Lord Of The Rings: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Orcs

The original orcs looked like they'd sh*t themselves...

Harvey Weinstein Gothmog orc Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King
Georges Biard (via Wikipedia)/New Line Cinema

No matter how old you were when you first saw the Lord of the Rings, the orcs were terrifying. Sure, for the most part they could barely stand up to our main heroes, but they still carried a certain menace.

Peter Jackson, with the help of Weta Workshop, did a remarkable job of bringing these foul creatures to life. It was clear he had a huge admiration for J.R.R. Tolkien's work, and went to great lengths to honour the source material, as best he could. Jackson relied on detailed and expertly crated design, and make-up work, to sell his villains as believable characters, going to surprising lengths in the process...

But of course, with any book to film adaptation, some things are going to get lost in translation. It's fitting for a bunch of cave-dwelling monsters, that many aspects of their culture are shrouded in mystery; but fear not, we've gathered together the 10 most interesting and disturbing facts about the ugliest creatures put to screen.

10. Peter Jackson Changed The Uruk-hai For The Films

Harvey Weinstein Gothmog orc Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King
New Line Cinema

When it comes to the most distinctive group of orcs, the Uruk-hai of Isengard take the win. They were taller than the average man, and more ferocious fighters than the usual orc rabble.

Tolkien made it clear that Uruks were a new breed of orc, that turned up during the Third Age of Middle Earth. Sauron certainly had many in his service, but Tolkien seemed to make a distinction between the Uruk-hai of Saruman and the Uruks of Mordor.

Jackson took many characteristics outlined in Tolkien's original writing, but over-emphasised the size of the Uruk-hai. Orcs, typically, are short, squat creatures with very long arms, more akin to chimpanzees than humans. They tend to vary in size, and can be very broad and muscular, but even the largest of them were rarely as tall as a man. Tolkien painted an image of skulking creatures, who were so evil and twisted, that they tended to hunch over. Some were even described as touching the ground with their arms as they ran.

The Uruk-hai were unique in that they were almost the size of men, but certainly weren't as huge as they are in the movies. Jackson seems to have based his Uruk-hai on the descriptions of the half-orcs, and goblin-men Saruman created, which were different creatures entirely... but we'll get to them later.


Before engrossing myself in the written word, I spent several years in the TV and film industry. During this time I became proficient at picking things up, moving things and putting things down again.