It's been just over 15 years since the first Lord of the Rings installment, The Fellowship of the Ring, premiered. And now I officially feel old. But nostalgia has no shelf life. Well, maybe it does for those who helped create it. When speaking with Dominic Monaghan, who's promoting his new sci-fi film Atomica, out March 17, I couldn't not go down memory lane. His character Merry — half of the dynamic duo which also includes Pippin (Billy Boyd) — is a quintessential role in the epic story. And although fans like myself could watch the films on repeat until the end of time, Monaghan hasn't really looked back. Still, his iconic role in LOTR is what motivates and excites him about moving forward, even after all these years.
"I haven’t really watched them. I’m sure I will," the 40-year-old admits over the phone. "I’m sure I will when I have kids or grandkids or when my nephew gets old enough." It's not because Monaghan doesn't enjoy the films, but to him, rewatching himself feels more like narcissism than a fun trip down memory lane. "It’s a little egomaniacal to be sitting around and watching a movie that I did long ago. I tend to maybe watch what my [current] thing is... once or twice," he explains. As amazing as the films are, I see his point.
"I don’t get too [much] as an actor watching what I did in the past. It’s done," he says. "It’d be like if you paint a picture... I don’t think many painters go back to re-explore it and put more paint on it. Move on to a new painting."
But he won't deny that being part of such a massive phenomenon completely altered his path, in the best way. "It’s definitely affected my life," he says. "I mean, we’re all doing different, challenging career paths and if you’re lucky enough in your chosen [one] to do something that people recognize or people are aware of, [it] definitely changes the course of your life."
As fans would probably imagine, Monaghan has earned the ability to get his pick of the litter when it comes to projects. "Being involved with things like X-Men and Lost and Lord of the Rings pushed me in a different direction," he explains. "I now am fortunate to be a little picky about the projects that I choose. I do that as much as I can."
Clearly, he has a knack for picking these epic action, fantasy stories. So why change that track record? The thing is, he would if the right project came along. "I had to read the scripts of Lord of the Rings and all of these other things that I did. I could easily do small-character pieces that happen in a small town and don’t really move anywhere. I just haven’t read that script yet," he says. But he's open to what the future holds, even if the films aren't as massive as LOTR. "I’m a big fan of change, and I think it’s a great thing," he says. "It’s about timing."
Although I've seen Monaghan's own LOTR films more than he has, he looks back on the experience with nothing but gratitude. "I loved doing it, I’ve been back in New Zealand a bunch of times, I’m friends with those guys," he says. "I love Lord of the Rings, and I loved making it as well. But really, now, it’s not for me, it’s for the fans." As I fan, I'll say: That statement is spot-on.