There’s finally a tentative release date for the $1bn Lord of the Rings TV series - but who should star in it?
There was a time when if a person liked ‘epic high fantasy’ lore and other such dubious pursuits, they had to shroud themselves in layers of extremely repellent body odour and hide in a corner of the Games Workshop for fear of reprisal.
But since 2011, when HBO started cranking out hours and days and weeks of The Game of the Thrones, everything has changed. Suddenly it became ‘normal’ and not ‘terminally uncool’ to enjoy fantasy. You were allowed to watch and even enjoy The Game of the Thrones without being ostracised by wider society or beaten up by the jocks. You were reasonably allowed to scream “Have you seen the new Games of the Thrones?” at perfect strangers in the street. You could spend every waking moment furiously searching the outer recesses of the internet for tidbits of info and ‘theories’ about Those Hazy Games of Throne without thinking, “Do I like fantasy now? Am I a fantasy fan? Should I be concerned that I appear to have learned the name of every precious metal and gemstone? Should I clad myself in chainmail and storm a Dungeons and Dragons tournament? Is £5,000 really too much to pay for a replica lance?”
Point being: fantasy makes the big bucks now. And so: remember Lord of the Rings, the Hollywood hit trilogy that pulled in the big bucks over a decade before Games: Of Thrones? Despite the best efforts of little Peter Jackson, the proudest nerd in showbiz, it wasn’t something most people over the age of 10 readily admitted to actively liking, but fantasy is different now. Imagine how many bucks an easily-streamable TV series of Lord of the Rings would make now, and just how big those bucks would be. Imagine if someone, say Amazon Prime, acquired the rights to such a show, and for multiple neverending series of the show? Imagine that.
Well, you won’t have to imagine it much longer, because they have. Anyway, to tide your feeble imaginations over in the interim, we’ve come up with the castings they absolutely need to make.
Frodo Baggins - Daniel Radcliffe
Listen. We know he is virtually identical to Elijah Wood in every discernible way. If Daniel Radcliffe and Elijah Wood meet in a public bathroom, they spend a lot of time staring one another in the eye, adjusting their hair and trying to wash their hands, on account of thinking they’re looking in a mirror (because they look so similar, dumbass, shouldn’t have to explain these things).
Anyway, people like consistency. If you tell people ‘Frodo Baggins is a goblinesque little fella with piercing blue eyes who looks permanently embarrassed, like he’s pissed himself in front of the whole school’ one moment, and then around 10 years later, go “Frodo Baggins is a seven foot tall underwear model, who looks like he beats up tanks for fun”, they get confused. They run Facebook pages demanding their ‘Frodo Back’ and write op-eds about how Frodo having watertight abs and a peachy butt “betrays the entire spirit of the book”. They need a constant. Radcliffe is perfect. He was there, at the turn of the century, in the other massive franchise of the day. And he definitely needs work now.
Samwise Gamgee - Charlie Day
Now, it might have been a couple years since I last saw LotR, but I definitely remember Samwise’s character mainly being this tiny tagalong fella who kept bleating “Mr Frodo! Mr Frodo!” in nervous protestation about basically everything, and who was thusly roundly ignored by everyone else. Also he didn’t have any shoes. This is basically Charlie’s character in Always Sunny, if you substitute “Mr Frod-oh!” for “Hey… guys! C’mon!”
(Don’t worry, we’re well aware this is the weakest one, it will get better.)
Merry and Pippin - Mel and Sue
Picture the scene: it’s 4am, or whatever 4am is in Hobbiton time. You’ve just been physically ejected from the Prancing Pony by a less-than-impressed landlord for “drinking the entire Shire dry”, and there’s not gonna be another horse and carriage to take you home until Gandalf gets here, and even then he’s gonna be chucking round his fireworks while you’re trying to get to grips with a truly disgraceful hangover. No thanks.
You need an excuse to stay out. Any excuse. All of a sudden, two of the likeliest sorts to ever grace Middle Earth come smashing through a hedgerow. It’s only Merry and Pippin, riding an utterly sozzled Treebeard. They’ve got wind of a massive eleventieth hobbit-hole party and Bilbo’s getting the gear in, are you coming? Of course you are. Truly, you won’t come across a pair of gals this cheeky anywhere in literature, so the (former) Bake Off duo would be perfect.
Aragorn - Donald Glover
Donald Glover once started a campaign to be the next Spider-Man, arguing: why shouldn’t he be? And now he sort-of is Spider-Man. And so we say, simply: why shouldn’t the polymath actor, musician and stand-up be Aragorn? And now we’ve said it, soon, he will be.
Gimli - Danny DeVito
Are you just casting people from the two sitcoms you can remember off the top of your head? No! If you can come up with a more diminutive and frankly loveable presence to replace the cuddly dwarf than DeVito, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a full and convincing justification, so we can simply substitute your suggestion in. Until then, Lil Danny DV stays.
Legolas - Jackie Chan
IIRC, Legolas doesn’t really have a character, he’s just the guy who gets to do the coolest stunts with the most panache. That’s Jackie Chan’s thing. “Um, Jackie Chan is like twice as old as Orlando Bloom, how will this work?” Shut up, pedant, Legolas is meant to be hundreds of years old, so Jackie Chan is actually far more appropriate age-wise. God.
Gandalf - Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman* has been a wizened onscreen codger for nearly three decades now, and the only other old person you can think of in cinema is Ian McKellen, who was already in the movie. Also, if you go through all of his narration from the Shawshank Redemption and replace the name ‘Andy Dufresne’ with ‘Frodo Baggins’, it’s pretty much a faithful retelling of Tolkien’s story:
“I must admit I didn’t think much of Frodo Baggins first time I laid eyes on him; looked like a stiff breeze would blow him over. That was my first impression of the man.”
“I’d like to think that the last thing that went through his head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the hell Frodo Baggins ever got the best of him.”
“Frodo Baggins, who crawled through 500 yards of shit and came out clean the other end.”
*Obviously, this is subject to Freeman not being thoroughly #metood
Boromir - Danny Dyer
Sure, you could make the point that we’re replacing Sean Bean with another universally beloved British actor who refuses to disguise his regional accent, but actually we’re basing this entirely on this meme. Look how similar these two memes are. Look.
Gollum - Jedward
The sallow face fish-head-eating weirdo with two virtually identical but apparently separate personalities… would be perfect to play Gollum! Aha! But seriously, I can’t remember which one out of Gollum and Smeagol was the ‘evil’ one, but I can’t tell my Jedwards apart. Edward wants to live a pure life, but finds himself dragged into mischief by the devious John.
Saruman - Jeff Goldblum
We’ve given the others tenuous and laboured ‘funny’ justifications, but this is actually just a great bit of casting To Be Quite Honest With You. It would give the corrupt wizard, very much the Moriarty to Gandalf’s Holmes, the Draco to his Harry, a much-needed campy sense of fun.
Yes, Christopher Lee does have a compellingly eerie screen presence about him, but just think how much better it might have been if he did a sneaky tiptoe in between his towers, one finger pressed against his lips in a conspiratorial ‘shh!’, breaking the fourth wall to wink at the camera at every opportunity. We mean no offence to the late, great Christopher Lee when we say: Jeff Goldblum would be much better.
Sauron - Mesut Ozil
This one is just offensive. Sorry