29 May 2019

Nicholas Hoult stars in new Tolkien biopic

From At The Movies, 7:33 pm on 29 May 2019

Writer biopics are difficult enough, since in real life most of their lives were pinned to a desk, screwing up pieces of paper and chucking them in the bin.

Add to this the fact that in this film the writer was an academic whose specialist subject was philology, though he became well known for a fairly boys’ only tale back in the day.

Lord of the Rings was not only one of the greatest books of the last century, it permanently changed fantasy novels, comic books, movie blockbusters and the New Zealand film industry.

The story of its creator JRR Tolkien is epic in its own way, sweeping, grand, touching, scary and very romantic.

Nicholas Hoult stars as the creator of the Middle Earth sagas along with Lily Collins in a new film Tolkien.

Familiar with Tolkien’s work, Hoult told Simon Morris the man himself was something of a mystery before he read the script for Tolkien.

“I really didn't know much about the man himself, so there was a real learning curve in terms of his romantic interests, his friendships, his knowledge, his time at Oxford and all these things that basically then formulated his ideas and these worlds ... I didn't know that he fought in World War I - that was a big learning curve and something that translates wonderfully into this story.”

From an early age, Tolkien was inventing languages and imagined worlds, Hoult says.

“The depth of his stories and his knowledge of languages is where it all really stems from because from a young age, he was speaking Latin and then learning and creating his own languages, and then he realised you can't just create languages without creating people to speak them. And then when you create the people, you have to create the world that they live in and the history for these people.

So, this whole Middle Earth saga came out of basically his love of language.”

The film had to work as a standalone piece of work, Hoult says.

“We had to tell a story and make a film that stood alone, and it's not just made for people who are fans of those [Tolkien’s books] it's a story that stands separate to that as well - about relationships and love and the creative process.”

The film explores Tolkien’s early manhood and the interests that would seed his subsequent epic tales, Hoult says.

“The Hobbit wasn't published till he was in his 30s, there was something in these formative years where the ideas stem from and those passions that resulted in those novels.”

Hoult hopes the film says something more broadly about the power of the imagination.

“This is a story that we felt had to be told, it has lots of beautiful stories within it and characters and is very much about what art can do.

“And I think that's the main takeaway from this film, when you watch it you realise that creating and letting those parts of your brain, your imagination flourish is so important.”

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to At The Movies

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)