LORD OF THE RINGS star Dominic Monaghan owes Viggo Mortensen a huge debt of gratitude after the movie hunk saved him from a hefty fine and a reprimand on the set of the epic trilogy after he took him surfing.

The stars of the films were strictly forbidden from surfing in New Zealand, where they shot the films, because active sports injuries were not covered by insurers.

But Monaghan, a proficient surfer, couldn't resist taking pals Mortensen and Billy Boyd out for a session - and almost paid dearly for his dangerous hobby.

He says, "We were filming THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, and, if you notice, you can only see Viggo from the side profile for a few sequences because we went surfing.

"He fell off his board, his board went up in the air... and smacked him right in the eye.

"As he surfed over to Billy and I to say, 'How do I look?' we saw his eye just close.

"Viggo, being the cool guy that he is, said that he fell down the stairs or trod on a frog or something like that and we got away with it."

01/11/2004 10:34