"Mercy!" cried Gandalf: "if
the giving of information is to be the cure of your
inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in
answering you. What do you want to know?"
9 January 2002
From: Edward Morrissey
Q: I wonder if you noticed a difference in the level of anticipation
of these films between Great Britain and the United States.
A: As there are more people in USA, it is understandable that
there should be more mail from Americans than from Tolkien's fellow
countrymen or other countries where English is read. Beyond this site,
the same is true, witness the rough parity between the box office
returns domestically (i.e. USA) and the rest of the world.
Q: Now that your face and name are everywhere in "Fellowship of
the Ring" ads in the media, do you find more people recognise you
even without Gandalf's beard and hair?
A: How did you guess? Yes it is fun to see New Yorkers'
double-takes as they recognise my face. As well as those who realise I'm
Gandalf in disguise I also get "Hey, aren't you that actor?" -
"Hey, Mr Holm!" - or as often as not "Hey Magneto!"
Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood
Photo by Keith Stern
Q: I read recently that you had taken part in a signing session at a
bookstore in America to promote Lord of the Rings and I was wondering if
there are any plans to do this in the UK. I am sure this would be very
much appreciated by many fans.
A: It was fun answering questions from Tolkien readers at
Barnes and Noble's largest bookshop in New York, although alarming
to find I was sharing the occasion with a life-size Gandalf cut-out, who
didn't challenge anything I said thank goodness. I can't be home until
after Dance of
Death closes on 13 January. So I certainly couldn't do an
equivalent in UK - not that anyone has invited me yet. And to think that
my neighbour at St Catharine's College when we were undergraduates
1958-61, should have been Tim Waterstone!
From: Chris Seaver email@example.com
Q: I recently read that you would rather have the folks stay home and
read the books than go out and see the movie...Was this true and do you
not feel Peter Jackson did a good job at translating the books to film?
A: You have been misled. Misquotation or misunderstanding are
not unknown among the press. Knowing or not knowing the novel will not
stop you enjoying Fellowship of the Ring.
n.b. my Grey
Book entry from 27 November.
Q: Last week I started to re-read LOTR. It has always been one of my
favourite books, and like all good books, much of the joy has always
been in the mental images it evokes, as the characters live inside my
head. The other day I saw for the first time the preview for the
first movie. It looked spectacular, but more importantly, it looked
right. I find now that as I continue to read, the pictures in my mind
are becoming those of the movie. In some cases this is not a big stretch
- in makeup and costume you look so exactly like I pictured Gandalf to
be. Others vary more from my own imagination, but this is not always a
bad thing. Frodo, certainly, has now become more beautiful than ever I
gave him credit! I look forward now to seeing the movie. I plan to take
my mother (another LOTR fan). I only hope the mines of Moria don't prove
too scary for her!
A: Since I saw the movie of Treasure Island as a kid,
Long John Silver has always looked and sounded to me exactly like Robert
Newton in the part. Mind you I haven't re-read the novel to check
whether RN was as reliant on it as I was on Lord of the Rings.
Book illustrations begin the danger of fixing an image perhaps
at odds with the written characters. I find the "Phiz"
sketches accompanying early editions of Dickens inappropriate, so I can
ignore them and retain my own sense of the characters. Yet when I saw
his people onstage in the Royal Shakespeare Company's adaptation of Nicholas
Nickelby, Edward Petherbridge will always be Newman Noggs. I am sure
Peter Jackson's images will accord with yours if you have enjoyed the
preview. And for everyone I suspect they will confirm the preeminence of
Alan Lee and John Howe as Tolkien illustrators, as theirs was the
inspiration for the entire look of The Fellowship of the Ring's
Middle-earth and its inhabitants.
Elijah looks angelic but his beauty of spirit is what makes his
Frodo leap out of the screen. Unalloyed goodness is one of the most
difficult attributes to act.
Q: I look forward to your work in LOTR but how could one go about
gaining a role such as Gandalf without large amounts of stage
experience? Is it even possible?
A: There is a divide between film and theatre acting which it
has been my ambition to bridge of late. I'm sure Peter Jackson would not
have trusted any major part in Lord of the Rings to an actor who
hadn't already caught his eye in another film whether in the cinema or
on television. He has a mighty library of DVD's and videos and he keeps
up to date with current releases. Until he came to see Dance
of Death when he was in New York for the the American premiere,
he had never seen me onstage.
Subject: A fan's lament
Q: Heartfelt thanks for your interpretation of Gandalf. I can't wait to
see how you progress as the story continues to be told. The rest
of the movie... I don't know. I've been reading the books since I was 10
(17 years ago), and have read nearly everything Tolkien or his son have
ever published. I'm fairly knowledgable regarding all the myths and was
shocked and dismayed when I saw how much the movies alternated from the
books. What do YOU think of the wholesale changes made to a literary
classic in order to "adapt" it to the film genre?
A: It was always obvious that Peter Jackson's trilogy would be
just that - his own cinematic version of the novel. Perhaps those
Tolkien enthusiasts who have so enjoyed the first film aren't as steeped
in the attendant mythology as you are. Ah well, I am glad that at least
Gandalf didn't contribute to your disappointment.
Q: Is there any chance that LOTR cast and crew will go for a premier
tour in Asia so that we pathetic Asian fans can actually get a chance of
meeting you? (and oh yes, my best friend and I have stayed on to watch
the entire roll of credits despite being giving warning glares by the
A: I have been invited to Tokyo for the Japanese premiere. I
was last there with the world tour of the Royal National Theatre's Richard
III at the Tokyo Globe Theatre. This time, I'm afraid, I have to
attend to domestic matters in London, but I expect other members of the
cast will be able to attend.
Good for you - the volume of credits is impressive and I'm told
that in New Zealand where the audience recognises the names of so many
of their friends and family, the credits are popular too.
From: Lucas Young firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Recently I started an internet campaign to have Peter Jackson
awarded the Order of New Zealand for his contribution to our country via
Lord of the Rings (www.knightpeterjackson.com). I am delighted to be
able to tell you that, independently of my efforts, the New Zealand
Government have awarded Peter Jackson the Companion of the NZ Order of
Merit, and Fran Walsh becomes a Member of the NZ Order of Merit.
A: Sometimes it is so obvious who should get awards like this,
that campaigns are not necessary. So congratulations to Mr and Mrs
Jackson and my own "Good Taste Award" to the New Zealand
government - and to you!
Q: I have now seen the movie LOTR three times and each time it gets
deeper for me. You and Gandalf have the best line in the movie so
appropriate for the times we now live in in the light of Sept 11th:
" I wish it need not have happened in my time," said
Frodo."So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to
see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to
decide is what to do with the time that we have."
A: The mark of a classic is that its relevance reverberates
through the years. I liked the recent ad for the movie in the US press
which used Frodo and Gandalf's lines to stylish effect.
Q: No question, but a response to one of your recent posts. And since
Bill the Pony was one of your (and my) favorite characters in TLOR, I
would like to reassure you that Bill does not succumb to the Watcher in
the Water, either in the movie or in the books. In fact, in the books,
he finds his way back to Bree (where he was originally bought from the
evil Bill Ferny) and is reunited with Samwise as they are returning to
the Shire by way of Bree.
A: Good for you (and for Bill, of course).
Q: Peter Jackson has created a glorious masterpiece and I don't want
to wait years for the rest, but I will. Hope you are having fun on
Broadway - sorry I can't get to NYC, can you and Ms. Mirren come to LA
A: When Dance of Death completes its limited run on
Sunday 13 January, the cast will separate and there are as yet no plans
to revive the production. I hope, now that Richard Greenberg has
provided a brilliant, actable translation, that there may be other
actors who will want to explore Strindberg's characters in subsequent
From: Paula Haefner email@example.com
Q: I signed up for the drawing for the Gandalf doll. You see I have a
Christmas tree and nothing on top of it! I thought the idea of the
character overseeing my Christmas decorations and home seemed so
A: On top of my Christmas firtree in New York, I placed
the Stars and Stripes and New Zealand's silver fern leaf, for the two
countries that have welcomed me of late. Over the holidays, a Gandalf
doll found his way onto the upper branches but who removed his clothes
has yet to be determined...
Additional E-Posts about LOTR may be found in
The Lord of the Rings