Mr. Showbiz
October 13, 1999

Blanchett Rounds Out Rings Cast
Dade Hayes

Attention, Lord of the Rings fans. Over a year following its official announcement, Peter Jackson's massive, three-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's cherished fantasy classic will finally go into production on Monday.

As promised, New Line Cinema has officially posted a (sort of) complete cast list at the movie's official Web site, www.lordoftherings.net, filling in a number of the remaining holes in the project's sprawling dramatis personae. A number of roles key to the second and third films in the planned trilogy are apparently still up in the air, but there's now plenty of fodder for water cooler casting debates until additional announcements are made.

Topping the latest casting call is Oscar-nominee Cate Blanchett. The Aussie actress, who burst onto the scene last year as Elizabeth's ball-breaking Virgin Queen, will get to strut her regal bearing once more as Lady Galadriel, high elf and ruler with the Lord Celeborn of the enchanted woodland realm of Lothlorien.

John Rhys-Davies, probably best known for playing Indy's pal Sallah in both Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, has been cast as Gimli, a dwarf of the Lonely Mountain and companion of the hobbit Frodo. As with Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, who play Frodo and his servant Samwise, Rhys-Davies will likely be digitally shrunk to suit his character's not-quite-human dimensions.

Sean Bean will play the role of Boromir, a human warrior and Captain of Gondor who likewise accompanies Frodo on his quest. Bean has been most noted in the past for playing villainous roles, including that of a terrorist who menaces Harrison Ford in Patriot Games and a turncoat 00-agent who battles Pierce Brosnan's James Bond in GoldenEye.

Brad Dourif, whose career began with a supporting role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest and who is probably best known for voicing demon doll Chucky in all four Child's Play films, will play Grima Wormtongue, a treacherous adviser to King Theoden of Rohan. (It had originally been speculated that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Jeffrey Combs was the frontrunner for that role.)

Three little-known European actors will also play key roles: Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan will play the hobbits Pippin and Merry, and Orlando Bloom will play the elven prince Legolas. All three are members of the nine-man fellowship — also including the human lord Aragorn, the wizard Gandalf, and Gimli and Boromir — that initially sets out with Frodo and Sam on the quest to destroy the One Ring.

Previously announced castings officially confirmed yesterday by New Line include:

  • Elijah Wood, as the hobbit Frodo Baggins
  • Sean Astin, as the hobbit Samwise Gamgee
  • Sir Ian McKellen, as the wandering wizard Gandalf the Grey
  • Sir Ian Holm, as the hobbit Bilbo Baggins
  • Stuart Townsend, as the roving ranger and royal heir Aragorn
  • Liv Tyler, as the elven lady Arwen
  • Christopher Lee, as the rogue wizard Saruman the White

Key roles yet to be cast include those of: Faramir, Boromir's brother; King Theoden of Rohan; Eowyn, Theoden's niece; Eomer, Theoden's nephew; Elrond Half-elven, the lord of Rivendell; Denethor, Steward of Minas Tirith; and Gollum, a hobbit-like being who possessed the One Ring for many years and was twisted by it. Of those folks, only Gollum and Elrond figure prominently in The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of the planned three films.

Spouses Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman have reportedly been considered for the roles of, respectively, Faramir and Eowyn; and it's believed director Jackson and crew will largely create the character of Gollum using special effects.

Jackson co-adapted the project's screenplay with longtime collaborator Fran Walsh and writers Philippa Boyens and Stephen Sinclair. The Fellowship of the Ring was initially believed to be due in theaters next Christmas, but Entertainment Weekly recently reported that the first film in the trilogy will not arrive until Christmas 2001.