January 3, 2005
Which of your great-grandfather’s books is your favorite, and why?
As a child it was The Hobbit. It was a real escape for me. I was, (am) such a dreamer, I’ve managed to control my involuntary drifts but as a child i used to wonder off into my mind. Being able to get lost in such a magical world was a good place to go.
My favourite book now is The Fellowship. Transporting you into the perfect world of Hobbits with the prologue, ‘Concerning Hobbits.’ It also has one of my favorite characters in, Tom Bombadil. The Two Towers and The Return Of The King keep a close joint second place but its the memories of that first read and the beginning of the whole adventure which holds that special place.
When did you first realize that you had a very famous great-grandfather?
On one of my first days in high school I was made to stand up in English class where the teacher announced that I was related to JRRT. I had always been aware of who my Great Grandfather was but in the early 80’s not everyone was as switched on as they are now. The class was mostly filled with frowns and “who”.
It was a gradual introduction from an early age for me. We’ve always been involved with The Tolkien Society, either at their Oxonmoots, (see www.tolkiensociety.org ) a yearly gathering of members in Oxford, or at Summermoots, a camp out on our farm we used to have in Wales. They used to come and camp in our fields and have bonfires every night, mushroom picking in the fields, sword-fighting, costumes, fire-works. The first arrivals would put up signs in Elvish directing people to the farm, I think it raised a few eyebrows in the village, especially when they would dress up and sword fight.
How has being a “Tolkien” affected your life? Have there been any big advantages or any big disadvantages?
The big advantages have been being able to go to the various events over the years, meeting so many fantastic people and seeing such wonderful places. I’ve always travelled as much as possible, I’ve tried to combine work with what I enjoy.
The biggest advantage of all was being allowed to visit the movie set. It started with a hopeful email to Mark Ordesky and ended with two weeks in Wellington.
Did your parents read you Tolkien’s books as a young child?
Yes. The Hobbit was read to me when I was about 7 or 8 then I went on to read it myself.
I understand that you got to see some of the filming and work as an extra. How did that come to happen, and what part(s) did you play?
Every day was spent looking around various different departments like, costume, makeup, wardrobe, as well a spending time on set. In touring these different areas you really get to see the dedication that every single person has put into the films. The minute detail that has gone into the props was incredible. Furniture that dressed the set may get a fleeting glance on screen but was built as though it would be on display in an art gallery. I started wondering why the back of a chair would be carved in as much detail as the front, why bother making under garments in such detail, why were tankards, plates, books, rugs, jugs, pots, pans all made so they could be used? It wasn’t long before i realised that it couldn’t be any other way. It’s these smaller things that make the whole believable. It would be impossible for anyone on set not to be entranced; drawn into the world and believing that they are there.
It was whilst on set that the idea of having a day as an extra was suggested. I’d said yes before they even finished the sentence!
I played a Gondorian Ranger in Osgiliath. If you watch the Director and writers commentary on the ROTK extended edition I get mentioned there.
What was the most impressive thing about filming?
Everything. The sets, costumes, make-up, weapons, miniatures, food, everything. There wasn’t one single thing i thought was less than perfect.
When I left school I really wanted to get into theatre / film and luckily for me there was an opening at a local theatre workshop. One of my first jobs was making a crown for a youth theatre play. It was rubbish; a bit of cotton wool, an old cereal box and some tinsel. It eventually turned out fine but it makes me appreciate even more the lengths that people had to go to creating what they did. Peter was already making brilliant films and Richard (Weta) was complimenting them perfectly but The Lord Of The Rings was a whole different ball game. How they did it astounds me.
If you could have picked any of the characters to play in the films, which one would it be? Why?
I’m happy with the Gondorian extra I played. I couldn’t think of anyone else playing a part better than the cast that played theirs…. let alone me!!
Do you have any funny or interesting stories to tell about your time spent on the movie set?
When I was on set as a Gondorian I was there with my friend Justin. Of all the places you shouldn’t get the giggles, that’s one of them. We couldn’t help it though, another Gondorian stood near us trumped just as the cameras were about to roll.
Did you expect the movies to be as big a success as they are today?
I don’t think anyone could of predicted how big they’ve become. I think the first indication was at Cannes prior to The Fellowship. For me it was after watching it at the premiere in London.
Would you like to see The Hobbit made into a movie and if so would you like to play a part in it?
I think it would be great to see The Hobbit filmed. I can’t think of anyone else who could do it justice apart from the team who worked on LOTR’s.
I’d like to see Rhys Ifans as Bilbo and Tom Cruise as Gandalf!! ….Good job I’m not casting!!
Can you tell us a bit about your experiences in New Zealand, beyond the filming? Did you get to experience much of the country?
I’ve been twice, the first time was during the pick-ups. That was spent around Wellington. The second time was for the premiere. I was able to grab a few days in Queenstown doing as many extreme things as possible. I’m planning on going back soon but this time to see more of New Zealand.
Has the fact that you are related to J.R.R. Tolkien ever made you want to become a writer also?
Not really but see below.
What current projects do you have in the pipeline for your production company, Creative People UK?
There’s a couple of films that we’re going to be doing. Can’t really say too much about them just yet but when I can, I’ll post more info on them on my dreadfully dormant website!! We’re also concentrating on a band we manage ( www.redstonemusic.com ) they’re doing gigs around this country and we’re going to get them over to America in the next couple of months. We want them playing back to back gigs from the East to West coast…..venue’s, living rooms, party’s etc.
Then there’s a book called Servants Of The Ring ( www.servantsofthering.com ) this is a new idea so the website isn’t live yet.
I also have a server that we build and host websites on.
I do the odd convention also. The next one I’m doing is TheOneRing in Pasadena, I’ll be doing the Sunday 16th.
Council of Elrond would like to thank Mr. Tolkien for taking the time to answer our questions! You can visit his sit at www.roydtolkien.com.