Beloved by fans for generations, The Lord of the Rings expresses universal themes of hope, honor, and sacrifice. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has been lauded for being a timeless story, uniting fans for decades with its captivating tale of good versus evil.
It’s been over a decade since the release of director Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. The films shattered box office records at the time, with The Return of the King sweeping the Oscars with a record 11 wins and 12 nominations as a whole. Whether you prefer J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels, Peter Jackson’s contemporary films, or both, we decided to hone in on some intriguing trivia about Samwise Gamgee.
If you’ve ever wondered about what happened to Samwise after the events in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King film, we’ll explore more about his life in the Shire. Recently, we took a closer look at several other characters from The Lord of the Rings, including Merry and Pippin, Frodo, and Gollum. This list serves as a way to discover more information regarding Frodo’s loyal companion, Samwise Gamgee.
Here are 15 Things You Never Know About Samwise Gamgee.
15 Sean Astin’s daughter was featured as Elanor Gamgee in ROTK
It's been over a decade since Peter Jackson's film adaptation of The Return of the King hit theaters. Towards the conclusion of the film, Samwise Gamgee was shown briefly holding one of his daughters at his side. Surprisingly enough, the young actress who played Elanor Gamgee was none other than actor Sean Astin's actual daughter in real life, Ali Astin. When she was filming Lord of the Rings, Ali was only a toddler. Over the years, she has said that fans still recognize her from her role in The Return of the King.
Born Alexandra Astin, Astin's daughter has continued to pursue a career in the film industry. In 2014, Astin dabbled in voice over work as the Princess in the animated movie Ribbit. Earlier this year, she rejoined her father and starred as Ethel in the film Bad Kids of Crestview Academy. In the film, Sean Astin stars as Headmaster Nash.
14 Graham Norton auditioned for the role
For years, the role of Samwise Gamgee has been synonymous with actor Sean Astin. However, things could have gone a completely different route.
Years ago, television host Graham Norton had purportedly auditioned for the role of Frodo’s invaluable companion. Originally from Ireland, Graham Norton is best known for his comedic television show, The Graham Norton Show. Over the years, the talk show has garnered a total of five BAFTA Television Awards since its time on air. Norton is also a host for BBC Radio 2 and the television series, Eurovision Song Contest.
Sean Astin, who is also well-known for his work as the lead role of Rudy and Mikey Walsh in The Goonies, has been remembered for his poignant role as Sam in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
13 Sam is actually 12 years younger than Frodo
Director Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings certainly took some creative liberties when it came to creating the film adaptations of the classic novels.
In the second edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novels, it was noted in The Tale of Years that Sam was born in T.A. 2980. Also in the novels, Frodo Baggins was born on September 22nd of T.A. 2968, making him approximately twelve years older than Sam. However, in the films, actor Sean Astin is ten years older than Elijah Wood, making him certainly seem like the elder in the movies.
When filming The Lord of the Rings, Elijah Wood was eighteen years old, and he was actually the youngest of the main hobbit actors. Dominic Monaghan, who played Merry, was 22, Sean Astin was 28 and Billy Boyd was 31 years old during the time of shooting.
12 Sam's father was a gardener for Bilbo and Bag End
In The Lord of the Rings, Samwise Gamgee is depicted as a devoted gardener. Sam's father, Hamfast Gamgee, originally worked as a gardener and brought Sam up in the trade. Affectionately known as the Gaffer, Hamfast worked in the trade of gardening, and one of his first jobs was working on caring for the garden at Bag End.
The name Hamfast means "stay at home", while the term "Gaffer" means "old man". Later, he married Bell Goodchild, with whom he had six children. Hamfast took on Sam to become his apprentice, and he later took over his father's gardening duties at Bag End.
In The Fellowship of the Ring novel, one of the Nazgûl approached Hamfast and asked him about Bilbo Baggins. Eventually, Hamfast passed away in the Fourth Age 7, and in his memory, Sam named his seventh child after him.
11 After Bilbo and Frodo left The Shire, their memoirs passed to Sam
The Red Book of Westmarch has been referred to by several different names, and serves as a connection to Bilbo's adventures and Frodo's journey. Bilbo writes about his memoirs as The Hobbit, and Frodo recounts his story as The Lord of the Rings.
In The Return of the King novel, Tolkien includes a page which reveals several titles which have been crossed out. For example, the page reads, "My Diary. My Unexpected Journey. There and Back Again. And What Happened After. Adventures of Five Hobbits. The Tale of the Great Ring, compiled by Bilbo Baggins from his own observations and the accounts of his friends. What we did in the War of the Ring." Instead, the title, "The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King" is selected as the final version.
Just as Bilbo passed on the text to Frodo, Frodo in turn gives the book to Samwise Gamgee for safe keeping. Sam eventually passes on the book to his daughter, Elanor Fairbairn.
10 His name was inspired by a surgical dressing called "Gamgee Tissue"
Author J.R.R. Tolkien is known for his deep love of languages and etymology. Just as with many other names in the novels, Tolkien selected a specific name for the beloved character of Samwise Gamgee.
The name Samwise can mean "simple minded" or even "half minded". In the Elvish language of Sindarin, Samwise is known as Perhael. His last name, Gamgee, may have a slight relation to a village in the Shire called Gammidgy.
According to The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, the name Gamgee derives from an actual surgical dressing which was created by a surgeon named Joseph Sampson Gamgee. The surgeon was also from Birmingham, and many referred to cotton wool as "Gamgee". In The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Tolkien wrote, "The choice of Gamgee was primarily directed by alliteration; but I did not invent it. It was caught out of childhood memory, as a comic word or name. It was in fact the name when I was small (in Birmingham) for 'cotton-wool'. (Hence the association of the Gamgees with the Cottons.) I knew nothing of its origin."
9 Hobbit makeup and prosthetics took over 1 1/2 hours every morning
The production quality of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films set a high standard for fantasy films at the time. All of the films are known for having incredibly detailed costumes and props.
For the four hobbit actors of the Fellowship, the transformation into becoming hobbits was a slightly arduous process. In The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition DVD’s, many of the actors were shown as they undertook their transformation with hobbit makeup and prosthetics.
Sean Astin and the other hobbit actors were required to don wigs and prepare for an elaborate makeup session. Each of the actors also needed to wear prosthetics for their signature hobbit feet. Throughout the day, many of the prosthetics needed to be retouched due to sweat and environmental factors.
8 Sean Astin wrote a book called “There and Back Again: An Actor’s Tale”
Many of the actors from the Lord of the Rings film adaptations unanimously agreed that the filming experience was an unforgettable event. Actor Sean Astin was no exception, and he even penned a memoir about some of his experiences on set.
Astin, who was born in Santa Monica, California, grew up believing that his father was Desi Arnaz Jr. However, a DNA test during the nineties ended up proving otherwise. Astin's biological father is Michael Yell, but he was raised by his stepfather, actor John Astin. No stranger to Hollywood, Astin's mother was actress Patty Duke.
After the filming of the Lord of the Rings had officially come to a close, Astin published a personal memoir about his life, entitled There And Back Again: An Actor's Tale. The book was first released in September 2004, and Astin continues to pursue a career in the film industry to date.
7 Roddy McDowall, Michael Scholes, and William Nighy voiced Samwise Gamgee
Diehard fans of The Lord of the Rings will recall several other iterations of the character over the years. In 1978, an animated version of The Lord of the Rings was created by Ralph Bakshi. Actor Michael Scholes took on the voice over role as Sam, while Billy Barty was used as a model for rotoscoping work.
Two years later, another animated Lord of the Rings film was released for television. Created by Rankin/Bass and Topcraft, the film included Roddy McDowall as the voice actor for Samwise Gamgee.
In 1981, BBC Radio released a dramatic radio series of The Lord of the Rings, which featured actor Bill Nighy as Sam.
In the theater world, several productions of The Lord of the Rings have taken place over the years. In Toronto, Canada, actor Peter Howe starred as Samwise in 2006, while actors Blake Bowden, Dale Inghram, and Scott Westerman have all played as Sam.
6 He had thirteen kids with Rosie
After pining for the lovely hobbit lass for some time, Samwise Gamgee married Rosie Cotton in The Return of the King. The pair eventually came together after Sam returned from Mt. Doom with Frodo.
Sam and Rosie had a total of thirteen children together, including Elanor the Fair, Rose, Goldilocks, Daisy, Primrose, Ruby, Robin and Tolman. They named their other children after their beloved friends, including Frodo, Merry, Pippin, and Bilbo.
In one of J.R.R. Tolkien's letters from 1951, Tolkien elaborated on the love between Sam and Rosie, “I think the simple 'rustic' love of Sam and his Rosie (nowhere elaborated) is absolutely essential to the study of his (the chief hero's) character, and to the theme of the relation of ordinary life (breathing, eating, working, begetting) and quests, sacrifice, causes, and the 'longing for Elves', and sheer beauty."
As mentioned previously, Elanor inherited the Red Book of Westmarch from her father. She continued to record history within the texts.
5 Sean Astin had several accidents and injuries on set
The production process and filming of Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings certainly weren’t without their own share of adventure and unexpected twists. While filming The Fellowship of the Ring, actor Sean Astin experienced several accidents on set.
When Astin was filming in the Elvish realm, Rivendell, he suffered an unexpected blow and was rendered unconscious by a loom. Unfortunately, that wasn’t all, as Astin also stepped on a sharp piece of glass when he was filming one of the boat sequences. Other fellowship members, like Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom, also suffered major injuries on set, from a broken toe to several broken ribs.
Much like the actual journey of the fellowship, filming an epic series of films like The Lord of the Rings was undoubtedly quite an adventure.
4 His daughter, Goldilocks Gardner, married Pippin's son, Faramir Took I
Sam and Rosie had a total of thirteen children, and one of their daughters later married into the Took family. Affectionately known as Pippin or Pip by his close friends, Peregrin Took eventually became related to Samwise Gamgee through marriage.
After returning to the Shire, Pippin married Diamond of Long Cleeve and they had a son named Faramir. Pippin eventually inherited the title of Thain of the Shire after the death of his father. Pippin was known for being the 32nd Thain of the Shire, a title he held for a total of 51 years.
Goldilocks Gardner was the third daughter of Samwise Gamgee and Rosie Cotton. Faramir and Goldilocks married, and Faramir also became Thain of the Shire after Pippin retired. After he retired, Pippin traveled with Merry to Edoras and Gondor together.
3 He was elected Mayor of the Shire for seven consecutive 7-year terms
During the War of the Ring, Whil Whitfoot was elected as the Mayor of the Shire. During the War of the Ring, Whitfoot was a prisoner and eventually became very ill. Whitfoot later relinquished some of his powers to Frodo, who served as Deputy Mayor of the Shire until 1420. In 1427, Whitfoot retired from his role and Samwise Gamgee was actually elected as Mayor of the Shire.
Well-loved by his fellow hobbits, Gamgee was re-elected for seven consecutive terms. In The Return of the King, it states that Samwise continued to serve until 1476. The Mayor of the Shire was also referred to as Samwise Gardner, because of his replanting of the Shire, instead of his former name, Samwise Gamgee.
2 He was 102 years old when he went across the sea to the Gray Havens
In the Return of the King, it is expressed that Samwise eventually followed in the same footsteps as Frodo. For years, Sam lived with his wife Rosie Cotton in the Shire, but it is noted that they did journey outside of the Shire together.
After giving birth to their thirteenth child, Rosie traveled with Sam to Gondor. The pair visited King Elessar for a year before returning to the Shire. Rosie eventually passed away at the age of 98 years old. In the year 62 of the Fourth Age, Rosie Cotton passed away, and Samwise left the Shire at the age of 102 years old. After serving as Mayor of the Shire for many years, Samwise decided to pass on the Red Book to Elanor.
Having previously been a former bearer of the ring, Samwise was allowed to sail across the Sea in the Undying Lands.
1 Sam is considered by many to be the true hero of the story
Throughout the story of The Lord of the Rings, many signs point to Frodo Baggins as being the main protagonist of the story, but others staunchly feel that Sam is the true hero. Loaded with the heavy burden of the One Ring, Frodo struggled to overcome hardship and toil in his quest to destroy the ring. However, Sam’s devout loyalty and unwavering faith throughout the tale have made other fans believe that Sam is the real hero.
Although officially unconfirmed, some believe that author J.R.R. Tolkien seems to share the sentiment that Sam is the true hero of the series. In some of his letters, Tolkien shared his perspective, referring to Sam as “the chief hero's character” and elaborating on how Sam is a key heroic character from The Lord of the Rings series.
Do you have any more trivia regarding Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings that you want to share? Let us know in the comments!