When people talk about Lord of the Rings and hear the name Faramir, chances are the first things they think of are his older brother Boromir or their punishing father Denethor. Faramir is only a side character in the great expanse of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings narrative, but he's still an important one.
Portrayed by Australian actor David Wenham in the Peter Jackson trilogy, Faramir was Captain of the Rangers of Ithilian during the War of the Ring and often caught harsh criticism from his father Denethor, who was resentful of Faramir’s survival coupled with Boromir’s death.
However, while other characters may overshadow him at times, Faramir is a complex character in his own right, and there’s more to him than a first glance would reveal. From World War I to outer space, Faramir has ties to things that lie far beyond the constraints of Peter Jackson’s films and even J.R.R. Tolkien’s own writing.
Read on to discover all there is to know about Faramir, from his backstory, to his fate after the War of the Ring, to his character’s lasting legacy in real life.
Here are the 15 Things You Never Knew About Lord of the Rings' Faramir.
15 His Character Was Entirely Unplanned
With a story as lengthy, elaborate, and imaginative as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, it’s easy to think that every little detail was planned out in advance. However, this wasn’t the case – at the very least, not in the case of Faramir.
In a letter written to his son during the war, Tolkien explains how he came up with Faramir on the spot. The British author claimed that as he wrote, Faramir simply appeared on the page. “I am sure I did not invent him,” Tolkien wrote his son, “I did not even want him, though I like him, but there he came walking into the woods of Ithilien.”
Besides the fact that it’s extremely impressive a whole character like Faramir simply arrived to Tolkien’s mind, Faramir’s origins also provide a fascinating look into the author’s writing process.
Tolkien simply followed his intuition and instinct when writing, allowing his mind to explore different angles and create at will. Faramir goes to show that uninhibited writing might just result in a great character.
14 He Lived to be 120 Years Old
Age and time are curious things in Lord of the Rings. Those more familiar with the movies than the books might not realize that seventeen years go by between Gandalf telling Frodo to keep the Ring safe and when he actually reveals the truth behind the Ring to Frodo, or that Aragorn is more than 80 years old during the War of the Ring.
Faramir is one of those characters in Tolkien’s tale that has an interesting relationship with time and age. After settling down following the War of the Ring, Faramir actually lived to be 120 years old. According to Middle Earth lore, Faramir was able to live this long due to his exceptionally large percentage of Dúnadan blood, meaning he was a descendant of the Men of the West.
Direct descendants, like Aragorn, live up to three times longer than normal men and age slower. Faramir, while not a direct descendant, still had a fair share of Dúnadan blood in his lineage and was able to live abnormally long as a result.
13 He Never Wanted to Be a Soldier
Between Boromir and Faramir, Boromir is often believed to be the braver, bolder brother, while Faramir is often misunderstood as being softer and weaker due to his favoring of lore and the arts. In reality, Faramir is every bit as daring as his brother, but he certainly never envisioned himself as being a great warrior.
In an interview for Return of the King, Faramir’s actor David Wenham said his character is “not a man in his natural element,” going on to say that, “Faramir is a thinker, he’s a reader … he’s been put in a position where he’s doing something that’s not natural to him. He’s being forced to lead [an army].”
Considering Faramir’s brave acts throughout the trilogy, the fact that Faramir is forced into a role of violence and war gives another layer of tragedy to his character. On top of the fact that his beloved brother has died and his father has virtually disowned him, Faramir is forced to suppress who he is at his core and rise to the role of commander for the betterment of his people and the world as a whole – a completely selfless act that proves Faramir’s true bravery.
12 He Never Wanted Anything To Do With The Ring
One of the most fundamental changes made to Faramir’s character over the course of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is his reception to the Ring when he encounters Frodo during the events of The Two Towers.
In the movies, Faramir is tempted by the Ring and initially plans to bring it back to Gondor in order to honor his brother’s mission and please his father. He later realizes the Ring’s true evil and agrees that Frodo should destroy it.
However, in the books, Faramir’s initial reactions to the Ring are wholly different. When Frodo and Sam grow anxious that Faramir might plot to take the Ring from them in the books, Faramir tells Frodo, "But fear no more! I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs.”
This not only shows Faramir’s honesty and purity of character, but also reveals the core differences between him and his brother Boromir.
11 He Was Extremely Close To Gandalf
Noble characters like Aragorn, Frodo, and the like all befriend Gandalf because they share their love for all that's good in the world, and aim to protect it. In this aspect, Faramir is no different.
Though Peter Jackson’s films tease at a mentor-type relationship shared between Faramir and Gandalf, the books make it explicitly clear how close the two were, and go even further to shed light on how this relationship increased the strain between Faramir and his father.
When he was younger, Faramir was particularly fascinated by Gandalf’s huge wisdom and exciting experiences. The two formed a friendship where Gandalf shared his knowledge and lessons with the young Faramir, giving him a much-needed father figure due to Denethor’s neglect.
Naturally, Denethor didn’t take too well to this close relationship shared by his son and Gandalf, shaming his son for acting as the “Wizard’s pupil”. Their friendship deepened Denethor’s resentment of Faramir, which contributed to the deep strain seen in their relationship during the War of the Ring.
This is one fascinating aspect that the movies fail to depict well, and some of the nuances of Faramir’s relationship to his father are lost as a result.
10 Tolkien Said Faramir Was the Character Most Similar to Himself
It’s common knowledge amongst Tolkien fans that Lord of the Rings was inspired in part by the author’s service as a Second Lieutenant for Britain during World War I. Themes that Tolkien himself experienced in the war such as industry meeting warfare, the struggle of good versus evil, and the emotional aftermath following trauma, can all be found in the epic fantasy tale.
However, a lesser-known fact involves the character of Faramir. Though Tolkien said it wasn’t intentional, the author later reflected on his writing and realized that Faramir – the warrior who is described in the books as “touched with … wisdom and sadness” and who said one of the story’s famous lines, “I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness... I love only that which they defend,” was the character most like himself throughout the entirety of Lord of The Rings.
Tolkien also joked that there was one notable difference between he and Faramir: the author lacked the noble Faramir’s courage and bravery.
9 Pippin Named His Only Son After Faramir
One of the more fascinating aspects of J.R.R. Tolkien’s story of Lord of the Rings is to look at the events in the post-war years and see how the characters choose to move forward after the harrowing events they went through.
Marriages and children in particular are two things that reveal the impact that the War of the Ring had on the story’s characters, such as Sam immediately marrying Rose Cotton after his miraculous survival, or Pippen’s choice of name when naming his only son.
Though Faramir and Pippen were unlikely companions, the two became friends when Pippen pledged his allegiance to Denethor and Gondor and became Guard of the Citadel. Of course, Pippen was also the one to save Faramir’s life when Denethor lost his mind and began to burn his son alive.
However, another revealing aspect to their friendship lies in the post-war years, when Pippen named his only son after Faramir. This shows exactly how close the two were and how much Pippen admired Faramir’s values of nobility and bravery.
8 He Became A Prince After The War
Once the War of the Ring finally reaches its end in Peter Jackson’s Return of the King, the rest of the film is dedicated to showing what happens after the war to its most important characters. However, after the war and Aragorn’s coronation, what happened to Faramir, whose family had served as the Ruling Steward of Gondor for decades?
Immediately after the war, Faramir actually had a brief stint working as the Ruling Steward of Gondor and prepared for Aragorn’s coronation. Though he officially gave up this position when Aragorn took over as King Elessar, the King graciously insisted that Faramir and all his sons after continue to serve as Stewards of Gondor. The King then named Faramir Prince of Ithilien.
With this title came great responsibility. Faramir was given the tasks of guarding and maintaining the borders of Gondor, as well as clearing out the remaining evils that lied in Minas Morgul. Faramir was one of King Elessar’s top commanders and was his chief counselor, responsible for ruling Gondor in the King’s absence.
7 He Had Clairvoyant Dreams
As impressive as Peter Jackson’s trilogy is, the movies do leave out one particularly key aspect to Faramir’s character: his eerie and often clairvoyant dreams. In the books, before the War of the Ring even officially begins, Faramir repeatedly has a dream where a mysterious prophetic voice tells him to go to Elven lands and seek the sword that was broken, that doom is at hand, and that Isildur’s Bane will wake.
While Faramir receives this dream multiple times, Boromir in fact has the same dream, but it only comes to him once. Because those with Dúnadan blood are likely to have the abilities of foresight and prophetic dreams, Faramir and Boromir were able to have these clairvoyant dreams.
Nevertheless, all of this information has led to a fan theory that claims the dreams were sent by some unknown source that wanted to draw the Council of Elrond together and chose Faramir, not Boromir, to go to the Council to represent Gondor and mankind.
6 He Was Meant To Join The Council of Elrond
In the Lord of the Rings films, Jackson makes a narrative decision to change the reasoning behind why Boromir goes to the Council of Elrond. In the Extended Edition of The Two Towers, it is Denethor who reveals the existence of the Ring only to Boromir, and orders him to go to Rivendell and bring the Ring back to Gondor. Boromir is extremely skeptical and initially refuses, but his father demands he go and represent Gondor at the Council.
In the books, it’s both Boromir and Faramir who know of the Ring and tell Denethor. In fact, Gondor's Council of Elders actually choose Faramir to be the one to go to the Council of Elrond in Tolkien’s original text. However, Boromir insists he go himself in order to save his brother from danger, while Denethor wants Boromir to go simply because he favors him over Faramir.
The changes made in the films alter the true politics of Gondor and the relationship between Faramir, his brother, and his father. In either case, it all begs the question: what would’ve happened if Faramir had followed his dreams and the advice of the Council of Elders and gone to Rivendell instead of Boromir?
5 Real Fire Was Used In the King’s Pyre Scene
One of the tensest scenes in Peter Jackson’s Return of the King isn’t a combat scene at all. When Faramir is struck down during a suicide mission given to him by his father, Denethor snaps and believes all is lost.
He puts the still-alive Faramir on a pyre and plans to burn himself with Faramir’s body. Thankfully, just as his men are about to light the pyre, Gandalf bursts in with Pippen and stops Denethor’s madness.
However, filming this scene was a bit complicated. Peter Jackson decided to use practical effects for the scene, meaning the filmmaker had to deal with real flames. As if that weren’t complicated enough, the horse playing Shadowfax in the scene refused to go near the fire, making the scene impossible to shoot in completion because the script called for Gandalf to ride over next to the lit pyre.
The crew ended up coming with an ingenious solution: real flames were still used, but they reflected the fire onto a pane of glass that sat near the front of the camera to give the visual effect that the pyre was really burning.
4 He Married to Eowyn
Many characters in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings experience tragedy and trauma, but the characters of Faramir and Eowyn go through quite a bit of pain and heartbreak. The two also have some parallels in their stories during the War of the Ring: Faramir loses his brother Boromir, while Faramir loses her uncle, King Theoden. Both are also struck down in battle and end up at the Houses of Healing.
Incidentally, the two struck up a friendship while they recovered from their wounds and bonded over their experiences, eventually falling in love and getting married after the war. The two settled down in Emyn Arnen in Ithilien and had one son named Elboron, who became Prince of Ithilien and Lord of Emyn Arnen after Faramir’s death.
The relationship between Eowyn and Faramir is largely cut out from Peter Jackson’s films, although the two are scene together at the end of Return of the King.
3 Book Fans Hated The Movie Version of Faramir
Between the length of the original books, limited screen time, and executive decisions on what would make the most dramatic scenes on screen, there were bound to be discrepancies between J.R.R. Tolkien’s source material and Peter Jackson’s trilogy. While book fans acknowledge this fact, there is one change that is largely considered unforgivable amongst the Tolkien fandom: and it concerns Faramir.
Many book readers believe that the on screen version of Faramir’s character to be a carbon copy of Boromir due to the fact that both were tempted by the Ring and wanted to bring it back to Gondor.
Fans also said that the movie Faramir wasn’t nearly kind-hearted and gentle enough, citing his treatment of Gollum in the movies as the prime example. Fans have gone on at length over the internet logging the most offensive changes to Faramir.
Despite the fact that Faramir is only a supporting character, it turns out he’s one of the most contentious characters in the whole trilogy.
2 David Wenham Prefers the Movies
A good deal of thought was put in to Faramir’s character adaptation in Jackson’s films. David Wenham himself has said that he’s read the books and prefers the film version of Faramir’s character.
In one interview, he said that if Faramir was able to resist the Ring, it would simply undercut the evil power that the Ring holds. The actor explained, “It undermined everything that they've done before if Faramir had not been tempted by it. If one character comes along and goes, ‘Oh, too powerful! I don't want it!’”
The actor went on to emphasize that, from a dramatic point of view, Faramir’s initial temptation but eventual rejection of the Ring makes Faramir a more complex character whose narrative arc is far more interesting, whereas if he is always able to resist the Ring, he just remains a static character.
Wenham acknowledged that the change to Faramir was controversial, but he stands by it all the same.
1 NASA’s a Faramir Fan
Probably the last place someone would ever expect one of Tolkien’s characters to have a connection to is outer space. However, in 2016, NASA went and added some Tolkien flair to our universe.
When scientists took up the task of naming the colles (a series of hills and mountains) on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, they looked to none other than Lord of the Rings for inspiration.
Six colles were named after characters from Tolkien’s work, and Faramir just happened to be one of the characters honored by being chosen. The other colles were named after the characters Arwen, Bilbo, Gandalf, Handir, and Nimloth.
Considering the fact that there were only six colles to name and Faramir was able to beat out more popular characters like Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, and Legolas, it’s fair to say that NASA must be a pretty big fan of Faramir.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about Lord of the Rings' Faramir? Let us know in the comments!