You do not mess with Stephen Colbert when it comes to knowing his Tolkien. (James Franco learned that the hard way.) It made perfect sense, then, that the Colbert Report host would moderate San Diego Comic-Con’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies panel.
That he did it dressed up as his Middle-earth character the Laketown Spy was even sweeter. And now you can watch a video of the event and read Colbert’s entire pre-panel speech—which will touch all fannish hearts—in its entirety.
Colbert kicked off his speech by saying, “If only I could go back in time and show this to my 13-year-old self!” He had the next best thing there—his son, dressed as a mini-Laketown Spy. (Stop, Stephen, just stop.)
Mostly he spoke about his days as a Tolkien superfan, back when no one outside of Second City and Strangers With Candy audiences knew who he was, and his reservations about Peter Jackson adapting Tolkien’s epic trilogy. Comparing himself to the dragon Smaug, hoarding the source material like so much treasure, he tapped into the same anxieties and sense of ownership most fans have (for better or for worse).
It was the part about hope that most resonated:
Not just hope the movies would be good… I was given hope that finally, finally people might not roll their eyes when I started talking about Middle-earth. That my head full of facts from Fëanor to Faramir might suddenly have some social value! That someone might say to me, “Hey Stephen, you know a lot about Tolkien. Can you explain something to me?” And I would say “Yes, oh God yes, I will!”
And now he does—on late-night, at SDCC, on social media. Colbert’s come a long way as a Tolkien superfan, as have we all.