How was it working with Aaliyah?
It was amazing. Not only was she beautiful and talented, she was genuine -- someone I really felt something for. I've lost a lot of people I love, and I've come to think God takes the best ones for himself.
What was it like seeing the film after her death?
It was strange, because suddenly the whole movie meant something else to me. But she's so great in it. I don't think audiences will have a hard time watching her in light of what's happened, but in the end she does die. I think the scene is really quite beautiful, but if I were a member of her family, I wouldn't be able to deal with it. Her brother actually did ADR [dubbing] of her voice for the film, which must have been hard. He had to watch the whole film and then repeat her lines.
You were originally cast in ''Lord of the Rings'' as Aragorn, then Viggo Mortensen stepped in just before shooting began. What happened?
Two weeks ago I finally read an article where the filmmakers said, ''We were totally wrong about Stuart and we accept that it was our fault,'' which was so nice because I did get shafted up the a--. I was there rehearsing and training for two months, then was fired the day before filming began. After that I was told they wouldn't pay me because I was in breach of contract due to not having worked long enough. I had been having a rough time with them, so I was almost relieved to be leaving until they told me I wouldn't be paid. I have no good feelings for those people in charge, I really don't. The director [Peter Jackson] wanted me and then apparently thought better of it because he really wanted someone 20 years older than me and completely different.
Is the movie's success hard to swallow?
There's always some good to be found in a bad experience. The guys who played the Hobbits are great people, and Orlando Bloom became a good friend. But it was a weird introduction to big-budgeted projects. Anyway, the night after I was fired, I was sipping cocktails in Australia with my best friends, so really, it was never meant to be.