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THEN AND NOW: The cast of 'The Lord of the Rings'

Insider
Insider
 2021-10-20

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The first "Lord of the Rings" film debuted in 2001.
  • The first installment of the beloved "Lord of the Rings" trilogy came out almost 20 years ago.
  • Several stars like Sir Ian McKellen and Orlando Bloom reprised their roles in the "Hobbit" films.
  • Sean Bean and Karl Urban have played iconic TV characters.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories .
Elijah Wood played Frodo Baggins.
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Elijah Wood in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

Wood played a hobbit named Frodo in "The Lord of the Rings" films .

After inheriting the One Ring from his cousin Bilbo Baggins, Frodo bravely volunteers to take it to Mordor to be destroyed, kicking off the epic journey across Middle Earth.

Wood began acting at a young age and had several major film credits before "The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001), like "Flipper" (1996) and "Avalon" (1990).

Wood has since acted across a variety of genres.
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Elijah Wood worked on "Over the Garden Wall."

Wood has stayed busy exploring various genres, like action-comedy in "Spy Kids 3D: Game Over" (2003), romantic drama in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004), the animated musical "Happy Feet" (2006), and psychological slasher "Maniac" (2012).

In 2010, Wood cofounded the production company SpectreVision, formerly known as The Woodshed, and has gone on to produce films like "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" (2014),  "Mandy" (2018), and "Color Out of Space" (2019).

And in addition to being a DJ , Wood still finds time to work on projects like Cartoon Network's "Over the Garden Wall," "I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore" (2017), and "Come to Daddy" (2019).

He's set to appear in "L.A. Rush," which is in post-production.

Viggo Mortensen played Aragorn.
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Viggo Mortensen in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

The Danish-American actor Mortensen played Aragorn — the son of Arathorn, heir of Isildur, and eventual King of Gondor.

Aragorn is a member of the Fellowship and leads the fight against Sauron's army while the One Ring is being destroyed.

Before joining "The Lord of the Rings" cast, Mortensen had worked with directors like Peter Weir, Brian De Palma, Tony Scott, Ridley Scott, and Jane Campion.

Fans would likely recognize him from films like "Young Guns II" (1990), "Crimson Tide" (1995), "The Portrait of a Lady" (1996), and "G.I. Jane" (1997).

Mortensen has been nominated for several Academy Awards.
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Viggo Mortensen directed the 2020 film "Falling."

Mortensen has since been nominated for best actor at the Academy Awards three times, for "Eastern Promises" (2007), "Captain Fantastic" (2016), and "Green Book" (2018), and has received numerous other honors.

He made his feature directorial debut with the 2020 drama "Falling," which he also wrote, coproduced, and starred in opposite Lance Henriksen.

The actor is set to appear in "Thirteen Lives" and "Crimes of the Future," which are both in post-production.

Sean Bean played Boromir.
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Sean Bean in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

Bean played Boromir, the son of Denethor and a member of the Fellowship.

Boromir primarily appears in the first movie, as he dies defending Merry and Pippin against a horde of orcs after briefly allowing himself to be tempted by the One Ring.

Bean was previously known for his roles in action thrillers like "Patriot Games" (1992), "GoldenEye" (1995), and "Ronin" (1998).

Bean played another beloved fantasy character on "Game of Thrones."
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Sean Bean was also on "Snowpiercer."

After meeting his character's demise in "The Fellowship of the Ring," Bean appeared in "Equilibrium" (2002), portrayed Odysseus in "Troy" (2004), and chased Nicolas Cage in "National Treasure" (2004).

He went on to famously play Ned Stark on HBO's "Game of Thrones."

More recently, he played Mr. Wilford on TNT's "Snowpiercer" and was in Brandon Cronenberg's 2020 sci-fi thriller "Possessor."

Dominic Monaghan played Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck.
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Dominic Monaghan in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

Monaghan played the troublesome hobbit Merry in the "Lord of the Rings" films.

Merry is a hobbit from Frodo's village who finds himself leaving the Shire and joining Frodo's dangerous adventure.

He had acted in several TV movies, but "The Fellowship of the Ring" was Monaghan's big-screen debut.

Monaghan had a major role on "Lost."
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Dominic Monaghan hosted the documentary series "Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan."

After concluding the film trilogy, Monaghan landed the role of Charlie Pace on ABC's "Lost" and appeared on the series until 2010.

More recently, he hosted and produced the BBC wildlife docuseries "Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan."

He also starred in the video short for Eminem and Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie," played a mutant in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (2009), and joined another major franchise when he appeared in "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" (2019).

Sean Astin played Samwise Gamgee.
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Sean Astin in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

Astin portrayed the loyal hobbit Samwise, Frodo's best friend.

Save for a few brief separations, Sam is always by Frodo's side and risks his life many times to save his friends.

Astin had several notable credits before the fantasy franchise, famous for roles in films like "The Goonies" (1985) and "Rudy" (1993).

Astin has worked on several major TV shows.
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Sean Astin played Bob Newby on “Stranger Things.”

Astin has since done a lot of voice-over work for animated films and video games, even providing the voice for Raphael on Nickelodeon's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

In 2017, he joined the cast of Netflix's "Stranger Things" as Joyce's love interest, Bob Newby.

He has several projects in the works, like the films "iMordecai" and "Man and Witch," both of which are in post-production.

Sir Ian McKellen played Gandalf.
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Sir Ian McKellen in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

If not for McKellen's character, the Fellowship would never have formed and likely would not have survived.

McKellen mainly began his professional acting career on the stage in the early 1960s. And a year before the fantasy trilogy debuted, he joined the Marvel universe as Magneto in the "X-Men" franchise.

McKellen also appeared in the "Hobbit" films.
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Sir Ian McKellen was in the film adaptation of the musical "Cats."

McKellen continued playing Magneto during and after the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, most recently in "X-Men: Days of Future Past" (2014).

The actor is one of the few "Lord of the Rings" cast members to also appear in the "Hobbit" films, reprising his role as the powerful wizard.

Some of McKellen's more recent turns include Cogsworth in the live-action "Beauty and the Beast" (2017) and Gus the Theatre Cat in "Cats" (2019).

He's slated to appear in the modern-day adaptation "Hamlet Revenant," which is in pre-production.

John Rhys-Davies played Gimli.
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John Rhys-Davies in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

The Welsh actor Rhys-Davies portrayed the dwarf warrior Gimli.

Gimli is the representative for the dwarfs in the Fellowship and the son of Glóin, one of Bilbo's companions during the events of "The Hobbit."

Rhys-Davies, who also provided the voice of Treebeard in the films, previously played Sallah in several "Indiana Jones" films and Vasco Rodrigues on NBC's miniseries "Shogun," for which he received an Emmy nomination.

Rhys-Davies has continued working on fantasy projects.
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John Rhys-Davies was on "Once Upon a Time."

After "The Lord of the Rings," he appeared in a number of notable TV movies and on shows like Comedy Central's "TripTank."

There are a few other fantasy projects on his recent résumé, including ABC's "Once Upon a Time" and MTV's "The Shannara Chronicles."

Rhys-Davies has also lent his voice to video games and animated projects like Guillermo del Toro's Netflix miniseries "Wizards" and the 2019 feature "Mosley."

He has many projects in the works, like "Starbright" and "Shadow Wars."

Orlando Bloom played Legolas.
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Orlando Bloom in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

Bloom played the master archer and wood elf Legolas.

The arrow-wielding hero is also a member of the Fellowship and eventually becomes Gimli's best friend, even though dwarfs and elves historically hated each other.

Bloom was relatively unknown when he was cast in the trilogy, but between the first and second films, he appeared in "Black Hawk Down" (2002).

Bloom has played other action-packed roles.
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Orlando Bloom played Will Turner in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series.

Bloom famously played Will Turner in four of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" installments .

Alongside McKellen, he also revisited the role of Legolas in the "Hobbit" films.

In addition to other hit projects like "Troy" (2004) and "The Three Musketeers" (2011), the actor starred on the Amazon series "Carnival Row" as Rycroft Philostrate.

Recently, he voiced Prince Harry on HBO's satirical animated comedy about the royal family, "The Prince."

Billy Boyd played Peregrin "Pippin" Took.
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Billy Boyd in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

Boyd played Pippin, the immature best friend of Merry, and appeared in all three "Lord of the Rings" films.

As a part of the Fellowship, his antics cause trouble for the group, but he always means well.

Boyd had primarily worked on television before he was cast in the first film of the trilogy and continued to do so in between the franchise's sequels.

Boyd continues making music and acting.
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Billy Boyd was in "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World."

He appeared in "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" alongside Russell Crowe in 2003, the same year as "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."

The next year, he provided the voice of Glen and Glenda for the horror film "Seed of Chucky" (2004).

Boyd is also a musician and got to write and perform a song for "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" (2014).

More recently, he was seen on episodes of FX's "Snowfall," ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," and Starz's "Outlander."

He's set to appear in the upcoming thriller "An Intrusion."

Sir Ian Holm played Bilbo Baggins.
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Sir Ian Holm in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

The English actor Holm played Bilbo Baggins, the previous ring bearer.

Bilbo is Frodo's guardian and cousin, and he is unnaturally old because of the effects of the One Ring.

Even before the film franchise, Holm was a Tony Award-winning actor, probably best known to fantasy and sci-fi fans for playing Ash in the Ridley Scott film "Alien" (1979).

Holm has starred in a variety of films.
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Sir Ian Holm voiced Skinner in "Ratatouille."

After "The Lord of the Rings," Holm worked on an impressive array of films like "Garden State" (2004), "Lord of War" (2005), and "Ratatouille" (2007) .

In 2020, Holm died at age 88 of complications related to Parkinson's disease.

Liv Tyler played Arwen Undómiel.
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Liv Tyler in "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

Tyler brought Arwen, daughter of Lord Elrond, to life on the big screen. The elf saves Frodo from the Black Riders and later marries Aragorn.

Before "The Lord of the Rings," Tyler had been in plenty of films, including "Stealing Beauty" (1996) and "Armageddon" (1998).

Tyler has since been on several hit shows.
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Liv Tyler played Betty Ross in "The Incredible Hulk."

Tyler joined another major franchise in 2008 as Betty Ross in Marvel's "The Incredible Hulk" but has yet to reprise the role in other installments.

In more recent years, Tyler played Meg Abbott on HBO's "The Leftovers," Lady Isabella Fitzwilliam on ITV-Hulu's "Harlots," Eve in the sci-fi thriller "Ad Astra" (2019), and Michelle Blake on Fox's "9-1-1: Lone Star."

Hugo Weaving played Lord Elrond.
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Hugo Weaving in “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”

Elrond, played by Weaving, is the Lord of Rivendell. The elf was there when Isildur claimed the One Ring and tried to get him to destroy it, to no avail.

Fans would likely recognize Weaving as Agent Smith in "The Matrix" films , a franchise that mostly ran at the same time as the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

Weaving continues to act in blockbuster hits.
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Hugo Weaving was in "Captain America: The First Avenger."

Weaving went on to play V in "V for Vendetta" (2006), voice Megatron in Michael Bay's "Transformers" films, and portray the Red Skull in "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011).

Weaving starred in the drama "Lone Wolf" in 2021 and is listed to appear in the film "Loveland," which is in post-production.

Cate Blanchett played Galadriel.
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Cate Blanchett in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

Blanchett portrayed Galadriel, Lady of the Golden Wood and grandmother to Arwen.

In "The Fellowship of the Ring," she gives each traveler a special gift, including the "star-glass" that later proves useful against the giant spider.

Blanchett didn't get a ton of screen time in the films — only a minute and 23 seconds, according to Screen Rant .

She had appeared in several movies before "The Lord of the Rings," like "Elizabeth" (1998) and "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999).

Blanchett is now an Academy Award-winning actress.
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Cate Blanchett portrayed Phyllis Schlafly on "Mrs. America."

Immediately after "The Lord of the Rings," she appeared in "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" (2004) and "The Aviator" (2004), which earned her an Oscar win.

She racked up more nominations for "Notes on a Scandal" (2006), "I'm Not There" (2007), and "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (2007) before winning another Oscar for "Blue Jasmine" (2013).

More recently, Blanchett was nominated yet again for her work in "Carol" (2016) and played the activist Phyllis Schlafly in the FX miniseries "Mrs. America."

She's slated to appear in several projects, like the films "Don't Look Up" and "Nightmare Alley."

Andy Serkis played Gollum.
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Andy Serkis portraying Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

Serkis' portrayal of Gollum was an impressive feat of motion-capture technology .

Throughout the films, Gollum, originally known as Sméagol, is painted as an antagonist and a representation of the One Ring's consequences.

Before his performance in the trilogy, Serkis had been in several shows and films, like "Career Girls (1997)" and "Among Giants" (1998).

Serkis has appeared in other major film franchises.
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Andy Serkis played Snoke in the recent "Star Wars" trilogy.

Serkis reprised Gollum in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012) and did groundbreaking performance-capture work for the "Planet of the Apes" films.

He then joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the flesh as Ulysses Klaue, provided the voice of Baloo in "Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle" (2018), and was Snoke in the recent "Star Wars" trilogy.

Serkis is set to play Alfred Pennyworth in the upcoming film "The Batman," which is in post-production.

Christopher Lee played Saruman.
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Christopher Lee in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

A film legend, Lee took a notable turn as the wizard Saruman the White, who was introduced as a respectable ally but turned out to be a power-hungry pawn of Sauron.

Before his role in the fantasy films, he starred in many movies like "Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace" (1962) and "Count Dracula" (1977).

Lee acted in several other notable films.
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Christopher Lee reprised his role in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

After the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Lee appeared in several films and shorts, like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (2005) and "Hugo" (2011), before reprising his role as Saruman in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

In 2015, Lee died at age 93 after being hospitalized for heart failure and respiratory problems.

Miranda Otto played Éowyn.
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Miranda Otto in "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

Otto played arguably one of the most important characters in the trilogy, Éowyn.

Disguised as a Rider of Rohan, Éowyn, shield maiden of Rohan and daughter of Éomund, ultimately kills the Witch-king of Angmar during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Before her turn in the "Lord of the Rings" films, Otto appeared in movies like "The Well" (1998) and "The Thin Red Line" (1998).

Otto has acted on several series.
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Miranda Otto was on "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina."

Shortly after the Middle Earth films, Otto appeared on-screen again in the 2005 adaptation of "War of the Worlds."

She has since worked on films like "Annabelle: Creation" (2017) and miniseries like USA's "The Starter Wife," ABC's "Cashmere Mafia," and Fox's "24: Legacy."

In 2018, she showed off her fantasy roots on the Netflix series "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" as aunt Zelda Spellman.

Otto recently appeared on several TV miniseries, like SBS' "The Unusual Suspects."

John Noble played Denethor II.
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John Noble in "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."

Noble made playing a troublesome ruler look fun. The last viewers saw of Denethor, he was falling off a cliff on fire after he had tried burning his son alive.

Before the fantasy franchise , the actor had been on TV series and in films like "The Monkey's Mask" (2001).

Noble has since worked on several hit TV shows.
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John Noble was on "DC's Legends of Tomorrow."

Noble is probably best known for playing Walter Bishop on the Fox series "Fringe."

Like his "Lord of the Rings" costars Blanchett and Weaving, Noble also appeared as a guest on the ABC series "Rake" before signing longer stints on shows like Fox's "Sleepy Hollow," The CW's "DC's Legends of Tomorrow," and CBS' "Elementary."

He also showed up as Billy Butcher's father on an episode of Amazon's "The Boys."

More recently, he lent his voice to the Paramount+ animated series "Star Trek: Prodigy," plus he has several projects in the works.

Karl Urban played Éomer.
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Karl Urban in "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."

Urban played Éomer, the leader of the Riders of Rohan who later becomes King of the Mark.

Before the trilogy, he played Julius Caesar on Syfy's "Xena: Warrior Princess" and appeared in several films.

Urban continues to make a name for himself as an action star.
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Karl Urban is currently on "The Boys."

Urban became an action-movie star shortly after "The Return of the King" with "The Chronicles of Riddick" (2004), followed by "The Bourne Supremacy" (2004) and "Doom" (2005).

He later played Leonard "Bones" McCoy in "Star Trek" (2009) and continued his action-star legacy as the titular judge in "Dredd" (2012).

Urban plays the aforementioned Billy on "The Boys" — making Noble's guest appearance a "Lord of the Rings" reunion.

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