TV & Movies

The LOTR Cast Continues To Dominate Hollywood 20 Years Later

See what happened to Middle-earth’s favorite crew.

Originally Published: 
The Lord of the Rings Cast Then and Now. Where are the Middle-earthlings today? Photo by New Line/Wi...
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Twenty years ago, the first installment in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy premiered. Directed by Peter Jackson, The Fellowship of the Ring follows nine brave folks who set out to destroy a magical ring. On its anniversary, here's a look at how much the cast has changed since.

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Both Elijah Wood and Sean Astin racked up gigs as child actors before playing hobbits Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee. Wood was in Forever Young, Oliver Twist, and Back to the Future Part II, while Astin starred in over 20 films, including Please Don’t Hit Me with mom Patty Duke.

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Both their careers continued to soar after the franchise, with both appearing numerous projects. Wood starred in Sin City, The Last Witch Hunter, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while Astin acted in 50 First Dates, The Big Bang Theory, and Stranger Things, among others.

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Viggo Mortensen had nearly two decades' worth of roles in films like G.I. Jane, The Portrait of a Lady, and Psycho before taking on Middle-earth royalty as Aragorn, King of Men.

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Since then, he’s starred in Captain Fantastic, A Dangerous Method, and Green Book, controversial for its white savior themes. In 2018, he came under fire for saying the N-word at a press event and gave a statement to THR saying he’s “very sorry” and “will not utter it again.”

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Sir Ian McKellen started acting about four decades prior to his role as the wizard Gandalf and had been in a lot of projects, including X-Men, Gods and Monsters, and Richard III. The multi-award-winning veteran actor was also knighted a full decade before LOTR.

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After, he reprised his other uber-famous role as Magneto in subsequent X-men movies, as well as his role as Gandalf in The Hobbit. In 2020, he was honored with the Special Award at the Olivier Awards.

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Liv Tyler, daughter of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, already found success in Empire Records and Armageddon before playing the elf Arwen. Meanwhile, her fellow elf Orlando Bloom had three credits before landing his breakout role as the dashing archer Legolas.

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LOTR catapulted Bloom to mega-star status with subsequent roles in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Troy, and Carnival Row, before returning as Legolas in The Hobbit films. Tyler, too, made rounds, starring in Ad Astra, The Incredible Hulk, and 9-1-1: Lone Star.

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John Rhys-Davies already had decades of acting experience under his belt (should we say chainmail?) before appearing as the dwarf Gimli (and voicing Treebeard). His most notable projects prior include Star Trek: Voyager, the Indiana Jones films, and The Lost World films.

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Since then, he’s starred in Once Upon a Time, Prisoners of the Sun, and another fantasy series, The Shannara Chronicles. He also lent his voice to multiple animated characters, including Thor in Justice League.

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Both Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd were relatively new actors before rounding out the rest of the hobbits as Merry and Pippin. Boyd was in The Soldier's Leap and Urban Ghost Story, and Monaghan was in TV shows Monsignor Renard and Hostile Waters.

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After LOTR, Monaghan dominated TV with turns in Lost, FlashForward, and his own nature docuseries, Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan. Boyd, meanwhile, was in Glenn, the Flying Robot and a few plays before fronting the band Beecake. The song he sings in the third LOTR movie? He wrote that.

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