The Elvish Princeling from Mirkwood has been a constant source of debate from die hard Tolkienites and casual fans alike. How old is he, really? Was his hair brown or blond? Who was his mother? Legolas Greenleaf has incited plenty of questions and has been a controversial one, to be sure.
Known for his swift physical prowess and daring athleticism, the elf has been wowing audiences for years. Pop culture is no stranger to elvish references—Marvel fans definitely had a laugh or two when Iron Man amusingly referred to Hawkeye “Legolas” in The Avengers. Will we see Orlando Bloom donning tights anytime soon? Who knows what the future holds, but you can always catch Bloom in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in May.
For now, let’s go through some lesser known facts about the Prince of Mirkwood. Here’s 15 Things You Never Knew About Legolas
15. His actual age is unknown
Despite being such a popular character today, much of the backstory for Legolas remains a mystery. Even in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tolkien never explicitly stated the age of Legolas.
According to the Lord of the Rings Official Movie Guide by Brian Sibley, Legolas is 2,931 years old, which was a date decided by the screenwriters for the film adaptations. Some folks have pointed out that this fictional date coincides with the year 2931, which was the year Aragorn was born, as stated in the Tales of Years in the Appendices.
As a fun side note, one of the Tops Trumps trading cards for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers says that Legolas is approximately 7,000 years old. The topic has been hotly debated, with some fans stating that his age could range from 500 to 2,000 years old. Although this age range might seem pretty wide, it pales in comparison to other creatures like Treebeard the Ent. Gandalf refers to Treebeard as “the oldest living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-Earth” in The Two Towers.
14. He was a Prince of Mirkwood, but his mother is unknown
The son of Thranduil, Legolas Greenleaf was known for being a Prince of the Woodland Realm, otherwise referred to as Mirkwood. Legolas is a Sindarin Elf, and he often shares his deep reverence for the natural world. He’s known for his swift skills with a bow, agility, and his loyalty to the fellowship during the Lord of the Rings.
His father, Thranduil, was King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood, and it is unknown if Thranduil had additional sons or heirs to the throne. In the films directed by Peter Jackson, virtually unknown British actor Orlando Bloom quickly shot to superstardom by playing the fair-faced Elf. A few months back, we thought Swedish-born Alexander Skarsgård would play a great role as Legolas if Lord of the Rings was recast today.
Although author J.R.R. Tolkien never revealed any details about the mother of Legolas, Peter Jackson made some fictional additions in The Hobbit. In the film adaptations of The Hobbit, Legolas says that his mother had died in battle between the Elves and the Orcs. Before leaving Mirkwood at the end of the final film, Thranduil tells Legolas that his mother loved him more than life itself.
13. Legolas was also skilled with knives
If you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings books, the films directed by Peter Jackson, or both— you’ll undoubtedly remember Legolas’ pinpoint accuracy with a bow. Although Legolas is more well known for his skills as an archer, he was a well-rounded warrior, and could effectively utilize knives in battle.
In The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, Legolas is shown using a pair of long Elvish knives. In the films, Legolas keeps them on his back, next to his quiver of arrows. The Elven weapons are equally elegant looking and deadly. Both blades have fluid vine-like designs which swirl around the hilt and the blade of each knife. It is unknown if these knives were given to him by his father, King Thranduil. When used together, Legolas could deliver a whirlwind of damage to any foes in his path. In the books, however, Legolas only used a single blade.
12. Anthony Daniels voiced him in the Bakshi animated LotR
Surprisingly enough, there’s a small connection between Star Wars and Lord of the Rings that some may not know about. British actor Anthony Daniels, best known for his iconic role as C-3PO in the Star Wars franchise, actually voiced Legolas many moons ago. Daniels played C-3PO in all of the Star Wars films, and even lent his voice for the animated features like The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.
In the 1978 animated version of The Lord of the Rings, directed by Ralph Bakshi, Daniels lent his voice acting skills for the role of the Elvish princeling, Legolas. Fresh off his fantasy film debut with Wizards (1977), director Ralph Bakshi was set to helm the animated version of The Lord of the Rings. Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics at the time, the animated film became something of a cult classic. The Bakshi version of the film was the reason for Jackson’s adaptation of LotR, as he stated in the DVD for The Fellowship of the Ring.
11. Orlando originally auditioned for Faramir and Jude law was rumored to play Legolas
According to the Fellowship of the Ring Special Extended Edition DVD, Orlando Bloom had originally auditioned for the part of Faramir. However, director Peter Jackson had other plans for Bloom. Although there were some rumors circulating about that Jude Law would be cast as Legolas, the role was, of course, given to Orlando Bloom, who actually acted alongside Law in the film Wilde (1997).
Most well known as the brother of Boromir, another member of the fellowship, the role of Faramir eventually went to Australian actor David Wenham. We’ll be getting to see more of David Wenham on screen with his upcoming role as Harold Meachum in Marvel’s new Netflix series, Iron Fist. Interestingly enough, TheOneRing.net reports that Liam Neeson was offered the role of Boromir, but he declined. Also, John Rhys-Davies originally auditioned for the role of Denethor, the father of Faramir, bur the end, Rhys-Davies was cast as Gimli.
10. In the books, he was a singer
In the novels, Legolas Greenleaf would often express his emotions through song. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Legolas sings “The Song of Nimrodel” while the Fellowship is in Lothlórien. “The Song of Nimrodel” is a sorrowful song about a woman of the same name, and it sheds light on how Lothlórien was affected by “the evil in the mountains” awakened by the Dwarves. After Boromir’s death, Aragorn and Legolas sing a lament together in his honor, singing about the north, west, and south winds.
On screen, we don’t really get a chance to hear Legolas singing, but Orlando Bloom gave an amusing treat for fans on one of his last days on set for The Hobbit. In 2006, a fan made a hilarious video involving one of Legolas’ more obvious statements, “They’re taking the Hobbits to Isengard!” Naturally, the clip turned into a viral sensation and, as a way to say goodbye to his Elvish role, Orlando decided to sing along to the original with Peter Jackson.
9. Orlando Bloom broke a rib while shooting
Many Lord of the Rings cast members were involved in unfortunate accidents while filming. While on set filming The Two Towers, there were plenty of injuries to go around. Actor Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) broke two toes kicking a helmet, and the stunt double for John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) also sustained some pretty hefty injuries.
As lithe and graceful as he might appear on screen, Legolas Greenleaf was no exception here. Orlando Bloom broke several ribs after falling off of a horse while filming The Two Towers. Broken ribs might sound daunting, but the actor is no stranger to risky stunts. Throughout his acting career, Bloom has broken bones or dealt with injuries to almost every major bone in his body. In several interviews, Orlando has stated that he has cracked his skull and broken his nose. In one incident, he actually broke several vertebrae in his back after falling from a rooftop, and he has also broken bones in his legs.
8. Glorfindel was replaced by Legolas in earlier drafts
In earlier drafts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, author J.R.R. Tolkien had intended on Glorfindel being the Elf representative for the Fellowship of the Ring. Glorfindel was later replaced with Legolas for the final draft, and Peter Jackson also chose to make the swap for his film adaptations of the series.
In the earlier part of the Fellowship of the Ring book, Glorfindel is actually the one to help Frodo reach Rivendell, but in the film, Arwen (Liv Tyler) replaces him. Glorfindel might have never made it on screen, but you can find his character in the Lord of the Rings Trading Card game and the Middle-Earth Collectible Card Game. There is even an option to purchase his character in a DLC add-on for the Lego Lord of the Rings game.
Some sharp-eared fans might have chuckled at the small easter egg reference found in The Martian. Director Teddy Sanders decidedly wants to be called Glorfindel while discussing Project Elrond, a meeting about how to rescue the stranded astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon).
7. Orlando and Fellowship cast members got tattoos of the number 9 in Elvish
Inspired by their on-screen bond, Orlando Bloom and the other members of the Fellowship of the Ring decided to take the plunge and get some ink. The time they spent together filming the trilogy was a special one, and they decided to honor their unforgettable experience in New Zealand with matching tattoos, inspired by Lord of the Rings.
Eight out of the nine fellowship members received tattoos of the number nine in Elvish script. Although it’s been over twelve years since the last Lord of the Rings movie was released, last October, Orlando Bloom posted a throwback photo of the crew with their matching tattoos after the end of filming. Some of the actors chose subtle locations for their tats, like on their hip, shoulder, or feet, while Orlando placed his tattoo on his wrist. Actor John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli, opted out, but his stunt double agreed to get the tattoo in his place.
6. The scene where Legolas took down an Oliphant was almost cut
In Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, Legolas certainly had his fair share of action-packed sequences. You might recall how he took on a horde of Orcs in the caverns of Khazad-dûm, or how he shot down tons of Uruk-hai in a matter of seconds in The Fellowship of the Ring finale.
In the final installment of the trilogy, The Return of the King, director Peter Jackson decided to up the ante even more when it came to Legolas’ death-defying stunt work. Surprisingly enough, one of his most jaw-dropping scenes almost didn’t make the final cut.
While fighting on Pelennor Fields, Legolas squares off against a gigantic Oliphant, and the rest is history. The action-packed scene required a lot of visual effects, but the final sequence is certainly quite thrilling on screen. As Legolas effortlessly slides down the Oliphant’s trunk, Gimli amusingly reminds him, “That still only counts as one!” At the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers, Legolas surfed down a flight of stairs in a similar fashion—all while shooting arrow after arrow at his opponents.
5. Legolas wasn’t featured in the original The Hobbit
Despite his prominent role in The Hobbit films, it’s important to note that Legolas wasn’t featured in the original novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. The novel focused on the story of Bilbo Baggins, his unexpected adventure involving dwarves, wargs and a fearsome dragon. It was solely Bilbo’s adventure and how he found the One Ring; there wasn’t any mention of Legolas.
Naturally, when it comes to book-to-screen film adaptations, there are some changes and variations that are made for the silver screen. In this case, director Peter Jackson took a big gamble by taking certain creative liberties. Instead of making one film, he opted to split the roughly 300 page novel into three separate films.
Legolas was featured in two out of the three films, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). In The Hobbit films, director Peter Jackson expanded on Legolas’ role, dropping a few hints about his mysterious backstory and his mother. Attracting criticism from fans, Jackson added a strange love triangle between Legolas, the fictional Elf Tauriel, and the Dwarf, Kili.
4. His eye color switches between brown and blue in the movies.
Fans have always praised the original Lord of the Rings film trilogy for having a sharp attention detail that’s often unparalleled in other fantasy films. From the intricate costume designs to the elaborate props, there’s a great sense of care when it comes to the smallest details on the set. That being said, there’s nothing perfect when it comes to production, and eagle-eyed fans can spot a couple of mistakes on screen. For example, there are some inconsistencies when it comes to Legolas’ eye color in the films.
In Fellowship of the Ring, you might see Legolas with dark brown eyes, the natural eye color of actor Orlando Bloom, but in other scenes, you’ll see some eerily blue-colored irises. When he first joins the fellowship in Rivendell, some of the sequences show Bloom’s natural brown eyes. However, when Legolas hears the Balrog in Moria, there’s a close-up of his face, wide-eyed in fear and highlighting his blue contact lenses.
Bloom usually wore the blue colored contact lenses, but sometimes it was too uncomfortable for his eyes, so they weren’t used in every scene. Sure, it’s a minor detail that not everyone might notice, but you might want to keep an eye out for his chameleon-like eye colors next time you watch the series.
3. According to the Book of Lost Tales, he was more than just a “pretty face”
Based on his on-screen appearances in the film adaptations created by Peter Jackson, certain critics might write off Legolas as simply a pretty face, and nothing more. In the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit films, Legolas literally defies the laws of physics and delivers some serious action on screen. Although some have criticized his obvious lines (“There is a fell voice on the air!” and “A diversion”, for starters), Legolas was generally well-received by fans.
However, author J.R.R. Tolkien himself preferred a stronger portrayal of Legolas. His son, Christopher Tolkien, released a book called the Book of Lost Tales, and he included a quote from his father about how he imagined Legolas. “Long afterwards my father would write, in a wrathful comment on a ‘pretty’ or ‘ladylike’ pictoral rendering of Legolas. ‘He was tall as a young tree, lithe, immensely strong, able swiftly to draw a great war-bow and shoot down a Nazgûl, endowed with the tremendous vitality of Elvish bodies, so hard and resistant to hurt that he went only in light shoes over rock or through snow, the most tireless of all the Fellowship.”
2. The meaning behind his name
Author J. R. R. Tolkien always very detailed when it came to Elvish languages such as Quenya and Sindarin, along with the etymology and meaning of names. The name “Legolas” derives from a Silvan dialect, stemming from the Sindarin word of “Laegolas” which means Greenleaf. The name is a combination of the words, “laeg” (green) and “golas” (leaves or foliage). In Quenya, Legolas is translated as Laiqualassë.
Some believe that there is a deeper meaning to the choosing of his name, Legolas Greenleaf. For instance, the Sindarin word “laeg” is actually a more rarely used word for green. Most of the time, the word “calen” is used, however, the Green Elves of the First Age would use the word “laeg.”
1. He only spoke to Frodo once in the movies
Much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy focuses on Frodo Baggins, but surprisingly enough, Legolas only says one line to the hobbit. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Legolas proudly declares his allegiance to the squad, delivering the single line, “And you have my bow.”
Some fans have been equally amused by his lack of shine in the Return of the King, specifically when Frodo awakens after destroying the One Ring. As his friends enter the room one by one, Frodo greets each one by name, but for some reason, skips over Legolas.
Of course, this is a minor detail and doesn’t take anything away from the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy. After the passing of King Aragorn, Legolas chooses to leave Middle-Earth to the Undying Lands. Overcoming his initial prejudice against dwarves, Legolas goes across the sea with Gimli, who was the only Dwarf to do so.
In November, it was announced that Downtown Abbey director James Strong will take on a biopic of J.R.R. Tolkien entitled Middle Earth. While we don’t have any solid details yet, be sure to keep an eye out for more updates regarding Middle Earth in time.
Do you have any more Legolas trivia that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!