Cast of new JRR Tolkien biopic respond to complaints from author’s family

Nicholas Hoult plays a young Tolkien in the biopic

The family and estate of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit author JRR Tolkien have distanced themselves from the forthcoming biopic about the late writer – but the cast and creators of the movie have given assurances that it is respectful.

Tolkien, which stars Nicholas Hoult as a younger version of the titular writer, has been directed by Dome Karukoski and is set for release in the UK on May 3.

The first trailer for the movie, which will explore “the formative years of the renowned author’s life as he finds friendship, courage and inspiration among a fellow group of writers and artists at school”, was released back in February.


As the film’s release date nears, the family of Tolkien have now spoken out against the movie by stating that they do not approve of the biopic “in any way”.

“The family of JRR Tolkien and the Tolkien Estate are aware of the Fox Searchlight motion picture entitled Tolkien that is due for release in May 2019,” a statement released  (April 23) by the family and the Tolkien Estate reads.

“The family and the Estate wish to make clear that they did not approve of, authorise or participate in the making of this film. They do not endorse it or its content in any way.”

Speaking to The Guardian, a spokesperson for the estate added that their statement intended to make its position clear rather than foreshadow any legal action against the filmmakers.

However, a spokesman for Fox Searchlight Pictures told NME that the movie is a tribute to the author.


Nicholas Hoult as Tolkien

“We are so proud of Dome Karukoski’s film TOLKIEN which focuses on the early years of J.R.R. Tolkien’s extraordinary life and does not depict subject matter from his novels,” a spokesman said. “While we did not work with the Tolkien Estate on this project, the filmmaking team has the utmost respect and admiration for Mr. Tolkien and his phenomenal contribution to literature.”

Speaking at the film’s premiere, Nicholas Hoult, who portrays Tolkien, told the Press Association: “I think it’s been done very respectfully, as a fan.

“It’s story that stands alone. Such a remarkable life – his relationships, what he endured in World War One. What inspired him, hopefully it will inspire new audiences now.”

Director Dome Karukoski added: “Well, they haven’t seen the film. It is a labour of love. It is done with respect and admiration for the professor.

“It’s a dramatic, beautiful, cinematic tale. It feels odd that a storyteller wouldn’t want that on the screen.

“I have offered to sit with the estate and talk, and explain why some artistic choices have been made. It’s a tricky one, but I would just love to watch the film with them.”

He added to Sky News: “They didn’t like the Lord of Rings films.

“I understand it’s an adaptation and how you would have adapted it differently. But I would just love them to see the film.”

Elsewhere, a fresh adaptation of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels is set to hit TV screens in either 2020 or 2021 through a new Amazon Studios production.