The Only Cast Member Of The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy To Have Met J.R.R. Tolkien Is?
Answer: Christopher Lee
If you’re looking for a Lord of the Rings movie trilogy actor with the most street cred, you’d be hard pressed to do better than Christopher Lee, the actor behind Saruman. Not only is he a dedicated Tolkien fan who has a habit of reading the trilogy at least once every year, he is the only cast member to have actually met J.R.R. Tolkien.
Further, not only did he meet Tolkien, he also received Tolkien’s blessing to play Gandalf should the trilogy ever be filmed. Why then did Lee play the role of Saruman and not Gandalf? By the time the film trilogy came along, the requirements of the role (horseback riding, stage fighting, extended filming, and such) were a bit taxing for the actor, nearly in his 80s when the filming began.
Definitely don’t think the man frail, however, for taking a less demanding role in his later years. In addition to being an accomplished actor with a film history extending back into the 1940s, Lee is a veritable renaissance man. On top of a successful acting career, Lee was a special forces operative for the British military in World War II, and an accomplished musician in both operatic singing and the metal genre. You read that correctly, Sir Christopher Lee is an award winning heavy metal singer. The best part about his metal music career is that he didn’t even take it up until he was in his 80s; his first complete metal album, released in 2010 when Lee was 88, won a Spirit of Metal award. Clearly the man has a different idea about what taking it easy in retirement entails than most people.
Image courtesy of New Line Cinema.