Why ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Is Amazing: The Cast and Characters

Yesterday I wrote the first post in a five-part series featuring why The Lord of the Rings is amazing. In that post, I shared my fascination with the awe-inspiring locations Peter Jackson sought to bring this epic story to life. But it isn’t just the beautiful lands captured onscreen that have managed to make these films astronomically magnificent but also the incredible cast as well.

Think about some of the best movies ever made. Take films like Die Hard or the original Star Wars films for example. Each of these movies took relative unknowns and boosted them to icon status instantly. Bruce Willis will always be known as the tough, gun-toting, wise-cracking guy for the incredible job he did to bring that type of character to life in Die Hard. Could another actor have done the same?

Star Wars took a cast of unknowns–Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, etc–and boosted them to Hollywood royalty overnight as they starred in a film (A New Hope) that still awes children and adults to this day.

The Lord of the Rings is another one of these types of movies. On that note, let’s look at this sprawling cast who brought each and every character to life in a way rarely seen in film or television.

(This is a long read.)

Frodo

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Elijah Wood was a teenager (17 to be exact) when he landed down on New Zealand to film the three movies that would change his life forever. As the main protagonist, a young hobbit named Frodo Baggins, Elijah Wood excelled as an actor, bringing a depth and authenticity to his character in a way no one else could’ve. Frodo’s heroic and inspiring journey became iconic and in turn, Elijah Wood has become an icon in our society.

So much so, in fact, that he hasn’t been able to truly shake his identity as Frodo Baggins in the same way that I will always see Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter.

Aragorn

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The Oscar-nominated actor Viggo Mortensen’s star rose to fame after he portrayed king-to-be Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. An unknown at the time it wasn’t long before his name would become familiar as he portrayed Aragorn with a heroic zeal that is truly hard to find. Now, I have to admit, I’m not a fan of his speech in Return of the King but it doesn’t take away from the clear fact that the man can act.

One of his best moments is when Boromir dies. The pain on his face as he realizes the burden that has been bestowed upon him to uphold the legacy of the entire human race as the potential king is so raw and powerful. This man literally died believing that he could save his people. Remember, Aragorn didn’t want to be king. He ran away from his destiny but at that moment he realizes he can run no longer. He promised Boromir that he would protect his people from Sauron and he actually did! Ah, such a triumphant story.

Samwise Gamgee

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Unless you were a fan of The Goonies where you may remember Sean Astin’s role as Mikey he was also not very famous but The Lord of the Rings rose Sean Astin to fame as well.

As Frodo’s devoted gardener and best friend, Sam is almost more heroic than Frodo, as he was the one to keep Frodo from practically going to the dark side a numerous amount of times. And his conclusion–getting married to his long-time crush–was truly satisfying.

Merry and Pippin

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Like their fellow co-stars, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd rose to Hollywood for portraying the adventurous/mischievous/heroic hobbits, Merry and Pippin. Dominic Monaghan would go on to make even more of a name for himself on the hit ABC show, Lost where his acting talents were truly able to shine.

And J.J Abrams clearly liked Dominic Monaghan so much that he will play a (probably small) role in the upcoming Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker. It’s already been revealed that he will be a part of the Resistance. Exciting!

I haven’t heard much from Billy Boyd since The Lord of the Rings films but it’s very certain, he’s well off.

Both of these actors brought a humorous aspect to the movies that the story desperately needed at times. (Remember one of the funniest movie quotes of all time: “What about second breakfast?” 😂) But, when they needed to be serious they were able to provide the heart that made these characters more than your classic goof-troops but also inspiring heroes.

Gimli

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John Rhys-Davies is the greatest dwarf of all time. He not only wore the face-veiling beard and dwarven attire but his gruff voice and even gruffer personality were exactly as you’d expect a dwarf to be. Even the dwarves in The Hobbit trilogy can’t contend with the one and only dwarf; Gimli

Arwen

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Liv Tyler’s role as Arwen wasn’t very large and yet she was just as impactful to the story as Frodo. She would also go from being an unknown actress to becoming a household name, mainly playing the role of Aragorn’s love interest but we also got to see her fiercer side as she protected Frodo against the Nazgul! of all frightening Middle-Earth creatures.

Liv Tyler brought an otherworldly essence to the film that made us believe she was actually an elf. She was ethereally beautiful and mesmerizingly kind. She will always be remembered for portraying this character so perfectly.

Legolas

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Like his Lord of the Rings compatriots, Orlando Bloom was nowhere close to a household name but it wasn’t long before the dashing British actor would enthrall people with not only his sweet skills as the fierce Elven warrior, Legolas but his deceptively good acting skills. He would go on to make a greater name for himself as the heartthrob, Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies but his beginning as Legolas is where the true story lies.

Legolas is personally my favorite character in the trilogy.

Boromir

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Boromir is the only character in the Fellowship who would find his demise on the frivolous journey, making him one of the more unique heroes in the story. Sean Bean was already making his presence known in Hollywood, even starring opposite Harrison Ford as the villain in Patriot Games, but The Lord of the Rings would, of course, boost his resumé.

His role as the weak Gondorian soldier who faltered under the ring’s irresistible presence was played to perfection and we were soon convinced of his jerkiness. His heroic return at the end of his story instantly redeemed the character and Sean Bean portrayed the warrior’s heroic death to the tee. Boy, he was good as he sold every gut-wrenching arrow to the body while continuing to fight in order to protect Merry and Pippin.

It is easily one of the greatest sacrifice scenes in any movie and Sean Bean should be applauded for putting his acting chops on such fine display.

Galadriel

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Cate Blanchett is one of my favorite actresses of all time for her incredible talent (have you see Blue Jasmine?) and The Lord of the Rings was my introduction to her. Cate Blanchett perfectly portrays the breathtakingly beautiful yet almost frighteningly powerful and wise Elven queen, Galadriel in such a mystifying way that her scenes have always managed to entrance me.

From her conversation with Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring to her mind-chat with Elrond in The Two Towers and even her narration at the beginning of the first movie, her voice alone is enough to commands one’s attention.

(Plus her beautiful gown. Dang, it’s stunning.)

Gollum

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If you speak the name Andy Serkis there’s a good chance you’ll know who that is and it’s not because of his role as Caesar in the rebooted Planet of the Apes movies or his villainous role in the Marvel movies as Ulysses Klaue or even his brief dabble in the Star Wars franchise as the uber-mysterious villain, Supreme Leader Snoke.

No, we know his name because he brought the fully-CGI generated character of Gollum to life. Gollum is about as putrid as it gets when it comes to movie villains. From being physically offputting to having the evilest weaselly attitude…and of course there are the conversations he has with himself, Andy Serkis acting talents tower above many of the other actors as he brings this character to life in such an unforgettable and flawless way.

Eowyn

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Miranda Otto would rise to Hollywood importance as she played the role of Rohanian warrior princess Eowyn. Throughout much of her story, we see her wanting to ride into battle alongside her fellow warriors but women in Middle-Earth are raised to be doting mothers, not warriors, and even though she has been taught to fight she’s told to stay back and let the men handle the situation.

She isn’t buying that. Miranda Otto perfectly leads us on a personal journey as we watch her go from being a sad princess watching her country slowly but surely being devoured by Sauron and Saruman’s ravenous hunger, to becoming a love-stricken woman who wanted nothing more than to fight alongside her crush, Aragorn, in the battle for Middle-Earth, to finally becoming an incredible warrior who would not be denied. Not only did she handle some serious business at the Battle of Gondor but she also killed the Witch King with one of the greatest quotes from any movie heroine: “I am no man.”

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Um…how can you not get pumped?! Yes, Eowyn, you tell him!

King Theodin

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King Theodin, a gruff king who feels like he’s let his homeland down, is perfectly played by Bernard Hill. Mr. Hill brings a palpable sadness to the character that makes you instantly understand what he is going through. Think about it.

When he finally woke from the curse that he had been under not only was his country in serious trouble but his only child, his beautiful son, had just died. How messed up is that? It’s a miracle he was even able to keep on going. But that is the determination of a king. Despite his personal anguish, he was loath to see his fellow countrymen suffer the same fate of losing anymore loved ones. Powerful stuff.

Gandalf

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And last but definitely not least, Sir Ian McKellen. Ian McKellen was already an acclaimed Shakespearean actor who knew a thing or two about the fine acts of drama but his fame meter rose big time after he played the lovable wizard Gandalf.

If the Wizard Merlin and old Obi-Wan Kenobi had a child that would be Gandalf. Boundlessly wise and kind with the sternness of a seasoned soldier, Gandalf emits not only benevolence but authority and Ian McKellen is the man who brought this character to life in such an unforgettable way.

I love Gandalf. I’ve loved him ever since I was a kid. I even enjoyed him in The Hobbit movies. I mean, you can’t mess up Gandalf.

I actually would like to know more about the mysterious wizard. It’s very clear that Gandalf has been around the block a couple of times and he knows many people, personally. But how? I know he’s the Wandering Wizard but I want to know more about the wanderings of this wizard.

So, this is my second piece on the eternally fascinating subject of The Lord of the Rings. I would also like to give some honorable mentions to Karl Urban (Eomer), David Wenham (Faramir), Christopher Lee (Saruman), Brad Dourif (Grima Wormtongue), Hugo Weaving (Elrond), and John Noble who played the role of the insane king Denethor in Return of the King so well I personally wanted to jump through the screen and wring his throat.

Hee-hee. Excuse my passion.

All of these actors helped elevate these movies to what they are today and with a different cast, I’m not sure these films would have managed to reach the same magic.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a special day.

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