Very rarely does more than one actor get the credit for a specific character. However, depending on the film, multiple hands could have been involved in bringing a role to life. This is especially true when it comes to stand-ins and stunt doubles, who are tasked with recreating an actor’s performance so as to blend seamlessly into the finished product. Lord of the Rings actor Brett Beattie served as both size and stunt double for Gimli (credited to John Rhys-Davies), and he has plenty of battle scars to show for it.
In a recent interview with Polygon, Brett Beattie revealed the truly gnarly injuries he sustained playing Gimli, son of Gloin. In particular, he recalled trying to get a specific shot for the Helm’s Deep battle sequence (a fight scene so iconic even the MCU took notes) . Brett Beattie had attempted to transfer Gimli’s signature axe to his other hand - with disastrous results. He said:
I clipped my brow on the way past. Because I was wearing a prosthetic mask, the blood couldn’t get out. So the blood built up and built up under the mask until, eventually, an eye-bag which was glued on actually ruptured and the blood just started spurting out. It looked a lot worse than it actually was.
Getting injured is dicey at the best of times, but getting hurt while wearing ten pounds of makeup and running around with axes? It’s a recipe for trouble if there ever was one. And Brett Beattie did much more than that: he actually played Gimli for such a large portion of the trilogy that he almost got a co-credit with John Rhys-Davies.
According to Polygon, Brett Beattie was originally hired only for stunts on horseback. However, two things happened to change this: one, the casting department realized he was the perfect size to stand in for Gimli, and two, John Rhys-Davies struggled with the requisite makeup (as did other LOTR actors who had issues with prosthetics).
Brett Beattie fought Orcs in Fangorn Forest, ran from Goblins in the Mines of Moria and brought down Wargs in Rohan, so it’s no surprise that he accumulated a fair amount of battle scars. In addition to the axe-induced brow injury, he also blew out both of his knees. At the time of Polygon’s interview, Brett Beattie had undergone three knee surgeries, but he’s kept a sense of humor about the situation:
The surgeon was asking me how I got those injuries, and I was like, ‘Well, I was battling Uruk-hai at Helm’s Deep.’
Hey, if you have to get knee surgery, at least it’s for a badass reason. While Brett Beattie didn’t receive the co-credit that would have immortalized his contribution to Gimli, he did get something else: he was invited to get the Elvish tattoo that every original Fellowship member got after the trilogy wrapped.