With universal themes of hope and loyalty, The Lord of the Rings is beloved by fans for being a classic tale of good versus evil. When it comes to timeless classics like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, few characters are more memorable than the hobbit Frodo Baggins. It’s been over a decade since the release of The Return of the King in theaters, but fans have often cherished the memories from Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
According to a recent study, many millennials have been lying about actually reading the Lord of the Rings. Whether you fall into that category or you’re a diehard fan, we decided to cover some interesting tidbits and lesser known facts about Frodo. If you’ve ever been curious about Frodo’s familial relations, we’ll take a closer look at his ties to other Hobbits like Merry, Pippin, and Bilbo. This list will explore more book and movie trivia surrounding one of the most beloved Hobbits of all time, Frodo Baggins.
Recently, other members of our team have already tackled trivia about Merry and Pippin. We decided that it’s time to take a closer look at the story’s protagonist. Here are 16 Things You Didn’t Know About Frodo Baggins.
16. How Did Frodo’s Parents Die?
For those with a close affinity for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels, this one might sound familiar. Although it isn’t quite explored thoroughly in the film adaptations by director Peter Jackson, Frodo Baggins has a mysterious backstory regarding his parents. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo is first introduced as being the son of the late Drogo Baggins and Primula Brandybuck. Drogo, who lived from 2908 until 2980, married Primula Brandybuck, who was Bilbo’s youngest cousin. Drogo and Primula only had one son, Frodo, and they died together in 2980 after a supposed boating accident.
In the first chapter of The Fellowship of The Ring, several hobbits speculate about their mysterious deaths. Old Noakes believes that the boat sank from Drogo’s weight, while the Hobbiton miller, Sandyman, speculates that Primula pushed him into the water, and Drogo pulled her in after him. The exact reasoning for their fate was never explored in greater detail, and it is known that Frodo became an orphan from mysterious circumstances. For most hobbits, death by drowning is very uncommon, as boating is not a typical hobby.
15. In the books, he is older than the other Hobbits
In terms of casting, there is a slight discrepancy between Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and the original trilogy of books written by J.R.R. Tolkien. On screen, Frodo as played by Elijah Wood might appear to have a babyface, but in the books, he was actually older than the other Hobbits in the fellowship. At the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo is 33 years old.
In the films, it might seem like things move along at a rapid pace, but in the books, there is a seventeen-year gap before Frodo leaves the Shire. After nearly two decades, Frodo leaves the Shire at 50 years old, which makes Mr. Baggins even older than Boromir, along with his fellow hobbits, Merry, Pippin, and Sam. In contrast, Elijah Wood joined the cast of The Lord of the Rings when he was eighteen, making him the youngest out of the main actors.
14. Frodo’s makeup and prosthetics took an hour and a half every morning
According to the extra features from the Extended Editions of The Lord of the Rings DVD’s, the makeup process for each Hobbit was a lengthy ordeal. While on set, the Hobbits would have to start their day during the wee hours of the morning to get a head start on the arduous makeup session. In addition to getting fitted for wigs, the process for attaching prosthetics took about an hour and a half every morning.
For Elijah Wood, Frodo’s prosthetic feet actually took the longest out of all the Hobbits. Unfortunately for Wood, they would have to be reattached at various times throughout the day due to the glue wearing off from sweating during shoots. In 2013, Wood told The Guardian that director Peter Jackson had gifted him with the one ring, his blade Sting, and a pair of Frodo’s hobbit feet as mementos.
13. Elijah Wood got a tattoo of the Elvish word for “nine”
In an interview, Elijah Wood spoke on how much he was impacted by his experience of filming The Lord of the Rings. “I think the most important thing I’ll take away is the friendships I’ve made. Being in New Zealand for that length of time with these people was such a joy. It was difficult— six-day weeks and 15-hour days—and completely exhausting, but the friendships got us through. Wood said. In honor of their experience, most of the actors from the Fellowship agreed to get matching tattoos together. With the exception of John Rhys-Davies (his stunt double got one in his place), the eight original members of the fellowship took the plunge and got matching tattoos of the Elvish word for 9.
While some of the other actors initially refused to divulge where they placed their tattoos, Elijah Wood candidly showed his tattoo on his hip while talking to Jay Leno. Always one for jokes, actor Dominic Monaghan, who plays Merry, told reporters that Elijah Wood received his in a “no-no spot.” Amusingly enough, Elijah later clarified that although it was placed below the belt, it all depends on perspective.
12. He is related to Merry and Pippin
Although most diehard Tolkien fans might write this off as common knowledge, others might be interested to note that Frodo is actually related to Merry and Pippin. While Merry and Pippin are first cousins, directly linked through their grandfather Adalgrim Took, things get a little complicated when it comes to their kinship with Frodo.
For starters, both Pippin and Frodo are related to the Old Took, who is Frodo’s great-grandfather on his mother’s side. Pippin is Frodo’s second cousin, once removed, but things are even more complex when it comes to his relations with Merry. Frodo and Merry are both linked to Gorbadoc Brandybuck, who is Frodo’s grandfather on his mother’s side. Frodo is first cousins with Saradoc Brandybuck, which means that Frodo and Merry are actually first cousins, once removed.
If you look at the family tree, Frodo and Merry are also related through his grandmother, Mirabella Brandybuck, with both of them sharing ancestry with the Old Took. Seeing as how they both have a Took grandfather in common, Merry can also be viewed as Frodo’s second cousin, once removed.
11. Jake Gyllenhaal originally auditioned for the role
According to The Hollywood Reporter, director Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings could have gone in a drastically different direction in terms of casting. In the beginning, actor Stuart Townsend had initially been cast as Aragorn, and even actor Jake Gyllenhaal had apparently auditioned for the role of Frodo Baggins. “I remember auditioning for The Lord of the Rings [the role of Frodo] and going in and not being told that I needed a British accent.” Gyllenhaal said to The Hollywood Reporter. “I really do remember Peter Jackson saying to me, “You know that you have to do this in a British accent?” We heard back it was literally one of the worst auditions.”
Gyllenhaal’s audition sounded like a real bust, but in the end, everything was meant to be as it should, and actor Elijah Wood was selected for the role. In an official press release, director Peter Jackson praised Elijah for his natural ability to draw an audience into a story.
10. In earlier drafts, Tolkien called him Bingo Bolger-Baggins
In The History of Middle-Earth by Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien had originally referred to Frodo as “Bingo Bolger-Baggins” in his notes. In the text, it states that the name “Bingo” comes from a Bingo Bear Koala teddy bear that Tolkien’s sons used to play with. In his notes, Tolkien had toyed with the idea of changing his name to Frodo, but he first decided against it.
In earlier drafts, Tolkien had also imagined men from Dale and Dwarves arriving at Bilbo’s Farewell Party in The Fellowship of the Ring. Later, he changed his mind, and felt it was “unwise” to have them arrive in Hobbiton. As Tolkien continued to work on the novel, Frodo was referred to as Bingo Bolger-Baggins, and in one part, he would meet a “Ranger Hobbit” known as “Trotter”.
In the book A Brief Guide to J. R. R. Tolkien, author Nigel Cawthorne notes that Tolkien continued to write his ideas for The Lord of the Rings on whatever paper he could find, including scrap paper and the back of exam papers. By 1940, Tolkien revised his earlier drafts and eventually changed Bingo into the character we’ve come to love as Frodo.
9. Ian Holm played Frodo on BBC radio
Before the release of director Peter Jackson’s film trilogy of The Lord of the Rings, BBC had released a dramatization of Tolkien’s classic works. In 1981, BBC 4 Radio created a radio drama series of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. With a running time of thirty minutes, the installments were released in 26 different episodes.
In 1955 and 1956, BBC Radio had created another audio adaptation of the series, but there were no known recordings of the event. Written by Brian Sibley and Michael Bakewell, the script mostly followed the original novels, but there were some differences, including the omission of Tom Bombadil. Author Brian Sibley also wrote The Lord of the Rings: The Making of the Movie Trilogy, and several other books including the Official Movie Guide for both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
During that series, actor Ian Holm played the role of Frodo Baggins, along with actor Michael Hordern as Gandalf, William Nighy as Samwise and John Le Mesurier as Bilbo Baggins. Later, Peter Jackson cast Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins for The Lord of the Rings films.
8. The name “Frodo” comes from Old English and it means “wise”
Author J.R.R. Tolkien was known for being a scholar with exceptional knowledge of languages and etymology. Tolkien created several languages during his life, including Elvish (Quenya and Sindarin), Dwarvish, Entish, and the Black Speech. The Elvish language of Quenya was actually inspired by Finnish, which Tolkien learned so that he could read an epic poem called the Kalevala. It should come as no surprise, then, that Frodo’s name is also imbued with deeper meanings. In Tolkien’s letters, the author revealed that the name “Frodo” comes from Old English, with fród meaning “wise by experience”. There is also a connection to a character from Norse mythology known as Fróði. The character is also referenced in Beowulf, where it is spelled in Old English as Froda.
Tolkien has also wrote that Frodo’s Westron name is actually Maura Labingi. The “frod-” of Frodo means wise, and the “maur-” section of Maura literally translates as the same. In Tolkien’s Sindarin language, Frodo’s name was referred to as Iorhael. “Ior” translates as “old”, while “hael” means “wise”. In Sauron Defeated by Christopher Tolkien, Gandalf names Frodo Bronwe athan Harthad (“Endurance Beyond Hope”) after the One Ring is destroyed.
7. Elijah Wood’s bitten fingernails created continuity errors
In The Fellowship of the Ring, there were numerous close up shots featuring the One Ring. While one scene features a pair of manicured hands, there were others featured that were less aesthetically pleasing. In another sequence, there was a close up scene featuring actor Elijah Wood’s hands grasping at the One Ring. In stark contrast to the more polished hands from before, there are some closeups that feature his ragged fingernails. Wood was known for having a habit of biting his fingernails.
Ever since the film debut of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, the production team for the franchise have been praised for their sharp attention to detail. From the intricate costume designs to the life-like props used on set, Weta Workshop has been highly acclaimed for their detailed work.
6. Why Sam calls him “Mr. Frodo”
If you haven’t read the books, or simply need to brush up on some trivia, there’s a specific reason why Sam refers to his close companion as “Mr. Frodo”. In fact, Sam’s father, known as the Gaffer, worked as a gardener for the Baggins family for years. Keeping in line with tradition, Sam also continued the family work and therefore refers to Frodo as “Mr. Frodo” during the story.
Writer Michael Martinez from Xenite.org mentions that “Mister” can also be used to refer to someone as “Master” and thus, Sam is simply showing his respect to Frodo. Martinez takes things a step further, noting that Frodo did have a higher position within the society at the time. For example, Frodo was the Master of Bag End, and also the head of the Baggins family. In addition to showing his respect, Sam was also referring to him as “Mister” in order to show the difference in stature. At the end of The Return of the King, Frodo passes Bag End to Sam, ultimately lifting his hierarchical rank to the Master of Bag End.
5. Scenes with the Hobbits were filmed using a forced perspective
Although some might assume that many of the shots between Gandalf and the other hobbits were created using computer generated imagery, there were several that were created using a forced perspective. The overall process is fascinating, and the forced perspective technique is shown in greater detail on the Extended Editions of the Lord of the Rings DVDs. To create the illusion, the team needed to use a method of filming involving motion control capture.
In short, this technique would require that both the camera and the platform where the actors were placed to move simultaneously. In one scene, where Frodo is pouring tea for Gandalf, actor Ian McKellen was positioned on a platform which moved in direct response to the motion control capture where the camera was placed. In the final cut in the film, the forced perspective technique created a seamless effect, with a smooth transition from one sequence to the other.
4. Peter Jackson planned for Frodo to kill Gollum at Mt. Doom
Director Peter Jackson initially had different plans in store for the ending of The Return of the King. While Frodo ultimately succumbs to the power of the ring, Jackson had wanted to take things a step further by having Frodo actually kill Gollum. According to Peter Jackson: A Film-maker’s Journey, Jackson had said that, “When we originally shot the scene, Gollum bit off Frodo’s finger and Frodo pushed Gollum off the ledge into the fires below. It was straight-out murder, but at the time we were okay with it because because we felt everyone wanted Frodo to kill Gollum.”
When working on the film, Jackson had told actor Elijah Wood to play the scene in a very ambiguous way. He had wanted to Wood to portray Frodo in a way that the audience wouldn’t be able to tell if he was trying to finish his quest to destroy the ring or to actually take the ring for himself.
3. Frodo is Bilbo’s second cousin, once removed
Like many other family trees in Middle-earth, Tolkien’s creations are complex and intriguing to explore. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo adopts Frodo Baggins, and much to the dismay of the Sackville-Bagginses, Bilbo names Frodo as the heir to his estate. However, it is interesting to note that Bilbo and Frodo are actually cousins.
Bilbo and Frodo both have common ancestry with Balbo, and Frodo’s father, Drogo Baggins, was second cousins with Bilbo. On his father’s side, Frodo is Bilbo’s second cousin, once removed. On his mother’s side, things are a little less complicated. Frodo’s mother was born Primula Brandybuck, and she was Bilbo’s first cousin on his mother’s side. They are both related through their Took ancestry, and if you follow the family tree through Frodo’s mother’s side, Bilbo and Frodo are first cousins, once removed.
2. Ian McKellen wasn’t able to look Elijah Wood in the eyes
Earlier, we learned more about how director Peter Jackson was able to create movie magic involving hobbits like Frodo by using the technique of forced perspective. That being said, there have been some articles noting that actors Elijah Wood and Sir Ian McKellen did not film a scene together, but that doesn’t appear to be true. When asked about his filming experience, Ian McKellen explained in greater detail, and it seems that his scenes with Wood were a bit unconventional: “I never got to look Elijah Wood in the eyes.” Sir Ian McKellen said in an interview with Uproxx.
1. Elijah Wood got the role by filming his own audition tape. Chosen out of over 200 actors.
According to an on-set interview from lordoftherings.net, actor Elijah Wood took a non-traditional route when it came to scoring the role of Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. Over 200 actors were originally considered for the role, but Wood stood out from all the rest after filming his own audition tape. Wood was initially unenthused about trying to audition against a typical white background, so he decided to work on a tape of his own. After working closely with his voice coach to improve his accent, Wood had a friend film his audition video in the Hollywood Hills.
“We suddenly saw Frodo. Elijah was being videotaped by his friend and he was reading lines from the book. He didn’t have the film script so he was acting scenes right out of the book.” Peter Jackson said in the LOTR Fan Club Magazine. “We looked at Elijah and at that moment we knew. The role was decided when we saw that tape. It was just a wonderfully lucky break for us. We didn’t find Frodo – he found us.”
Do you have any more trivia about Frodo from Lord of the Rings that you want to share? Let us know in the comments!