Stephen Colbert is a comedian well-known to American portraying a right-wing television host. But he is also a die-hard Tolkien fan, speaking of The Silmarillion on numerous occasions and even having a contest with James Franco on air.
As such a big fan of Tolkien’s works he secured a cameo in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug as a spy in Lake-town. At the San Diego Comic-con last week he hosted the panel for the upcoming third Hobbit film. He even references Fëanor:
Hello. If I could only go back in time and show this to my 13-year-old self!
Welcome to today’s panel on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and a celebration of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth: The Battle for Six Movies. My name is Stephen Colbert, and if you are anything like me, you don’t just love these stories — you treasure the world of J.R.R. Tolkien. Let me take you to a time long ago, an earlier age: the time of Clinton, the dark days of dial-up internet. A rumor came to us that director Peter Jackson would be making an adaptation of the trilogy. At the time, many of us knew him only from his movie Heavenly Creatures, and as great as that movie is, I wasn’t sure there was room for hysterical, murderous teenage girls in Middle-earth … other than, of course, Éowyn.
I was worried that somehow he would take away my treasure, my horde of precious Middle-earth stories. It was a very possessive, obsessive, very dragon-y feeling, so I found and followed everything I could about the progress of these movies. I remember seeing the first stills from the filming of Helm’s Deep. I looked at every casting announcement. I scoured the work of John Howe and Alan Lee. I read the online debates about fantasy versus fairy tales. And I began to have hope.
Not just hope the movies would be good … I was given hope that finally, finally people might not roll their eyes when I started talking about Middle-earth. That my head full of facts from Fëanor to Faramir might suddenly have some social value! That someone might say to me, “Hey Stephen, you know a lot about Tolkien. Can you explain something to me?” And I would say “Yes, oh God yes, I will!”
And then the movies broke upon the world, and to steal a line from C.S. Lewis, “Here were beauties that pierced like swords and burned like cold iron.” Here were movies that would break your heart, good beyond hope. And rather than take away our treasure, Peter and Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens and Richard Taylor and Grant Major and Dan Hennah and the cast and the crew and WETA Digital and the land and the people of New Zealand itself added to our stories, complemented our imagination. The only problem, as I saw it, was that at a total running time of eleven and a half hours, they were too damn short.
Shaun is the current Chair of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2013, Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien’s works whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time can be found in the cinema, playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter.