George R.R. Martin on ‘Lord of the Rings’ vs. ‘Harry Potter’: ‘Gandalf Could Kick Dumbledore’s Ass’

“Game of Thrones” fans have a lot to thank J.R.R. Tolkien for.

“Thrones” author George R.R. Martin, along with stars Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins and director Dome Karukoski, discussed their personal connections to Tolkien and his “Lord of the Rings” series on the red carpet — or more accurately, the green carpet (a nod to the author’s verdant Middle Earth) — at the premiere of biographical film “Tolkien” on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Martin told Variety, “He made me love the form he created — epic fantasy. He redefined fantasy of everything that had been before.” He said that Tolkien’s epic trilogy format influenced “Game of Thrones.” Martin joked, “I started doing a trilogy called ‘Game of Thrones.’ Now my trilogy is seven books — if I finish the last two.”

Martin called the film “profoundly moving” and praised the movie for avoiding cliches like a struggling writer “sitting at a typewriter and crumpling a piece of paper.” Instead, he said the movie was about “Tolkien’s love affair. His friendship. Him as a young man in his university years. And that influences what he would later write.”

Hoult, who plays the titular character, had been a lifelong fan of Tolkien before signing on to the project. After researching and taking on the role he gained a new appreciation for the author. He told Variety, “Before, I didn’t understand where all these worlds and characters came from. I disappeared into his work and now I see the history and the layers.”

Hoult, having played J.D. Salinger in “Rebel in the Rye,” has made a bit of a habit playing idiosyncratic authors. “I’m really interested in the mind of the writer,” he said. 

Karukoski identifies with Tolkien’s upbringing as a loner from a poor family. “Those stories became my first friends. They became the world that I could escape to,” she said. 

Lily Collins had a poetic experience landing her role as Tolkien’s wife and muse Edith Bratt. She grew up reading “The Lord of the Rings,” which inspired her to audition as an elf in Peter Jackson’s films. She didn’t get the part, but now years later finally has her opportunity to be part of the Tolkien universe, albeit in a much different manner. “To get to play the woman who inspired [‘Lord of the Rings’] is kind of ironic,” she said. “I had to giggle when I got this role.”

Although Collins is a huge Tolkien fan, she did admit during the post screening Q&A that her favorite book series is “Harry Potter.” Martin responded, “Gandalf could kick Dumbledore’s ass.”

“Tolkien” hits theaters Friday, May 10.


More Film

  • Claire Denis attends the 32nd European

    Claire Denis and Phedon Papamichael Join Doha Film Institute's Qumra Lineup

    The Doha Film Institute has added French auteur Claire Denis and Oscar-nominated cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (“Nebraska”) to the lineup of star talent who will act as mentors for the Qumra Masters program during its upcoming Qumra event dedicated to fostering fresh Arab film fare that is opening up to TV projects. They join previously announced [...]

  • Persian Lessons Russian Cinema

    'Persian Lessons': Film Review

    In “Schindler’s List,” most of the actors spoke English, using accents to indicate their characters’ origins. In “Son of Saul,” the cast struggles to communicate in a mish-mosh of languages, as Jews of different nationalities were thrown together in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Stories about the Holocaust — so vital in trying to reconcile the horrors of the [...]


    Beta Cinema Celebrates ‘Karnawal’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Beta Cinema has acquired international sales rights to debut Argentine director Juan Pablo Félix’s “Karnawal,” winner of the Le Film Français, Ciné Plus, Gomedia and Titrafilm awards at December’s Ventana Sur. “Karnawal” featured co-producers from five countries: Argentina’s Bikini Films, Brazil’s 3 Moinhos Produçoes, Chile’s Picardía Films, Mexico’s Phototaxia Pictures, Norway’s Norsk Filmproduksjon and Bolivia’s [...]

  • Italian Xmas movie

    Italy's True Colours Scores Slew of Early EFM Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    Italian sales company True Colours has scored multiple sales at the EFM on several titles including Christmas comedy “Once Upon a Time in Bethlehem,” which was Italy’s top-grossing domestic title in 2019. “Bethlehem,” which scored roughly $17 million domestically, toplines comic duo Ficarra and Picone as a thief and a priest who time-travel to Palestine [...]

  • All-the-dead-ones

    Caetano Gotardo, Marco Dutra Talk Berlin Competition Entry ‘All the Dead Ones’

    Directed by Caetano Gotardo and Marco Dutra, Brazilian Berlin competition entry “All the Dead Ones” kicks off in Belle Epoque 1899 São Paulo. Ana, the daughter of a plantation owner and her nun sister attempt persuade a reluctant Ina, a former slave, to perform an ancient African ritual to cure their mother. A time warp [...]

  • The Daughter

    Caramel, Mod, Film Factory Unveil Manuel Martin Cuenca’s ‘The Daughter’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Caramel Films has boarded Manuel Martin Cuenca’s “The Daughter,” produced by Fernando Bovaira (“The Others” ) at Mod Producciones and Cuenca’s own La Loma Blanca. Pic was unveiled at Berlin’s European Film Market by its sales agent, Film Factory Entertainment. Set to be released in Spain by Caramel in late 2020, “The Daughter” marks the [...]

  • Sugar Rush

    Berlin: Nigeria's FilmOne Makes Global Push With China-South Africa Pact (EXCLUSIVE)

    FilmOne Entertainment, the Nigerian distributor and production company, has gone into production on the first movie to cash in on the $1 million film fund it launched with China’s Huahua Media and South Africa’s Empire Entertainment in December. “Kambili,” by director Kayode Kasum, is the first of what FilmOne co-founder Moses Babatope expects to be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content