I saw FOTR before I read any of the books. I was so drawn in by the movie I went out and bought TTT the next day. Have read The Hobbit and the trilogy, and Tolkien just never found a way to not amaze me.
Favorite Tolkien character:
I'm going to go with Gandalf. Just image how cool it must have been to see as much of the world as Gandalf got to see. Plus he was such an influential figure in his world, and also very well respected. Quite the man of honor.