusiasts who are preparing to scrutinise every frame in the hope of catching a glimpse of their favourite character.

Bret McKenzie as "Figwit" It is not Frodo or Aragorn or even Gandalf, but a nameless elf whose lack of dialogue, close-ups or even screen time (he was on for only three seconds) has not stopped him becoming the most unlikely cult hero of the original three-hour adventure.

The first site dedicated to the character appeared in March, created by two university students - Iris Hadad, 23, an Israeli studying in Britain, and her friend Sherry de Andres, 31, from south-west England - who had both become mesmerised by the moody-looking elf's brief appearance.

They dubbed him Figwit as a result of their original reaction to catching sight of his fleeting and only appearance in the film, during the scene at the Council of Elrond when Frodo agrees to be the ring bearer. Hadad explains: "It stands for 'Frodo is great who is that?' "

Now a search on reveals a staggering 1,300 entries for the name, including sites such as "The Adventures of Figwit" and "The Secret Diary of Figwit". The original - - has proved so popular that its creators had to buy extra bandwidth.

"We got a lot of emails from people who thought they were the only ones who had noticed that handsome, dark-haired elf," Hadad says. "He does stand out."

De Andres adds: "His energetic broodiness worked its magic on them."

The fuss has left no one as bemused as Bret McKenzie, the 26-year-old New Zealand musician who took the part after being press-ganged into appearing as an extra by his girlfriend, a secretary at Weta, the special effects company created by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson.

"It's so hilarious because it's been propelled by so little," he said. "I'm famous for doing nothing."

His fame has in fact already resulted in a documentary company from New Zealand following him to the Edinburgh Festival this year, where McKenzie's folk music comedy duo Flight of the Conchords were appearing, at which they filmed him being mobbed by Figwit fans.

Unfortunately for enthusiasts of this elf, the film's makers say they do not think McKenzie appears at all in the second picture, The Two Towers, which is released in Britain next Wednesday. Despite an internet campaign for him to have an expanded role, all three parts of the trilogy were shot simultaneously and filming was largely completed before the first film was even distributed.

Mark Ordesky, the trilogy's executive producer, said Jackson had been so amused by the Figwit phenomenon that he had tried to bring him back when some additional shooting had to be done for the second film, but McKenzie had not been contactable.

"It's difficult to find good elves. He's quite striking," Ordesky said. "Someone said, 'We should track down Figwit.' But he was out of town."

All is not lost for Figwit fans, however. To the delight of the figwitlives website, two extra seconds of the character can apparently be seen in the expanded DVD version of the first film, which went on sale this month, and he also features briefly in an extra segment on one of the discs which details post-production work.

It extols a momentary glimpse of his back, noting "the lithe and graceful way he sits down compared to the much less elegant elf next to him".

"The asthmatics amongst you," it warns, "better keep your inhalers handy."