The Toronto Star
June 30, 2000
Hollywood Hobbits Upset
LONDON - It may provide a frisson for Frodo Baggins, but it
is causing unrest in Middle Earth.
The introduction of glamorous Hollywood stars such as Liv
Tyler and Cate Blanchett to a new movie version of The Lord Of The Rings has upset the
family and followers of J. R. R. Tolkien.
Literary fans who follow Tolkien's words with almost trollish
devotion are angry that minor female roles have been expanded to provide a love interest.
There are even fears that Tyler, who co-starred opposite Bruce Willis in the space action
adventure Armageddon, will turn the role of Lady Arwen into a warrior princess.
Tolkien's fantasy, which was voted the best book of the 20th
century in several polls last year, is being filmed in New Zealand as a Star Wars-style
trilogy. Shakespearean actor Ian McKellen plays Gandalf.
The first film, directed by Peter Jackson and to be released
next year, is the second attempt at putting Lord Of The Rings on to the big screen.
A cartoon version appeared in 1978 but was condemned by
critics and Tolkien fans alike.
The release of a trailer for the new film, however, has
broken Internet records. It was downloaded by 6.6 million people in its first week. But
its contents have alarmed members of the Tolkien Society, who are to discuss Tyler's role
and that of Blanchett, who plays Galadriel, at their annual Oxonmoot, or meeting in
Oxford, Eng. in September.
Arwen is described by Tolkien as "such loveliness in
living thing Frodo had never seen before nor imagined in his mind."
Galadriel, though described as an aged queen of elves, is
played by Blanchett, the 30-year-old Australian actress who performed the title role in Elizabeth, the award-winning film about the Tudor queen.
Ian Collier, spokesperson for the Tolkien Society, said:
"We have heard that Arwen is leading an elf army at one point and replacing one of
the hobbits in the fellowship. I do hope Liv Tyler is not going to turn it into a
sword-and-sorcery type role."
John Tolkien, the author's son, said nobody had approached
the family about the changes and the Hollywood stars had no significance.