The new trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies may have gotten you excited to visit Middle-earth for the last time, but when it comes to the fantasy world created for the Lord of the Rings movies, nothing can beat Stephen Colbert’s epic speech on the subject, which he delivered at Comic-Con this past weekend. A longtime J.R.R. Tolkien superfan, Colbert had a cameo as the Laketown Spy in the The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and he reprised the character on Saturday while moderating the Hobbit panel. (Adorably, Colbert’s young son came out onstage dressed as a Laketown spy, too.) But before Colbert introduced Peter Jackson and the film’s cast, he delivered an epic, hilarious, emotional speech about his Lord of the Rings fandom and how much Jackson’s six movies have meant to him. Give it a read, and we guarantee that your already-overstuffed heart will swell even more for The Hobbit (and for Colbert).
Welcome! Hello! We are the Laketown spy network! How you doin’, Comic-Con?
[To his son] Quick, go tell the master of Laketown that the Hobbit panel is about to begin. Swift, boy! Run!
Hello. If I could only go back in time and show this to my 13-year-old self!
Welcome to today’s panel on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and a celebration of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth: The Battle for Six Movies. My name is Stephen Colbert, and if you are anything like me, you don’t just love these stories — you treasure the world of J.R.R. Tolkien. Let me take you to a time long ago, an earlier age: the time of Clinton, the dark days of dial-up internet. A rumor came to us that director Peter Jackson would be making an adaptation of the trilogy. At the time, many of us knew him only from his movie Heavenly Creatures, and as great as that movie is, I wasn’t sure there was room for hysterical, murderous teenage girls in Middle-earth … other than, of course, Éowyn.
I was worried that somehow he would take away my treasure, my horde of precious Middle-earth stories. It was a very possessive, obsessive, very dragon-y feeling, so I found and followed everything I could about the progress of these movies. I remember seeing the first stills from the filming of Helm’s Deep. I looked at every casting announcement. I scoured the work of John Howe and Alan Lee. I read the online debates about fantasy versus fairy tales. And I began to have hope.
Not just hope the movies would be good … I was given hope that finally, finally people might not roll their eyes when I started talking about Middle-earth. That my head full of facts from Fëanor to Faramir might suddenly have some social value! That someone might say to me, “Hey Stephen, you know a lot about Tolkien. Can you explain something to me?” And I would say “Yes, oh God yes, I will!”
And then the movies broke upon the world, and to steal a line from C.S. Lewis, “Here were beauties that pierced like swords and burned like cold iron.” Here were movies that would break your heart, good beyond hope. And rather than take away our treasure, Peter and Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens and Richard Taylor and Grant Major and Dan Hennah and the cast and the crew and WETA Digital and the land and the people of New Zealand itself added to our stories, complemented our imagination. The only problem, as I saw it, was that at a total running time of eleven and a half hours, they were too damn short.
[Tossing his fake hair behind his shoulders] This must be how Orlando Bloom feels all the time.
We wanted more! And though we had to wait nearly a decade, our patience was rewarded with the cast and creative team we love and trust, and we were invited back to Hobbiton, to Rivendell, across the misty mountains cold, through water, wood, and hill, by reed and willow, to finally come face to face with the beautiful but dangerous silver-tongued villain of The Hobbit … the Laketown spy.
I just hope I’ve fulfilled Professor Tolkien’s vision.