Local fans endure real walk to Mordor
The statement about the dark fictional land home to Mount Doom, Frodo and his pals’ final destination in their quest to destroy the ring, sparked a popular Internet meme.
It also gave Shawcross and Demarais an idea and a challenge: “Maybe you can simply walk into Mordor.”
In a celebration of their love of “The Lord of the Rings,” the two writerproducer-directors from online production company RoosterTeeth.com packed up and headed to the other side of the world to prove Boromir wrong.
The two twenty-somethings documented their adventure in “A Simple Walk Into Mordor,” a Web series that debuted this week to correspond with the release of Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.” Episodes two hits RoosterTeeth.com and Blip. com on Friday, with the remaining episodes dropping next week.
The title plays off Boromir’s admonition and is also a of bit tonguein-cheek humor from its creators. As it turns out, the walk actually isn’t that simple.
Shawcross and Demarais headed to New Zealand, where they met up with fellow “LOTR” fanatic and New Zealand native Nick Newton, who served as their guide. Using a map of shooting locations from the film, the trio decided they would head south from “The Shire” to “Mount Doom” (Mount Ngauruhoe).
The journey would extend across 130 miles and take them six days. Six brutal days.
The first episode features the boys full of energy and cracking wise, as Demarais chases sheep and cows across the sublimely beautiful New Zealand countryside. But the levity doesn’t last too long.
The trio of Tolkienlovers averaged 20 to 25 miles a day, walking 12 to 16 hours. Their feet turned to a collection of gnarly blisters, their loins chafed and the destination seemed to get farther away with every step.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Demarais said. “By the end of day two, we were already dead.”
“It was one of those things, too, where you feel terrible and think, ‘OK, this is the worst I’m going to feel the whole trip,’ but it just keeps getting worse,” Shawcross said. “It never hit a plateau of terribleness, it just kept getting worse.”
Shawcross still doesn’t have feeling in parts of some of his toes.
“People will joke that Frodo and Sam just walk ... it’s not that hard,” Demarais said. “It’s the hardest thing in the world. And we weren’t even fighting. There were no Orcs.”
Their epic quest took the guys through meadows and over hills, along river trails and into darkened woods. They dug holes as makeshift latrines and camped in tents, a first for both of the native Texans. A support team assembled by Newton would meet the guys at predetermined spots to replenish their food and supplies.
On the rare occasion the guys — dressed in costumes from the film — would come across farmers or hikers in the countryside, they would be met with puzzled looks. The New Zealanders weren’t the only ones who thought Shawcross and Demarais were a bit crazy.
“I’m pretty sure there was a pool at the office to see if we were going to die,” Shawcross said.
The guys won’t reveal how their journey ended — you’ll have to tune into the webisodes for that — but they admit to being overwhelmed at the conclusion of their quest.
“We knew it was going to be hard,” Demarais said. “I don’t think we had any idea how hard it was going to be.”
Shawcross and Demarais are hopeful that the videos make their way to Jackson and that the filmmaker thinks it’s as cool as they do.
As for whether they would be willing to endure the physical and mental anguish again ...
“I would do it again,” Demarais said. “I don’t know if I’d do it again right away. ... It was one of the best experiences of my life and one of the worst experiences of my life at the same time.”
“Best and stupidest,” Shawcross said.
Kerry Shawcross (left) and Chris Demarais inside a Hobbit house before leaving The Shire to begin the journey they document in “A Simple Walk Into Mordor.”