The LOTR Movie Site
July 6, 2000

The Casting of Arwen

In response to the new article about the miscasting of the LOTR movie and the meeting to be held by the Tolkien Society: They are completely justified, as are many of us, in their fear about the casting of Liv Tyer and the subsequent changes that were made to the role of Arwen Undomiel.  However, I cannot fathom why the casting of Cate Blanchett would upset anyone. In "Elizabeth" she proved she has the classical acting chops required to pull off the role of Galadriel with grace and integrity - not to mention beauty. And contrary to what the article implies, Galadriel is not involved in any "flirting" with Frodo or anyone else (thank God for small favors!). We should all be happy that the character of Galadriel has not been obscenely bastardized like that of Arwen, and that Jackson had a moment of clarity when he cast an actress of such accomplished and beautiful stock.

Of course, we all have our opinions on who should have played who in the highly anticipated film - but that will always be the case - whether it's the casting of "The Patriot" or "X-Men." That said, I think anyone can see the huge mistake that was made in the casting of Arwen. I hate to beat the subject to death, but the blatant disregard shown in the casting of an ancient, mysterious and worldly being with the latest Hollywood hot tamale (Liv Tyler) irritates me to no end. Tyler is far too young to give Arwen the dignity and grace she deserves - and the fact that she's going to be riding around with a sword, defying authority figures like Elrond and Aragorn left and right while indulging some Hollywood producer's wet dream of chicks in chainmail, doesn't help in the slightest!

Look, the preview got me excited. It restored my faith in Jackson - who obviously loves these books as much as anyone. I don't know what made him think he had to degrade Arwen in this manner, but even if nothing changes, I'm going to be in line. However - I think that even this new "warrior Arwen" could have been pulled off if Jackson had cast an actress capable of conveying courage in a non Disney Heroine way. An older actress (I've always favored Sophie Marceau, the dark haired beauty from "Braveheart") could have brought the original world weariness, wisdom, and loveliness of Arwen to the picture, as well as displayed any raw determination required by her new warrior maid status. Marceau has played a dignified princess before, and managed to combine innocence, poise, and great femininity with streaks of independence and ruthlessness in a way that did not play into the "rebellious female" stereotype. I'm a big Xena fan myself and I love to see heroines who kick ass. I don't think that's how Arwen was supposed to be portrayed, but if worst comes to worst, the least Jackson could do is provide us with an actress who looks believable holding a sword.

I think the sheer visual scope of the film will be enough to make anyone who has ever wanted a glimpse of Middle Earth, shell out their money - but Jackson has a wonderful opportunity to make this movie into more than just a visually strong, character weak razzle dazzle like "the Phantom Menace." He has a chance to do justice to one of the world's most beloved tales.  Conforming to the Hollywood norm of "beautiful starlet with questionable abilities" + "sword," isn't helping and has already outraged many fans.  This is the issue that should be addressed by the Tolkien Society.  Secretly, I hope they can get the warrior Arwen footage cut from the final version of the film. Liv Tyler would still be miscast, but at least the character wouldn't appear half so silly.

Note: I don't think Liv Tyler is a terrible actress at all. She has done some really good work in films like "Cookie's Fortune" and "Stealing Beauty." I just think that she is far too modern an actress to pull off the role of an Ancient Elf - or for that matter, an Ancient Anything.