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Lily Collins Interview: Tolkien

Tolkien may be about John Ronald Reuel, the mind behind The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but at its heart is his wife Edith. His true love from childhood and future inspiration for some of Middle-earth's elves. Bringing her to life opposite Nicholas Hoult is Lily Collins, star of such eclectic films as Mirror, MirrorLove, RosieTo The Bone and recent Ted Bundy biopic, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and VileScreen Rant sat down with Collins in London recently to discuss making Tolkien - and her previous run-ins with Middle-earth.

Edith's such a great character and lived such an interesting life that goes way, way beyond what you get to do in this movie. The importance to Tolkien's future and everything. How did you approach and research that character, knowing you are only ever going to be able to show such a small segment of her life?

Well, there's very little research that one can do anyway on Edith, unfortunately, but I saw photos and there's a little bit of bio on her and then just knowing the bigger picture of what she inspired trying to distill that into a real-life person was where I was left. But I knew signing on that it was not going to be telling the entire life story - I think that would have been impossible especially for someone like Tolkien who created these epic stories. I mean, there's so much to tell and you have to fit it into a very specific amount of time and I think for this story it was really pivotal to show the friendships as well and the fellowship, and for me those are some of the most interesting scenes to watch because their chemistry is so amazing. And the Brotherhood and the fellowship is very much Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. And, of course, Edith's influence of Lúthien and that story and the elven characters is so pivotal as well, but it's impossible to show all of it so I just loved showing her more her earlier years because that was the basis for him being inspired to continue telling stories. You see a glimpse of what their older life together was like but I think the most formidable years were the younger ones where he was encouraged to continue his love of storytelling and ultimately create what it is that we know and love.

You mentioned the fact that she inspired her own stories in the Middle-Earth legendarium. You went back to them I assume and read those stories - did you pull any specific details from them in your characterization at all?

Well. I think I grew up loving fantasy and magic and these stories were very much a part of that for me. And just the overall essence of what I imagined an elven maiden to be like. Someone who's very in touch with themselves but also just nature and feeling very grounded and isn't afraid to have a childlike wonder and quality about them.

I feel like she encapsulated all of that. The Tolkien family has come out and said that they don't necessarily endorse the film - they weren't involved with it. How do you feel about that statement?

Well, I'm just so grateful to have been a part of this film and the making of this film and I have the utmost respect for them and all of Tolkien's work, so I can't really speak to that so as someone who was just involved in the film. I'm just an actor who gets to be a part of the world, so I'm just grateful for the experience.

That's cool. Next up you've got Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, which is already causing waves and so much discussion. What's so cool about this is that it's going to Netflix in America, which means it's going to be seen by a massive audience. How do you feel about getting a movie like that in people's homes where they can watch it straight away?

Well, I had the privilege of doing another film that got picked up by Netflix called To The Bone, which is a subject matter that I feel is so important to talk about but not a lot of people would have necessarily wanted to put it out there, and Netflix stepped up and did it for us and it was able to be seen by so many people. And Extremely Wicked, you know there's the Ted Bundy Tapes documentary by Joe Berlinger, our director, as well. It seemed like an amazing home for it. And I'm just really excited because we made this film and we all felt very passionate about the movie we made and for someone else like Netflix to believe in it, to take it to all these different people around the world and globally, it's a huge gift because you just never know making an independent film - sometimes where it's gonna end up and we're very very happy with that on Netflix.

I'm really excited to see it.

Oh, thank you.

Zac Efron and Lily Collins in Extremely Wicked

And my final question, what's your favorite Lord of the Rings movie?

Oh my gosh!

A bit on the spot there, I know.

You know, it's interesting. I'm kind of the same when we when I talk about, whether it's Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, I always think the first one sets the tone and it was the first time it was brought to the screen and so for me as a kid watching that first one was like, "oh my god." It was introducing the world to all of us and I, meeting the characters for the first time and seeing the Shire, that to me is kind of my happy place.  Like, I lived it - I was born in the English countryside and I felt very much at home with that aesthetic on screen. So, I mean, all of them are just wonderful but I always think that first one is such a nice first taste into it.

Next: Read Our Tolkien Review

Key Release Dates
  • Tolkien (2019) release date: May 10, 2019
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