People Staff
February 27, 2004 12:52 PM

February 28, 2004
While filming the Oscar-nominated film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Viggo Mortensen was so captivated by New Zealand’s natural beauty that he wanted to make sure the crew appreciated it, and not from a helicopter window. “He wanted to drive five, six, eight hours – sometimes two days – to get (to certain locations),” says producer Barrie Osborne. On one occasion, Mortensen (who is also an accomplished painter and photographer), costar Orlando Bloom and Osborne thought the sunrise on the South Island was so incredible that Mortensen persuaded the crew to camp out so it could be captured on film the next morning. “We got some steaks and barbecued, had big campfires and a lot of red wine, and told stories all night long,” says Osborne.

Celebrity trainer David Kirsch, in L.A. to do last-minute reps with the Oscar set, has been getting Liv Tyler ready for Sunday. In addition to working out with her in New York City (where both are based) and now in L.A., Kirsch has put Tyler on his “lean and green” diet regimen: “She’s eating mostly broccoli, spinach and protein shakes,” says a source close to the trainer. “No bread, no fruit. She started it two weeks ago.”

Between shooting The Life Aquatic with writer-director Wes Anderson and getting ready for Oscar night, this has been a hectic time for Best Actor nominee Bill Murray. So how is the notoriously publicity-shy actor, who typically prefers lying low with wife Jennifer and his six sons to the Hollywood scene, going to recuperate from all the hoopla? “After all this is over, he is just going on vacation,” Murray’s brother Andy tells us. And not with the whole brood either, Andy adds: “I have a feeling it will be him and the wife first.”

Speaking of Bill Murray … it seems the Lost in Translation star is very popular among his neighbors in Palisades, N.Y., where he has a riverfront home. Some anecdotes:
• At a local sushi bar, an autograph by Murray advises, “Watch the sake.”
• Murray has been known in years past not only to pump gas on occasion for locals, but also to pay for it.
• When businessman Ned Kelly first opened a home-furnishing shop, he recalls, “Bill found a tete-a-tete bench he liked in the window and he asked my shop assistant to sit in the window with him to try it out. It was good for business having Bill Murray sitting in your window.”
• A housekeeper reports her first run-in with Murray, which took place in a local country club. “One time I came into the room and I saw a man drinking coffee, and I said, ‘Are you Bill Murray?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m not Bill Murray.’ And I said, ‘Well, you don’t look that much like him anyway.’ And I started walking away. And all of a sudden he called out, ‘Hey, wait a minute! I am Bill Murray!’ So I came back into the room and said, ‘Oh, you have to give me an autograph!’ So he gave me an autograph.”
• Dean Schembri, now in his 20s, remembers Murray’s characteristic humor from years ago: “I met him when I was 8 years old, doing laundry one time. He wrote an autograph on our Tide bottle, my sister still has it. (It says) ‘Make sure you separate the whites.’ ”
… No doubt the whole town will be rooting for him on Oscar night.

Here’s a peek at the pre-Oscar appointment list belonging to star brow plucker Anastasia Soare:
• Thursday, Feb. 26: Charlize Theron, Jada Pinkett Smith
• Friday, Feb. 27: Oprah Winfrey, Penelope Cruz, Samantha Morton
• Saturday, Feb. 28: Diane Keaton, Keisha Castle-Hughes

The tweezer titan believes plucking is “more important than a good haircut.” Judging by her pre-Oscar lineup, Hollywood’s leading ladies agree, shelling out $45 per sitting. Brow-raising bonus: Best Actress nominees each receive a $2,000 diamond-encrusted tweezer as a good-pluck charm.


More Oscar Watch: Demi, Ashton, Paris … >

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