How Would You Cast The Lord of the Rings For Television?

It looks like Amazon has their wallets set on adapting some tales and adventures in Middle-earth, this time for the smaller screen. While the new series will focus on Middle-earth tales outside the main Lord of the Rings arc, we thought it’d be more fun to speculate about what might happen if they had to recast the whole crew from LOTR. What would that even look like today? And who could appropriately fill Elijah Wood’s, well, not shoes… hairy foot prosthetics?

We have some thoughts, of course.

Note: Keep in mind, we’re trying to pick actors who we think would be open to television, and there are many parts that we came up with more than one actor for. We’re going by previous film rules that the hobbits have to be shorter for the perspective shots.

We should probably start with the Fellowship and go from there, yes? Okay, let’s do this:


Frodo Baggins

Dane DeHaan and Daniel Radcliffe

Either one of these guys.

Daniel Radcliffe

Obviously this is a joke about how people somehow constantly mix up Daniel Radcliffe and Elijah Wood. But also… Daniel Radcliffe could easily play this part. He’s already got one epic fantasy series tuck under his belt where he went through an emotional wringer. He could do it again. And this time he wouldn’t be a kid while doing it, so the whole experience might be less fraught.

Dane DeHaan

He couldn’t save Valerian, but Dane DeHaan has a vulnerability in other roles that might make him an excellent Frodo. Plus, when he’s looking gaunt, he has that perfect I’m-being-possessed-by-a-magic-ring look. Right?


Samwise Gamgee

Chris Larkin

Christopher Larkin

It’s really hard to imagine anyone but Sean Astin as Sam. But as Monty on The 100, Christopher Larkin hits all the right notes: he’s smart and super good at stuff, supportive of his besties and his girlfriend, and stubbornly hopeful even in the face of the actual end of the world. It’s difficult to find actors who can play the kind of vulnerability of lines like “It’s your Sam, Mister Frodo,” but Monty goes through some pretty heavy shit with his self-destructive best friend Jasper, with Larkin excellent at playing the steady, truly good heart of things in a truly dark world. He’d get to lighten up a little as Sam, and he’s got a smile that lights up screens. He’s just right.


Meriadoc Brandybuck

Dominique Tipper

Dominique Tipper

Tipper is tough-with-a-hidden-golden-heart as The Expanse’s Naomi, but her offscreen personality runs more to jolly and snarky, so we think she’d be great for both the eager adventurous Merry, and the battle-scarred “Scouring of the Shire” Merry—any decent TV series would leave that bit in, dammit.


Peregrin Took

Maisie Williams

Maisie Williams

Maisie Williams is perfect as Arya Stark, but she’s also incredibly warm and funny when you see her in interviews. She’d make a wonderful Pippin, and is young enough to be the baby hobbit of the group. Plus, she’s scrappy for those moments when Pippin actually has to step up.


Gandalf the Grey

Peter Capaldi

Peter Capaldi

The Doctor is basically just an alien version of Gandalf, that is, in terms of adventuring around willy nilly and causing trouble for the people who he loops into his adventures. Capaldi already had the perfect wizard eyebrows, he has the ability to contrast gentleness with fury, and he spent his entire tenure as the Doctor trying to grow out his hair to wild lengths. Might as well let him go for it.

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman

Freeman is a qualified badass who somehow always make you feel safer when he talks. Which is spot on for the Fellowship’s wizard. He’s already played God, so we can’t imagine that being the Middle-earth version of an angel would be too hard for him.


Aragorn, Son of Arathorn (Elessar, Strider, etc…)

Ricky Whittle, Aragorn

Ricky Whittle

After watching American Gods, we’re pretty sure there’s nothing Whittle can’t do. And he’s British, so his accent for the role would be legit. He’s regal as all get-out, but in that perfect understated way that Aragorn requires.

Zach McGowan, Aragorn

Zach McGowan

McGowan keeps playing the dirty scrappy bad (or at least morally dubious) guy (in The 100 and Black Sails); let’s give him a chance to play the scruffy, intense, ready-for-a-fight good guy. He’s a believable fighter with a sometimes-scary intensity; his Aragorn would likely walk a line between threatening and charismatic. Though it would involve lots of ominous smizing for the camera.


Boromir of Gondor

Naveen Andrews, Boromir

Naveen Andrews

In Lost, Sense8, and Once Upon A Time, Andrews has proved over and over that he’s capable of being both stately and sneaky. There’s a nobility about him, but you know better than to assume that he’s on your side. These are all important characteristics for Boromir, and it would be great fun to see what he could do with that role.

Pablo Schreiber, Boromir

Pablo Schreiber

Likely the direction you would go in if you wanted Boromir more on the unsavory side, Schreiber’s work on American Gods and Orange in the New Black have proven that he knows how to make odiousness interesting. And he’s not without his heartfelt moments either, meaning that when he felt bad about trying to take the Ring from Frodo, you’d probably still feel sympathy for the guy.


Legolas GreenleafSung Kang, Legolas

Sung Kang

It’s those cheekbones. Ok, it’s not just the cheekbones: it’s the way Kang moves through scenes as Han in the Fast and/or Furious movies. He’s unflappable, but you get the sense he’s always ready for something to happen. He’s sly and funny and badass, but not unless he needs to be. (Plus, casting him as a long-lived elf would balance out Han’s fate, which some of us are—sniff—still not over.)

Hale Appleman, Legolas

Hale Appleman

If you aren’t familiar with Appleman, start watching The Magicians, like, NOW. Appleman plays Eliot, master of cocktails, dubious ideas, clever one-liners—and also High King of the magical land of Fillory. His Eliot can swan about in fancy clothes with the best of them, but he can also be a convincing threat, a loyal friend (just imagine him palling around with Kristofer Hivju as Gimli!) and a genuinely caring person who’ll throw himself into situation that would destroy a lesser man. This all makes him Fellowship material—plus he’d look really good wielding a bow.


Gimli, Son of Gloin

Nick Offerman, Gimli

Nick Offerman

Ron Swanson is basically a Midwestern dwarf, right? Some fans were displeased at the more comedic sheen that Gimli took on in the films, but it does suit the character at proper intervals. Offerman is patently hilarious, but also stoic and excellent at deadpan reactions—something that could serve Gimli incredibly well. He’d like one of Galadriel’s hairs, please and thank you.

Kristofer Hivju, Gimli

Kristofer Hivju

Nobody has mastery over a beard like Tormund.


Bilbo Baggins

Jon Stewart, Bilbo

Jon Stewart

This would be pretty great. Jon Stewart has the warmth, and it would be interesting to see him play a character who has as much baggage as Bilbo is carrying around. And then Stephen Colbert would be furious with him for not insisting on his casting, too.


Saruman the White

Michael Keaton, Saruman

Michael Keaton

As part of the Keaton comeback tour, we’d really love to he him play a part like Saruman. Safe to say, when you’re played by Christopher Lee the first time around, the next guy better go in a very different direction, and Keaton would certainly do something with the part that no one has ever seen before.



Bill Skarsgard, Gollum

Bill Skarsgård

Look, if you’ve got to take over for Andy Serkis, you need to be something of a chameleon and really good at the more physical side of acting, and the youngest Skarsgard already has that going for him. His performance as Pennywise in IT pretty much proved that. So this is kind of a no-brainer.


Elrond of Rivendell

Idris Elba, Elrond

Idris Elba

Everyone agrees that we would pretty much do anything that Idris Elba told us to do at any time, so it makes sense putting him in charge of a beautiful elven haven and watching him raise his eyebrows imperiously at everyone. Also, he’s inhumanly gorgeous, which is kind of a rule for elves.

Liam Neeson, Elrond

Liam Neeson

He needs to complete his bingo card, okay? He’s been a Jedi and Aslan, but the poor guy didn’t make it into Harry Potter—he needs this one. And then when Arwen rushes off to marry her beloved Aragorn, he can get in the guy’s face and do some modified version of the monologue from Taken.


Arwen Undomiel

Hannah John-Kamen, Arwen

Hannah John-Kamen

On Killjoys, John-Kamen is the undisputed master of the steely gaze, perfect posture, and complete and total ownership over any space she’s in. Also, she’s stunning. So she’s basically already an elf.


Galadriel of Lothlorien

Yetide Badaki, Galadriel

Yetide Badake

Badake has already proven her capacity for luminosity on American Gods, but where that show has cast her as a down-on-her-luck deity, the role of Galadriel would allow her to be the regal queen she’s meant to be.

Jamie Clayton, Galadriel

Jamie Clayton

After stealing hearts as resident hacktivist Nomi Marks on Sense8, it would be wonderful to see Clayton play a role that showcases her grace. She would be a stunning possibility for Galadriel, full of strength but also possessing that poise that elves exhibit so effortlessly.


Celeborn of Lothlorien

Russell Brand, Celeborn

Russell Brand

Just make him stand in the background and nod at everything his wife says. Maybe wearing leather pants? Fine, no leather pants… he’ll just make really wide bug eyes at every upsetting piece of news.


Theoden of Rohan

Jiang Wen, Theoden

Jiang Wen

After his performance as Baze in Rogue One, we’re keen to see more of Wen. We also know he’s really great at tragic endings, which is kind of Theoden’s MO. It makes sense to put him in a position that commands respect and awe, but also allows him to get things done. And he has the soothing dad-vibe that we need from Theoden King.


Eomer of Rohan

Tom Hopper, Eomer

Tom Hopper

Just look at that jaw. Hopper was born to ride horses into battle.


Eowyn of Rohan

Betty Cooper Riverdale Lili Reinhart Eowyn Lord of the Rings TV series dreamcast

Lili Reinhart

The thing about Riverdale’s Betty Cooper is that she looks an awful lot like she could be the little sister of Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff). Therefore, we want to see her in a fiercer role. You might think she’s mostly playing pure and nice as Betty, but this version of the character has a darker side, and Reinhart balances people-pleasing sweetness with unexpected determination.

Tatiana Maslany

We all just really need to hear Tatiana shriek “I AM NO MAN,” right? Right? Conversely, she could play every member of the Fellowship simultaneously. We’re open to ideas here, is what we’re saying. But she should be there.



Fiona Dourif, Wormtongue

Fiona Dourif

There are so many improbably great things packed into Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, but possibly the best great thing is Dourif’s performance as guttural holistic assassin Bart Curlish. If she brought even a fraction of that weirdness to Wormtongue, it would light up the screen—plus how much fun would it be to watch Brad Dourif’s daughter take on one of her dad’s iconic roles, after acting with him in the latest Chucky movies?



Irrfan Khan Jurassic World Lord of the Rings TV series dreamcast

Irrfan Khan

He was the jovial John-Hammond-alike in Jurassic World, but we’d love to see some pathos from Khan, and he’s got all that majesty that Denethor clearly believes of himself.

Christopher Eccleston, Denethor

Christopher Eccleston

A master of nastiness when they occasion calls for it, Eccleston would play Denethor’s bitterness to a tee, while still giving the audience a sense of what he may have been like in his semi-glorious days. We believe that he’d be a pretty scary dad, too.


Riz Ahmed Rogue One Lord of the Rings TV series dreamcast

Riz Ahmed

It seems like Ahmed is always being passed over and ignored in roles where he’s doing so much heavy lifting, so Faramir is perfect for him! Honestly, though, he’s a lovely actor with a deep sincerity to him that we want to see in an expanded role.

James McAvoy, Faramir

James McAvoy

McAvoy has played some real intense parts over the course of his career, but his kinder side is well-suited to characters like Faramir. He’s got the earnestness and the heart required to make everyone feel for Gondor’s second, less-loved son.



Jeff Daniels, Glorfindel

Jeff Daniels

He specifically asked for the role in The Martian, so we initially tossed this one into the ring as a joke, but the more we think about it, we think the man would make a great heroic elf.


Rosie Cotton

Angel Coulby, Rosie Cotton

Angel Coulby

We need a perfect human to play Rosie Cotton, and no one quite embodies that so well as the elegant and effortless Angel Coulby. It’s so easy to see how she might steal Samwise Gamgee’s heart, and since she’s already been the Queen of Camelot (on Merlin), playing Rosie might be nice and laidback switch-up.



Vin Diesel, Treebeard

Photo: Marvel

Vin Diesel

He’s already been a smaller sentient tree and a giant robot, and being a part of this would probably make his nerdy heart burst. So this one’s kind of a no-brainer.



Jameela Jamil

Jameela Jamil

When you need someone who is not merely “dewy” but truly “radiant,” Jameela Jamil is the actor you call.


Tom Bombadil

Lin-Manuel Miranda Lord of the Rings TV series dreamcast

Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Lin-Manuel Miranda

We’re not even having a discussion about this: he is the only choice that makes sense, and he can write his own music to the Bombadil Song and the world will be a better place. Just, everyone go home we are done here.


What’s your dreamcast for a Lord of the Rings TV series?


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