John Rhys-Davies: 'Tolkien must be spinning in his grave' over Lord of the Rings TV series

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Nov 14, 2017

Many fans of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series are eager to see Amazon Studios' upcoming television show of the beloved saga, while others would rather have the books and Peter Jackson's movies stand as the Two Versions to Rule Them All. One person who is decidedly in the latter camp: John Rhys-Davies, who played the dwarven fighter Gimli in the Jackson trilogy.

Den of Geek spoke with the actor about his upcoming horror film Aux, when the conversation turned to the newly announced Tolkien-based venture. Rhys-Davies said that the creators of the series were “greedy for money…. [I]t’s just a disgrace. I mean, poor Tolkien must be spinning in his grave.”

Rhys-Davies added that "it's not about doing it better, it’s about making more money, that’s all.”

The actor suggested that a better approach for a new series would be to take ideas from writers who write in the world of Tolkien, rather than taking from Tolkien himself.

“I would simply buy those up and put them together… That would make a far more interesting account of Tolkien's words, in a world like that. And you know there are hundreds and hundreds of young writers, who have made their contributions and if I was a well-heeled film producer, that’s where I'd be looking… and it’s still a great tribute to Tolkien. It costs less to make and it would be original and fresh, but then what the hell do I know!?”

Although Tolkien passed to the Undying Lands back in 1973, he left prodigious amounts of writing that remains untapped by filmmakers. If they plumbed The Silmarillion, for example, they could find works that have never appeared on screen and yet are authentically Tolkien.

However, Rhys-Davies has a point: Fan fiction and professional works inspired by Tolkien’s world (and there are plenty — including George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and Guy Gavriel Kay’s trilogy The Fionavar Tapestry) have produced epic adventures that beg to be televised. That’s because Tolkien knew his tales grew in the telling.

Does Rhys-Davies have the right of it? Would you rather see another retelling of The Lord of the Rings, a story from Tolkien’s own lore, or a completely new series inspired by Tolkien? Shout out in the comments.