If you were a bit befuddled to see Orlando Bloom’s Lord of the Rings fan favorite Legolas pop up in trailers for the upcoming Hobbit film, The Desolation of Smaug — given that the elf warrior doesn’t appear in J.R.R. Tolkien’s original book — well, you’re not the only one.
Speaking to EW for this week’s cover story on Smaug, Bloom says he was surprised when director Peter Jackson asked him to come onboard the Hobbit trilogy. Nevertheless, Bloom says he happily signed on even before he’d seen a script. “If Pete said, ‘Jump,’ I’d say, ‘How high?’ based on my previous experiences with him and my gratitude toward him for giving me my start in life, as it were,” says the actor, who was all but unknown when Jackson cast him in in the Rings trilogy.
Tolkien purists may wring their hands over the Hobbit films’ deviations from the strict canon, but Jackson argues that bringing Legolas into The Hobbit makes perfect sense both narratively and in terms of Tolkien-ology. As Tolkien later established in the Rings books, Legolas is the son of the Elvenking Thranduil, who is in the Hobbit novel, and since elves are immortal, it stands to reason that he would have been around when Bilbo and the dwarves went tramping through the wood-elves’ territory. “Legolas isn’t discussed in The Hobbit, but as far as Tolkien is concerned, he would have been part of that structure within the Woodland Realm,” Jackson says. “And we needed characters within the Woodland Realm to drive the story.”
So what part will Legolas play in that story? He’ll undoubtedly have plenty of chances to show off his skills with his bow and arrow. “He comes swooping in and has his save-the-day moments,” Bloom says. But the trailers for Smaug have also hinted at a love story between Legolas and Evangeline Lilly’s elf warrior Tauriel, a character wholly invented for the film. That prospect, not surprisingly, has inspired bellyaching among some fans, but Bloom says the relationship is not that simple. “Elves are eternal in their thinking and their being, so a love story would almost belittle the idea of what the relationship would be,” he says. “Their connection is a very deep elven feeling that’s done more done in looks than in words.” He laughs. “I always imagined if elves were to make love, they’d probably be tantric lovers. Because if you’re living forever, you’re not in a hurry.”
Bloom knows his appearance in The Hobbit may prove controversial among certain diehard fans—after all, this isn’t his first Tolkien rodeo. But he’s not sweating it. “Of course, the extreme fans are going to have their very strong and strict principles and thoughts on the truth of this world, but you can’t please all the people,” he says. “Does Legolas fit in this world? Absolutely. Should he be in this world? Why not?”
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