Whether he’s testifying on immigration reform in front of Congress or he’s or speaking at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Stephen Colbert is famous for never breaking from his patriotic, narcissistic, staunchly conservative character.
Now I’m a pretty big geek myself. I had read all of Tolkien’s works, even the ones that his son Christopher compiled, by the time I was in high school. However, I would never seek to challenge the absolute full-on Tolkien-nerd mastery that Stephen Colbert possesses. And it being such an integral part of his real life persona, it is the one thing that he lets slip into his act.
And when visiting the set of the Hobbit in New Zealand with his family, they were given the opportunity to play a part in Middle Earth. In the latest movie The Desolation of Smaug, in a scene in Lake Town, the entire Colbert family appears.
So, in honor of the Colbert family’s breakout role, here’s Stephen’s best Tolkien moments.
1. His interviews with James Franco.
James Franco is an interesting person. As an actor, one of his first main roles is as a character in Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks. He also has other pursuits outside of acting, such as getting a Doctorate in English Literature. So, needless to say, he probably has some nerdy passions. However, when a challenge arises between him and Stephen over who knows more Tolkien, it is no contest.
2. Daily Show interview with Viggo Mortensen.
Skip ahead to about 3:30, where Jon Stewart plays a recording by then-correspondent Stephen. Stewart asked him to record as much of Aragorn’s history from memory as he could, which turns out is more than enough. What I really want to know is where I can get a hold of the full transcript of that tape.
3. John McCain compares the Tea Party to hobbits. And as the barriers of the political and the nerdy crumble, so do the walls between the two Stephens.
Here we see Stephen, not only adeptly creating an allegory out of the Lord of the Rings, we also get to see his apparently never-ending figurine collection coming out from under his desk. As well as Andúril, the Flame of the West, forged in Rivendell from the shards of Narsil, the sword of the King of Gondor, that was broken during the Last Alliance when Elendil, King of the Dúnedain, wielded it in combat against Sauron (Yes, that was all from memory). It was bequeathed to Stephen by Aragorn, apparently not long after the events in #2.
4. His interview with Stephen Fry, who plays the mayor of Lake Town.
Stephen Fry, who plays a major role in the newest Hobbit movie, came on the Report to discuss his work in the play Twelfth Night. However, a story from Stephen’s visit to the Hobbit set came up, where Stephen apparently had engaged in a Tolkien-Off with the resident Tolkien authority. And won.
5. Stephen Colbert engages in a sword fight with Frodo. And sends Gandalf a message.
Elijah Wood came on the show to discuss his role in Happy Feet 2. Colbert manages to last about three minutes before he has to bust out the full geek, especially because of filming being in progress at the time and his recent visit to the set. He then ends the interview as quickly as he can so he can get backstage and talk about spoilers with Frodo.
6. Peter Jackson had a live Q&A to preview The Desolation of Smaug, and Stephen asks a very involved question. However, Jackson has an interesting question of his own.
If there is a god, he will create the Undying Lands for Stephen Colbert to pass over to once his light is extinguished.
7. Finally, his greatest and longest nerd-out of all came when the first Hobbit movie was released in December of 2012. Stephen dedicated an entire week of The Colbert Report to Hobbit-themed coverage.
Stephen Colbert, unluckily, got his own show too late to do anything about Lord of the Rings, so the Hobbit trilogy must have seemed like a Vala-send (the Valar are the gods of Middle Earth, do the math). A week of guests, a new set, a new intro, and as many Tolkien references as you can shake a Glamdring at, the week featured Ian McKellan, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, and Peter Jackson.
Here’s to you Stephen, and to my hope to see your character again. Maybe dying in agony in the hellish dragonfire of Smaug the Terrible.