Let's talk about that Lord of the Rings TV Series rumour (Part 1)

Let's talk about that Lord of the Rings TV Series rumour (Part 1)

So last week the story broke that Warner Brothers and the Tolkien Estate (it's unclear who the initiative came from) were in talks with various Streaming Content providers to potentially adapt The Lord of the Rings for television. I'm no fan of Game of Thrones but there's no denying that since HBO has adapted (and expanded) the Georges RR Martin books, it has become a global phenomenon gathering a rather large fan base.

When the Lord of Rings trilogy came out in 2001, 2002 and 2003 it was a huge success, even winning several academy awards for the Return of the King. Since then, the Hobbit was also adapted for cinema with far less enthusiasm. To put it bluntly, while the Lord of Rings adaptation had to cut parts of the book, The Hobbit added far too much unnecessary plot lines that never were in the original format.

Following on the success of the Lord of the Rings, I often thought it would make sense to take the story further and redo an adaptation for television where the story could be properly adapted in its entirety (including Tom Bombadill) and possibly even add extra story aspects which weren't in the book (much as they did for the Aragorn / Arwen story) but could be pulled from the appendixes and other sources if the Tolkien Estate allowed it.

Today I want to start what I hope to be multiple threads on this topic to open discussions on aspects of the production, casting and maybe distribution and what such a series might look like. Right now the front runner to adapt the books looks to be Amazon with the full weight of Jeff Bezos behind it, but if the article is correct there's a hefty price tag attached to it, so it may well prove to be too expensive, even for Amazon. However, let's assume that it will go ahead and start discussing the cast.

In the early days of the movie trilogy being announced there were all sorts of speculations about who would play which part (anyone recall Sean Connery as Gandalf?), some roles were even recast after production started (Aragorn was originally going to be played by Ethan Hawke). Ultimately, while the casting ended up being terrific, it wasn't perfect either and some roles will be very hard to be recast, most notably Gandalf and Saruman.

So beginning with beginnings, let's have a discussion about hobbits and who could play them. I wasn't too fond of Hobbits being normal-sized humans just shrunk to appear no more than 3ft. Hobbits should be stocky, with furry feet and no pointy ears. Perhaps hiring actors who are naturally short (like Peter Dinklage or Warwick Davis) would make more sense in a TV setting and possibly save quite a bit in practical effects to get the proportions correct. As such it may be difficult to throw names out of the hat on who should play Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin. One thing that would definitely make sense from a financial perspective is to hire relatively unknown actors. After all, how many GoT actors had you heard of before they were in the show (not counting Sean Bean), many of whom went on to have further successful TV and cinema careers?

I would also quite like to see the timeline properly respected, which potentially means having 2 actors play Frodo and Sam between the events of Bilbo's birthday party and the ring leaving the Shire (which are 19 years apart). Either that or doing proper make up, either way Frodo should not look like some 20-something shrunk human with pointy ears the way Elijah Wood did.

Previous actors guest-starring for smaller roles would be cool though, for instance I'd quite like to see Sean Astin come back to play the Gaffer if they don't go with all hobbits cast as little people.

Are you excited about the prospect of a potential Lord of the Rings TV show or do you hail the movies at the pinnacle of perfection? Let me know how you would recast the hobbits if you have any preferences.

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‘Lord Of The Rings’ TV Series Shopped With Huge Rights Payment Attached
UPDATED: In a deal that is expected to dwarf any TV series to date, I hear the J.R.R. Tolkien estate has been shopping a possible series based on the late author’s The Lord of the Rings novel…

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  1. Charles “Chip” Payet

    Honestly, I despised all of the movies, precisely because they removed parts that were just fine as they were, and they added more parts that either detracted from the original or were completely unnecessary, etc. I actually left the movie theater 2/3 of the way through The Two Towers and refused to see Return of the King in disgust.

    If they were to commit doing doing a 100% faithful version, THEN AND ONLY THEN would I watch it. Yes, I think it would be great if they could pull in content (flashbacks perhaps) to stories from the Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, etc, but again – only if 100% faithful.

    I loved The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings exactly as Tolkein wrote them and am a purist. I read them more than 30 times (including at least twice in German) between getting my first copies – which I still have, despite being held together mostly by clear tape – from my godparents when I was about 13yo and 30 years old. It's like they're burned into my psyche; I can't quote lines very well, but I know them so well that anything out of place is painfully obvious.

    So personally, I hope the idea dies unless they truly commit to a faithful retelling.

  2. Jeff Baker
    Jeff Baker says:

    Tolkien was in favor of a live action film using short people.

    I'm somewhat ambivalent about a LOTR tv series. The movies did justice to the books. I'm worried that a tv series might not be extremely poor in quality.

  3. Jean-Loup Rebours-Smith

    +Charles Payet The trouble is, you can never have a 100% accurate adaptation. The way stories are told in book format and in visual formats such as movies and Television are vastly different and that's why they will always attract the ire of purists such as yourself because should a movie be 100% accurate to its source material, it may only end up being interesting to a handful of viewers while the general public loses interest.

    I believe a middle ground is always possible where it satisfies the majority of viewers and with a much longer visual canvas the story can be told as intended.

    Bear in mind a true adaptation would mean a TV show with quite a few musical episodes as well, which would not be to everyone's tastes, but that's something I would love to see (and I don't tend to like shows with musical episodes)

  4. Charles “Chip” Payet

    +Jean-Loup Rebours-Smith oh, I completely understand what the point, and I recognize that my purism is what prevents me from enjoying the adaptations, but that's the way I am with virtually all book-to-movie adaptations. The only ones that I really enjoyed were those of Harry Potter, and that was because J.K. Rowling was so intimately involved with the movie adaptations.

    If they ever make a TV adaptation, I'll look, but if they take the kind of liberties that they did in the movies (I absolutely DESPISED what they did with the Arwen/Aragorn story), then I'll just not watch.

  5. Jean-Loup Rebours-Smith

    +Jeff Baker Remember there are quire a few ways they could potentially cut down on costs, one of which could be reusing props and sets from the movie trilogy, another would be dependent on the set location(s). It might not make sense to return to New Zealand this time. GoT is filmed across Europe, mostly in places like Croatia and Northern Ireland and I think it could be mutually beneficial for places in Europe to offer great sets for such a show to be filmed (lots of places in Scotland have a renewed popularity at the moment because of Outlander for instance)

  6. Jean-Loup Rebours-Smith

    +Charles Payet Interesting you should bring up Harry Potter because I have a few serious issues with some movies veering off in a tengent which wasn't what I expected to see, this despite the fact that it was all greenlit by Rowling herself (that final fight with Voldemort is the best example)

    So I think it really depends on what our expectations are.

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