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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Middle-earth TV Series Discussion:
Sir Lenny Henry confirms he's playing a Hobbit

Ataahua
Forum Admin


Oct 9, 7:08pm

Post #1 of 21 (1205 views)
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Sir Lenny Henry confirms he's playing a Hobbit Can't Post

His character is a Harfoot, FWIW.

https://bleedingcool.com/...e-lord-of-the-rings/

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


InTheChair
Lorien

Oct 9, 7:21pm

Post #2 of 21 (1174 views)
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Hmm. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
we're hobbits but we're called Harfoots, we're multi-cultural, we're a tribe not a race, so we're black, asian and brown


I am aware Tolkien described Harfoots as browner in skin than other hobbits, though I wonder very much if he ever considered them as asian? I wonder if the modern british use of asian is at play here?



Quote
There's a very strong female presence in this, there's going to be female heroes in this evocation of the story, they're going to be little people as usual


Well, that could be good or bad, depending on what they do with it. A fairly non-informative message.


Althoun
Lorien

Oct 9, 10:11pm

Post #3 of 21 (1151 views)
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Bit concerning to me.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm a bit disappointed and concerned by this news tbh, in respect of Hobbit inclusion in a major capacity. Black or Maori-ethnicity Hobbits I have zero issue with, my beef is purely with Hobbits at all in this setting.

I never wanted Hobbits to be in this show, because Tolkien himself noted that they did not become significant players until the late Third Age, entirely evading Sauron's attention before then. We have absolutely no lore to go on for reconstructing what proto-Harfoots may have been like, or doing, at this time in the history of Arda, so this seems a very commercial-driven decision to appeal to the masses that lacks narrative sense.

There is also the tonal issue - the Second Age is a largely dark and tragic epoch, overall, and it is lacking in Hobbitish levity. It's not about small folk accomplishing mighty things but rather the "long defeat" of the great and good, like Galadriel, Elrond and Gil-galad, as they confront the rise of Sauron.

I do worry a bit that with the inclusion of Hobbits as major pov characters, if Lenny isn't pulling our leg (in a setting that, lore-wise, they are absent from and exert no bearing upon in terms of narrative development), this could be an early sign that Amazon is going to try and 'mould' the essentially questless Second Age to resemble LotR.

LotR is LotR - we've had that epic story told already in the Jackson movies, the SA is a prequel. It's LotR, not the SA, that has as its main theme (to quote Tolkien directly) "the motive (to become dominant in Hobbits) that the great policies of world history, 'the wheels of the world', are often turned not by the Lords and Governors, even gods, but by the seemingly unknown and weak". In the SA, in an inversion of LotR thematically, the wheels of the world are actually turned by the powerful: the Lords and Ladies, by 'great' and good like Galadriel of the Noldor, Gil-galad the high King of the Noldor, Elrond the Halfelven son of Earendil and Elendil, Isildur, Anarion etc. of the Line of Elros - hence the reason why the Second Age ends in pyrrhic victory, at best.

Whereas Gondor is saved in LotR, Nķmenor is lost in the deluge. Whereas Rohan evades conquest, Eregion is sacked and falls. And even the final victory in the Last Alliance is incomplete and tinged with bittersweetness - so many main characters (Elendil, Gil-galad, Anarion, Isildur) die either in the effort or soon after, and the ring (along with the foundations of Barad-Dur) remains, to bring the evil spirit of Sauron back one day.

There are no unlikely halfling heroes like a Bilbo, Frodo or Sam to save the day and prevail where the mighty could not. I fear that Hobbits as main characters could very well result in the loss of the essence of what makes the Second Age the Second Age as a distinct part of the legendarium complete with its own tonal quality.


(This post was edited by Althoun on Oct 9, 10:14pm)


Ataahua
Forum Admin


Oct 10, 12:55am

Post #4 of 21 (1115 views)
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Yeah, I'm with you. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
There is also the tonal issue - the Second Age is a largely dark and tragic epoch, overall, and it is lacking in Hobbitish levity. It's not about small folk accomplishing mighty things but rather the "long defeat" of the great and good, like Galadriel, Elrond and Gil-galad, as they confront the rise of Sauron.


Although I didn't expect Amazon to keep true to the tone of The Silmarillion, I did still have a bit of hope that they'd surprise me by rising above the usual blockbuster TV and deliver something closer to Tolkien in tone and theme. I don't know how they could do that and include Hobbits. I guess we have to wait and see.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


FrogmortonJustice65
Lorien


Oct 10, 1:49am

Post #5 of 21 (1105 views)
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This sums up my reaction [In reply to] Can't Post

The diverse casting doesnít bother me, but having Hobbits involved in the story at all is questionable. This has the potential to steal the thunder of LOTRís key Hobbits. Itís supposed to be stunning and unexpected when they impact the events of the Third Age.

I donít want to rush to judgement, but if this rumor is true, I hope Hobbits stay peripheral to the overall narrative.


(This post was edited by FrogmortonJustice65 on Oct 10, 1:53am)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 10, 2:28am

Post #6 of 21 (1098 views)
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Is Sir Lenny Henry trolling the fans? [In reply to] Can't Post

I do have to wonder.

#FidelityToTolkien
#ChallengeExpectations


Chen G.
Gondor

Oct 10, 6:40am

Post #7 of 21 (1071 views)
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I think he is [In reply to] Can't Post

He's doing so with a straight-face but then, so did Jackson when he pranked people into thinking he was making Son of Kong.

That he specifically mentions Harfoots would suggest he has TORn's spy-report in mind; and there are moments where the facetiousness comes through.


Victariongreyjoy
Lorien


Oct 10, 1:48pm

Post #8 of 21 (1023 views)
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The Shire didn't exist, but what about the Hobbits? [In reply to] Can't Post

But there were hobbits or proto-hobbits in the 2nd age right? Maybe they were a wanderous people going place to places? I'm not worried about this news. I think it's fine the series takes some liberties from the source material. I don't think they will have big role in the show and it's kind of nice to have something familiar from the movies, that is lighthearted.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 10, 2:30pm

Post #9 of 21 (1016 views)
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Yes, Hobbits existed somewhere. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
But there were hobbits or proto-hobbits in the 2nd age right? Maybe they were a wanderous people going place to places? I'm not worried about this news. I think it's fine the series takes some liberties from the source material. I don't think they will have big role in the show and it's kind of nice to have something familiar from the movies, that is lighthearted.


The ancestors of the Rohirrim knew of the holbytlan as a small folk who dwelt along the banks of the Anduin, but there is no reason to expect to find hobbits of any variety west of the Misty Mountains during the Second Age. We don't even know when they reached the Vales of Anduin except that it was probably before the Eotheod settled there. I just find Lenny Henry's statement suspicious and I really think he could be pranking us.

#FidelityToTolkien
#ChallengeExpectations


Asger
Rivendell


Oct 10, 3:34pm

Post #10 of 21 (1004 views)
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I care notÖ [In reply to] Can't Post

Whether there is hobbits in the shows or not, of if they are light brown, dark brown or green. I care for good stories and actors with Tolkien in their hearts, so Iíll just wait and see. But of course itís interesting to read comments about it.

"Don't take life seriously, it ain't nohow permanent!" Pogo
www.willy-centret.dk


InTheChair
Lorien

Oct 10, 6:26pm

Post #11 of 21 (972 views)
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Not too worried about that. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
There are no unlikely halfling heroes like a Bilbo, Frodo or Sam to save the day and prevail where the mighty could not. I fear that Hobbits as main characters could very well result in the loss of the essence of what makes the Second Age the Second Age as a distinct part of the legendarium complete with its own tonal quality.


I didn't interpret it as this was what he was talking about. Sir Lenny Henry is the most high profile actor presented or rumored to be playing a hobbit, so probably a lot of any possible hobbit story would center around him?

I would expect something on the lines of the Hobbits suffering due to the wars around them, and coping with that. Or at most them being able to influence something due to Sauron not considering them worth to bother with?


FrogmortonJustice65
Lorien


Oct 10, 7:59pm

Post #12 of 21 (952 views)
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casually disclosing the presence of an iconic Tolkien race... [In reply to] Can't Post

certainly is a departure from how Amazon and the actors/actresses have conducted themselves so far (completely and unequivocally tight-lipped), which makes me wonder if we are being trolled.


Chen G.
Gondor

Oct 10, 9:13pm

Post #13 of 21 (930 views)
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I think no-one will begrudge me for saying [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
completely and unequivocally tight-lipped


having had a piece of Amazon's mind, all I can say is that this is an understatement: The one thing Amazon are absolutely, completely beholden to secrecy about is indeed the characters and who plays them.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Oct 10, 9:14pm)


VoronwŽ_the_Faithful
Valinor

Oct 10, 10:25pm

Post #14 of 21 (922 views)
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I largely agree with you [In reply to] Can't Post

I will wait and see, but this strikes me as an attempt to have this cake and eat it too.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 11, 5:26pm

Post #15 of 21 (839 views)
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The Audio of the Interview [In reply to] Can't Post

YouTuber Tolkien Lore has a link to the entire interview. The relevant portion starts at about the 29:20 mark: https://www.youtube.com/...ds%2Fplay%2Fm0010fk3

Alternate link, in case the above one doesn't work: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0010fk3

#FidelityToTolkien
#ChallengeExpectations


Gandalf_the_Green
Registered User

Oct 20, 8:36pm

Post #16 of 21 (563 views)
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Concerning news [In reply to] Can't Post

If this is true, then it is rather concerning.

"browner of skin" meant somewhat tanned, Tolkien was a linguist. If he meant "brown of skin" he would've said that. This just seems like yet another attempt from the woke brigade for inclusivity. LOTR is based in a version of around Europe in the distant past, it makes no sense for peoples from Eriador to be black at all given the location either. The majority of the cast should, simply put, be Caucasian, since that makes the most sense lore-wise. This is coming from someone who is half black, diversity for the sake of diversity when it clearly steps around the lore makes no sense. Was hoping they'd understand this after the fandom backlash towards other franchises.


(This post was edited by Gandalf_the_Green on Oct 20, 8:36pm)


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Oct 21, 3:58pm

Post #17 of 21 (492 views)
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Nope [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry, can we provide evidence to suggest that there were never black people in ancient Europe? Can we provide textual evidence to suggest that there were no black people in Middle-earth?

There is truly nothing lore-breaking, morally wrong, or really even woke about casting people of color and including them in Eriador. If it upsets anyone, I feel pity for them.


Moahunter
Rohan


Oct 21, 10:29pm

Post #18 of 21 (467 views)
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The Roman army........ [In reply to] Can't Post

is just one example. It included soldiers from many parts of the empire who ended up in Britain.


The Dude
Bree

Oct 22, 2:35am

Post #19 of 21 (457 views)
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Motte-and-bailey [In reply to] Can't Post

It is futile pointing this out, because people believe what they want to believe on these issues, but saying that there "never [were] black people in ancient Europe" is not the same as saying that "the vast majority of all European (and other) regions tended to be fairly (from a 21st-century Western perspective extremely) phenotypically homogenous before the twentieth century, i.e., before the age of rapid globalization".

Pointing out that the first narrative is wrong does not lead to the absurd conclusion that the second point is wrong too. Are there examples of "non-white" individuals in medieval Europe? Yes, absolutely, and it might be worth pointing this out to those who (for ideological and other reasons) believe that everyone living in, e.g., England between 500-1900 was of "pure Anglo-Saxon stock". Yet equally, it would be wrong (and purely ideological) to portray pre-modern Europe as a place of global diversity, at least in the parameters most people use today to establish degrees of "diversity". Ethnic (let alone "racial") minorities usually were segregated or lived in entirely separate villages and towns. Phenotypically "non-European" individuals were not necessarily always treated harshly, and sometimes could even reach certain high status positions BUT their "Otherness" was usually discussed openly and at best attracted a form of bewildered curiosity among the majority population (which nowadays would be deemed "offensive"). Or, in other words: Yes, there was "diversity" in pre-modern Europe, but it was something entirely different (although in some ways peculiarly similar) from what we call "diversity" today.

So would it be "lore-breaking" to depict "people of color" in Eriador? Not necessarily, no. But it would have to be done in a way that seems alien and foreign, at times even offensive, to casual modern audiences. In all likelihood, however, (and according to the comments by Lenny Henry) we will get an Americanized, 21st-century (but funnily enough already outdated) Hollywood depiction of "diversity", where ethnic and racial differences reputedly/officially have dissolved into dust and everyone can partake in society as an individual born with certain rights, etc. to pursue his or her own happiness (of course, this is not true for contemporary America either, but it is the stated ideal).


One of the big ironies of the entire Hollywood diversity discourse is its myopic, essentially provincial outlook, always seeking to replicate the fundamental racial narratives of America, and America only. It is worth pointing out that most "non-white" individuals and groups in pre-modern Europe that rose to prominence were not "black", but (at least partially) Eurasian (Huns, Cumans, Tatars, various Finno-Ugrian peoples). Among the various "diverse" actors cast for this show only one person somewhat fits this profile. The "white" actors, meanwhile" mostly look North-Western European (read: British), i.e., what the founding fathers considered "white" (Benjamin Franklin, after all, considered Swedes "swarthy). I am not seeing many actors in the cast who are of Spanish, Italian, or South-Eastern European descent. Nazanin Boniadi is the only person in the (so far revealed) cast who fits into the category "Mediterranean/Mid-Eastern). So the "diversity" we will get in the show probably will not be that "diverse" at all, but just the old self-referential dichotomy of colonial America, lily-white Anglos and Western Africans.

Will this, by itself, break the show? No. But some signs are portents of bigger things. If the showrunners do not care for an at least somewhat authentic depiction of pre-modern "diversity", chances are high they will not care about other, arguably more important aspects either. Then again, the fact that Amazon is the producer of this show is the worst portent of all, so the chances of this show turning out to be anything else than stultifying trash have been slim from the start. Who knows, miracles sometimes happen...


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 22, 2:43am

Post #20 of 21 (453 views)
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Nope, indeed! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Sorry, can we provide evidence to suggest that there were never black people in ancient Europe? Can we provide textual evidence to suggest that there were no black people in Middle-earth?

There is truly nothing lore-breaking, morally wrong, or really even woke about casting people of color and including them in Eriador. If it upsets anyone, I feel pity for them.


Actually, textual evidence does support black Men dwelling in Far Harad. Such Southron warriors were present at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields (the text does describe them as looking like half-trolls, but that could just indicate that they were made up in a fearsome appearance). There is a difference between Men of Harad being people of color, though, and Lenny Henry as a Harfoot hobbit.

It's also reasonable to assume that the Men of the lands of RhŻn were comprised of peoples of diverse appearance and ethnicity.

#FidelityToTolkien
#ChallengeExpectations

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Oct 22, 2:46am)


Chen G.
Gondor

Oct 22, 3:25am

Post #21 of 21 (446 views)
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I don't think any of these people are playing Haradrim, though [In reply to] Can't Post

If only because, had Amazon been shooting in a place that could concievably stand-in for Harad, we'd have probably known about it.

As far as I can tell, the diversity in the show crosses ALL the populaces of Middle Earth: natives, Numenoreans, and probably Dwarves and Elves, too.

The Queen is a "diverse" actress but some of her close relatives are not.

 
 

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