But let's face it; Peter Jackson's movies, while very good, are not perfect. There's room for improvement, and believe it or not, the franchise in question is sixteen years old, and in many ways hasn't aged all that well. Amazon Studios is in the process of creating a TV series set in Middle-Earth in the years prior to the events of the novel, but I say, let's take a look at doing Rings as a modern-day, BBC Two television program. It can be three series long, one series for each book, and include numerous flashbacks to material from The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and the Appendices.
Sam Mendes, who executive-produced the BBC series The Hollow Crown (an adaptation of numerous Shakespeare histories), can produce this one, and this can be its cast.
|Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Frodo|
|Patrick Stewart as Gandalf|
|Stephen Moyer as Aragorn|
|Allen Leech as Samwise Gamgee|
|George Rainsford as Merry Brandybuck|
The other two Hobbits were a little harder because they're not as greatly described nor do they seem, at first, at least, to be all that distinct from each other. I've always thought of Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck to be the older and wiser of the two, and Peregrin "Pippin" Took to kind of look to Merry as an older brother. Pippin is the youngest, which is why I don't understand why he was played by the oldest actor of the four hobbits in the Jackson films. Pippin is very much a comic relief character, even in the book, and I have no problem with most of his actions being played for laughs. Merry should be a little more serious, at least, and I found a couple of younger British actors who look suitably Hobbit-like to play them. George Rainsford I confess I don't know much about, but I saw him briefly on TV and thought "he would
|Darren Evans as Pippin Took|
We'll keep going with the Fellowship for now, even if they don't show up in the story for a while (though there's no reason they couldn't in the TV series).
|Jamie Campbell Bower as Legolas|
|Julian Seager as Gimli|
Then, there's Boromir. Definitely a base-breaker of a character, is he a good guy gone bad or was he bad to begin with and it just took the Ring's influence to bring it out of him? That's up to the reader, I suppose, but there's little doubt how Boromir was perceived, prior to his fall. He was everyone's hero. The local quarterback who won every game. Everybody loves Boromir, and I think the way he should be
|Kieran Bew as Boromir|
That's the fellowship done and now let's move on to where the story starts; Hobbiton. There are a few memorable characters who come out of that place, and we'll actually be spending time with many of them this time out.
|Peter Kay as Bilbo Baggins|
|Bill Paterson as Gaffer Gamgee|
|Stephen Graham as Ted Sandyman|
|Kate Dickie as Lobelia Sackville-Baggins|
|Andrew Tiernan as Otho Sackville-Baggins|
|Thomas Turgoose as Lotho Sackville-Baggins|
|Matt Lucas as Fredegar Bolger|
|Hannah Murray as Rosie Cotton|
|Ian Gelder as Farmer Maggot|
The last Hobbit we meet before leaving Hobbiton is Farmer Maggot, who warns of strange folk on the road. He's a stereotypical grumpy old man, not much to him at all, really, but he could also be a stand-in for Farmer Cotton later, as they really are very similar characters. Ian Gelder is my choice for him.
The Ringwraiths don't get much to say in the story, and they're never seen save the one scene where Frodo puts on the Ring in their presence, but they make a huge impact, so I'd like to offer actor John
|John Lebar as the Nazgul|
Gandalf, meanwhile, meets a member of his Order, Radagast the Brown, who tells him that the Nazgul have ridden out again, and influences Gandalf to visit Saruman. Radagast was left out of the movies, then shoe-horned into The Hobbit, where he was portrayed as a befuddled old man. Radagast is friends with all birds and beasts, and I picture him as a thin man with long, greying brown hair. I picked David Bradley for him.
|David Bradley as Radagast|
And now comes a controversial part; a part that was utterly left out of the films and many feel it was for good reason. Tom Bombadil is greatly loved by many Tolkienites, and greatly despised by others. Personally, I was more than okay with him being removed from the movies because he does little to further the plot, but in a TV show, you can slow down and have a character who only appears for one or two episodes.
|Bill Bailey as Tom Bombadil|
Tom's a merry old fellow who loves to sing and dance, and has a long beard and bright clothing. Many feel this was a role that Robin Williams could have played in his sleep, and he probably could have, but unfortunately, he's not available at the moment. So in his stead, musical comedian Bill Bailey could do it. He knows physical comedy, and he's able to sing and dance. What else do you need to be Tom Bombadil?
Tom's wife is "the river's daughter", Goldberry, who is a stunningly beautiful young-looking woman with golden hair. I chose Annabelle Wallis because she's pretty and blonde, and has a softness and warmth to her that is vital for the role of Goldberry.
|Annabelle Wallis as Goldberry|
|Stephen Marcus as Barliman Butterbur|
But not everyone they meet in Bree is a friend. Bill Ferny knows something is up with the Hobbits, and he sees a situation he could take advantage of. We don't see the fruits of that until the end of the story, and Bill Ferny is a character easy to write out, but not here, oh no. Jamie Foreman will be the
|Jamie Foreman as Bill Ferny|
Once past Bree, the Hobbits now have Aragorn's protection against the Nazgul, but ultimately it's not enough, and Frodo is stabbed by the Witch-King.
|Ben Lamb as Glorfindel|
|Kevin R. McNally as Gloin|
While Legolas's father, Thranduil, King of the Elves of Mirkwood, does not appear in this story, he has a sizable role in The Hobbit, and will be a good person to include in flashbacks, as well as showing him choosing to send Legolas to the Council of Elrond in his stead. I chose actor Joseph Morgan to play Thranduil.
|Joseph Morgan as Thranduil|
|Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Elrond|
|Anya Taylor-Joy as Arwen|
|David Warner as Saruman|
Gollum need not talk like a cartoon character, either. I picture him speaking in a voice horribly aged, and all of this leads me to the only other actor well known for always being covered in either make-up or mo-cap: Doug Jones. Jones is incredibly lean, and would probably only need mo-cap for Gollum's body and limbs, meaning only wide-shots. He might even be able to play Smeagol, considering that Smeagol is only Hobbit-like, not an actual Hobbit like Jackson decided to make him. While he's Smeagol, though, I'd like some face make-up to make him a bit more full in the face. Jones is one of the only non-Brits that I've cast, but he's a natural for accents. He'll make an excellent Gollum.
|Doug Jones as Gollum|
The next few chapters are mostly their journeys up Caradhras, then through Moria, and in both cases they don't meet anyone who warrants casting.
Their journey out of Moria leads them to Mirkwood, and the hidden Elven city of Lothorien. There they meet Haldir, the Elven marchwarden of Lothlorien, who reluctantly leads them to Caras Galadhon, the seat of the Lord and Lady of Lothlorien, Celeborn and Galadriel.
|Brendan Patricks as Haldir|
Galadriel is one of the most important female characters in the story, an austere yet beautiful elf who has been on Middle-Earth since before it was round, since before the sun and moon existed, since the elves chiefly lived in Valinor. In fact, she and Cirdan the Shipwright are probably the only elves alive during the time of The Lord of the Rings who saw Valinor. So the actress chosen for her will need to be young and beautiful but able to communicate age and great wisdom. Michelle Dockery (who will need a blonde wig) is in her early 30's but has this commanding voice and great poise. She carries
|Michelle Dockery as Galadriel|
Her husband Celeborn was harder to cast because he's supposed to look "aged", but something tells me that means "for an elf". He's about the same age as Galadriel but he was one of the elves of Doriath, who remained Middle-Earth and never went to Valinor despite it being the only place in Arda where there was anything approaching sunlight (the early elves lived solely under stars).
I think we can communicate Celeborn's aged look with a silver wig and casting an actor who's a bit older but not too old.
|Elliot Cowan as Celeborn|
That's Season One, and the conclusion of The Fellowship of the Ring.
Now we come to The Two Towers which begins with the freshly broken Fellowship heading out their separate ways. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas witness Boromir's last moments, and then encounter the Riders of Rohan, led by King Theoden's nephew, Eomer.
We all know by now that Gandalf, who appears to die at the conclusion of The Fellowship of the Ring, returns, having been "sent back" until his task is complete. I don't see why we couldn't show him in the halls of Mandos, met by Namo, Lord of Mandos and the Valar who
|Cillian Murphy as Mandos|
Eomer and his riders have been exiled from Edoras, the King's hall, because King Theoden has fallen under the influence of the evil Grima Wormtongue, a pawn of Saruman, and has been filling his ears with all sorts of false council, including hints that Eomer is a traitor. When Eomer denounces Wormtongue, it convinces Theoden that Wormtongue was right, so
|Jefferson Hall as Eomer|
Eomer later meets up with the three of them again, after they have reunited with Gandalf and they lead the three of them to Edoras, where they are met by the guard at the gate, Hama, another character who probably is very small, but on TV will have more to do, as he's also a memorable part of the battle of Helm's Deep. I always pictured Hama as much older but still very strong, and for that I've chosen Scandanavian actor Rune Temte, one of the only other non-Brits in the cast, who just looks so Rohirrim, and undoubtedly looks like a hearty warrior.
|Rune Temte as Hama|
Hama leads them into the throne room, where they meet King Theoden, his niece (and Eomer's sister) Eowyn, and of course, Grima Wormtongue.
Eowyn, like her brother, is blonde, and very attractive, but should also be someone who looks hardy, ready to take on anything. I confess, I wasn't entirely happy with Miranda Otto in the role; she looked a bit old, and far too frail, or at least in some scenes. I'll admit she pulled off the "I am no man!" scene, but somehow she wasn't very convincing before that. I picked Maude Hirst, because she's pretty but also kinda looks like she could take you on, if you made her have to.
|Maude Hirst as Eowyn|
Once Gandalf removes the influence of Wormtongue, Theoden is suddenly much healthier and very strong. His warriors are amazed, and as soon as he calls for the Eorlingas to ride forth again, they're ready to right at that moment.
|Anthony Stewart Head as Theoden|
|Philip Philmar as Grima Wormtongue|
By now you're probably wondering where my Treebeard is.
The answer is; his casting is kinda immaterial. Jackson even reused his Gimli for Treebeard's voice, and I confess, if I had to pick a voice for Treebeard, he'd probably sound softer and less weezy. I'd probably pick Ronald Pickup, and a picture of him doesn't matter as it's his voice I'd be picking him for.
Ugluk and Grishnakh, the two Orc captains who take Merry and Pippin on their way to Isengard, are given enough character in the books that I'd like to expand their roles a bit
|Ian Whyte as Grishnakh|
Grishnakh is an Orc of Mordor, a twisted version of elves of old, while Ugluk is one of the Uruk-Hai, a new breed of Orc created by Saruman as an evil version of men. I picture the Uruk-Hai as being much broader and perhaps not as tall, while Mordor Orcs are taller, more slender and wraith-like. So Grisnhakh will be played by Ian Whyte, a seven-foot tall actor (with a crazy deep voice) who is slender, like an elf, while Ugluk will be played by Spencer Wildling, an actor probably best known for "playing" Darth Vader in Rogue One. He's not quite seven feet tall but he's pretty big. In both
|Spencer Wildling as Ugluk|
|Robert Pugh as Gamling|
|Richard Aston as Erkenbrand|
After the battle of Helm's Deep, Gandalf and the victorious Rohirrim head to Isengard where they find Treebeard and the Ents have laid siege to it and trapped Saruman and Wormtongue in the tower. This is where they leave them, as Saruman's power has been taken from him by Gandalf, and he will live out the rest of his days in misery, or so they all think. The group of them head to Gondor, but meanwhile we cut over and spend time with Frodo and Sam, the final link of the Fellowship, as they climb their way through the Emyn Muil, capturing Gollum when he tries to take the Ring and force him to guide them to the Black Gate. When Gollum tells them he knows a secret way into Mordor, this leads the three of them to try and sneak through Ithilien, where they are captured by Boromir's younger brother, Faramir, who initially wants to take them to Osgiliath for judgement, but
|Tom Hopper as Faramir|
|Charles Dance as Denethor|
|Alec Newman as Beregond|
|Richard Brake as Halbarad|
|Toby Stephens as Imrahil|
And the final role I need to cast is one that doesn't have much to do but he's got a lot of import in Middle-Earth's history. Cirdan the Shipwright, probably the oldest living elf left outside of Valinor, is the one who captains the ship that takes Gandalf, Bilbo and Frodo to the Grey Havens. Cirdan is the only elf who has visibly aged, and has a beard, as he is in the third cycle of his life. It was hard to cast this essentially walk-on role, because what actor can convey the timeless beauty of the elves but also be appropriately aged?
|Matt Smith as Cirdan|
And that's the series, all the roles that merit casting consideration.
I will do another post with more roles from The Hobbit and another about a big screen adaptation of The Silmarillion in due course.