Peter Jackson’s Orc Army Mobilized 25,000 People

“Uruk-hai,” the villains of The Lord of the Rings, have a mysterious name that we can’t quite figure out what it refers to at first glance. Now, if we dig a little deeper, we’ll learn that it actually has a meaning in the Black Speech, where it means “orc people.” In fact, “uruk” means “orc” and is directly linked to the Quenya word “urko.” It may never have been explained to us in the movies or the books, but it’s always nice to know that there really was something behind it and they weren’t just random names, isn’t it?

Oh, uruks

For The Two Towers, Peter Jackson knew he would have thousands of orcs ready to attack at once, and unlike Star Wars’ stormtroopers, they would be scarier if they were all different. In fact, Richard Taylor and Peter Owen, in charge of the saga’s make-up (for which they won two Oscars), created 10,000 different orcs that appeared throughout the entire saga. In this maelstrom, Jackson even had the nerve to dare to make one of them a caricature of Harvey Weinstein himself.

But 10,000 orcs needed to make a very specific sound—one that was difficult to make with normal sound systems—so they had to resort to unusual measures. In the scene in The Two Towers where Saruman introduces his army, Peter Jackson went to the Wellington studio during halftime of the cricket match between England and New Zealand on February 16, 2002, to ask the 25,000 fans there to imitate an army of orcs. You go to watch a match, but you end up in The Lord of the Rings. That’s life.

At that moment, Jackson instructed them to yell the phrase “durgbu dashshu, drugbu nazgshu,” which, despite its enigmatic sound, translates to something akin to “Lord of the Rings, Lord of the World” in the newer Black Speech. Of course, no one can say that Jackson didn’t give it his all.

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