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9 Questions About Gollum, Answered

Gollum from The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the most famous movie characters to have come about in recent years. His look, his quotes, and his role in the story made him an icon. He also had a huge impact on the film industry itself, as the portrayal of Gollum in the movies pioneered the motion-capture technology that would go on to be used to make King Kong, Avatar, and the new Star Wars trilogy.

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Andy Serkis mastered that technology playing Gollum, and it’s what made him the go-to guy for those types of performances. Anyway, here are 9 Questions About Gollum, Answered.

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9 Why didn’t Gollum just kill Sam and Frodo in their sleep?

When Gollum first comes across Sam and Frodo and identifies Frodo as the Ring-bearer, he does attempt to attack them. However, they’re aware that he’s there and pretend to be asleep when they’re actually awake. Once Gollum has agreed to guide the hobbits to Mordor, he has plenty of opportunities to attack them and doesn’t do it until the very end of The Return of the King.

Why not try to kill them earlier? This is because Smeagol promised to protect the master of the Ring, so there’s an ongoing internal debate between Gollum’s two personalities about whether to break that promise. At the end, he decides to do it and tells Frodo, “Smeagol lied,” but it took him a while to come to that conclusion.

8 Why was Smeagol renamed Gollum?

Most fans of The Lord of the Rings know that Gollum was once known as Smeagol. In fact, Smeagol still exists in his brain and has the occasional conversation with Gollum over the course of the movies. But at a certain point, after he was corrupted by his possession of the One Ring and it turned him crazy and slimy and gray, his name changed from Smeagol to Gollum.

The origin of his new name may surprise you: he was given his new name based on his newfound tendency to make “a horrible swallowing noise in his throat.” So, it’s an insult.

7 Is Gollum a hobbit?

Based on his appearance, a lot of people think Gollum is a goblin or some cave-dwelling creature, but he’s actually a hobbit who was deformed and aged and twisted by his obsession over the One Ring. He was a Stoor Hobbit of the River-folk. Stoors are simply a subspecies of the hobbits, but they’re very similar.

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Back when he was a hobbit, Smeagol lived near the Gladden Fields. But then he came across the One Ring one day when he was fishing and it changed his life – as well as his appearance and his speech patterns and even his name – forever.

6 How long did Gollum have the One Ring for?

Gollum Mount Doom Lord of the Rings

Gollum was in possession of the One Ring for about 478 years before he lost it to Bilbo Baggins in T.A. 2941. To put that into perspective, the events of the entire epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy only cover about 77 years.

So, Gollum was in possession of one of the most powerful and evil items in Middle-earth for the length of over six Lord of the Rings trilogies. No wonder he’s so deformed. He spent a lot of that time, which made up a big chunk of his life, in the Misty Mountains, having initially been born near the Gladden Fields in T.A. 2430.

5 What was Deagol’s present for Smeagol?

Right before Smeagol murdered Deagol for the One Ring, they were discussing Smeagol’s birthday present and Deagol said, “I have given you a present already, more than I could afford.” But then he killed him and it was never mentioned again.

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It doesn’t ever say in the book or the movie what Deagol’s present for Smeagol was, but we can gather the kind of ballpark it might’ve been in. Deagol mentions the present cost “more than [he] could afford.” Since hobbits wouldn’t have very much disposable income, it’s likely that this present was just a book or a watch or a wheel of cheese. It wouldn’t be anything too fancy.

4 What did Gollum eat?

Gollum’s diet consisted entirely of raw fish and baby rabbits, which meant that he had to hunt for his food. He’d grab the fish out of rivers and devour them, or pounce on defenseless baby rabbits as they were passing by. His diet was mostly fish – it was much more fish than rabbit.

Lembas, the elven form of bread, was available to him, but he couldn’t eat it, because it didn’t sit right with his stomach, nor did anything with any relation to elves. Something’s clearly wrong with your anatomy when raw fish sits better with your stomach than bread.

3 Does Gollum have a split personality?

The psychological community has dedicated a lot of time and effort to diagnosing exactly what mental illness Gollum suffers from. They’ve concluded that there are elements of disassociation, as Gollum has disassociated himself from Smeagol inside the same mind. He always refers to himself as “we” and “us,” so it seems very much as though he’s aware of his identity as Smeagol as well as his identity as Gollum.

However, when referring to the One Ring, he uses singular pronouns (i.e. “My precious!”). When Smeagol was corrupted by the One Ring, he became the shriveled and gray Gollum. Gollum represents the part of Smeagol who is obsessed with the Ring, hence why it’s only his precious.

2 How old is Gollum?

At the time of Gollum’s death, he was 589 years old, which is an impeccable age for a hobbit (or what was once a hobbit), since the second oldest hobbit after him lived to just 131 (it was Bilbo Baggins).

His life was extended for so long largely due to his possession of the One Ring. And bear in mind that he doesn’t die of old age; he dies because he follows the One Ring into the flames of Mount Doom. God only knows how long he would’ve lived for if he’d retired and spent his twilight years living a quaint existence in the Shire.

1 Why did Gollum want the One Ring?

Gollum Falling to Death Lord of the Rings

The One Ring is beautiful and magical and extremely powerful. Once you’re hooked on it, you can’t get enough. It doesn’t simply make you invisible; it changes you. That’s why Smeagol turned into a babbling mess after being corrupted by it. He couldn’t handle its power.

Not everybody can be a Ring-bearer. If you wield the power of a Ring, then you have a responsibility not to cave to its nefarious desires. Frodo spends the whole trilogy grappling with this and it’s why destroying it in Mount Doom is the only option. It is simply too powerful to be held by anyone.

NEXT: LOTR: The Most Powerful Creatures, Ranked!

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